Sunday, 21 September 2014
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 Tamil Affairs
Tamil Guardian 21 September 2014
Buddhist monks lead protest against Catholic statue

Buddhists have protested against an attempt by Catholics to place a religious statue at a junction in the town of Kalutara.

Monks from the Sihala Ravaya led a large mob and said they will not allow the statue to be erected in the town, according to Colombo Gazette.

Tear gas was fired by police who attempted to bring the “tense situation” under control. Police spokesperson Ajith Rohana said the issue was later resolved.

Local Catholics say they have every right to put up the statue.

Tamil Guardian 21 September 2014
One administrative unit for North-East and acknowledgment of right to self-determination needed for political solution - TNA Spokesperson
A re-merger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces as a single political administrative unit alongside acknowledgment of the Tamil people’s right to self-determination, is the only way to achieve a true political solution for Tamils in the North-East, the Sunday Leader quoted the Tamil National Alliance Spokesperson as saying.

Deeming the de-merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces as an attempt to deliberately change the demography of the North-East, Suresh Premachandran said,

“The military has formed Sinhala colonies in the North, thereby depriving our population the right to their own lands. This issue started after the controversial Court ruling to de-merge the two provinces. This situation deteriorated after the end of the war. Sinhalese from the South had been settled in our lands and the government has deliberately changed the demography in the North and the East. Tamil ancestral lands in Murugandi that the military had taken over had been used to construct housing projects consisting of more than 10,000 housing units with Chinese aid, for the military personnel.”

[more]

Tamil Guardian 21 September 2014
Ruling UPFA wins Uva election

The ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) won the Uva Provincial Council election yesterday, securing 19 seats, 6 seats more than the opposition, United National Party (UNP) which won 13. The JVP won 2 seats.

The UNP made gains, winning 274773 votes, compared to 129144 votes in 2009. The election saw a 70% voter turn out.

In 2009, the UPFA won 25 of the 34 seats in the Council, which is divided into two districts.

See here and here.

Tamil Guardian 20 September 2014
Matakal land survey halted after fierce opposition from residents

A scheduled survey of private lands in Senthankulam, Matakal, by government officials on Friday was cancelled after residents and local politicians raised fierce opposition to it.

Several acres of private land in Senthankulam were due to be surveyed for possible appropriation by the Sri Lankan navy, although residents claimed that they were neither informed, nor asked for permission.

Surveyors arrived at the area escorted by dozens of police officers, but were confronted by residents who were joined by TNA MP Suresh Premachandran and several other MPs and Northern Provincial Council members.

After extensive arguments, the surveyors left without carrying out the planned land survey.

 


Tamil Guardian 20 September 2014
Ananthy, Ravikaran raise issues faced by North-East Tamils at UNHRC
The Northern Provincial Councillors, Ananthy Sasitharan and T. Ravikaran, expressed their concerns regarding the ongoing disappearances, missing persons, intimidation, colonisation and militarisation at a side event that took place at the UN Human Rights Council's 27th session.

Photograph Daily Mirror


Attending the Council this week, Ananthy met and introduced herself to the newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, she told Tamil Guardian via telephone.


Photograph @Tharu1985


Ravikaran also met with the High Commissioner, following an event on child and women welfare.

Ananthy, Ravikaran speak at UNHRC side event. Photograph Tamilwin.

Tamil Guardian 20 September 2014
External forces destabilising Asian countries under guise of democracy - Rajapaksa
The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa warned of "external forces" encouraged disharmony in Asian countries "under the guise of democracy", at the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), jointly hosted by the ruling Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP) and opposition United National Party (UNP) in Colombo this week.

"Today the emerging trends in the world, including in parts of Asia gave signals that alarmed the Asian Community because external forces under the guise of democracy and other enticing slogans sought to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries," the Daily Mirror reported him as saying to delegates.


“They show little concern about destabilising nations,” he said, adding, "Asian countries have seen how the media including social media is being used by the forces that are continuing the cause of division, separation and terror."

