Hartal across Tamil Nadu after father and son die in police custody

Shops across Tamil Nadu have closed in protest after the deaths of a father and son in Tamil Nadu police custody earlier this week, with widespread outrage across the state. Jayaraj, aged 58, and his 31-year-old son Fenix had been questioned by Sathankulam police for violating lockdown rules and keeping their mobile phone shop open for half an hour past lockdown in Thoothukudi. Police reportedly violently handled Jayaraj which evoked his son to intervene, further escalating hostility from police officers. The duo were taken into police custody at the Sathankulam police station, where they...

'Accountability should apply to everyone' says UN in call to investigate Karuna

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called for the Sri Lankan government-backed paramilitary leader Karuna to be investigated for crimes under international law, announcing that “accountability should apply to everyone in Sri Lanka". "We note that Karuna former LTTE commander and Government minister, is being questioned for alleged past crimes,” said the office in a tweet yesterday. “He should also be investigated for wholesale recruitment of child soldiers, a crime under international law. Accountability should apply to everyone in Sri Lanka."

Sri Lankan Court of Appeal blocks proceedings against Navy Commander over youth abduction case

Karannagoda sits in between Mahinda and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal issued an interim injunction Thursday, preventing the Colombo High Court from hearing a case against Former Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda and thirteen others accused of the disappearance and abduction of 11 youth. The Attorney General filed indictments with over 667 charges against the 14 individuals in connection with the torture, extortion, abduction and conspiracy to murder 11 youths in 2008-2009. The Ex-Navy commander filed a petition before the Court Appeals stating the original case filed by...

TNA candidate fears Sri Lanka’s miltiarisation may hinder free voting in elections

Shanthi Sriskantharajah, a parliamentary candidate from Vanni, has written to the election commission in which she called for the reduction of the Sri Lankan military presence in Mullaitivu, to create conditions conducive for conducting peaceful and democratic elections this year. Sriskantharajah, an ex-MP and the candidate of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) for the Vanni constituency in the upcoming parliamentary elections, wrote the letter to the Assistant Election Commissioner K Gandeeban, calling attention to the various difficulties that people in Mullaitivu have been facing due to the...

Sinhalisation in the East - Kallady

Photograph by @streetsoftamileelam After Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa established an all Sinhala task force, which includes Buddhist monks and alleged war criminal to “preserve the historical heritage of Sri Lanka” in the Eastern province, we take a closer look at Sinhalisation efforts that have already taken place in the region. While Sinhalisation is not a new phenomenon in the North-East, there has been an influx in the ‘rediscoveries’ of Sinhala Buddhist sites predominantly in Tamil and Muslim areas by Sri Lanka’s Department of Archaeology. There have been increasing concerns...

European Union note Sri Lanka’s failure to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act

The European Union (EU) have issued their annual report on “Human Rights and Democracy in the World” for 2019, in which they note that Sri Lanka has failed to repeal the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which was one of the key commitments made by Sri Lanka to secure a favourable trading relationship under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP+). The publication of their report follows a meeting between Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and EU envoys. The Daily Mirror states that this report is intended to mark the implementation of the EU Action plan set from 2015-2019...

HRW and Amnesty calls on Sri Lankan authorities’ to end persecution of journalist

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and three other international human rights groups condemned the Sri Lankan police authorities’ assault on journalist Dharisha Bastians and stated they should immediately stop the “targeting, intimidating and harassing” and ensure Bastians’ safety. In a joint statement released yesterday, co-signed by; The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch , and Front Line Defenders, they denounced the persecution of Bastians as an assault “on human rights and press freedom in Sri Lanka and that she...

Witnesses recount prisoner being beaten to death whilst Attorney General pledges reform

Witnesses have told a court inquiry of how prison officials beat a 25-year-old detainee to death earlier this year, as Sri Lanka’s Attorney General vowed to reform the island’s prison system. Kavinda Isuru Tissera was found dead in the Mahara Prison two months ago, prompting his parents to file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. Authorities allege he had fallen to his death in a failed escape attempt, but witnesses have now revealed how he was tortured and beaten to death by prison officials. “Policemen came and took him away in a jeep,” his mother R. M Karunawathie...

Sri Lanka slams Israel for settlements whilst continuing Sinhala colonisation

The Sri Lankan government has criticised Israel for “settlement expansion” in the West Bank and called for the implementation of UN resolutions regarding the “inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to statehood and the attainment of a two State solution,” even whilst Colombo continues its own Sinhala colonisation of the Tamil North-East.

Eelam Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu hard hit by coronavirus and lockdown

Tamil refugees from Eelam that are currently residing in camps across Tamil Nadu, have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown that followed, whilst continuing to face threats to their livelihood. Besides the threat of contracting the virus in the cramped refugee camps scattered across the state, most of them have also lost a means to earn a daily wage. “Prior to the lockdown, we had been working in areas beyond Cuddalore. But now, we are unable to go to work even within Cuddalore,” Gunarathinam, an inmate of Kurinjipadi camp near Cuddalore told ​BBC Tamil. More than 400 Eelam families reside at the camp. The sick and the elderly who are stricken with conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are being treated in hospitals like COVID-19 patients, they added, which subjects them to especially unpleasant ordeals.

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