Thileepan's Indomitable Spirit - Newsletter, 21 September 2020

On 15th September 1987, Lt. Col. Thileepan, a political wing leader with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), began his hunger strike, demanding that the Indian government honour the pledges it made to the Tamil people. His fast lasted 11 days, during which he was surrounded by over 100,000 supporters. On 26th September 1987, he died. Despite 33 years passing, the original demands he made are still pertinent to issues facing the Eelam Tamil nation. The pledges centered on releasing Tamils detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act; ending the Sinhala colonisation of the North-East...

Sinhala Buddhist monks praise Rajapaksa for ‘walking the talk’

Sri Lanka’s Sinhala ‘Buddhist Advisory Council’ praised war crimes accused president Gotabaya Rajapaksa for “walking the talk” when it comes to following several of their recommendations this week, as the Rajapaksa regime continued its staunchly Sinhala nationalist policies. The council, which has been meeting regularly with the Sri Lankan president and other senior government members, was set up by Rajapaksa earlier this year. The senior Sinhala Buddhist clergy praised Rajapaksa for “executing several proposals put forward by them including protecting historical places with archeological...

British security firm Saladin tries to distance itself from war crimes committed in Sri Lanka

Reporting in Declassified UK, journalist Phil Miller, reveals attempts by one of Britain’s oldest private security companies, Saladin, to distance itself from a mercenary organisation known as Keenie Meenie Services (KMS) which is currently being investigated by the Metropolitan Police for war crimes committed in Sri Lanka during the 1980s. According to Miller, not only did Saladin share an office building with KMS in west London but many of in senior staff held positions in both companies. KMS’s co-founder, Major David Walker, worked as a director of Saladin whilst working for KMS and is...

Sri Lanka will not ‘surrender’ to UN – cabinet spokesperson

Sri Lankan minister and cabinet spokesperson Keheliya Rambukwella said his government would not “surrender” to the UN Human Rights Council, as Colombo continued to deny reports of war crimes committed by senior military officials who have been promoted to government positions. Speaking to reporters, Rambukwella said “if we surrender as a country we would have to accept everything that is said by the UNHRC as true”. His comments come after Sri Lankan told the UN Human Rights Council that reports of war crimes committed by its military are “unacceptable” and the regime defended its pardon of a...

'We did not come from fire, we were born in it' - In Conversation with Shan Vincent de Paul

Photograph by Gajan Bala Shan Vincent de Paul who goes by the moniker SVDP, is a Toronto-based Tamil rapper and director. His debut album "Saviors" was released in 2016, followed by his sophomore album "Trigger Happy Heartbreak" in 2017. Shan has released a song from his upcoming album "Made in Jaffna" - titled "One Hundred Thousand Flowers" . The song reflects on the Tamil genocide. It shares name with a foundation newly founded by Shan, which aims to foster music, arts and culture for the Tamil community globally, with an emphasis on youth and those who have been affected by the armed...

UK Human Rights Counsellor questions Sri Lanka’s ‘commitment to transitional justice’

Following the report of UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Pablo de Greif, the UK Human Rights Counsellor, Matthew Forman, expressed ‘concern’ and ‘profound disappointment’ over Sri Lanka’s progression on transitional justice. In the statement, Forman reiterated the UK’s “profound disappointment” at Sri Lanka’s decision to withdraw support for resolution 30/1. Read more here: Core Group reiterate 'profound disappointment' over Sri Lanka's withdrawal from UN resolution The UK Human Rights Counsellor also expressed concern over...

20th Amendment to the constitution revisited amidst public pushback

An expert committee to examine the 20th amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution is to be following growing public concerns that the amendment would remove parliamentary oversight and centralise power within the presidency. The 20th amendment has also faced opposition from within the SLPP. On Monday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, spoke about the dangers of the amendment saying; “I am troubled that the new government is swiftly reneging on its commitments to the Human Rights Council… Among other developments, the proposed 20th Amendment to the constitution may...

Over a dozen Sri Lankan police officers arrested

Over a dozen Sri Lankan police officers from the country’s Police Narcotic Bureau (PNB) have been arrested for their alleged involvement in an illegal drug ring. According to Al Jazeera, the officers from the PNB helped to smuggle illicit drugs into the country; store them within safe houses; ran fake raids; and then siphoned off a set portion of the stolen goods, securing millions in profit. 18 officers from the Police Narcotic Bureau have been detained, along with five civilians, have been detained and an arrest warrant has been issued for the suspected ringleader, Udara Sampath, who is...

Ramzy Razeek released on bail after 5 months of Sri Lankan detention

Amnesty International announced that Ramzy Razeek, an online activist was granted bail by the Colombo High Court after a hearing on Thursday morning, after spending more than five months behind bars in Sri Lankan detention. Razeek was arrested in April after he wrote a post on his Facebook wall on the need for an “ideological Jihad” to stop organized anti-Muslim propaganda. His post was met with violence against him and his family, leading the activist to declare he would be self-censoring due to the treats he faced. He complained to the Sri Lankan Police about the threats he was receiving on...

Sri Lankan police complain about ‘Eelam’ banners as Shivajilingam granted bail

Former Northern Provincial Council member Shivajilingam has been released on bail by the Jaffna Magistrate Court after he was arrested by the police for paying tribute to thiyaga theepam Lt Col Thileepan defying a ban imposed by Sri Lankan authorities on his commemoration. The court had imposed a ban on Thileepan’s commemoration on the grounds that he belonged to LTTE, an organisation proscribed in Sri Lanka. Shivajilingam defied the ban to pay his respects to the Tamil martyr at his memorial site in Koppay. During the hearing, the police accused Shivajilingam of contempt of court for defying...

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