Lauding Sri Lanka's military efforts Mahinda Rajapaksa added,
"Sri Lanka can stand out in this great gathering for our experience in battling and defeating terrorism against the efforts of many external forces outside Asia that sought to bring about an accommodation of terrorism in our land. We are always ready to share that experience with the world. Your presence here and what you will see in this country today are the fruits of that great success in protecting our State and our Nation, from the forces of terror."


[more]

Tamil Guardian 20 September 2014
Vaiko is our partner, not Rajapaksa – BJP Gen Sec

The general secretary of the BJP, P Muralidhar Rao, said that the Indian government believes it needs to engage with the Sri Lankan government in order to solve the Tamil issue, during his visit to Colombo.

Rao said to the New Indian Express that the objective of an “honourable settlement” of the Tamil question was shared between those protesting in Tamil Nadu against engagement and the Indian government.

“We in the BJP believe that constant engagement with all the stakeholders is needed to secure justice for the Tamils,” Rao said.

Responding to BJP ally Vaiko’s condemnation of the visit, Rao said, “Rest assured Vaiko is our partner, not Rajapaksa.”

“Modi had also been forthright with Rajapaksa even at his very first meeting with him. If he was not committed to the Tamil cause, he would not have done so,” Rao pointed out.

BJP ally condemns party's participation in Sri Lankan conference (19 September 2014)

Tamil Guardian 20 September 2014
PMK condemns reports that Sri Lanka is auctioning off detained boats
India's Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) condemned reports that the Sri Lankan government is auctioning off fishing boats that have been seized from arrested Tamil Nadu fishermen.     

PMK leader Ramdoss said "the act of the Island government has shocked Indian fishermen," in a statement this week, adding that 72 boats are currently being detained by the Sri Lankan navy.

Ramdoss went on to say that Sri Lankan troops had damaged the fishing vessels by kicking and colliding with them. An incident earlier this month led to an Indian fishing boat sinking after a Sri Lankan navy vessel collided with it.

Tamil Nadu fishermen, who had been arrested by Sri Lankan security forces, had been subjected to torture and detained for more than 90 days, continued Ramdoss, as he called on both the state and central governments to put a halt to the arrests.

See more from PTI here.

Also see our earlier post: Thousands of Indian fishermen launch hunger strike protest against Sri Lankan Navy (18 September 2014)
Tamil Guardian 19 September 2014
Mass grave discovered in Velanai

A mass grave was discovered on Thursday in Velanai, off the Jaffna Peninsula.

Photograph: Malarum.com


Human remains were discovered at several spots in the grounds of the Velanai Pradeshiya Sabha compound while the Ceylon Electricity Board carried out work to replace an electrical transformer.

According to Uthayan, electrical works were halted on discovering the remains and the police called. Police were then reportedly stationed to guard the site.

Forensic investigators were called to the scene on the instructions of Kayts Magistrates Court.

Tamil Guardian 19 September 2014
Significant military presence remains in North despite government claims of demilitarisation - CPA
A significant military presence remains in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka despite government rhetoric of reducing militarisation, highlighted the latest Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) info-graphic.

“The contradictions in the actual situation are highlighted by statements made by President Rajapaksa, who in January 2014 claimed that there was a presence of 12,000 military personnel in the North with Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President claiming only two days later, the presence of 80,000 military personnel in the North," said the CPA.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 19 September 2014
BJP ally condemns party's participation in Sri Lankan conference
The BJP's Tamil Nadu ally, MDMK, condemned the party's participation in a conference taking place in Sri Lanka stating it was "an unforgivable act of betrayal", reports PTI.

The MDMK leader, Vaiko, criticised the decision for two senior BJP officials, Muralidhar Rao and Vijay Jolly, to attend the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) as "belittling" the Tamils.

"BJP's sending of Rao and Jolly is an unforgivable act of betrayal and they should be recalled immediately," he said, adding that the conference was being held by the Rajapaksa regime to "hoodwink" the international community.

Tamil Guardian 18 September 2014
Atrocities could have been prevented by international community says US
The United States (US) said that recent atrocities could have been prevented and tens of thousands of lives saved, if the international community had responded earlier - including in the case of Sri Lanka.

In a statement that was due to be delivered at the United Nations Human Rights Council panel discussion on the role of prevention in the promotion on human rights, the US said,
“A most troubling aspect of recent atrocities is the concern that they could have been prevented had the international community responded earlier and more appropriately.”

