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Tamil Guardian 25 October 2014
SL navy commander holds 5 day talks with Indian counterpart
The Sri Lankan navy commander, Vice Admiral Jayantha Perera is to travel to India on Sunday, for a five day meeting with his Indian counterpart, the Colombo Page reported.

Sri Lanka is to buy two navy ships from India, as well as two offshore patrol vessels and military equipment, said the navy spokesperson, Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya.

Tamil Guardian 25 October 2014
India concerned at China's presence in Sri Lanka - The Hindu
India has told Sri Lanka that is is concerned at china's presence in Sri Lanka, according to The Hindu.

The paper reported that during a visit by Sri Lanka's Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to Delhi last week, Indian officials made their concerns known.

“The meeting was held to raise the issue of a Chinese submarine calling at a Sri Lankan port last month. It is of serious concern to India's national security,” a senior official told the paper anonymously.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 25 October 2014
Vaiko says BJP policy aiding Sri Lanka
The leader of the MDMK, Vaiko, criticised the BJP led Indian government's policy on Sri Lanka, stating that it was affecting the Tamils adversely.

"Though the previous UPA discreetly helped Sri Lanka against Tamils, it later backtracked but the BJP government is openly aiding Colombo," Vaiko was quoted as saying by PTI.

Highlighting comments made by the BJP leader, Subramaniam Swamy, Vaiko condemned Swamy's call for Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa to be awarded India's highest civilian honour - Bharat Ratna.

The MDMK is an ally to the BJP, based in Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Guardian 25 October 2014
China to loan money for another Hambantota project
The Sri Lankan government has asked Chinda for a "massive" loan from China to fund another project in Hambantota, reports the Sunday Times.

According to the paper, government officials were seeking a loan for an extension on the Southern Expressway, and China's EXIM bank has agreed.

See more here.

Related articles:

China’s loans to Sri Lanka reach nearly $4 billion (04 May 2014)

9th round of consultations with China 'highly successful' says Sri Lanka (03 May 2014)


[more]

Tamil Guardian 24 October 2014
Body of missing mother found in Vadamarachchi
The body of a mother of two children was found on Friday morning in the Mulli region of Vadamarachchi, reports Uthayan.

The 36 year old mother, who was from the Nagarkoyil area of Jaffna, went missing on October 20th after visiting a friend's house in Point Pedro.



[more]

Tamil Guardian 24 October 2014
Budget besties
TNA MP Maavai Senathirajah and leader R. Sampanthan delighted to shake hands with President Rajapaksa. (Photographs BBC Sinhala)


The leadership of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) celebrated the 2015 budget with the Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday.

TNA MP Suresh Premachandran smiles on at Sampanthan-Rajapaksa exchange.

The opposition party, UNP, JVP and JHU meanwhile, were not in attendance, according to BBC Sinhala.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 24 October 2014
The people's budget

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in his last budget presentation before the presidential election in January, granted several concessions and handouts to the people of Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa pledged that families of military personnel and police officers would receive Rs. 1000 per a month, as well as a guaranteed a 17.6% rise in rice prices, and pledged to provide farmers with free rice for the next season.

Journalists will be given interest-free car loans and school teachers and university lecturers will receive a rise in allowances, his budget further proposed.

The president also promised free health check-ups for all citizens and a pension scheme for garment sector employees.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 24 October 2014
Tamil Civil Society Forum endorses North-East councillors' call for genocide inquiry
A network of Tamil civil society groups in the North-East, the Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF), endorsed the call by councillors in the Northern and Eastern provinces for an international inquiry into the crime of genocide.

Defending the councillors' right to state make such a call, the TSCF disputed an earlier statement by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which argued that a draft NPC resolution which argued the mass killing of Tamils by the Sri Lankan state was a genocide, would prejudice the OHCHR Investigation into Sri Lanka (OISL) currently underway.

"Tamils and their representatives have the right to form a legal opinion that the atrocities that were committed (and continue to be perpetrated) against them amounts to Genocide. There are sufficient, reasonable grounds to form such a legal opinion, such that this is not a spurious claim," the TSCF statement, published on Friday, read.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 24 October 2014
Commonwealth secretary general to visit Sri Lanka on 5 day trip
The Commonwealth secretary general will visit Sri Lanka tomorrow to brief the Sri Lankan president on Commonwealth goals and review progress made by Sri Lanka in their national development plan and post-conflict plans, reports Colombo Page.

