Saturday, 10 October 2015
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Today marks the 28th anniversary of the death of 2nd Lt Maalathy.
 Tamil Affairs
Tamil Guardian 10 October 2015
Sri Lankan army marks anniversary as commander calls for 'loyalty to nation'

The Sri Lankan army marked its 66th anniversary with a range of Buddhist ceremonies, as the commander of the army called on all soldiers to remain “steadfastly loyal to the nation”.

Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva said in his address that “Sri Lankan soldiers are admired world over for their display of humanity, discipline, professionalism and integrity”. “These attributes will without doubt enable us to be more efficient when we embark on increasing our participation in UN.”

“I urge all members of the Army to remain steadfastly loyal to the nation,” he added.

In a statement released on Saturday, the army said “its glory reached its zenith in May 2009 across the globe following its unique eradication of Sri Lanka’s long-drawn ruthless terrorism”.

A UN report released last month detailed how the Sri Lankan military systematically shelled hospitals, denied humanitarian assistance to Tamil civilians and carried out unlawful killings during the final phase of the armed conflict.

Lt. Gen. Crishanthe De Silva also praised Sri Lanka’s defence secretary and President Maithripala Sirisena in his address, saying they had “fervently stood by our Armed Forces, keeping National Security interests closer to their hearts”.

In the weeks leading up to the anniversary the military performed several Buddhist ceremonies to bless the army.


Tamil Guardian 10 October 2015
‘There is much to be done in Sri Lanka’ says UK minster

The British Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said there remains “much to be done” in Sri Lanka after a resolution was passed at the UN Human Rights Council, mandating an accountability mechanism for violations of international humanitarian law committed during the armed conflict.

“I’m hopeful that the next stage of this process will be accompanied by further progress on some of the other commitments President Sirisena has made – from demilitarisation, to anti-corruption work, to the release of political prisoners, to reducing tensions between communities and disengaging the military from commercial activities,” said Hugo Swire, in a blog post earlier this week.

“There is much to be done, and we in the UK are keen to offer support wherever we can. We’ll be discussing this with the Sri Lankan government in the coming weeks.”


Tamil Guardian 10 October 2015
Sri Lanka ranked 6th on CPJ impunity index
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranked Sri Lanka 6th in its 2015 Global Impunity Index, which “spotlights countries where journalists are slain and the killers go free”.

Published this week, ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 2, the index examined journalist murders across the world that took place between September 1 2005, and August 31 2015.

“Sri Lanka moved to sixth place from fourth on this year's Index, its improvement due not to prosecutions-the island nation still maintains a perfect record of impunity in journalist slayings-but to the fact that no journalists have been murdered for their work since the end of civil war in 2009,” said the CPJ.


Tamil Guardian 10 October 2015
19 Indian fishermen arrested by Sri Lankan navy

Nineteen Indian fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan navy on Saturday off the coast of Vadamaradchi East.

The arrested men, who are from Tamil Nadu, were accused of violating the international maritime border. They will be produced before Point Pedro magistrate today.


Tamil Guardian 09 October 2015
Purely domestic inquiry to prove 'blamelessness of Sri Lanka' says SLFP

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), headed by President Maithripala Sirisena, said that there would be no room for an international or hybrid mechanism for Sri Lanka’s investigations into war time atrocities.

Speaking at a party meeting, the SLFP Vice Chairman and Social Empowerment and Welfare Minister SB Dissanayake said that the government would never allow foreign judges work on a accountability mechanism, reports

“The government will defiantly establish a domestic investigation mechanism with local judges and lawyers in order to hold an impartial inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity. Foreign experts will be invited if really needed. However final action would be taken according to constitution,” said the government minister.

Mr Dissanayake added that the inquiry would “prove Sri Lanka’s blamelessness, pay compensation for disabled and disturbed war heroes,” whilst strengthening “the country’s sovereignty.”

Tamil Guardian 09 October 2015
EU calls for death penalty to be abolished

The European Union(EU) called for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide and welcomed Sri Lankan Justice Minister’s announcement that his government would vote in favour of the UN General Assembly resolution on a moratorium on the Death Penalty.