“Tens of thousands of lives could have been saved. The future of whole ethnic groups, states, societies, indeed the world, could have been transformed for the better.”

Through reflection on those failures to act – Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur, Sri Lanka, Syria – we appreciate the vital role that prevention plays in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

[more]

Tamil Guardian 18 September 2014
Thousands of Indian fishermen launch hunger strike protest against Sri Lankan Navy
Almost 3,000 Indian fishermen and their family members have commenced a hunger strike demanding the Sri Lankan Navy release Tamil Nadu fishermen that they arrested earlier this month.

Fishermen from across 63 different hamlets in the Nagapattinam district joined the fast, which they said will carry on until the detained fishermen are released.

The fishermen were held during various incidents in the last month, with dozens being arrested.

The issue of continued arrests of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy has seen Tamil Nadu Chief Minister write to Indian Prime Minister several times calling the actions “totally inhumane”.

See our earlier post:  SL Navy arrests 53 Indian fishermen (11 September 2014)

Tamil Guardian 18 September 2014
Sri Lanka to establish trade commission with Russia
The Sri Lankan government received approval today to establish a joint commission with Russia.

The establishment of an “Inter-governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation” with was proposed by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and approved by the Sri Lankan cabinet on Thursday, reports Colombo Page.

Figures suggest that trade between Sri Lanka and Russia has increased over the last decade.

Tamil Guardian 18 September 2014
Sri Lankan navy chief meets US counterpart

(Picture: defence.lk)

The head of Sri Lanka’s navy, Vice Admiral Jayantha Perera met with the Chief of Naval Operations of the US navy, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, during a visit to the US.

Perera is in the country to attend the 21st International Sea Power Symposium (ISS) at the United States Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, which this year is being held under the theme of "Global Solutions to Common Maritime Challenges".


[more]

Tamil Guardian 18 September 2014
Norochcholai should not end up in foreign hands – Minister

Sri Lanka’s energy minister has warned against transferring ownership of public ventures to foreigners, saying that this could pave the way for a change in regime on the island.

Science, Technology and Atomic Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said there were talks that the power plant in Norochcholai, which has been beset by breakdowns, may be handed over to China.

"The Norochcholai plant can fulfil 60 percent of the total energy requirements of Sri Lanka. Therefore, it should not end up in the hands of foreigners," he said.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 18 September 2014
Woman's body found washed up in Jaffna
The body of a 35 year old woman was found washed up in Saatti, Jaffna district during the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The police are yet to identify the body, reports Uthayan. Further investigations are reportedly being carried out by Jaffna police.

Tamil Guardian 17 September 2014
Film producers deny links to Rajapaksa amid boycott calls in Tamil Nadu
The producers of 'Kaththi', Lyca productions, held a press conference on Tuesday, denying any links to the Rajapaksa regime amid calls to boycott from students in Tamil Nadu.

"Images showing Lycamobiles logo in the background of the Sri Lankan Government sponsored Common Wealth Business forum was morphed. The first article with these morphed pictures which appeared in a website in an attempt to mislead the public. Lyca productions clarified that the Lyca Group representation in Sri Lanka for the forum was only as a business participant - one among the several who participated. The Lyca Productions team has also lodged a complaint with the cyber-crime division in Chennai, and a copy of the compliment was also shared with the media," the chair of the Lyca Group of Companies, Subaskaran Allirajah told reporters.

See here for more of his comments.

See also: Tamil Nadu students protest against pro-Sri Lanka films (09 Aug 2014)

 
 International Affairs
Tamil Guardian 21 September 2014
Kurdish militants call for support as over 60,000 Syrian Kurd refugees flee to Turkey
Over 66,000 predominantly Syrian Kurds, refuges have crossed into Turkey over the past 24 hours.

Turkey opened its borders to Syrians fleeing the Kurdish town of Kobane in fear of an attack by Islamic State (IS) militants.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a statement, said there was a possibility of hundreds of thousands more refugees arriving at the border over coming days, reports the BBC.

