US Ambassador to ‘promote’ bilateral relations

The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Michelle Sison has said that the US is looking to increase investment in the country. Speaking to the Hambantota Chamber of Commerce, the ambassador said she will do her ‘modest bit’ to build bilateral relations between the two countries. "I am looking forward to doing my modest bit to promote and build bilateral relations between USA and Sri Lanka. We would like to increase investment, and are keen to know more about opportunities in the Hambantota District," Sison said. Sison visited Hambantota harbour and the airport development project in the southern...

Two Jaffna Uni students released

Two of the four students held by the Sri Lankan military following the marking of Maaveerar Naal two months ago, were released on Tuesday. The president of the Jaffna University Student Union (JUSU) V Pavananthan and the member of the Science Faculty, S Solomon were released in Vavuniyaa. Two students remain in detention.

UK MPs express concern over Jaffna Uni arrests in Commons

British MPs raised the issue of the arrests of the Jaffna University students during the House of Commons debate on Tuesday. Expressing concern at the arrests, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Alistair Burt, said: "Our high commissioner has expressed those concerns to the authorities in Sri Lanka, and we continue to monitor the detention of those students. We take every opportunity to raise human rights concerns with the Government of Sri Lanka, and I will raise those concerns, including this case, when I visit Sri Lanka fairly shortly." Transcript of the debate is reproduced in full below: Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP): What assessment he has made of reported clashes between Sri Lankan security forces and Jaffna university students and the situation of those who have been arrested and detained. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Alistair Burt): We are concerned about the attacks on students at Jaffna university in November last year . Our high commissioner has expressed those concerns to the authorities in Sri Lanka, and we continue to monitor the detention of those students. We take every opportunity to raise human rights concerns with the Government of Sri Lanka, and I will raise those concerns, including this case, when I visit Sri Lanka fairly shortly. Mark Durkan: I thank the Minister for his answer and his personal engagement. The attacks and arrests took place on the day after Tamil remembrance day . The region is highly militarised and even this week the Sri Lankan Parliament is looking at legislation to extend detention without warrant . When the Minister visits Sri Lanka next week, will he tell the regime there that he will not be persuaded by the language of reconciliation that it offers the diplomatic community, given that it offers only an arsenal of repression to the Tamil community ?

Priorities in bi-lateral relations

The 8th India-Sri Lanka Joint Comission, held in New-Dheli today, saw the two nations agree to increase bilateral trade by 100% to US $10 billion within the next three years. The Joint Commission Meeting (JMC) co-chaired by, External Affairs Ministers of both nations, Prof G.L Peiris and Salman Khurshid, covered a broad range of ‘important” issues within the bi lateral relations of the two countries. The two nations signed agreements that looked to “Combat International Terrorism and Illicit Drug Trafficking” and enhance significant security and defence issues. Acknowledging the potential of...

Back to business...

With the impeachment of former Chief Justice complete, Sri Lanka's ruling coalition party the National Freedom Front (NFF) has stated t hat it will resume a campaign calling for the abolition of the 13th Amend ment . NFF Politburo member Piyasiri Wijenayake stated th at the campaign was temporarily paused w hilst party leader Wimal Weerawansa joined the Parliamentary Selec t Committee probing the imp eachment of the Chief Justice. Wijena ya ke went on to say that t he NFF would resume organising public protests and leg al action against the 13th Amendment to the constitution , calling on the...

Two Jaffna students to be released on Tuesday

Two out of four of the Jaffna University students arrested by the Sri Lankan Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) in the Maveerar Naal protests are to be released on Tuesday, according to Vasanthy Arasaratnam, Vice-Chancellor of the University. Out of the four, Bavananthan and Solomon will be released, after almost two months of detention at the Velikanda Rehabilitation Centre. Uthayan reports that with academic activities resumed at the University of Jaffna, the institution is now facing fresh threats of examination boycott from peers of the detained students.

‘SL – US ties improving’ – Sri Lankan diplomat

Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the US has said that ties between the two countries are improving. Speaking to Ceylon Today , Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya said that the embassy has an “excellent working relationship” with the US State Department and that US investors are very positive about the country. "I must emphasize the embassy has an excellent working relationship with the US State Department. "Effective representations were made to the State Department by the embassy; the US Authorities lifted the adverse travel advisory on Sri Lanka. I must also stress that if not for the assistance of the State Department, the Embassy would not have been able to successfully convince the US authorities to remove Sri Lankan ports from the list of High Risk Ports as declared by the US Coast Guard. "In today’s context, one of our major aims is to project Sri Lanka’s true picture in the sphere of economic development, reconciliation, rehabilitation and redevelopment.

4 years too late...

In a letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the DMK party president, M Karunanidhi, urged action against the Sri Lankan government's "intensive and systematic programme of erasing the Tamil language, culture, religion and diluting the concentration of Tamils in areas where they had historically been predominant." Describing the ongoing Sinhalisation of the Tamil North-East, the letter listed the names 89 Tamil villages that had been renamed with Sinhala names, the destruction of 367 Hindu temples and noted the alteration of village borders to change demographics. Karunanidhi went on...

SL writes a letter to Navi Pillay..

In an outlandish criticism of the UN High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, the Acting Secretary of the External Affairs Ministry, Kshenuka Senewiratne, said: "The Government of Sri Lanka notes, with deep regret and concern, your statement delivered at the OHCHR Press Briefing on 18th January 2013 where reference has been made to Sri Lanka. At the outset, I wish to reject categorically the contents of this statement, as it lacks any semblance of objectivity, steeped as it is in bias, marred by erroneous facts and further compounded by the inappropriate tenor of its language, all of which are indicative of unequal and invidious treatment of Sri Lanka. To me this is reminiscent of the action taken by MrHannyMegally following the visit of the OHCHR team to Sri Lanka in September 2012, when he deviated from the accepted practice, by de-briefing third parties, even before briefing you, in your capacity as High Commissioner, or the Permanent Representative of the country concerned.

‘We Don’t Need You, We Got China’

Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has snubbed the United States, stating that China would be there to help replace any losses, reported Colombo Telegraph . Speaking at a presentation ceremony by the National Chamber of Commerce, Rajapaksa stated that US Ambassador Sison questioned him “each time” he met her over the inaction in punishing Sri Lankan soldiers for alleged war crimes. Rajapaksa rebuffed her comments, stating “The biggest threat the US can pose to Sri Lanka’s military is to take away their defence scholarships… We can send our soldiers to China for training” He went...

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