Sri Lanka bans ‘pottu’ in passport photographs

The Sri Lankan government announced a controversial new law prohibiting women from wearing a ‘pottu’ - a coloured dot worn by many Tamil women on the centre of the forehead - from all official passport photographs. According to the Department of Immigration and Emigration, the ban has been implemented to abide by the international practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) where photos must match an individual’s natural look. Many Tamil women across South Asia, as well as many diaspora Tamil, have been wearing a ‘pottu’ on their forehead as per their religious and...

Tamil diaspora behind Swiss incident and British court ruling, claims Sri Lanka’s defence secretary

Sri Lanka’s defence secretary has accused the Tamil diaspora of forcing the Swiss embassy into acting after one if its embassy staff was abducted, and claimed the diaspora influenced British politicians into ensuring a Sri Lankan soldier was found guilty by a British court of violating the Public Order Act last week.

Sri Lanka maintains a moratorium on death penalty until March 2020

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has decided to postpone a decision on the use of the death penalty to execute four drug offenders until 20 March 2020. This decision was reached today after the court heard a petition from NGOs, human rights groups, and Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission who are challenging the demands of the former President Maithripala Sirisena. Sirisena has previously vowed to implement the death penalty to excuse a drug offender before he left the office and has consistently called for the use of the death penalty despite human rights concerns. Read more here: Sri Lankan...

Vadamarachchi locals protest against illegal sand miners 

Illegal sand miners have fled from sites in Vadamarachchi, Jaffna, after three days of unauthorised sand mining operations, due to deep concern and protests from local residents. The sand racket was first carried out in the eastern area of Vadamarachchi, Kudarappu, on Friday by sand miners equipped with hundreds of tillers and bulldozer vehicles. The illegal operation was met with huge discontentment from both locals residents and officials. There were public protests against the illegal sand miners which resulted in them retreating out of the area with their vehicles and machinery. Earlier...

Sri Lanka's foreign secretary threatens Swiss Embassy employee with legal action

Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary, Ravinatha Aryasinha, has warned the Swiss Embassy employee who was abducted, that her status as a Sri Lankan citizen means she is liable to face legal action if found in breach of law.

Sri Lankan Defence Secretary assumes office of TRC Chairman

Kamal Gunaratne, Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary, has been appointed chairman of Sri Lanka’s Telecommunications Regulatory Commissions (TRC). The TRC is now under the direction of the Defence Ministry. They claim to be working to improve infrastructure and follow the vision of Gotabaya Rajapaksa by developing 5G technology nationwide. Kamal Gunaratne is accused of overseeing war crimes during his role as Sri Lankan military commander. Read more here: Another accused war criminal takes office in Sri Lanka Read the Daily Financial Times reporting here .

Lawyers and Swiss embassy officials accompany employee to Sri Lanka's CID

Swiss embassy officials and lawyers accompanied an embassy employee who was abducted on November 25, as she gave a statement to Sri Lanka's Criminal Investigations Department earlier today, the Daily Mirror reported. The employee arrived at the CID with her lawyers, after Sri Lankan authorities had demanded she be interviewed by the Sri Lankan police. The Island reported that authorities also attempted to perform a medical examination, however, the employee refused. Earlier this week, the Colombo Chief Magistrate announced a travel ban against the Swiss embassy employee officially barring her...

Sri Lankan ministers lashes out at ‘imperialists’ and calls abduction a ‘diabolic lie’

A Sri Lankan government minister has slammed “Western countries” and “British imperialists”, commenting on a Swiss embassy employee being abducted in Colombo and the UK Conservative Party’s manifesto pledges on Sri Lanka. In a wide-ranging interview with the Sunday Observer published today, Wimal Weerawansa said that the abduction of the Swiss embassy employee was a “diabolical lie” and also rejected devolving land and police powers to provinces as per Sri Lanka’s 13th Amendment. “We vehemently condemn the Swiss embassy falling to such a degradable level,” Weerawansa said. “They are pained by...

Lack of Muslim ministers in Sri Lanka’s cabinet ‘just fine’ claims Muslim leader

The head of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress has said the lack of Muslim ministers in Sri Lanka’s latest cabinet is “just fine”, as he argued that the new government headed by an accused war criminal would treat all on the island fairly. “They won with a majority,” Rishad Bathiudeen told reporters in Colombo. “They can appoint the Cabinet as they want, that’s their right. If they see us too as Sri Lankans and if they treat us equally, that is enough for us.” See more from FT.lk here . Since Gotabaya Rajapaksa won last month’s presidential election, he has elevated military officials to senior...

Amnesty releases graphic novel highlighting Sri Lanka’s discrimination against LGBTI community

Amnesty International released a graphic novel highlighting the discrimination faced by LGBTI people in Sri Lanka. The novel, ‘Spectrum: Four Stories of Discrimination Faced by LGBTI People’, follows four characters to illustrate the ‘discrimination and violence in their daily lives, from workplace bullying to police harassment.’ Based on true events, the stories depict the ‘alarming ways the police in Sri Lanka handle cases involving LGBTI people.’ Sri Lanka continues to use colonial laws such as the Penal Code and the Vagrant Code to target LGBTI people. ‘Section 399 of the Penal Code bans...

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