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...

Sri Lanka races to be another genocidal Myanmar

An editorial by the New Straits Times raises concern over the discriminatory legislation adopted by the Sri Lankan government, warning that the burqa ban and closure of over a thousand madrasahs, highlight that Sri Lanka “races to be another genocidal Myanmar”. In their piece, they highlight how Muslim and Christians launched legal challenges against the government’s draconian policy of forced cremations which violated religious liberty and noted the Supreme Court’s dismissal without calling for evidence. The piece further criticises the ban on the burqa, highlight criticism from human rights...

The Tamil Nationalist Case Against Kendriya Vidyalaya

“I studied Tamil ma’am.” This seemingly innocuous statement poleaxed my new history teacher. I had just completed Class 10 (the Indian equivalent of GCSE) and recently joined the Kendriya Vidyalaya, a system of schools run by the central Ministry of Education, for the final two years of my schooling. My history tutor was shocked because the school did not offer the language I said I studied until the previous year. And it was compulsory to do a language in addition to English in order to be eligible to sit the final exams (A Levels). One might presume that I’d have moved out of Tamil Nadu for high school. I kid you not, I still lived in the heart of Chennai, the capital of the only Tamil-speaking state in the Indian union!

'In Sri Lanka, India Must Do More Than Pay Lip Service to Tamil Concerns'

Writing in The Wire this week, Tamil Guardian features editor Thusiyan Nandakumar said the Indian government must “do more than pay lip service to Tamil concerns”. Describing escalating tensions between India and Sri Lanka, Nandakumar said it “follows a long history of Sri Lankan ‘Indo-phobia’, driven by a protectionist, Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism that has been central to the island’s politics since independence”. In India, as elections loom in Tamil Nadu, “outrage over Sri Lanka’s actions has been growing,” he added. “These are sentiments that Modi will be acutely aware of, having raised them himself during a trip to Tamil Nadu’s capital earlier this month. In an address where he lauded the southern state, he took care to mention the plight of Indian fishermen arrested by Sri Lankan security forces and reaffirmed his commitment to “the welfare and aspirations of our Tamil brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka”. “We are always committed to ensuring that they live with equality, justice, peace and dignity,” he said.”

'UN Should Suspend Sri Lanka from Peacekeeping Over Human Rights Abuses'

The United Nations Department of Peace Operations should "immediately suspend the deployment of Sri Lankan peacekeepers" over Sri Lanka's failure to investigate and prosecute international crimes and the promotion of "alleged war criminals to perform high-level state functions," Yasmin Sooka, Executive Director at the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) wrote for Just Security. "Sri Lanka has explicitly stated that it will not hold accountable its 'war heroes' amongst them Army Commander Shavendra Silva and Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne, who have been named by UN High...

The Human Rights Council must establish an accountability mechanism for Sri Lanka’s victims

Writing in Just Security , Laurel E. Fletcher, Clinical Professor of Law at UC Berkeley, highlights the urgency for members of the Human Rights Council to exercise its power to “establish a mechanism that builds on prior U.N. efforts to investigate atrocity crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s armed conflict and collects and preserves evidence to support international and foreign prosecutions”. In her statement she slams the proposed consensus resolution being put forward by the Sri Lankan government as a ploy to shield perpetrators from facing justice. “This proposal for a consensus...

'Prevention should be at the heart of the UNHRC resolution'

Alan Keenan, senior consultant for the International Crisis Group, has called for the UN Human Rights Council must go beyond looking at issues of accountability to focus “on preventing a return to violence and be followed by a sustained international effort to persuade the Sri Lankan government to pull back from its dangerous trajectory”.

'Rajapaksa's election has closed every door to human rights and accountability in Sri Lanka'

The daughter of murdered Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge said that “Rajapaksa’s election has closed every door to human rights and accountability in Sri Lanka” in a piece for the Washington Post this week, as she called for the international community to ensure “murderous autocrats pay a price”. “I hold Rajapaksa responsible,” wrote Ahimsa Wickrematunge.

Heeding Victims’ Voices: The Struggle of Tamil Families of the Disappeared in Sri Lanka

Writing in Just Security, Dharsha Jegatheeswaran, Co-Director of the Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research, a human rights think-tank based in Jaffna, illustrates how the “Tamil families of the disappeared have shown, there is no hope for truth and justice domestically in Sri Lanka”. “The only way to provide these families their long-overdue answers and justice to all victims in Sri Lanka is to break the seal around the military through international accountability”, she maintains.