US Ambassador Samantha Power visits Jaffna

US Ambassador Samantha Power with Chief Minister of the Nothern Province C. V. Wigneswaran in Jaffna earlier today. (Photograph Tamil Guardian) UPDATED 18OO GMT

UN confirms existence of secret torture camps in Sri Lanka, calls on gov to reveal other possible locations

The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UN WGEID) announced that it had discovered a “secret underground detention cum torture center” located in Sri Lanka and called on the government to reveal the existence of other such centers if any existed. Speaking at a press conference concluding the UN team’s visit to Sri Lanka, Ariel Dulitzky, said that the center most probably would have been used from 2010 according to dates scribbled in blood on the walls. "We saw the dates that some people wrote on the walls. Clearly some of the latest dates were from 2010. We believe that it is an important discovery that should be investigated. Our understanding is that people were held there for very long periods of time," said the UN official. The UN investigator added that there was a high probability of other torture sites existing on the island. Mr Dulitzky stressed that the impunity in which disappearances had taken place in Sri Lanka had caused deep wounds in affected communities in Sri lanka.

Towns across North-East shut down in support of Tamil political detainees

Updated 12:00 GMT Shops and businesses in Jaffna are closed in support of hunger striking Tamil political detainees, who demand to be released (Photo: @uthayashalin) Several towns across the Tamil-dominated North-East have nearly completely shut down in a hartal in support of Tamil political prisoners. Shops, restaurants, banks, schools and other institutions, owned by Tamils and Muslims are closed in Batticaloa, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaitivu, Trincomalee and Vavuniya, locals told the Tamil Guardian on Friday. President Maithripala Sirisena was forced to cancel a visit to Batticaloa, where he was due to take part in the opening of a court complex. Some business owners in Jaffna town and Nelliyadi opened their shops after they were threatened by unidentified individuals, however later took part in the protest action, despite the threats.

Remembering Thamilselvan 8 years on

Photograph TamilNet S. P. Thamilselvan, the head of the political wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was assassinated by the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) on November 2nd, 2007. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights' (OHCHR) report into Sri Lanka's atrocities (OISL) noted that Sri Lanka's military killed the LTTE's political head before it officially withdrew from the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) in 2008. It noted that the attack was preceded by a military budget that "had reportedly risen by 40 percent and the Army had tripled in size from 100,000 to 300,000, with almost an additional 5,000 troops recruited per month between 2005 and 2008". The death of Thamilselvan, who became the LTTE's top peace negotiator following the death of Anton Balasingham, was mourned across the world, with over 25,000 Tamils attending his funeral. Five other LTTE officials - Lt. Col. Anpumani (Alex), Major Mikuthan, Major Neathaaji, Lt. Aadchiveal and Lt. Maavaikkumaran - were killed along side Brigadier Thamilselvan, during the SLAF attack. The aerial bombardment targeted the residence of members of the LTTE's political division.

Northern Province begins marking 'meaningful' month of remembrance

The Northern Province today said the month of November will be dedicated to planting trees. The project, which will see 500,000 trees planted, was inaugurated by Chief Minister Wigneswaran. TNA MPs Sritharan, Saravanapavan and Siddharthan, the NPC's agricultural minister Aiyngaranesan and education minister Gurukularajah, NPC Councillor Ananthy Sasitharan and several other officials attended the event in Semmani, alongside pupils from local schools.

30 Oct 1995: Jaffna exodus as Tamils flee for Vanni ahead of SL military advance

On October 30, 1995, over half a million Tamil men, women and children fled their homes in Jaffna, ahead of a major military offensive by the Sri Lankan government led by Chandrika Kumaratunga, in what became known as the Jaffna Exodus. The entire town of Jaffna, the largest Tamil population centre in Sri Lanka, streamed out in a mass exodus for the safety of the Vanni, which was then controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Walking for several miles east, crossing the Navatkuli bridge, the throngs of people, carrying whatever they could manage, made their way to the neck of the Jaffna peninsula, before making the dangerous boat journey on to Kilinochchi.