At least 300 Kurdish fighters had joined the Syrian Kurdish ranks to fight of the Islamic State advance, reported the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Kurdish militants in Turkey issued a new call to arms to defend the town from the IS advance reports Reuters.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a former militant group which spent 3 decades fighting for autonomy, in a statement said, 

“Supporting heroic resistance is not just a debt of honour of the Kurds but all Middle East people. Just giving support is not enough, the criterion must be taking part in the resistance.”
Tamil Guardian 21 September 2014
Ukraine truce ‘in name only’ – Nato

The truce in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian troops and separatist rebels exists “in name only”, according to a senior Nato military commander.

Gen Philip Breedlove said the situation in the region was “not good”.

"The number of events, and the number of rounds fired and the artillery used across the past few days match some of the pre-ceasefire levels. The ceasefire is still there in name, but what is happening on the ground is quite a different story," he added.

The general however added that he was hopeful about a new ceasefire deal reached on Saturday.

Ukraine accuses Russia of arming and supporting separatists, something Moscow denies. The first truce signed earlier this month was violated repeatedly before Saturday’s renewed agreement.
[more]

Tamil Guardian 21 September 2014
Afghan leaders sign deal for unity government

The two contenders of the Afghan presidential election have signed a deal to form a unity government.

The deal will see Ashraf Ghani become president and runner-up Abdullah Abdullah nominating a chief executive, with powers similar to a prime minister.

Mr Ghani and Mr Abdullah had accused each other of fraud after the elections earlier this year, but the deal, reached in August averted potential violence.

The US hailed the deal as an "important opportunity for unity".

"We support this agreement and stand ready to work with the next administration to ensure its success," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Afghan rivals reach agreement on unity government (09 August 2014)

Tamil Guardian 21 September 2014
Dozens killed as Boko Haram attacks market
Up to 36 people are reported to have been killed in a Boko Haram attack on a market in North-Eastern Nigeria.

The attack by the Islamist militant group on Friday, sparked gun battles with Nigerian security forces that lasted throughout the night. A security source told Reuters,
“Thirteen of the terrorists who came to attack civilians in Mainok market yesterday were killed, some of them fled with gunshots and our colleagues are already on their trail. Unfortunately, 23 civilians died in the attack.”
The attack comes amid reports that 4 civilians in Cameroon were killed in a cross-border raid by Boko Haram militants. Cameroon's army fired back at the militants, in the latest of several incursions made by Boko Haram across the border. More than 40,000 people have fled to Cameroon from Nigeria, according to the UNHCR.

Boko Haram has captured several towns across Nigeria's North-East in recent weeks, with over 320 km of territory under the group's control.

Meanwhile the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is involved in negotiations to secure the release of schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram, in exchange for a list of 16 senior militants who have been arrested by the Nigerian government, reported the Telegraph. See more here
Tamil Guardian 20 September 2014
Amended ceasefire agreement signed between separatists and Ukraine amidst shelling
An amended ceasefire-deal was signed between the Ukrainian government and separatist militants amidst shelling and explosions in eastern Ukraine on Saturday morning.

Under the new cease-fire agreement, both sides are not permitted to advance beyond the positions that they held on Friday and are expected to move all heavy artillery 9 miles away from their front lines, reports the New York Times.

The extended cease-fire agreement came as Russian military trucks arrived in Donetsk carrying what the Russian government said was humanitarian aid.
Tamil Guardian 20 September 2014
66,000 Kurds flee Syria into Turkey, PKK fighters head to fight IS

More than 66,000 Kurdish refugees have fled from Syria into Turkey in the last 24 hours said Turkish officials, as militants from the Islamic State (IS) advanced on the Kurdish enclave of Kobani in Syria.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters on Saturday "as of today, the number of Syrian Kurds who entered Turkey has exceeded 60,000" after Turkey opened the border for refugees on Friday.

As refugees fled the besieged region, some 600 fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), based in South-East Turkey crossed into Syria to fight against IS, reported AP. A military official from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region told AP, "the PKK entered early this morning and they headed to Kobani."

The latest reports come after the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a group linked to the PKK, called on Kurds from Turkey to join the battle against IS, warning that a genocide could occur in Kobani if the IS advance, which has seen 21 Kurdish villages in North-West Syria captures in less than 24 hours, was not stopped. 

