Sri Lanka to host England on ‘sub-standard’ cricket pitch

The venue of the first test match of England’s upcoming tour of Sri Lanka is currently without water or electricity. The stadium’s curator, Jayananda Warnaweera, said that supplies were cut off after bills were left unpaid by the Sri Lankan cricket board (SLC), which is under severe financial pressure. "Yes there has been an issue due to the financial crisis faced by the SLC. We discussed it with the SLC and I hope it will be settled by Tuesday," he told the BBC Sinhala service. Warnaweera insisted the pitch will be ready before the first test and hit out at criticism. “They only point the...

Sri Lankan Army General alleges war crimes in New York affidavit

A former Sri Lankan Army general has given an affidavit in New York alleging that the extrajudicial killing of civilians, surrendering cadres and dissident journalists were all organised by the Sri Lankan Government. The allegations were from a former general, who US news organisation Truthout as someone who was “extremely well-placed to comment on military activity” and “had high-level security clearance and access to the flow of orders during the final days of the conflict”. It is also reported that US State Department officials have met with the former general and have gathered “a rich...

Indian activists protest against Sri Lankan minister

Activists in India, carrying black flags and shouting slogans against the Sri Lankan government and the president, protested against Senthil Thondaman - Sri Lanka's sports and youth affairs minister and the provincial council member of Uva - during his visit to Tamil Nadu. The incident occurred by the Thirunallar Temple in Pondicherry. The group of around twenty activists are believed to be members of the the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi. According to reports, the police tried to stop the protest, however eventuallyresorted to escorting Thondaman away from the temple under heavy security...

Obama war crimes envoy to visit SL – report

Unconfirmed reports have said the United States’ Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues is due to visit Sri Lanka next week. Stephen J. Rapp is expected to have discussion with President Rajapakse and review the LLRC report ahead of the next UN Human Rights Council session due to commence on Feb 27. Sri Lanka’s Special Envoy for Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe, has already confirmed that the report will not be presented to the UN Human Rights Council. No official confirmation of the visit has yet been made.

Human rights groups condemn Shavendra Silva's appointment to UN

A coalition of human rights groups have condemned the appointment of Sri Lanka's former military general, Shavendra Silva, to the Special Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations, as " outrageous on many levels ". In a joint statement from Washington, released just before the appointment was announced, SPEAK Human Rights and Environmental Initiative, the UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic at American University Washington College of Law, the Center for Justice and Accountability and the Center for Constitutional Rights, said that such an appointment " would send an appalling message to the world: accused war criminals are legitimate authorities on peace ." Highlighting the Sri Lankan military's shocking record of abuses and sexual violence whilst being UN peace-keeping forces in Haiti , the rights groups called on the UN secretary general, Ban Ki Moon, "to reject or rescind" any such proposal " in the interest of human rights, justice and accountability ". The appointment was made despite overwhelming calls for an independent investigation into Silva's role in the conflict. In November of last year, ten international human rights organisations, including those mentioned above, urged the UN to suspend the diplomatic credentials of Silva as Sri Lanka's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN. The groups included: SPEAK Human Rights and Environmental Initiative, UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic at American University Washington College of Law, Center for Constitutional Rights, Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School, Human Rights USA, World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, TRIAL, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities, Society for Threatened Peoples. Shavendra Silva is also facing a lawsuit filed against him by the American University College of Law's UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic, for allegedly perpetrating and orchestrating war crimes during the final stages for the conflict. The full text of the statement, dated 27 Jan 2012, is reproduced below: Sri Lankan and international news outlets have reported that Shavendra Silva—a former military general in the Sri Lankan army who stands accused of war crimes and torture—has been selected for a position in U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations. This appointment is outrageous on many levels , according to a coalition of human rights groups including SPEAK Human Rights and Environmental Initiative, the UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic at American University Washington College of Law, the Center for Justice and Accountability and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Silva played a central role in the Sri Lankan Army’s brutal military campaign against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which caused up to 40,000 civilian deaths and incalculable suffering, and violated fundamental principles of international humanitarian and human rights law .

International mediation of talks welcome - TNA

Following the stalled talks, the TNA stated they would welcome "international facilitation" of any future talks with the government of Sri Lanka, if the government approved. The TNA's media spokeperson, Suresh Premachandran, said, “There is no favoured choice in this case. However, we are for an external facilitator if the government is willing,” According to reports, TNA MPs Selvam Adaikkalanathan and P Sritharan have urged the US to take on this role.

MEPs support Sri Lanka’s ‘whitewash’

A group of EU parliamentarians have highlighted the need for Europe to support Sri Lanka’s reconciliation and reconstruction efforts. The lawmakers’ stance ignores the criticisms of the LLRC by various governments , human rights organisations and Tamil groups on the island and in the Diaspora . The group, led by Geoffrey Van Orden, said international organisation which dismissed the LLRC as a whitewash, “had been proved dramatically wrong". "Rather than constant harassment" on human rights issues, the EU should be more supportive of Sri Lanka’s steps towards reconciliation, said the group...

Government to set up 'media authority'

The Sri Lankan government will establish a media authority, by the end of the year, announced the media minister, Keheliya Rambukwella. Ramkukwella said the new body would aim to "obtain the support of the media persons in the development of the post-war Sri Lanka", as well as providing "training" to media workers. See related articles: Sri Lanka press freedom worsens – RSF (26 Jan 2012) Free press campaigners condemn Sri Lanka's proposed media regulation (10 Nov 2011) EU express ‘concern’ over website bans (08 Nov 2011) Sri Lanka bans opposition website (07 Nov 2011) Assaulted Uthayan editor...

Alleged war criminal appointed to UN Peace Keeping group

The suspected war criminal, Major General Shavendra Silva of the Sri Lankan Army, has been selected to the UN Special Advisory Group on Peace Keeping Operations on Thursday, representing the Asia-Pacific states. The body will mainly examine issues of reimbursing countries who donate troops to UN Peace Keeping Operations, such as Sri Lanka has done in Haiti. The General, who is Sri Lanka’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations has had a lawsuit filed against him in the United States, as well as ten different human rights organisations call to suspend his diplomatic credentials...

Oman may support SL if sanctions imposed on Iran cause crisis

A delegation from the Omani government has discussed ways to support Sri Lanka in the event of a crisis due to sanctions placed on financial institutions dealing with Iranian crude oil, according to a Sri Lankan official. "The two ministers discussed in detail how Oman could assist Sri Lanka in the event of a crisis, if Sri Lanka is unable to import crude oil from Iran," a ministry official with knowledge of the talks between Petroleum Minister Susil Premajayantha and Mohammad bin al-Rumhy told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Omani Oil Minister al-Rumhy is thought to have offered the sale...

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