The EU statement comes as Sri Lanka’s parliament debated the reinstatement of capital punishment and as the government prepares to interview for a new hangman next week.

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha said this week that the Foreign Minister told the UN Human Rights Council last month that Sri Lanka would not implement capital punishment. Mr Rajapaksha, who is also minister of the Buddha Sasana, said that the matter had to be considered carefully, and would not be implemented this year as Sri Lanka voted in favour of a UN resolution for a moratorium on the death penalty.

“The death penalty is a cruel and ineffective punishment,” said the EU. “Many death sentences are issued after confessions obtained by torture. Innocent people die and a person more likely to be sentenced to death if they are poor or belong to an ethnic or religious minority.”


Tamil Guardian 09 October 2015
‘Inclusion of exiled victims will be litmus test for Sri Lanka’ – Frances Harrison

The inclusion of exiled victims and witnesses in Sri Lanka’s consultation for an accountability mechanism will be a litmus test of its credibility, writes former BBC correspondent Frances Harrison.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Ms Harrison noted that “the extent of organised sexual violence and torture by the Sri Lankan security forces in the post-war period and right up to the present day and the chilling way every medical facility was deliberately attacked is now a matter of record,” with the release of the OISL report.

“The fact the Sri Lankan security services this week went to question the only Tamil activist who spoke in public in Geneva appears to be an attempt to embarrass the government,” she added. “This sort of harassment causes disproportionate bad feeling and suspicion, especially when the target is a highly respected Catholic priest who works tirelessly with the families of the Disappeared.”


Tamil Guardian 09 October 2015
Pastor harassed by officials and Buddhist monks

Police summoned and questioned a Christian pastor after four Buddhist monks forcibly entered a church in Bandaragama, in the Kalutara District, on September 6, and claimed the church was not a registered place of worship.

The Officer in Charge of the police station ordered the pastor to register the church with the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs in order to continue operation, and was made to sign a document stating he would not continue with his religious activities until this was done.

The incident was reported in the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka, in its periodic incident report.

The church was initially visited by officials on August 31, when 2 officers from the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs informed the pastor that they were investigating a petition submitted against him and his religious activities.

Tamil Guardian 09 October 2015
UNHRC resolution betrayed country - former JVP leader

The general secretary of the People's Servants' Party, Somawanse Amarasinghe, said the resolution passed at the UN Human Rights Council last week was a betrayal of Sri Lanka.

Mr Amarasinghe, who formerly led the JVP said he would form "the widest front" against imperialist, as they had not given up their agenda of dividing the country, the state-owned Daily News reported.

"The country has been betrayed through the UNHRC resolution," he said, adding that it mandated a hybrid judicial mechanism.

He further said his party can join with the National Freedom Front and the JVP to fight separatism, if those parties showed a genuine interest against separatism.

Tamil Guardian 09 October 2015
Sri Lanka resolution key US outcome at UNHRC alongside Syria, Yemen
The resolution on Sri Lanka was a key United States outcome at the UN Human Rights Council's (UNHRC) 30th session, alongside Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Burundi, and Bahrain, the US State Department noted in a statement following the session, which ended earlier this month in Geneva.

"The U.S.-led resolution, which Sri Lanka co-sponsored, highlights the Sri Lankan government’s efforts to advance respect for human rights and strengthen good governance since January 2015, encourages the reform of domestic laws to facilitate accountability for past crimes related to the Sri Lankan civil war, affirms the importance of the participation of foreign judges and prosecutors in domestic accountability mechanisms, and requests further reporting by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)."


Tamil Guardian 09 October 2015
73 return after fleeing Sri Lanka to seek asylum in India
Seventy-three refugees who fled Sri Lanka during the armed conflict and sought asylum in India left on Thursday to return home, reports The Hindu.

Together with the assistance of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the refugees intend on returning to their homes in the North-East.