See our earlier post: Kurds warn of genocide by IS in North-West Syria (19 September 2014)

The president of Iraq's Kurdish region, Masoud Barzani, also warned that the latest IS attacks on Kurds in Syria "threaten the whole entirety of the Kurdish nation and it has targeted the honor, dignity and existence of our people."

Mohammed Saleh Muslim, head of Syria's Kurdish Democratic Union, added,

"Kobani is facing the fiercest and most barbaric attack in its history… Kobani calls on all those who defend humane and democratic values... to stand by Kobani and support it immediately. The coming hours are decisive."

Tamil Guardian 20 September 2014
UN Human Rights Chief calls for justice for 'mass murder' of migrants at sea
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has called on Egypt and other North African and European States to work together and bring to justice the smugglers who rammed a boat full of migrants earlier this month, killing up to 500 people.

Calling the incident “mass murder”, Zeid condemned the “callous act of deliberately ramming a boat full of hundreds of defenceless people”, saying it “is a crime that must not go unpunished.”

“This is a truly horrendous incident,” Zeid said, adding “it is the duty of States to investigate such atrocious crime (and) bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The UN Human Rights Chief went on to call for a concerted effort by the international community to tackle the root causes of such tragedies.
“Far too many refugees and migrants are dying all across the world in an effort to flee conflict, systematic political oppression and human rights violations, including economic deprivation. These root causes in their countries of origin must be tackled in a concerted manner,” Zeid said.

[more]

Tamil Guardian 20 September 2014
ICC summons Kenyatta

The International Criminal Court in The Hague has summoned Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for a tribunal in early October.

The judges at the court intend to question the president over claims that the Kenyan government withheld documents previously requested by prosecutors, in relation to his trial for crimes against humanity.

Earlier this month, Kenyatta’s trial was delayed indefinitely by prosecutors after they complained of a lack of evidence due to obstruction by the Kenyan government.

In a statement, the ICC said discussions with Mr Kenyatta would focus on "the status of co-operation between the prosecution and the Kenyan government".

The president is accused of inciting ethnic violence after the 2007 elections, which over 1,200 people dead. Kenyatta has denied any involvement in the massacres.

ICC Kenyatta trial faces further delays (06 September 2014)

Tamil Guardian 20 September 2014
Turkish hostages held by Islamic State are freed

Turkish hostages captured by Islamic State in Iraq several months ago have arrived in Turkey on Saturday, after a covert operation to free them, according to Istanbul.

The 49 hostages, including diplomats and their families, were captured by the militants in June in the Iraqi city of Mosul, which was overrun by Islamic State fighters.

“The Turkish intelligence agency has followed the situation very sensitively and patiently since the beginning and, as a result, conducted a successful rescue operation,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement on Saturday.

Turkey has so far rejected involvement in the US-led military campaign against IS, partly because of fears it could jeopardise any attempts to free the hostages.

We will destroy ISIL wherever they are says Obama as US builds coalition against IS (11 September 2014)

Tamil Guardian 20 September 2014
Independence vote approved by Catalan parliament
The regional president of Catalonia was given power to call for an independence “consultation” after the Catalan parliament voted in favour of the new legislation on Friday, reports the BBC.

The Catalan president said that Scotland’s referendum had shown the way for Catalan independence, and pledged to hold a similar vote on November 9.

Adding that the outcome of Scotland’s independence vote was irrelevant, Artur Mas lauded the fact that an independence referendum was allowed to take place.

“This is a powerful and strong message that the UK is sending to the entire world – that if there is such a conflict elsewhere in the world you have the right way to try to resolve these differences,” he said.

The Spanish government has opposed the new Catalan legislation and is expected to consider the legislation in Spain’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday.
Tamil Guardian 19 September 2014
Salmond resigns warning of Westminster backtracking on pledges
Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Alex Salmond, announced his resignation Friday, shortly after Scotland voted to stay within the UK at a independence referendum on Thursday.

"The real guardians of progress are not the politicians at Westminster, or even at Holyrood, but the energised activism of tens of thousands of people who I predict will refuse meekly to go back into the political shadows," he said in a public statement made Friday evening.

