On December 26th, 2004, over 35,000 people perished during the catastrophic tsunami that hit the coasts of the North-East and South of the island of Sri Lanka.
This week marked 21 years since the Mirusuvil massacre, where Sri Lankan soldiers murdered eight Tamil civilians in Jaffna, including three children, before dumping their bodies in a mass grave. Earlier this month, the US State Department announced that Sunil Rathnayake, one of the soldiers involved in the massacre, would be barred from entry to the United States over his role in the killings.
During a graduation ceremony, students at the University of Colombo refused to accept their degree certificates from the newly appointed University Chancellor, and Rajapaksa-aligned, Buddhist monk Muruththettuwe Ananda. The act of protest follows a statement by the University of Colombo’s Science Teachers’ Association (UCSTA) expressing their opposition to Ananda's appointment as Chancellor. The UCSTA highlighted that “even though the Chancellor’s role is mostly ceremonial, the person who holds the position ideally should have a track record of flawless professional and personal integrity,...
Responding to the ongoing economic crisis in Sri Lanka, Fitch Rating agency has downgraded the country’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘CC’, from ‘CCC’, a move that reflects the dire state of Colombo's finances. “The downgrade reflects our view of an increased probability of a default event in coming months in light of Sri Lanka's worsening external liquidity position, underscored by a drop in foreign-exchange reserves set against high external debt payments and limited financing inflows. The severity of financial stress is illustrated by elevated government-bond yields and downward pressure on the currency” the report notes.
China’s ambassador to Sri Lanka continued his tour of the Tamil homeland today, visiting the historic Jaffna Library and Nallur Kandaswamy Temple, as well as meeting with fishing communities in the peninsula and in Mannar. The visit comes as Beijing looks to “to maintain contacts between Jaffna and China in the near future,” according to Ambassador Qi Zhenhong who addressed reporters whilst visiting the Jaffna library earlier today.
Today marks 15 years since the passing of the chief negotiator and political strategist of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Anton Balasingham. Balasingham, or as he was fondly known among Tamils - Bala Anna, was widely respected and adored by the nation. His charismatic addresses in venues around the world drew tens of thousands, as he provided political analysis with sharp wit. Leading LTTE delegations through numerous negotiations, Bala Anna eloquently and forcefully articulated the rights of the nation. His intellectual prowess and political acumen earned him respect from all sides of the negotiating table.
Tamil families of the disappeared marched across the North-East today in a series of rallies and demonstrations to mark International Human Rights Day, despite Sri Lankan military intimidation.
The Indian government has looked to expand several projects in the Tamil homeland, according to the latest press reports, as Sri Lanka’s finance minister Basil Rajapaksa faced criticism over his visit to New Delhi last week with claims that he “went to beg from India”. Rajapaksa’s visit came as Sri Lanka sought crucial financial support from India amidst a deepening economic crisis and growing tensions between the neighbours. He agreed a four-point economic plan with New Delhi, which alongside the offer of a much-needed currency swap to assist Sri Lanka during its financial crisis, also included “facilitating Indian investments in different sectors in Sri Lanka” and an agreement to develop the Trincomalee Tank Farm – a reversal from a previous Sri Lankan position.
Sri Lanka Podjuana Peramuna (SLPP) parliamentarian Mahinda Samarasinghe, a staunch defender of the Rajapaksa regime, will take up the ambassadorial position in the United States following a request from Sri Lanka's president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, according to reports. Mahinda Samarasinghe who resigned from parliament on November 25, is expected to fly to the United States next week and assume his duties as ambassador in Washington DC. We take a look back through Samarasinghe’s history and how he has denied war crimes, rejected claims of media suppression and been a firm supporter of the Rajapaksas.
Sri Lanka’s finance minister and another brother of the Rajapaksa regime, Basil Rajapaksa, is in Delhi this week, as his government looks to India for crucial financial support amidst a deepening economic crisis and growing tensions between the neighbours. Rajapaksa arrived in Delhi on Tuesday, with a range of meetings scheduled. He is expected to meet with Indian prime minister Narendra Modia, as well as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and others.