Many of those were young children when they fled and grew up in refugee camps across Tamil Nadu, where according to the paper, 1.02 lakh refugees remain.


Tamil Guardian 09 October 2015
Japan lends $375m to Sri Lanka for new BIA terminal
Japan has agreed this week to lend Sri Lanka $375 million in order to build a new terminal at Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).

The agreement is part of the 'Partnership for Quality Infrastructure' and follows the Sri Lankan prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe's visit to Japan this week.

See here for more.


Tamil Guardian 09 October 2015
US announces further support for demining efforts in Sri Lanka

The US Ambassador to Colombo Atul Keshap, announced an additional $1.745 million to add to the demining initiatives of international and domestic organisations working under the National Mine Action Committee (NMAC)

Reiterating US support for demining in Sri Lanka, Mr Keshap said,

“As the world’s largest donor of global demining efforts, the United States is committed to addressing the land mine problem in Sri Lanka. The United States will continue to work with President Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, Minister Swaminathan, and the people of Sri Lanka to help clear remaining areas.”

Over $43 million in US assistance has been given to Sri Lanka’s demining efforts over the past 20 years, reports Colombo Page.

Tamil Guardian 09 October 2015
Sri Lanka acquires EU grant to develop Central and UVA Provinces

The European Union agreed to provide a Euro 43.7 million grant for development projects in Sri Lanka.

30 million of the grant will go to the Central and UVA Provinces reports Colombo page.

The program will look to improve the livelihood, income level, health and nutrition of low income receivers in the two provinces and strengthen social and economic services.

The grant was acquired by Sri Lanka’s prime minister Ranil Wickremasinghe in his capacity as Minister of National Policy and Economic affairs.

Tamil Guardian 08 October 2015
Vishvamadu rape case highlights structural sexual violence against minorities says WAN
The case of a Tamil woman raped by Sri Lankan military soldiers in Vishvamadu highlights the structural nature of the sexual violence against ethnic minority women in Sri Lanka, and the barriers such victims face in seeking justice, said a collective of women's groups based in the North-East, Women's Action Network (WAN), on Thursday.

Saluting the bravery of one of the victims who pursued justice despite being intimidated and harassed by the military after she lodged a complaint in June 2010, WAN criticised the "insensitive manner in which the [southern] media has reported on or dealt with cases of sexual violence against women" including this case.


Tamil Guardian 08 October 2015
Sri Lankan army gifts charity bikes to children in Kilinochchi

The Sri Lankan military handed over bicycles to school children in Kilinochchi on Wednesday.

The event took place as part of the Sri Lankan cricketer, Kumar Sangakkara's 'Bikes for Life' campaign, and happened in conjunction with a cricket tournament also organised with the assistance of the Sri Lankan military in Kilinochchi for local school cricket teams.


Tamil Guardian 08 October 2015
Two paramilitary members detained by CID over TNA MP killing
Two paramilitary members were detained by Sri Lanka's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on Thursday, for questioning over the assassination of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, Joseph Pararajasingham in 2005.

The two men were detained in Batticaloa, the Colombo Page reported.

Edwin Silva Krishna Kandaraja and Rengasami Kanyagama were two former LTTE members who broke away with the Karuna faction of the LTTE which later aligned itself with the Sri Lankan government.


Tamil Guardian 08 October 2015
Over 1000 families remain displaced in Jaffna says minister
Sri Lanka’s Minister of Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Affairs told parliament that 1318 families remain displaced and live in resettlement camps across the Jaffna district on Wednesday.

Addressing parliament D.M. Swaminathan said there were 4737 internally displaced persons of 1318 families, according to The Island. He went on to add there were 32 welfare camps across the Jaffna district, including in Point Pedro, Karaveddi, Kopai, Thellipalai, Uduvil, Sandipalai and Nallur divisional secretariats.

The figure was disputed by the National Fisheries Solidarity Organisation, with local activists saying there are still 43 refugee camps in the Jaffna district, with thousands waiting to be resettled.