"For me right now, therefore there is a decision as to who is best placed to lead this process forward politically. I believe that in this new exciting situation, redolent with possibility, Party, Parliament and country would benefit from new leadership," he said, adding that it was the privilege of his life to have served as Scotland's First Minister.

Stating that he had informed his party he would not be accepting renomination at the next party conference, Salmond said he would allow for a new First Minister to be appointed by parliamentary process. 


"For me as leader my time is nearly over, but for Scotland that campaign continues and the dream shall never die."


[more]

Tamil Guardian 19 September 2014
Kurds warn of genocide by IS in North-West Syria
The People’s Protection Units (YPG) warned of a genocide in the Kurdish enclave of Kobani in Syria, which is currently surrounded by Islamic State (IS) fighters.

The YPG, a group linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), has joined with other Syrian opposition groups to fight the IS militants, but has been unable to halt an advance which has seen IS capture 21 Kurdish villages in North-West Syria in less than 24 hours.

The Kurdish pocket in the Aleppo province of Syria is now under attack.

Redur Xelil, the YPG’s spokesperson said that “mobilisation in Kobani isn’t enough, the international community has to take action.”

“If not there will be a new snegal (Sinjar) genocide but in Kobani,” he went on to add, referencing the IS siege of Sinjar which left thousands of Yazidis trapped in Northern Iraq.

The YPG's warning comes as the PKK, appealed for Turkish Kurds to join the battle to defend Kobani, stating,
“The young people of northern Kurdistan... should join the honourable, historical resistance in Kobani.”
See more from the Financial Times here.
Tamil Guardian 19 September 2014
Former Bosnian Serb police officials charged over Srebrenica genocide
Two former Bosnian Serb police officials have been charged over their role in the Srebrenica genocide by Bosnian prosecutors this week.

The two men, wartime police chief in Bratunac, Miodrag Josipovic and deputy commander of a Bratunac police station,  Branimir Tesic, were charged with "deliberately helping and supporting the main perpetrators of genocide."

The Bosnian state prosecutor's statement said that Serb forces were carrying out a "large and systematic attack on Muslim civilians in the UN-protected enclave" of Srebrenica in July 1995, where Josipovic and Tesic are accused of forcibly removing civilians and separating men from their families.

The men are also accused of taking part in the detention of more than 1,000 men and boys, aged from 16 to 90 years old, all of whom were later killed.

8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed by Serbian troops in Srebrenica.

See more from AFP here.
Tamil Guardian 19 September 2014
Scotland votes to stay within UK, Salmond resigns
updated 08:27 BST
Scotland has voted to stay within the United Kingdom in a referendum on independence held Thursday, with 55% voting "No" to Scotland becoming an independent country and  45% voting "Yes".

The final vote which came in shortly after 8am Friday morning, 2,001,926 votes for the "No" campaign and 1,617,999 votes for the Yes campaign. 

The Yes campaign made significant wins in Scotland's largest city of Glasgow, as well as Dundee. Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh voted no.

Immediately after the result was announced, the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Alex Salmond, said "Scotland has, by a majority, decided not, at this stage, to become an independent country."

"The unionist parties made vows late in the campaign to devolve more powers to Scotland. Scotland will expect these to be honoured in rapid course," he said, highlighting the last minute pledges of all three main Westminster parties of greater devolution.

Alistair Darling, who lead the No campaign in Scotland, welcomed the result.

"The vote is over and the Scottish people have now given their verdict," he said in an address after 31 of the 32 councils had declared their results. 

"They have made a decision for progress and change for Scotland within the United Kingdom".

The turnout, which was over 90% in some areas, was hailed by politicians on both sides as "incredible".

Stating he was "delighted" by the result, the British Prime Minister David Cameron, said "the people of Scotland have spoken. It is a clear result. They have kept our country of four nations together."

Hailing the referendum as a display of democracy, Cameron said "it has reminded us how fortunate we are that we are able to settle these vital issues at the ballot box peacefully and calmly."

"It was right that we respected the SNP's majority in Holyrood and gave the Scottish people the right to have their say."

