Authoritarianism is on the rise in Sri Lanka – Abarna Selvarajah and Brannavy Jeyasundaram

Writing in Jacobin, Abarna Selvarajah and Brannavy Jeyasundara highlight the growing authoritarianism in Sri Lanka as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa plans to bring forwards a 20 th amendment to the constitution which will “expands the role of the presidential office and scales back constitutional checks and balances on executive powers”. The proposed amendment, which has been fiercely criticised, is aimed to replace the existing 19 th amendment, “which limits presidential powers by imposing term limits, [eliminates] presidential immunity from prosecution, and [requires] parliamentary oversight...

‘Pension and ambassador post’ offered in exchange for Easter Sunday attack blame 

Sri Lanka’s former president Maithripala Sirisena is alleged to have offered a senior police chief a “pension and a position as an ambassador in any country he wished to serve,” if he accepted blame for a series of security lapses that led to the Easter Sunday bombings according to the former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, as controversy continued at a President Commission looking into the attacks. Fernando attempted to distance himself from Sirisena’s reported offer, stating that then IGP Pujith Jayasundara had told him of the offer but he had responded by advising him to “discuss the...

 Ancient Pandyan coins unearthed in Mannar

A trove of one thousand nine hundred and four coins was unearthed in Mannar on the 18 September. The discovery was made as a landowner dug foundations for the construction of a house. The coins bore the distinctive symbol of the fish and sword which are attributed to the Pandya dynasty.

Demands for a public referendum on 20th Amendment

Sri Lankan lawyer, Indika Gallage, has filed a petition with the Supreme Court challenging the draft of the 20th Amendment to the constitution and requesting a public referendum on the bill. This petition comes, on Tuesday, after the amendment was presented in parliament for a first reading. It argues that the draft amendment violates basic rights enshrined in the Constitution. If passed by the Supreme Court, the public referendum would be required in addition to the two-thirds majority in parliament. This comes after building tensions in parliament, as the opposition staged a protest when...

Tamil MP commemorates Manmunai massacre amidst threats

Threats posed by Sri Lanka’s intelligence forces prevented the remembrance of the Manmunai massacre which took place on September 21, 1990, in which 18 Tamil civilians were killed by the Sri Lankan Army and Muslim Home Guards in Puthukudiyiruppu in Manmunai North, Batticaloa. TNA MP P Ariyanethiran held an individual vigil at the monument to the victims in Manmunai, on the thirtieth anniversary of the massacre. While the massacre is usually commemorated by locals and families of the victims, the threats made by intelligence personnel prevented an event from taking place. This month, several...

The ‘United Nations we need’ will not interfere in domestic affairs – Sri Lankan President

Speaking at a high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly, marking the 75 th anniversary of the UN, Sri Lankan President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, claimed to reaffirm commitments to the organisation whilst simultaneously insisting on need importance of “the sovereign equality of States, respect for territorial integrity and non-interference in their domestic affairs”. Rajapaksa further stated that the UN works best “when no country is held hostage to the interests of a few”. This statement follows a damning report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and...

25 years on - Remembering the Nagarkovil bombings

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Nagarkovil massacre, where the Sri Lankan air force bombed a school in Jaffna killing dozens of Tamil schoolchildren. On September 22, 1995, SLAF aircraft bombed the Nagarkovil Maha Vidyalayam schoolyard crammed with 750 children on their lunch break, killing more than 30 – of whom 12 were six or seven-year-olds – and injuring 150 others, 40 seriously. The overall death toll from the raids reached 71. The bombing occurred just hours after the Sri Lankan government imposed press censor­ship on the reporting of military events. The bombing, which happened...

'They bombed my school' - An eyewitness account of the Nagarkovil massacre

I was 11 years old. It was just after lunch on Friday the 22nd of September 1995. That’s when we heard a large aircraft circling our village. The Sri Lankan Air Force dropped the first bomb nearby the school. At this point we were surrounded by large smoke, followed by a bang. There were several bombs dropped over the school and other parts of the village. I heard my friends screaming and running and then all of a sudden the whole place was chaotic. All the students ran in all directions. I can still see it.

Rajapaksa moves to accelerate Colombo Port City Project despite US sanctions

Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa called to ‘accelerate’ construction of the Chinese-led Colombo Port City project, claiming it will become an income generator for the cash stricken island, in the future regardless of concerns over imposed US sanctions. The Colombo Port City (CPC) is a large-scale urban development project constructed and operated by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) a subsidiary of China Communications and Construction Company (CCCC). The project will be the largest single foreign direct investment of around US$1.5 billion. However, the US government’s...

Tamil political parties appeal to Gotabaya to allow Thileepan commemorative events to go ahead

Tamil political party members have signed a joined letter to Sri Lankan President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to appeal the ban on holding commemorative events for the late Lt Col Thileepan. Members of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Tamil National People's Front (TNPF), Tamil Makkal Thesiya Kootani (TMTK) and People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) “submit this urgent appeal on the matter of both political and emotional significance to our people, namely, the prohibition imposed on their holding their annual commemorative events in paying homage to the Late Thileepan,” the letter...

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