Jaffna conference marks 50th year since uprising against caste and untouchability

Marking the 50th year since the 21st October 1966 uprising against caste and untouchability in Sri Lanka, the Mass Movement for Social Justice held a conference today in Kokuvil, Jaffna. A series of academics and activists spoke about the history of the struggle against caste on the island and also about the ongoing perpetuation of caste-based discrimination and the disregard paid to it by Tamil political parties and leaders. Speaking about caste in the education system, one local activist, Ahalya, explained that while students from all different castes could now go to the same school, you...

British Tamil Conservatives host annual reception at party conference

The British Tamil Conservatives hosted their annual reception at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham on Tuesday. Held in the prestigious Castle Fine Art gallery, the BTC event has become a popular fixture in the conference calendar, and as customary was attended by several MPs and high-profile Conservatives who expressed their support for the Tamil community in their struggle for human rights.

Thousands take part in Ezhuka Tamil rally in Jaffna

Thousands of Tamils from across the North-East participated in the Ezhuka Tamil rally (Rise Up Tamil) in Jaffna today. The rally, which was organised by the Tamil People's Council, raised awareness about key issues of concern for the Tamil people, including ongoing militarisation and state sponsored Sinhala colonisation of the Tamil homeland, the need for an international investigation into mass atrocities committed against the Tamil people, the continued detention of Tamils under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the need for a political solution based on a federal model which recognises the Tamil nation and its right to self-determination. See full declaration here . Organisers estimate that approximately 10,000 people attended the rally, making it the largest Tamil rights protest since the end of the armed conflict more than 7 years ago. A procession from Nallur was joined by another from Jaffna University and gathered at Muttaveli for the main rally, which saw speeches from politicians and activists. As crowds gathered outside the famous Nallur temple, the arrival of Northern Province Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran signalled the start of the rally. After Justice Wigneswaran cermeoniously broke coconuts, crowds marched thorugh the streets of Jaffna, holding placards and chanting slogans.

Flowers and prayers for victims of Nagarkovil massacre

Schoolchildren at the Nagarkovil Maha Vidyalayam clasp their hands in prayer, in remembrance of the children that were killed on the same spot 21 years ago. The 21 st anniversary of the Nagarkovil massacre was marked in Jaffna on Thursday evening. The parents of schoolchildren killed in the Sri Lankan bombing raid laid flowers on a monument at the site of the attack, as they remembered the lives lost in the massacre. On September 22, 1995, SLAF aircraft bombed the Nagarkovil Maha Vidyalayam school yard crammed with 750 children on their lunch break, killing 26 – of whom 12 were six or seven...

UN working group calls for international judges in Sri Lanka

The United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances at a press conference in Colombo in November 2015. Photogrpah: Colombo Gazette. The United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances said “international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators” to take part in a judicial accountability mechanism for human rights abuses, including disappearances. In a 22-page report released in Geneva today, the UN group reiterated the importance of including international actors in any accountability mechanism. “The road that leads to truth and justice is long but is the right one to...

The books of Visvamadu Library

In December 1995 the Sri Lankan army took control of Jaffna, which before that time had been held by the LTTE for many years. The Indian “peace keeping” force had briefly captured it in 1987. The armed resistance retreated into the Vanni area, situated below the Jaffna peninsula, covering about 7650 square kilometres. The Vanni, held by the LTTE from 1995, would go on to become the de facto state of Tamil Eelam until the start of the final offensive in 2008. The Visvamadu Library was built in 2006

We are prepared to die for our land – IDPs tell Mangala

Accompanied by the Sri Lankan military, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera visits Tamil IDPs in Jaffna.

Much to be done says US ambassador after visit to Jaffna

Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran, US Ambasador Atul Keshap and Minister of National Coexistence Dialogue Mano Ganesan as they arrived in Jaffna on a USAF aircraft.. The US ambassador to Sri Lanka, Atul Keshap, stressed that much remained to be done in order to ensure the implementation of the UN Human Rights council resolution on accountability and reconciliation, as he marked a historic trip to Jaffna this week.

From Ilankaiththurai to Lanka Patuna

The newly-built Buddhist temple at Ilankaithurai - re-named Lanka Patuna by the government. A bridge is being constructed to improve access to the site for the increasing number of Sinhala visitors. Tamil Guardian co-editor and PEARL Advocacy Director Mario Arulthas travelled to Trincomalee last month to report on how Tamils in the region are struggling with the Sri Lankan state's spread of Buddhism across the North-East.