Mounting Pressure - Newsletter, 14 June 2021

Last week, European Parliament passed a ground-breaking resolution on Sri Lanka decrying the deterioration of human rights and calling on the European Council to consider repeal of the GSP+ trading agreement and for targeted sanctions on Sri Lankan officials accused of war crimes. This follows a court ruling in Britain which maintained that peaceful Tamil activists faced the threat of ill-treatment in Sri Lanka, which the court described as an “authoritarian regime”. That same month, marking 12 years since the Mullaivaikkal massacre, US Congresswoman Deborah Ross introduced a bipartisan...

Fascism, Australian style

Writing in the Red Flag, Ben Hillier, highlights the plight of the Biloela Tamil refugee family who have been detained for over three years in Australia as well thousand of Tamil refugees who face the threat of deportation and torture in Sri Lanka. Government complicity Australian government gifting Sri Lanka aerial drones Hiller’s piece notes the draconian immigration policies adopted by successive Australian governments in response the arrival of Tamil refugees. Between 2009 and 2013, over 4,000 Tamil refugees sought asylum in Australia but in 2012 the Labour government instituted “enhanced...

A Surveillance State - Newsletter, 1 June 2020

Today marks 40 years since Sri Lankan security forces and state-sponsored Sinhala mobs set ablaze the Jaffna Public Library , the crucible of Tamil literature and heritage, which housed over 95,000 irreplaceable Tamil palm leaves, books and manuscripts. The burning has been etched in the hearts of Eelam Tamils as an act of genocide. Although 40 years have passed, no one has been held accountable for this painful unbearable loss of the Tamil nation. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s security forces continue to escalate their militarisation of the North-East. Last week, the Sri Lankan Air Force was seen...

Social Media Platforms are Silencing Social Movements

Rights groups and activists have long complained that social media platforms are taking down content that is integral for human rights activism around the world. This has ranged from deleting evidence of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, to suspending some accounts linked to the farmer’s protest in India, and, just this week, removing content highlighting the violence in Sheikh Jarrah. Some of these removals seem to be happening by accident and are reinstated shortly after, while others are driven by mass reporting by digital activists working for various authoritarian governments.

'Australia Is Supporting the Oppression of Tamils in Sri Lanka'

Writing in Jacobin this week, Eelam Tamil filmmaker and member of the Tamil Refugee Council, Baranthan Vidhyapathy, said the Australian government has whitewashed the atrocities committed by Sri Lanka against Tamils and "helped equip Sri Lanka’s state security forces." Earlier this year, the Australian government supplied Sri Lankan police with five aerial drones despite supporting a United Nations resolution just months before, which warned of the deteriorating human rights situation on the island. "The drones were previously owned by the Operation Sovereign Borders Joint Agency Task Force,...

'We are bracing ourselves' – Fears over Sri Lanka’s rising coronavirus cases and its militarised response

As India grapples with a wave of coronavirus infections, Sri Lanka’s cases continue to hit daily highs, sparking fears of deadly infections being met with an intensified authoritarian response from the state.

Sri Lanka: Discrimination against Muslims and Tamils is getting worse

Writing in Middle East Eye, Strategic Advisor to People for Equality and Relief in Sri Lanka (PEARL), Mario Arulthas highlights the deterioration of Tamil and Muslim rights in Sri Lanka as President Rajapaksa appears “committed to seizing any opportunity to hurt non-Sinhalese communities”. In his piece, he draws particular attention to Islamophobic legislation proposed to ban Islamic face coverings and close over 1,000 Islamic schools, under “national security” concerns. These moves he notes follow a long history in which the Sri Lankan state has “used laws to marginalise vulnerable...

UN Human Rights Council Outlines Sri Lanka Abuses, But Demurs on Action

Writing in Just Security, Professor Kate Cronin-Furman details how the recently passed UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution displays the inability and unwillingness of the UNHRC to impose an accountability model on Sri Lanka but also highlights “a genuine desire to grapple with persistent impunity and the worsening human rights situation”. She notes that whilst the “anaemic actions it proposes, highlights the profound limitations on the Human Rights Council”; “read optimistically, the new resolution opens the possibility that the mandated 18 months of enhanced scrutiny and evidence-...

Bringing back terror

This week the Sri Lankan government issued a gazette announcing the proscription of hundreds of Tamils and several diaspora organisations, in a move that has generated shock and outrage across the world. The announcement, which renews and broadens a previous 2014 gazette is designed to criminalise, intimidate and terrorise. It must be immediately condemned.

How Britain Was Complicit in Sri Lankan War Crimes

Writing in The Tribune this week, Tamil Guardian Staff Writer Bharati Selvakumar commented on Britain’s historic and current support of Sri Lanka and “whether Britain will live up to its responsibilities and hold Sri Lanka accountable – or if the government will continue to whitewash this genocidal history”. Selvakumar described Britain’s “lip service” to the idea of accountability but repeated failures to take any meaningful action. Instead, Selvakumar notes how “ behind closed doors, the British government has continued arms sales, the training of Sri Lanka’s security forces, and has even...

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