Why Australia needs a permanent war crimes investigation unit – Rawan Arraf

Writing in the Australian paper, The Age, Rawan Arraf, Director of the Australian Centre for International Justice, argues that Australia needs a “dedicated and permanent program” to investigate and prosecute war criminals in Australia. This call follows Australia’s Brereton inquiry, an inquiry lead by Major-General Paul Brereton, who has been investigating unlawful killings by Australia’s Special Air Force, since 2016. The inquiry has thus far investigated more than 55 incidents of alleged unlawful killings and cruel treatment of Afghan civilians and captured combatants. Australia’s Federal...

Resisting the crackdown - Newsletter, 5 October 2020

Last week, Tamils across the North-East carried out a hartal , the most widespread protest to take place since Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa came into power, demonstrating against Colombo’s ongoing campaign to ban commemorations of those who gave their lives for Tamil rights. Sri Lankan police ordered businesses across the homeland to re-open, but traders defied the orders, signaling their discontent with the regime. Whilst surveillance and intimidation are not novel techniques used by the governing powers on the island, security forces have recently intensified their crackdown...

The rising cost of dowry

Writing in “The Caravan”, Amita Arudpragasam, highlights how increasing militarisation, war loss, and social pressures are increasing the burden on “Tamil women [...] to marry at any cost, which usually means an expensive dowry”

Only lip service - Indian Express Editorial

The Indian Express said talks of implementing the 13th Amendment, as discussed between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, is a “charade that isn’t going anywhere” in its editorial last week, as it criticised the “lip service” that both governments pay to resolve the Tamil national question. During the meeting, Modi pushed Sri Lanka to take forwards “the process of reconciliation with the implementation of the 13th Amendment” to which the Sri Lankan PM responded noncommittally maintaining that Sri Lanka would “work towards realising the...

‘International actors facilitated the entrenchment of impunity in Sri Lanka’

Eleven years since Mullivaikal, the end of Sri Lanka’s armed conflict in which tens of thousands of Tamils were massacred by the military at the behest of the state authorities, Sri Lanka is no closer to delivering transitional justice to the Tamil people or bringing war criminals to justice, writes Professor Kate Cronin-Furman, in the Foreign Affairs magazine. “In its rush to celebrate Sirisena’s election as the dawn of a new democratic era in Sri Lanka, international actors facilitated the entrenchment of impunity and squandered a chance to protect vulnerable people,” writes Cronin-Furman. Whilst the previous government led by Sirisena put up a veneer of commitment towards ensuring accountability, the current Rajapaksa administration with their “unassailable mandate for their Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist politics and militaristic governing style spells disaster for human rights in Sri Lanka,” she adds.

Authoritarianism is on the rise in Sri Lanka – Abarna Selvarajah and Brannavy Jeyasundaram

Writing in Jacobin, Abarna Selvarajah and Brannavy Jeyasundara highlight the growing authoritarianism in Sri Lanka as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa plans to bring forwards a 20 th amendment to the constitution which will “expands the role of the presidential office and scales back constitutional checks and balances on executive powers”. The proposed amendment, which has been fiercely criticised, is aimed to replace the existing 19 th amendment, “which limits presidential powers by imposing term limits, [eliminates] presidential immunity from prosecution, and [requires] parliamentary oversight...

'They bombed my school' - An eyewitness account of the Nagarkovil massacre

I was 11 years old. It was just after lunch on Friday the 22nd of September 1995. That’s when we heard a large aircraft circling our village. The Sri Lankan Air Force dropped the first bomb nearby the school. At this point we were surrounded by large smoke, followed by a bang. There were several bombs dropped over the school and other parts of the village. I heard my friends screaming and running and then all of a sudden the whole place was chaotic. All the students ran in all directions. I can still see it.

Thileepan's Indomitable Spirit - Newsletter, 21 September 2020

On 15th September 1987, Lt. Col. Thileepan, a political wing leader with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), began his hunger strike, demanding that the Indian government honour the pledges it made to the Tamil people. His fast lasted 11 days, during which he was surrounded by over 100,000 supporters. On 26th September 1987, he died. Despite 33 years passing, the original demands he made are still pertinent to issues facing the Eelam Tamil nation. The pledges centered on releasing Tamils detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act; ending the Sinhala colonisation of the North-East...

Britain’s support of Sri Lankan war crimes was part of 'imperial interests' – Professor Jude Lal Fernando

Speaking to Sputnik News, Professor Jude Lal Fernando, from Trinity College Dublin, illustrates that Britain’s complicity in Sri Lankan war crimes was not incidental, nor the actions of a few rogue actors, but rather part of a broader mission which was seen as safeguarding its “imperial interests”.

Tamils remember their loved ones - Newsletter, 7 September 2020

In the aftermath of Sri Lanka’s 2020 parliamentary election, the Rajapaksa regime was able to solidify its control over the country and effectively gain a two-thirds majority. There was never any misconception over what accused war criminal Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa had envisioned for the state, and within weeks , his newly appointed cabinet swiftly drafted a new 20th Amendment to the constitution. If approved, which seems likely, his office will be granted sweeping powers that in effect solidifies the executive presidency and remove a series of checks and balances. Whilst the...