Kamalesh Sharma is due to visit the government officials including the external affairs minister, G L Peiris and visit the Northern Province on his 5 day visit to Sri Lanka from the 25-29 October.
Tamil Guardian 24 October 2014
Sri Lanka warns of increased 'LTTE rump' activity after EU ruling
The Sri Lankan military spokesperson Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said they would be vigilant of "acts of [LTTE] rump groups" following the decision by the General Court of the European Union to annul the anti-terror measures against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on procedural grounds earlier this month.

"The LTTE through its network of 'Sencholai' schools promote their doctrine of separatism and inculcate a negative image of the country, especially in the minds of the children of the Tamil expatriate community," he told journalists at a press conference on Thursday, reports Colombo Page.

"Although there are no more armed terrorists in the country authorities are always vigilant on the acts of rump groups," he added.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 24 October 2014
Body found in Nuwara Eliya plantation
The body of a 41 year old Tamil man was found floating in a pond in Meraya plantation, in Nuwara Eliya, this week.

The man, identified as father of two, Ramasamy Ramachandran, went missing after leaving his home one morning, reports Uthayan.

His body was recovered by Lindula police, and handed over to the Nuwara Eliya district hospital for post mortem.

The police are reportedly investigating the incident further.

Tamil Guardian 24 October 2014
Sri Lanka hires another American lobbying firm
Sri Lanka hired its eighth American public relations firm this year to reach out to US media, officials and policy makers.

Levick, an organisation subcontracted to the Liberty International Group, has been hired to speak on behalf of the Sri Lankan central bank.

“Levick’s mission is to utilize communications supported advocacy to tell Sri Lanka’s amazing story of recovery after a decades long civil war against a brutal terrorist organization, as well as to assist the Central Bank in communicating opportunities for trade and investment between our two nations,” president of Levick, Mark Irion, said in a statement to The Hill.

The contract which will last until July 2015 is worth $760,000.

The Sri Lankan government and central bank have signed contracts with a host of public relations firms in the past including the Majority Group, Patton Boggs, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Qorvis Communications, Thompson Advisory Group and several others.
Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Army visits every Hindu household in Jaffna for Deepavali

The Sri Lankan army has visited every Hindu family in Jaffna to wish them for Deepavali.

Jaffna commander Maj Gen Udaya Perera ordered all brigades and battalions stationed on the peninsula to deliver greeting cards to the houses of each of the 157,500 Hindu families, according to a military website.
[more]

Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Catholic Church will reconsider papal visit if election is held in January

Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church said the planned visit of Pope Francis to the island will be reconsidered if the presidential election is going ahead in January 2015.

Spokesman Cyril Gamini told Ceylon Today that the government had not yet responded to their letter asking for confirmation of the election date and said that the External Affairs Ministry should seek confirmation of the visit from the Vatican if the election is in January.

"[N]othing has been decided as yet and if an election is to be held in January 2015 the Catholic Church will reconsider the Pontiff's decision to visit the country," Gamini said.

Presidential election ‘casts doubt’ on papal visit (22 October 2014)

Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Govt and opposition vie for Sinhala votes over EU Court ruling on LTTE
In an ongoing political spat, the Sri Lankan government and opposition party, UNP, sought to blame each other for the decision by the General Court of the European Union to annul the Council's anti-terror measures taken against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on procedural grounds earlier this month.

Following the ruling, posters were displayed in Colombo with a picture of a tiger and the words, "Who is the opposition MP behind lifting the ban on the LTTE", written in Sinhala, in an apparent reference to the UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe who recently travelled to UK where he sought to meet with Tamil diaspora groups.



[more]

Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Presidential commission denies military interference

The presidential commission investigating complaints into those who disappeared during the conflict has denied criticism by the Centre for Policy Alternatives that members of the security forces interfered in public meetings where relatives of the missing gave evidence.

Gunadasa said military personnel who were outside the venue were on “routine patrol”, adding that there was “no interference on the part of the security forces” and that the commission was not inconvenienced at any time by the military.
[more]

Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Canadian Tamils condemn Ottawa attack
Updated 17:40 GMT

Tamils across Canada expressed shock and outrage at the attack on Canadian parliament on Wednesday, posting messages of condolence to the family and friends of the Canadian soldier killed.

Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC):



Canadian Tamil Youth Alliance (CTYA):



NDP Member of Parliament for Scarborough-Rouge River, Rathika Sitsabaiesan:



[more]

Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Tamil Nadu parties urge Modi not to form closer defence ties with SL
Political parties in Tamil Nadu urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to form close military ties with the Sri Lankan government on Wednesday, following meetings between the Sri Lankan defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his Indian counterpart.

