‘Sri Lanka Uses Pandemic to Curtail Free Expression’ – HRW

Following the outbreak of coronavirus on the island, “Sri Lanka’s inspector general has ordered police to arrest those who ‘criticise’ officials involved in the coronavirus response, or share ‘fake’ or ‘malicious’ messages about the pandemic,” writes Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Blanket censorship and threats of arrest for speech not only violate Sri Lanka’s obligations under international human rights law, but are counter-productive,” she added. “Sri Lankans’ concerns that their rights will be respected are particularly crucial since President...

Freeing soldier convicted for massacre dashes hopes for accountability in Sri Lanka - The Hindu

The Hindu said there has been “justified outrage” after a Sri Lankan soldier on death row, who had been convicted over the murder of Tamil civilians, was pardoned by Sri Lanka’s president. “It hardly needs emphasis that the exercise of the power of pardon is an act of compassion, and not a tool for political or electoral messaging,” said The Hindu.

Presidential pardon emphasises the state's privilege and denial of justice - Ambika Satkunanathan

Lawyer, human rights advocate and former Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, Ambika Satkunanathan, questioned the basis for the presidential pardon of Sunil Rathnayake and the legitimacy of the process, and used the case to underline the challenges Tamil families’ face in holding perpetrators accountable and obtain justice.

A military mindset: Sri Lanka’s response to the coronavirus pandemic

By calling on a military accused of egregious rights abuses to lead a public health operation, the Sri Lankan government risks “exacerbating existing ethnic divides, endangering human rights and civil liberties even further, and furthering the violent militarization of the island,” wrote Tamil Guardian's editor-in-chief Thusiyan Nandakumar in the Polis Project this week.

‘Tamil women fighting for land 10 years after war ended’ - Al Jazeera

Tamil women “have been protesting for the past three years, demanding army returns their land confiscated during the civil war,” Al Jazeera reports. Chandraleela Jasinthan and her neighbours were forced out of their homes during the last days of the civil war. 10 years later and the army is still occupying their land. “For more than three years, Jasinthan and dozens of other women in Keppapilavu have held one of the longest protests in Sri Lanka’s history at the entrance to an army camp they say was built on their ancestral land.” Keppapilavu protesters denouncing the occupation of their land...

‘Civil libertarians and economists quake at prospect of Rajapaksa landslide’ - The Economist

The prospect of the Rajapaksa clan capturing a two-thirds majority in the upcoming Sri Lanka parliamentary elections has left many on the island fearing what the future may hold, reports The Economist this week. “They could roll back constitutional changes brought in by the previous government that trimmed the president’s powers,” it said this week. “They could also, fear some among the 30% of the island’s 22m people who are not part of the Sinhalese Buddhist majority, scrap efforts to reconcile the country’s different ethnicities and religions after the murderous civil war of 1983-2009...

Criminalising solidarity for the Rojava struggle: An epitome of failure to stand up to Turkey's dictatorship and ethnic cleansing

Paul Newey and his son, Dan Newey were both charged for terrorism-related offences in a pretrial hearing last month, as the British government continues to clamp down on people involved with and in support of the Rojava revolution.

‘Nearly 70 dead within three years in search for disappeared’ - JDS

“A large number of Tamils in Sri Lanka have died while in protest demanding the government to reveal the fate of their loved ones who are victims of enforced disappearances,”Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) reports. “Already 69 mothers in our protest have died due to stress and various illnesses without finding solution to their grievances,” Leeladevi Anandanadaraja, the General Secretary of the Association for the Relatives of the Enforced Disappeared told the 43rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Selvam Sivapakyam, from Mullaitivu, is one of the most...

‘Core Group should lead call for international justice mechanism for Sri Lanka’ - John Fisher

The Geneva Director of Human Rights Watch urged on the Core Group of countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council to lead the call for an international justice mechanism on Sri Lanka “instead of placing faith in empty government promises”. In a post published this morning, John Fisher said that “it was particularly disappointing that the UN Core Group on Sri Lanka – including the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, North Macedonia, and Montenegro – did not stand by the numerous victims of abuses by calling for renewed Human Rights Council action”. “In its statement, the Core Group merely...

‘Sri Lanka’s Tamils fear discrimination under new President’

Sri Lanka’s Tamils who are “concentrated in the country’s north say the area still suffers from a lack of development, despite promises by its new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa,” Charles Stratford reports for Al Jazeera. A decade on from the end of the armed conflict, “government promises of investment have all failed to materialise.” Gotabaya is “deeply distrusted” by Tamils due to his role as the Defence Secretary in 2009, where he oversaw the military offensive that killed tens of thousands of Tamils. “Tamils voted overwhelmingly against Rajapaksa in the November election and are trying to...