15 years since Bindunuwewa prison massacre

Police officers who were convicted but then released on appeal for the massacre of Tamil political detainees in 2000 (Virakesari) Fifteen years ago an armed mob of Sinhala villagers stormed a rehabilitation centre and killed at least 28 Tamil youths, as security forces stood by and even joined in. The centre in the southern town of Bindunuwewa was jointly run by several bodies, including the Presidential Secretariat, under then-president Chandrika Kumaratunga, the Child Protection Authority, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Reconstruction. Dozens of Tamil youths in their late teens and early twenties were held here on suspicion of supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, supposedly undergoing rehabilitation for a few months before their release. A few days before the massacre, detainees protested against prolonged detention, sometimes over a year, and the deliberate withholding of letters from relatives by the authorities. The next morning a mob of local Sinhalese, reported by UTHR to be 2,000 strong, had formed outside the detention facility. They entered the centre and attacked the inmates with knives, machetes, clubs and iron rods, and set fire to the residence halls. Police officers stood by and in at least one instance opened fire on the inmates. A military detachment in the area was also withdrawn the previous day, indicating a premeditated attack.

Thousands attend funeral of former LTTE official in Kilinochchi

Updated: 2100 GMT Photographs: Tamil Guardian Thousands of Tamils in Jaffna attended the funeral of the former head of the Women’s political wing division in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Subramaniam Sivakamy. Her funeral was attended by Tamil politicians from across the North-East, including from the TNA, TNPF and TULF.

Triumphant return for president who 'achieved a great victory' at UNHRC, as he pledges 'domestic inquiry'

Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena returned from his trip to the UN General Assembly in New York to a triumphant welcome, as Singhalese across the south celebrated the UNHRC resolution as a victory over the imposition of international involvement in a hybrid mechanism. Huge crowds had gathered at the airport to receive the president, as Buddhist monks chanted and bestowed blessing on him. Speaking soon after his arrival, President Sirisena said Sri Lanka "achieved a great victory" , as the international community appreciated steps taken by the government to address human rights concerns, while the government succeeded in averting the " electric chair ", an international investigation, and a hybrid special court in the resolution passed on Thursday.

Consensus resolution on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka adopted at UNHRC

A consensus resolution to deal with the findings of the UN report into Sri Lanka’s atrocities was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday. The consensus resolution was passed after two weeks of intense drafting negotiations between the co-sponsors, the government of Sri Lanka and civil society activists. CJA warns against attempts to 'water down' UN resolution on Sri Lanka (24 Sep 2015) The resolution was initially drafted by a core group of sponsors, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America and Sri Lanka. Albania, Australia, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Poland and Romania signed on to the resolution as co-sponsors. Welcoming the resolution, Sri Lanka's envoy thanked the council for its support to pass the resolution. Addressing the human rights council the envoy added, "We are eager to commence widespread recommendations in a manner to expand the ownership of the resolution to all relevant stake holders." See also: Sri Lanka says it is ready to begin consultations (02 Oct 2015) Tamil diaspora critical for meaningful dialogue on Sri Lanka says South Africa (02 Oct 2015) India reiterates need for meaningful devolution of political authority in Sri Lanka (02 Oct 2015) Sri Lanka must ‘undertake a difficult but essential journey’ - US (02 Oct 2015) See finalised text of resolution A_HRC_30_L29 here . See live twitter feed from statements here . The United States said the goal of the recently passed resolution at the UN Human Rights Council is to “to help Sri Lanka undertake a difficult but essential journey”, with Ambassador Keith Harper telling the council "we welcome that this resolution recognizes the critical role of continued OHCHR engagement.” Sri Lanka must ‘undertake a difficult but essential journey’ - US (02 Oct 2015) Speaking to Tamil press shortly after the resolution was passed, TNA Member of Parliament MA Sumanthiran said, "The resolution was a landmark step forward in the process to achieve accountability, yet there was still a long way to go. To achieve the results we want we will have to participate in the process and work with it to our advantage." Speaking to the Tamil Guardian shortly after the resolution was passed, Human Rights Watch Geneva Director John Fisher said, "The government have committed to the expectations and benchmarks in the resolution by co-sponsoring it. Whatever one feels about what may come of the next steps, it seems they are keen to re-establish relations with international community after the tough past. The opportunity now lies before them. Of course the real proof is the extent to which they engage meaningfully with consultations, setting up time frames and deliverables and begin to implement recommendations. Some are complicated and will take time such as what a court with international involvement would look like. However things like legislative reform and engagement with various communities and the messaging they send out domestically about their commitments can be done in the short turm. We will soon see the extent of their commitments to bring about full implementation of the resolution. " See also: