World bank withdraws funds over lack of progress

The World Bank has withdrawn its offer of financial assistance to two parliamentary oversight committees - COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) and PAC (Public Accounts Committee), citing a lack of progress on changes the government agreed to implement in return, reports DailyMirror . The World Bank had agreed to provide a package of US $494,000 and to assist in developing the capacity of the parliamentary secretariat liaising with them which included two foreign traning programmes for committee members. The aim was to make positive changes in the laws and regulations that govern public...

Bishop of Mannar calls for recognition of Tamil nation

The Bishop of Mannar has stated that the 13 th Amendment is “fundamentally flawed” and has called for the recognition of the Tamil people as a nation as crucial to bringing about peace on the island. Speaking via Skype at a side event at the 14 th session of the Universal Periodic Review currently underway in Geneva, Bishop Rayappu Joseph told the audience that, “Our solution does not lie in the 13 th Amendment but on the Tamil nationhood to be recognised. We are not a minority. From the beginning of history there have been two nations, that must be recognised.” The Bishop then went on to state that the 13 th Amendment was “fundamentally flawed” and called for the Tamil people to have the “right to rule”. Bishop Joseph also commented on many other issues, telling the audience that despite testifying to the Sri Lankan government several times that a recorded 146,679 people were missing from the end of armed hostilities in May 2009, he was yet to receive a response. He also stated that crimes such as extra-judicial killings had to be investigated, saying, “We know the people behind these crimes… there must be accountability”. Commenting on the Sri Lankan government’s prohibition on commemorating those that had died in Tamil areas, the Bishop said, “There are a lot of people walking like skeletons… They have lost their mind, they need to heal… A lot of money is spent on celebrating the war but where are our people? We are not allowed in our areas, Mannar for example… to grieve our dead people. The dead must be respected and justice served.”

Curious change of tone in Jaffna

The Mayor of Jaffna and Jaffna’s District Government Agent have announced their appreciation of the Sri Lankan Army’s presence in Jaffna. Both speaking at a prize-giving ceremony organised by the Army for Year 5 students, Mayor of Jaffna, Mrs Yogeswari Patkunarajah is reported to have said : “At one time we all saw the Army as enemies; times have changed and today we have become a community of integrated Sri Lankans living alongside our brothers in the Army.” Mrs Patkunarajah also pointed out the numerous educational facilities provided for free by the government, claiming that: “While...

'Progressive' government to challenge capitalist 'conspiracy'

Speaking at Sri Lanka Insurance Cooperation’s Silver Jubilee, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has voiced his defiance against economic conspiracies to topple his ‘progressive’ government. Recalling challenges faced by the government in nationalising the Insurance Cooperation, the President urged employees of government managed corporations to show more commitment to improving profitability. "People will approve our decisions when these institutions are managed profitably," he is reported to have said. Rajapaksa further said that protecting national companies was much more challenging than selling...

HRW - 'Approach Sri Lanka with skepticism'

Human Rights Watch has called on United Nations members to hold Sri Lanka accountable for wartime abuses at the upcoming Universal Periodic Review, later this week. In a statement released on Tuesday, the New York-based NGO gave a detailed rebuttal to Sri Lanka’s 2012 UPR submission, addressing areas of media freedom, anti-terror laws, intimidation of human rights activists, the use of torture, disappearances, the plgiht of internally displaced persons and accountability for war crimes. The statement went on to say, “UN member countries should express grave concern about these failures and...

Rains pound North-East as cyclone Nilam approaches

12:43 GMT Mullativu. Photographs Sri Lanka Red Cross Society A depression in the bay of Bengal, has intensified into a mini cyclone - named cyclone Nilam - which is said to be approaching the North-East and India. The Meteorological Department in Sri Lanka, said last night that it was approximately 100km from Trincomalee. This morning, the Met Depart has stated the cyclone has changed course and is likely to pass over Kankesanthurai this afternoon.

Iran sanctions cause SL tea prices to fall

Sri Lanka's tea prices dropped this week as sanctions against Iran affected the state's exports, reports Xinhua. According to one tea broker, John Knells Ltd. average prices have been steadily falling from 452 rupees per kilo at sale in late September, to 407.31 rupees in mid-October. Sixty percent of Sri Lanka's tea exports is to the Middle East, with Iran one of the largest importers. In a statement, John Knells said, "High priced Tippy teas which feed the Iranian market have come under severe strain with prices dropping significantly in comparison to the Leafy teas," "The situation in...

'Culture of impunity for human rights violations' - Amnesty

In a statement released the day before Sri Lanka's UPR at the Human Rights Council, Amnesty International reiterated the " lack of progress on a number of human rights issues highlighted in the first review four years ago ", and a " culture of impunity for human rights violations". The statement continued: 'While the government of Sri Lanka has defeated the LTTE, it has failed to implement commitments to enhance human rights protections and to account for past violations. It has yet to repeal oppressive anti-terrorism legislation which is used to justify abusive practices including arbitrary...

'Remembering Sri Lanka's Killing Fields'

Writing for Project Syndicate, former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans has labelled Sri Lanka’s ‘savagery’ in 2009 as comparable to genocide in Rwanda and Darfur, and criticised the silence of international observers at the time. Read the full article on Project Syndicate here . Extracts reproduced below: “The world has paid almost no attention to war crimes and crimes against humanity comparable in their savagery to any of these [- Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur]: the killing fields of Sri Lanka in 2009.” “The lack of outrage mainly reflects the Sri Lankan government’s success in embedding in the minds of policymakers and publics an alternative narrative that had extraordinary worldwide resonance in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.”

Anti-13A campaign blessed

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Housing, Construction and Common Amenities Wimal Weerawansa met the chief prelates of the Buddhist Clergy Siyam Nikaya, to seek approval to continue the campaign to abolish the 13th Amendment. The Siyam Nikaya Chief Prelate, Udugama Buddharakkhitha Thero, concurred with Weerawansa’s lamentations of the 13th Amendment, noting that the Provincial Council system was not suitable for the country. Weerawansa has also sent letters to several Sri Lankan parties to lobby them towards pressurinsf the government to abolish the amendment. See here and here for other moments of...

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