Describing such a move as a "diplomatic blunder", the head of the National Committee of the Naam Tamilar Party (NTP), Ayyanathan, asked what how this would benefit India's security given Sri Lanka's close ties with China.

"Now, what is the point in saying that this is for our security. Are you sharing your southern security with the Sri Lankan Government and China? This is ridiculous, it is a diplomatic blunder," he told ANI.

"You [the Indian government] have decimated Tamils and you are going with Sri Lanka, but Sri Lanka is going with China. This is the mockery of southern security of the country," he said.


[more]

 
 International Affairs
Tamil Guardian 25 October 2014
Farc militants send in top commanders as 'political artillery' for successful negotiations with Colombia
High ranking commanders from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) joined the latest rounds of peace-talks with the Colombian government on Friday, in what has been seen as a positive step in negotiations.

The Farc militants labelled their commanders "political artillery" that could ensure successful negotiations, reports The Guardian.

Speaking about their aims at the next round of negotiations, the Farc spokesperson at the negotiations, Ivan Marquez, said,

“This is our guerrilla command for normalisation, which will explore paths toward an agreement with officers of the army, the navy, the air force and the national police. This will allow us to reach an armistice that the victims are demanding and the nation is clamouring for.”


[more]

Tamil Guardian 25 October 2014
US calls on Israel to investigate killing of Palestinian-American youth
The US State Department called for a transparent investigation into clashes on Friday where Israeli forces shot and killed a 14 year old Palestinian-American, reports Reuters.

The US State Department, spokesperson called for a “speedy and transparent investigation.”

“The United States expresses its deepest condolences to the family of a US citizen minor who was killed by the Israeli Defence Forces during clashes in Silwad on October 24,”said Jen Psaki.

Psaki added that US officials would remain closely engaged with local authorities who were tasked with carrying out an investigation.

Owah Hammand, was shot in the head, in the village Silwad, north of the Palestinian seat of Ramallah.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 25 October 2014
Rwanda bans BBC broadcasts in protest of genocide documentary
The Rwandan government suspended all BBC radio broadcasts on in protest of the organisation’s recent documentary about the 1994 genocide.

The Rwandan Utilities Regulatory Authority, citing public complaints of “incitement, hatred, divisionism, genocide denial and revision,” announced the suspension of all local language broadcasts of the BBC on Friday, reports The Guardian.

A BBC spokesperson responded on Friday, stating, “the Rwandan genocide raises extremely painful issues but the BBC has a duty to investigate difficult and challenging subjects. We believe this programme, which was produced by a BBC current affairs team in London and broadcast in the UK, made a valuable contribution to the understanding of the tragic history of the country and the region.”

The spokesperson added the BBC regretted calls for sanctions against it and criticised the “threat of direct measures against an independent broadcaster.”


[more]

Tamil Guardian 25 October 2014
EU sanctions on Russia to remain in place
European Union sanctions will continue to be placed on Russia due to failures in observing the ceasefire between Ukrainian troops and Russia backed rebels, the German Chancellor told reporters on Friday.

“When you’ve had more than 200 people killed you cannot say the cease-fire has been accepted,” said Angela Merkel.

Both sides in eastern-Ukraine conflict committing atrocities says Amnesty International
(20 Oct 2014)

Tamil Guardian 25 October 2014
US investigates doctors' claims of chemical weapons usage by Islamic State militants
Claims made by Iraqi doctors and police officers that Islamic State militants are using chemical weapons are being investigated by US officials reports the Telegraph.

Doctors working in the conflict area said that at least eleven police officers had shown symptoms of poisoning by chlorine gas when brought into hospital.

Commenting on the allegations the US secretary of state, said,
"We are seeking additional information in order to be able to determine whether or not we can confirm it.”
"The use of any chemical weapons is an abhorrent act, it's against international law, and these recent allegations underscore the importance of the work that we are currently engaged in,” added John Kerry.

Tamil Guardian 24 October 2014
Rwandan parliament calls for genocide denial charges against BBC documentary producers
Rwandan parliament passed a resolution calling on its government to ban a BBC documentary on Rwanda and charge the producers with genocide denial, on Friday.

The BBC has denied that any part of the programme constitutes to “a denial of the genocide against the Tutsis.”


The documentary, “Rwanda's Untold Story”, contained allegations that Kagame and his then RPF armed organisation had shot down the Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana, sparking the genocide which killed some 800,000 people.

Rwanda's president, earlier this month accused the documentary of "further emboldened the génocidaires, all their supporters and those who collaborate with them."

