Mannar Tamils commemorate 1985 Vankalai church massacre 

Locals in Mannar commemorated the 35th anniversary of the Vankalai church massacre this week, where Sri Lankan soldiers shot dead a Christian father and other Tamils. Armed Sri Lankan soldiers arrived at the Vankalai Church on January 6, 1985, and shot dead Father Mariya Bastian and nine other locals, including children who were living with him, at the entrance of the building. Commemorating the massacre, a remembrance ceremony was held outside the church yesterday. To date, no one has been held accountable for the killings.

Office of Missing Persons to be ‘reviewed’ announces Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan government has announced it will “review” the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) Act, which was brought in by the previous regime as part of its commitments to a UN Human Rights Council resolution on accountability. An official attached to Sri Lanka’s Justice Ministry told the Daily Mirror that the government had held a preliminary discussion on the act, though added: “it is too early to say whether it would be repealed or not”. “We have to review it properly and then decide,” he said. Though the previous government had pledged the OMP would be an effective mechanism to probe...

Smiles and selfies as opposition Sri Lankan MP is arrested

United National Party (UNP) parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake has been released on bail after having been arrested by Sri Lankan police, for allegedly not having renewed the license of a weapon that had been provided by the government. Ramanayake’s arrest makes him the third opposition leader to have been detained since Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s presidency began in November last year. The opposition parliamentarian said that the police had raided his house searching for drugs and instead left with files related to the murder of Wasim Thajudeen. He went on to tweet : “They have also taken a file I...

Brother, when the army caught me, I was only 17 years old.

S. Mahendran Prison Number Y-13139 “G” Ward, New Magazine Prison, Borella Colombo-09. September 16, 2007 Brother, even when I was 17, when I used to eat breakfast, I made rice balls out of the old rice, curd, sugar, salt and banana. Brother, when the army caught me, I was only 17 years old. I’ve been in prison for 14 years now. How many people have come here and gone? Nothing at all has changed. When I turned 19 I got sentenced a life sentence and 70 years in prison. When they sentenced me, I cried, Brother. Even when my mother tried to console me, I couldn’t bear it. She said, “you’re a man...

EU Ambassadors meet with Gotabaya

EU Ambassadors met with Sri Lanka’s President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to discuss economic and political development in Sri Lanka; where, Gotabaya rejected the possibility of devolving police control to the provincial councils. The meeting was headed by Denis Chaibi, the Ambassador of the EU for Sri Lanka, and included the Ambassador for Netherlands, Tanja Gonggrijp, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Italy Allegra Baistrochchi, Ambassador of Romania Dr. Victor Chiujdea, Ambassador of France Eric Lavertu and Ambassador of Germany Jörn Rohde. During the meeting, Rajapaksa rejected the idea...

Batticaloa Prison detainees protest following death of prisoner

Detainees in Batticaloa Prison protested following the death of a fellow prisoner on Sunday. Jamaldeen Mohamadu Najeem, a 28-year-old who was serving a prison sentence for failure to pay maintenance died on Sunday morning at Batticaloa Hospital, where he had been taken after contracting a fever. Over two dozen detainees climbed the roof of the prison his and clamoured for an investigation into the mysterious circumstances around the young prisoner’s death. The protest caused panic among prison staff and Sri Lankan soldiers were called in to back up the prison security.

Sri Lanka police launch investigation into top CID investigator's departure

Sri Lanka’s police headquarters have launched a ‘special investigation’ into the departure of top organised crime investigator Nishantha Silva from the island following the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Silva, who fled to Switzerland in November 2019, had been credited with pushing through several high-profile cases implicating military and state personnel, including the abduction of 11 youths, with 13 navy personnel arrested in connection with the case and senior navy officials pending investigation. He had also been investigating the death of a Tamil detainee in police custody, as well as...

Media under fire

Several weeks into Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s presidency, journalists on the island are coming under increasing threat. Whilst the island has always been a dangerous place for the press, and for Tamil journalists in particular, over the last month there has been a worrying rise in intimidation, harassment and even physical assaults of media workers, alongside political activists and human rights defenders.

Tamil political prisoner arrested as teenager dies after 26 years imprisonment

The longest serving Tamil political prisoner who was arrested at the age of 17 in 1993 has died. Sellapillai Mahendran was arrested during a round-up in Batticaloa on September 27, 1993. Two years later, he was sentenced to 70 years in prison and life imprisonment based on a confession produced following a month of torture in detention. After appealing the conviction at Sri Lanka's Supreme Court, the 70-year sentence was reduced to 10 years but the life sentence was upheld. While some sources claim that his 1995 conviction was in connection with the alleged killing of 600 police officers in the East - an incident which took place three years prior when Mahendran was aged just 14 - his family said that they were never told the reason for his conviction.

First Eelam film to screen across Western countries receives rave reviews

Sinamkol, a film shot entirely in parts of Tamil Eelam has widely received rave reviews and is currently playing at a number of screens. Ranjith Joseph, the director described the film as one that importantly “talks about the economic and cultural struggles the Tamils face in Sri Lanka, post the war”. The cast and the production team reflect the range of Eelam Tamils across the globe with cast and crew sourced from the diaspora community and locally. The film received praise from numerous members of the film industry. Renowned actor, Nassar argued that the coverage received for the nations...