Last month protestors in Jaffna took part in a hunger strike outside the Valikamam North High Security Zone, demanding to be resettled in their native land.
 International Affairs
Tamil Guardian 10 October 2015
Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet awarded Nobel Peace Prize

A coalition of human rights activists, lawyers, business persons and trade unionists has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its “role in building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011”, with calls for the country to continue its path towards reform.

The award for Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet, comes almost five years after the self-immolation of a street vendor sparked the Arab Spring protests across the Middle East. The coalition was formed in 2013, after further protests against the Islamist-led transitional government threatened to destabilise the country. The quarter helped to negotiate the ratification of a new constitution and set up its electoral commission, leading to a coalition government headed by a secular president.

Pointing to the other regions in the Middle East where “the struggle for democracy and human rights has come to a standstill or suffered setbacks,” Kaci Kullmann Five, the chairwoman of the Nobel committee said, “Tunisia, however, has seen a democratic transition based on a vibrant civil society, with demands for respect for basic human rights”.

Announcing the award the Nobel Prize committee said the prize would help to “safeguard” democracy in Tunisia. “More than anything, the prize is intended as an encouragement to the Tunisian people, who despite major challenges have laid the groundwork for a national fraternity,” the committee added.

The president of the Tunisian Human Rights League, Mokhtar Trifi said the award was “a clear encouragement for the wider process in Tunisia, and for all the work and dialogue that went into the move to elections and democracy”. “Crucially, it shows that the world is watching us,” he added. “We have much more to accomplish and are facing new challenges.”


Tamil Guardian 10 October 2015
China warns US about encroaching South China Sea territory

China will not stand for violations of tis territorial waters in the name of freedom of navigation, said a Chinese spokesperson commenting on the South China Sea on Friday.

The statement came as the US plans to station ships less than 12 miles from a zone that China claims as its territory reports Reuters.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said,

“We will never allow any country to violate China’s territorial waters and airspace in the Spratly Islands, in the name of protecting freedom of navigation and overflight. We urge related parties not to take any provocative actions, and genuinely take a responsible stance on regional peace and stability.”

China’s most recent statement comes after the Chinese President Xi Jinpong met his US counterpart in Washington to finalise an agreement aimed at reducing the possibility of aerial clashes between the two nations.

In May this year, the Chinese navy issued eight warning to the crew of a US P8-A Poseidon surveillance aircraft that flew near China’s territorial Zone in the South China Sea.  

Tamil Guardian 09 October 2015
Spain dismisses war crimes charges against 40 Rwandan officials

The Spanish Supreme Court has dismissed war crimes cases against 40 Rwandan officials who were accused over their role in revenge killings following the 1994 genocide, reports BBC.

The officials, many of whom held leadership positions in the Rwanda Defence Forces, were accused of war crimes.

The decision means that arrest warrants against the group have now been revoked, though 29 of them may still be arrested if they enter Spanish territory.

Rwanda's justice minister Johnston Busingye praised the decision stating "we have always said that such a case requires proper and credible investigation". "This particular investigation started by listing almost the entire leadership of the Rwanda Defence Forces on a charge sheet and then worked backwards to find offences with which to charge them," he added.

However, said Jordi Palou Loverdos, a lawyer for Spanish, Rwandan and Congolese victims said “it is a very sad day for victims and for justice in general”.

See more from the BBC here and Digital Journal here.


Tamil Guardian 08 October 2015
Obama apologises for US bombing of Afghan hospital
US President Barack Obama apologised to the head of aid agency Medecins San Frontieres (MSF)and promised accountability for the attack, which left nearly two dozen patients and staff dead.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the president had called Dr Joanne Liu, international president of Doctors Without Borders, for a personal apology over the incident, and promised a “full accounting” of who was to blame for the attack.

Mr Earnest said “when the United States makes a mistake, we own up to it, we apologise”.

MSF has continued to call for a full international independent investigation in to the incident, requesting the United States “consent to an independent investigation led by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission”.

Mr Obama’s apology comes after US officials admitted that American personnel were not being fired at by the Taliban as they had originally stated. The decision to strike the hospital was “a US decision made within the US chain of command,” admitted Gen. John F. Campbell, the American commander in Afghanistan.