A BBC spokesperson earlier said,


    “The BBC strongly refutes the suggestion that any part of the programme constitutes a ‘denial of the genocide against the Tutsi’. There are repeated references to the mass killings of Tutsis by Hutus in 1994 and that this constituted genocide. The programme also includes an interview with the Director of the Genocide Museum at Murambi, a Tutsi and genocide survivor, and a convicted Hutu genocidaire who spoke of his part in the killing of thousands of Tutsis.”

Rwandan president accuses BBC of 'genocide denial'
(15 October 2014)

BBC accused of giving voice to genocide deniers by Rwandan survivors groups
  (11 October 2014)
Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
UN to investigate attacks on Gaza facilities
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has announced that a commission is to be set up that will investigate attacks on UN facilities in Gaza, during Israel's offensive this summer.

Speaking to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Ban said the inquiry will investigate the attacks on the facilities, as well as reports that Hamas militants were storing weapons in the buildings.

Though no details of the inquiry were offered, Stephane Dujarric, the Secretary General’s spokesman said further details would be offered at a later official announcement.

UN-run schools were hit by shelling during the conflict, drawing international condemnation.

See our earlier posts:

US condemns UN school shelling as 'disgraceful', fighting rages on in Gaza (03 August 2014)

UN & US condemn shelling of UN school in Gaza (30 July 2014)

UN run school in Gaza hit by shelling (24 July 2014)
Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Blackwater guards found guilty of Iraqi murders
Four Blackwater Worldwide guards have been found guilty of the murder of 14 unarmed Iraqis in 2007 by a US federal jury in Washington this week.

The four were convicted on murder, manslaughter and weapons charges, with Ronald C. Machen Jr., the United States attorney in Washington, saying, “this verdict is a resounding affirmation of the commitment of the American people to the rule of law, even in times of war.”

“Seven years ago, these Blackwater contractors unleashed powerful sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers on innocent men, women and children,” he added. “Today, they were held accountable for that outrageous attack and its devastating consequences for so many Iraqi families.”

Blackwater, a US private security firm had around 1,000 contractors in Iraq, with many reported incidents of shootings. The most infamous of these was the 2007 murders, which saw more than four dozen Iraqi citizens fly to Washington to give evidence.

See more form the New York Times here and here.
Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
Boko Haram reportedly abducts at least 25 girls
Islamist militant group Boko Haram has reportedly abducted at least 25 girls in an attack on villages in north-eastern Nigeria.

The latest report of the abduction comes after the Nigerian military announced a ceasefire with Boko Haram last week. The deal would reportedly have involved the release of more than 200 girls who were kidnapped in April as part of negotiations.

Meanwhile a bomb blast in the northern Bauchi state killed at least 5 people. No one has claimed responsibility for the blast.

See more from the BBC here.

Also see our earlier post:

Militants storm Nigerian villages after government ceasefire with Boko Haram (18 October 2014)
Tamil Guardian 23 October 2014
'Canada will never be intimidated' says PM after parliament attack
The Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, stressed that "Canada would never be intimidated", following an attack on parliament yesterday, which left a soldier dead.

A gunman, who has since been identified as a Muslim convert names Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, launched an attack on Wednesday morning, killing a soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, at the National Memorial in Ottawa. The gunman later died of gun shot injuries.

“Attacks on our security personnel and on our institutions of governance are by their very nature attacks on our country, on our values, on our society,” Harper said in a televised address on Wednesday night. 

“But let there be no misunderstanding. We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated. In fact this will lead us to strengthen our resolve.”

"This will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats," he added. 


[more]

Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Canadian parliament in lockdown after shooting

The Canadian parliament is in lock down today after a gunman shot and killed a soldier at a war memorial in Ottawa, before running into the parliament building.

Gunfire has been exchanged between the Canadian police and the gunman, who has reportedly been shot dead inside the main parliament building.

Police are currently searching the area for more suspects with the situation described as “ongoing”.

Security has been tightened across the country following the incident.

See live coverage from the BBC here and the Telegraph here.

 

Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Syrian air force carries out ‘200 airstrikes in 36 hours’ says SOHR

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) stated that the Syrian government has ramped up the use of airstrikes against opposition forces, with over 200 bombing raids carried out within 36 hours.

Though there were several reported casualties, the organisation was unable to confirm an exact number. ‘Barrel bombs’ were amongst those dropped on targets in opposition held areas including Hama, Idlib and Aleppo.

The Syrian government meanwhile stated air raids had destroyed two of three fighter jets seized by Islamic State militant. The location of the third jet is still unknown.