"To all those who did vote for independence - we hear you," the Prime Minister said.

Reiterating pledges by made all three main pro-Unionist parties for greater powers on tax, spending and welfare, Cameron said the changes would be agreed by November and draft legislation ready by January.

Calling for a "balanced settlement" that was fair for all four nations, Cameron pledged more powers for English voters, stating that proposals would be prepared by the former Foreign Secretary William Hague to the same timetable as Scotland.

"It is absolutely right that a new and fair settlement for Scotland is accompanied by a new and fair settlements for all parts of our United Kingdom".

Tamil Guardian 18 September 2014
France to launch air strikes against IS in Iraq
The French president today said that he had agreed to the Iraqi government’s request for air support to fight Islamic State militants.

French air strikes would only target the IS positions in Iraq and not Syria Francis Hollande told reporters on Thursday.

“Our goal is to pursue peace and security in Iraq by weakening the terrorists. We won’t go beyond that. There will be no troops on the ground and we will intervene only in Iraq,” Hollande is quoted by the BBC as saying.

Earlier this week, France hosted an international conference that saw a coalition of 26 countries pledge commitment to supporting the new Iraqi government in its fight against IS militants.

Tamil Guardian 18 September 2014
California signs bill to teach students about Armenian genocide
The Governor of California signed a bill on Thursday that will see teaching on the Armenian genocide brought into public schools across the state.

Governor Jerry Brown signed the Armenian Genocide Education Act which will see survivor and witness testimony incorporated into the teaching of human rights across public schools. The bill will also encourage more professional development activities and resource development for teachers to educate their pupils about the genocide.

See our earlier post: California to include Armenian genocide education into curriculum (16 January 2014)

Tamil Guardian 18 September 2014
China-India pledge closer ties on day 2 of Xinping's visit to India
Photographs Xinhua


China and India pledged closer cooperation on shared interests with leaders from both countries
signing a five year economic and trade development plan on Thursday, reports NDTV.

Talks took place in New Delhi
, during the second day of the President Xi Jinping's three day tour of India.

Xinping who is currently in Delhi for extensive talks with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, visited Modi's home state of Gujarat yesterday on arrival, where three pacts were signed, promoting twinning relationship between the Chinese province of Guangdong and Gujarat, as well as an MoU between China's Development Bank Corporation and Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation.




[more]

Tamil Guardian 18 September 2014
Scotland votes in historic independence referendum

The people of Scotland have begun voting in a historic referendum on whether the country should become independent.

The turnout is expected to be high, with an overwhelming 97% of the electorate (over 4.2 million people) having registered to vote.

Voters will be asked to state "yes" or "no" to the question "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

The polling booths, which opened at 7am will remain open until 10pm. All those in a queue at 10pm will be allowed to cast their votes. The result is expected early on Friday morning, following the counting of votes which will take place in 32 of Scotland's local authorities.

Recent polls have put the referendum results on a knife edge, with the Yes campaign only two points behind despite pledges of ever increasing devolution and autonomy by all three main pro-unionist parties if Scotland votes no.

In an eleventh hour intervention the acclaimed Scottish tennis champion, Andy Murray, expressed his tacit support to the Yes campaign in a tweet posted late yesterday. Murray, who lives mainly in Surrey, will not be able to vote himself.



Meanwhile the US President Barack Obama urged Scots to stay within the union, in a signed tweet posted yesterday.



[more]

 
HIGHLIGHTS
  Editorial
Renewing resolve
Significance of Aluthgama
Silences between the shouts
  Opinion
‘Legal Avenues to Prosecute a US Citizen for War Crimes—The Case of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’
Review: 'This Land Belongs to the Army'
'Sri Lanka’s Scapegoat for its Own Terror'
  Feature
#GetThePicture campaign maps militarisation of North-East
14 Aug 2006: 53 Tamil school girls killed by Sri Lankan air strike on children's home
Call for submissions as 'OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka' begins
  Culture & Community
Thileepan memorial marked with music in Denmark
Norway's Drammen Tsk wins 21st Karumpuli Memorial Football Cup
Tamil Eelam U14 reach quarterfinals in Denmark football cup



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