See more from the New York Times here.
Tamil Guardian 08 October 2015
Amnesty calls for halt on arms transfers and accountability for coalition strikes in Yemen

Amnesty International called for the suspension of all weapons transfers to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen, after it reported to have “damning evidence of war crimes”.

In a new report examining air strikes by the coalition, the NGO said the “unlawful air strikes” may amount to war crimes. The report, entitled ‘Bombs fall from the sky day and night’: Civilians under fire in northern Yemen’ demonstrates “in harrowing detail how crucial it is to stop arms being used to commit serious violations of this kind” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser.

Ms Rovera, who headed Amnesty’s fact-finding mission to Yemen, said “the USA and other states exporting weapons to any of the parties to the Yemen conflict have a responsibility to ensure that the arms transfers they authorize are not facilitating serious violations of international humanitarian law”. “Lack of accountability has contributed to the worsening crisis and unless perpetrators believe they will be brought to justice for their crimes, civilians will continue to suffer the consequences,” she added.

The report examined 13 different airstrikes by the coalition, including the use of cluster bombs, which killed approximately 100 civilians, including 59 children.


Tamil Guardian 07 October 2015
US condemns violence in West Bank and Jerusalem
The White House expressed deep concern on Wednesday about the escalating violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem reports Reuters.

The White House spokesman Josh Earnest in a news briefing said,

“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms violence against Israelis and Palestinian civilians. We call upon all parties to take affirmative steps to restore calm and refrain from actions and rhetoric that would further inflame tensions in that region of the world.”
Tamil Guardian 07 October 2015
Escalation of sexual violence in South Sudan says ICRC

Women in South Sudan face an unprecedented level of sexual violence which includes abduction, rape, forced marriage and murder in a merciless ethnic warfare, said the head of the Red Cross mission in the country.

Franz Rauchenstein, describing a rise in sexual violence in the last two years, said,

“We went to one village to distribute aid and were told they had been attacked some days earlier and 90 women had been abducted. After several days only about 60 of them came back.”

Noting the escalation of violence against civilians, Ms Rauchenstein added,

Civilians have been directly targeted. The people are collateral damage of the attacks. What is new in this conflict is that women have been attacked while they have been seeking refuge on the islands. Those who are abducted may be forcefully married, enslaved or killed.”

Tamil Guardian 06 October 2015
Former UN General Assembly President charged with corruption

Former UN General Assembly President, John Ashe, was charged by U.S. authorities on Tuesday, for allegedly taking more than $1.3 million in bribes from real estate billionaire, Ng Lap Seng, in an expansive corruption scheme. John Ashe was General Assembly President from 2013-2014 and the U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda.

In return for the bribes, prosecutors say that Mr. Ashe used his positions to introduce a UN document supporting a multibillion-dollar UN-sponsored conference centre that Mr. Ng hoped to build. The complaint sets out that between 2012 and 2014, more than $3 million was deposited into bank accounts controlled by Mr. Ashe from foreign governments and individuals. However, the complaint is limited to charging Mr. Ashe with tax offenses, which are apparently not covered by his diplomatic immunity.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara who announced the arrests today said, “If proven, today’s charges will confirm that the cancer of corruption that plagues too many local and state governments infects the United Nations as well.”

Tamil Guardian 06 October 2015
Burkinabe coup leader charged

The leader of last month's coup in Burkina Faso, General Gilbert Diendere has been charged with 11 crimes, including threatening state security, murder, collusion with foreign forces, voluntary assault and wilful destruction of property.

The general, who led the presidential guard in the short-lived take-over, is expected to face trial at a military tribunal.

Former Foreign Minister Djibril Bassole, who was also arrested, has also been charged.

At least 10 people died and over 100 were injured during the coup, which Gen Diendere later described as "the biggest mistake".

