Villagers from Iranaitivu staged a massive protest this week, sailing to their island which is occupied by the Sri Lankan military and marching to their homes, refusing to leave until they are guaranteed their land will be returned to them. In a striking and daring demonstration on Monday some 300 Tamils sailed to the island, which has been occupied by the Sri Lankan navy for years. Villagers marched from their protest site on the Kilinochchi district mainland to the coastline where their fishing boats had docked.
A ground-breaking report from the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) has identified 56 individuals in Sri Lanka’s notorious Special Task Force (STF) who should not be deployed as UN peacekeepers, including an officer currently serving in Africa accused of involvement in extrajudicial killings. The report is “based primarily on the testimony of Sinhalese security force witnesses” many of whom were involved in abductions themselves. The witnesses have supplied ITJP with names of commanding officers, alongside photographs, map coordinates and “detailed sketches of torture sites,” said the organisation. Former Tamil paramilitaries allied to the Karuna, Iniyabharathy and Pilliyan factions who worked alongside Sri Lankan security forces also provided testimony and evidence. It details how STF officers abducted, tortured and executed Tamils, conducted false flag operations to deceive ceasefire monitors and committed sexual violence. One STF troop described the abductions his team carried out in Colombo as “like a horror film”. Others details horrific incidents of deliberating making Tamil civilians dig in heavily mined areas knowing that they would be killed or eating a meal and drinking arrack whilst they burnt bodies of Tamil victims.
The Sri Lankan Army released 683 acres of land from the Vali North high security zone after 28 years of occupation, although of the three village divisions released no village has been returned in its entirety and army camps remain dotted among the released homes. Those who were able to return, returned to find their old homes and infrastructure completely demolished.
The Sri Lankan government has failed to respond to a United Nation Committee Against Torture (CAT) report, which called for information on the “establishment of a judicial mechanism” to investigate torture and information on the role of a former Criminal Investigations Department head, confirmed a UN official this week. Sri Lanka had until December 2017 to respond to the report, which was issued after the state was discussed at the 59th session of the UN CAT in 2016. However, the Tamil Guardian confirmed with the United Nations this week that Sri Lanka is yet to provide a response, though several months has passed since the deadline. Other states such as Armenia, Ecuador and Turkmenistan, which were also discussed at the 59 th session, have responded to the global body as required.
‘Sri Lanka’s Disappeared’, a documentary filmed and produced by British Tamil students to highlight the struggle of Tamil families of the disappeared protesting across the North-East was screened for the first time to a sell-out venue in London last month, with more screenings planned across the UK as well as around the world. The film by the British Tamil youth-led media platform, ’47 Roots’, centres the voices of the women protesting, who share their hopes and expectations, as well as the challenges they have faced in their search for justice. Further analysis from civil society and journalists in the North-East and the diaspora also features in the documentary. The premiere screening at King’s College London attracted a full house with tickets sold out days before the event.
In his report published ahead of the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said the " authorities have not yet demonstrated the capacity or willingness to address impunity for gross violations and abuses of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law ", arguing the failure to show major progress in emblematic cases strengthens the argument for " the establishment of a specialized court to deal with the most serious crimes committed by State actors in the context of conflict.....
A uniformed Sri Lankan officer motioned a death threat to Tamils in London today, who were protesting against Sri Lanka's celebration of Independence Day. The officer ran a finger across his neck motioning the slitting of one's neck, whilst he stood in front of the Sri Lankan High Commission in London, next to embassy officials.
Human Rights Watch today criticised the Sri Lankan government's failure to enact pledges to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act, releasing a 46 page report on ongoing and past abuses of detainees under the legislation. “The Sri Lankan government has been all talk and no action on repealing the reviled PTA,” HRW's Asia director, Brad Adams said. “Replacing this draconian counterterrorism law with one that meets international standards should be an urgent priority if the government is serious about protecting human rights.”
Today marks 25 years since the death of Sathasivam Krishnakumar alias Colonel Kittu, and nine other LTTE cadres, who committed suicide after being surrounded by Indian navy warships in 1993. Col. Kittu rose to public prominence as the LTTE’s Jaffna Commander from 1985-1987 and was based in the Paduvankarai region during the first phase of the war. He was later appointed head of the LTTE’s International Secretariat in London and was on his way home from the UK when his ship was intercepted. “ The former Jaffna Commander of the LTTE was on his way to meet the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran to brief him on the latest peace proposal arranged with the assistance of certain European countries to find a solution to the ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka ,” said a statement from the LTTE , released after his death.
Yesterday marked the 12th death anniversary of the late Tamil politician Joseph Pararajasingham, who was shot dead on Christmas Eve by armed government paramilitary men in 2005. Despite the present government's pledge of accountability and almost two years passing since the UNP-SLFP coalition came to power, no one has been held accountable for his death. Mr. Pararajasingham, who was a senior Tamil National Alliance (TNA) figure, and the MP for Batticaloa district, was shot and killed by two gunmen whilst he was attending Christmas prayers at the St Mary's church in Batticaloa town. His wife, Sugunam Pararajasingham was seriously wounded in the gunfire.