Sri Lanka Monitoring and Accountability Panel urges independent evidence gathering mechanism

International lawyers from the Sri Lanka Monitoring and Accountability Panel called for an independent evidence gathering mechanism in the country, in an op-ed published in "Steps should include setting up an independent evidence-gathering mechanism related to atrocities for Sri Lanka with a similar mandate to those on Syria and Myanmar to investigate international crimes; and urging prosecutors in third states to pursue cases against Sri Lankan war criminals under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction," co-authors and lawyers Andrew Ianuzzi, Richard Rogers and Heather Ryan wrote.

‘US policy on Sri Lanka needs a reset’

US policy on Sri Lanka has over emphasised growing military relations “to the detriment of human rights accountability,” writes J S Tissainayagam in the Asian Correspondent this week. “The policy of western democracies – led by the United States – of over-emphasising military-to-military relations with Sri Lanka to the detriment of human rights accountability, has weakened their hand to play a constructive role in this crisis,” said Tissainayagam. “While Washington, with Europe and India were busy enhancing military relations, they lagged on persuading the Colombo to make good on its promises...

‘US rewarded Sri Lanka’s empty promises’ – Kate Cronin-Furman

The United States’ “failure to push Sri Lanka to implement key institutional reforms not only betrayed the victims of past abuses, but it will also create new ones”, writes Kate Cronin-Furman in a piece for Foreign Policy this week. “US officials who designed and implemented foreign policy on Sri Lanka over the last four years, based on a misguided acceptance of Rajapaksa’s ouster as a full-fledged democratic transition,” she says, adding that there was a “rush to accept limited progress as true change”. Yet, there was no evidence that the Sirisena administration was committed to the goal of...

‘Tamils condemned to choose between two security regimes’

As both Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ranil Wickremesinghe battle for the seat of Sri Lanka’s prime minister, Tamils on the island are “condemned to choose between two security regimes,” writes Kumaravadivel Guruparan in earlier today. “Every time we can make a difference, we are asked to support the actor that can guarantee, albeit marginally, our existence,” said Guruparan. “The reductionist reading of the Tamil struggle for self-determination, justice and accountability to a mere existentialist struggle will solidify Sinhala Buddhist ethnocracy in Sri Lanka, slowly but surely.” Speaking on the failure of the Sri Lankan government, led by Maithripalal Sirisena and Ranil WIckremesinghe, to fulfil promises to Tamils over the last three years, Guruparan says the regime “did nothing to reform the security establishment”.

Sri Lanka's Tamils are at imminent risk after Rajapaksa's return - PEARL advocacy director

Writing in Al Jazeera , the Advocacy Director for the Washington DC-based People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL), and a Human Rights Fellow at the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, Mario Arulthas, urged the international community to take urgent action to protect Tamils in Sri Lanka following the former president's return to power last week. "The Rajapaksa brothers have been plotting for a political comeback since their downfall in 2015. Tamil activists, who say they always knew Rajapaksas would one day return, are now revisiting their safety protocols, switching to secure messaging apps and sharing emergency contact details," Arulthas writes. Read full article here .

The Failed Promise of Reconciliation in Sri Lanka

As Sri Lanka continues to go back on its promises to investigate and prosecute atrocity crimes, alternative avenues for justice must be found, writes People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL) Advocacy Director, Mario Arulthas. “Nearly 10 years after the end of the conflict, reconciliation and a sustainable peace are far off – contrary to what President Sirisena claimed in his speech at the UNGA,” wrote Arulthas in The Diplomat this week. “Sri Lanka has repeatedly gone back on its promises to investigate and prosecute atrocity crimes,” he said, adding “the international community cannot...

Thileepan, Hunger and Remembrance: Why Do We Starve?

Starvation occurs in three phases. First, the body halts consumption of glucose, its primary energy source. Then, it scrapes away at fat deposits. Once those are depleted, it finally cannibalizes muscle mass to feed the brain. The body enters a delicate balancing act, substituting glucose for fat and eventually protein, until organ function is affected and results in death. The ultimate cause of death, in general, is cardiac arrest or the stopping of the heart. At its core, starvation is a process of desperate sacrifice.

Remembering The Sencholai Massacre — A Gendered Attack on Tamil Women

- Brannavy Jeyasundaram It was August 14, 2006; two years after the earth-shattering tsunami had ravaged Sri Lanka, leaving its people in destitute. The North-East was particularly vulnerable, with limited access to resources and deprivation of aid by the Sri Lankan government — despite being the worst-affected region . In this aftermath stood the Sencholai children’s home for orphans in Mullaitivu. In an effort to shift the dependence on state-sponsored relief, a ten-day workshop on first aid and disaster management was organized by the Mullaithivu and Kandavalai Principals Association. Over 400 young women between the ages of 17 and 20 years old were gathered at the home to learn how to provide for the suffering. At the beginning of day four, shortly after sunrise, four Sri Lankan air force jets dropped sixteen bombs over the home, killing 53 school girls and 3 teachers. Over 150 girls were seriously injured, suffering deep wounds, lost limbs, and severe burns. In a devastating irony, they had become the subject of their study.

Revisiting options for justice beyond the UNHRC on Tamil New Year - Paul Scully MP

Op-Ed by Paul Scully, MP Today Tamils living in the United Kingdom and across the globe will be welcoming a new year. It is a time to spend with loved ones, feast, exchange greetings and offer prayers at temples. Whilst it is a time for celebrating with family and friends and enjoying the festivities, it is also a time for reflecting on past achievements and looking towards the future with hope. In Britain, achievements and contributions of the Tamil community continues to grow. From academia to healthcare and from business to technology, Tamils contribute across sectors. As the Prime...

‘Sri Lanka's culture of impunity is a ticking time bomb’ – M A Sumanthiran

Tamil National Alliance MP warned that Sri Lanka’s “culture of impunity is a ticking time bomb,” as he criticised failure to ensure justice and accountability, in the wake of anti-Muslim violence last week. “Not once, but twice during my lifetime, the Sri Lankan government arranged for me, along with many other Tamils, to be transported to our place of origin in Jaffna during times when violence was being perpetrated against the Tamil community,” said the parliamentarian, in a column for the Sunday Observer. “Not once, but twice the Government acknowledged to me, and to all the Tamil people,...