The intensification of the bombing campaign comes as opposition groups accuse the regime of continuing to use chemical weapons.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Ukrainian army accused of using cluster bombs in Donetsk

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report this week, accusing the Ukrainian military of using banned cluster munitions as they battle against pro-Russia separatists in Eastern Ukraine.

HRW said it had evidence of “widespread use of cluster munitions,” adding that, “while it was not possible to conclusively determine responsibility for many of the attacks, the evidence points to Ukrainian government forces’ responsibility for several cluster munition attacks on Donetsk”.

"It is shocking to see a weapon that most countries have banned used so extensively in eastern Ukraine," said Mark Hiznay, a senior arms researcher at HRW.

However, Ukraine’s "anti-terrorist operation" spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov dismissed the report as “utter nonsense”, saying "we do not use banned weapons… Neither do we shell civilian neighbourhoods because this endangers lives."


[more]

Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Pakistani anti-government protesters end sit-in, pro opposition news channel shut down
Anti-government protests in Pakistan’s capital ended on Wednesday, with protesters vowing to continue their campaign calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.      

Tahir ul-Qadri, who led the protests with former cricket player turned politician, Imran Kahn, called an end to the mass sit-in protests.


“This sit-in has achieved its purpose, it has awakened the nation and played its role in the path of evolution," said Qadri.


The protesters staged a 65 day sit-in whilst facing several clashes with Pakistani police leaving three dead and hundreds injured.


The Pakistan Media Regulation Authority on Tuesday said that it would have to shut down a private news channel, ARY News Chennel, and ban one of its anchors from appearing on Pakistani national TV, reports the
Associated Press.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Former Pinochet aide charged over murder of political prisoners

A former Chilean army colonel Cristián Labbé has been arrested and charged with the murder of political prisoners held in a concentration camp in the 1970s, on Wednesday.

Labbé and 9 other military officials were charged over the death of 13 prisoners at a concentration camp in San Antonio.

Lawyer Rodrigo Lledo said "the (Interior Ministry's) human rights department asked for Cristian Labbé Galilea to be prosecuted for homicide, kidnapping, torture and unlawful association."

Labbé denies any wrong doing however.

“He never tortured or assassinated anyone," said one of his lawyers, Cristián Espejo. 

See more from the Guardian here, the BBC here and Reuters here.

 

Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Australian MP asks ICC to investigate treatment of asylum seekers

Independent Australian MP Andrew Wilkie has written to the International Criminal Court, asking for an investigation into the government’s treatment of asylum seekers.

Wilkie said he asked the court to look at policies which were causing "great suffering", citing forcible deportations, compulsory detention and detention camp conditions.

"The effect of the (asylum) policy is that men, women and children are being forcibly relocated and then subjected to arbitrary imprisonment through mandatory and sometimes indefinite detention," Wilkie said in the letter.

"The conditions they are forced to endure in detention are causing great suffering as well as serious bodily and mental injury."

“The Abbott Government’s conduct in relation to asylum seekers also contravenes the Refugee Convention, Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Islamic State militants committing genocide says UN official after visiting Yazidi displacement camp
Islamic State militants are most likely committing genocide against the Yazidis in Iraq said a senior UN assistant secretary general for human rights on Tuesday.

“The evidence strongly indicates an attempt to commit genocide,” said Ivan Simonovic after meeting at least 70 Yazidis in Baghdad and in displaced persons camps in the Kurdish towns of Erbil and Dohuk.


The secretary general heard further stories of families who had been killed because they refused to convert to Islam, reports the
New York Times.

Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
Myanmar confirms 2015 elections will be held in presence of international observers
Myanmar’s government announced that the 2015 general elections will be held as scheduled, rejecting rumours that the election was to be postponed, the Associated Press reports.

The chairman of the Myanmar Union Election Commission, on Tuesday, said that international and local observers would be invited to witness the election, to be held in late October 2015.

Myanmar's 2010 election was criticised for being stage managed to ensure that the military-backed government retained power.

 
HIGHLIGHTS
  Editorial
Thunderclap
Renewing resolve
Significance of Aluthgama
  Opinion
'Why Sri Lanka's detention of Balenderan Jayakumari is so sinister' - Callum Macrae
‘Legal Avenues to Prosecute a US Citizen for War Crimes—The Case of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’
Review: 'This Land Belongs to the Army'
  Feature
UK Ministers and MPs rally behind Tamil calls for justice
Remembering Thileepan
#GetThePicture campaign maps Sri Lankan state massacres of Tamils
  Culture & Community
Canada's York Uni introduces landmark Tamil studies award
UK Tamil students hold workshop on university application process for Year 13s
Thileepan remembered 27 years on



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