Tamil Guardian 06 October 2015
Pentagon takes responsibility for Afghan hospital strike, seeks accountability

The US military, pledging to seek accountability, took responsibility for deadly airstrikes that killed Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) doctors working in an Afghan hospital.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the Pentagon “deeply regrets” the loss of life.

“The US military takes the greatest care in our operations to prevent loss of innocent life, and when we make mistakes, we own up to them. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now,” he said in a statement whilst travelling in Europe.

Mr Carter added, “We will of everything we can to understand the tragic incident, learn from it, and hold people accountable as necessary.”

Tamil Guardian 06 October 2015
Militant to be tried for cultural destruction at The Hague

An alleged militant accused of destroying ancient monuments in Timbuktu became the first person to appear at the International Criminal Court (ICC) charged with damaging cultural heritage.

Appearing at the court last Wednesday, Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi was informed of the charges levelled against him. A further hearing will be held on 18 January where the judge will decide if the evidence against Mr Mahdi is strong enough to establish a full trial.

The ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda launced an investigation into alleged war crimes in Mali after Tuareg rebels seized parts of northern Mali in April 2012 and destroyed ancient shrines in Timbuktu, reports The Guardian.

Ms Bensouda called Mr Mahdi’s arrest an “important step forward in the fight against impunity, not only in Mali but also the broader Sahel and Sahara region in Africa, whose populations have been in recent years subjected to unspeakable crimes.


Tamil Guardian 05 October 2015
Nato warns Russia over Syria strikes

Nato has warned Russia over its continued air strikes on targets in Syria, in support of President Bashar al Assad's government.

A statement by the body's 28 members urged Russia to end attacks "on the Syrian opposition and civilians" and warned of "the extreme danger of such irresponsible behaviour".

Russia violated Nato-member Turkey's airspace, drawing condemnation by the body.

"The Turkish Armed Forces are clearly instructed," Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkish TV.

"Even if it is a flying bird, it will be intercepted."

Turkey has again summoned the Russian ambassador, afterthe second violation of its airspace  in two days.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric expressed concern at the dangers of having "a lot of different countries and different coalitions" carrying out campaigns in Syria, saying the situation was "fraught with danger".

Tamil Guardian 05 October 2015
Germany sentences Rwandan FDLR leaders for war crimes

A court in Germany has sentenced two men from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) for war crimes, in a landmark trial last week.

The trial was the first under Germany’s Code of Crimes Against International Law, which allows the investigation and prosecution of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, irrespective of where they are committed.

The court sentenced Ignace Murwanashyaka, head of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), to 13 years in prison, and his deputy Straton Musoni to 8 years, finding them guilty of war crimes. Initially the men were accused of 26 counts of crimes against humanity and 39 counts of war crimes committed by militias under their command, however the trial centred on specific cases of killings.

The verdict was hailed by Human Rights Watch’s advocacy director, Géraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, who said it showed “that the world has become a smaller place for war criminals”. Rwandan Justice Minister Johnston Bussingye welcomed the sentence saying "it is a good step but it is a very small step”.

Tamil Guardian 05 October 2015
Lawsuit filed in US accusing Myanmar president of genocide
Activists in the United States have filed a lawsuit against Myanmar’s president Thein Sein, accusing him of committing genocide against the Rohingya population.

The lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court last week accuses the president and other senior Myanmar officials of planning and instigating "hate crimes and discrimination amounting to genocide".

It stated that the Muslim Rohingya population are "subjected to genocide, torture, arbitrary detention, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" by the Myanmar government.

Filed by Burma Task Force, a group of 19 Muslim organisations in the US, and a Rohingya man Hitay Lwin Oo, it accuses Mr Thein Sein of violating the US Alien Tort Statute (ATS).

See more form Reuters
Tamil Guardian 04 October 2015
MSF demands independent inquiry into hospital attack

Médecins Sans Frontières has demanded an independent inquiry into the US attack on a hospital in Kunduz, in which 22 people, inlcuding its staff, lost their lives.

The aid group said it was making the call for an inquiry "under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed".

MSF tweeted: "The hospital was repeatedly and precisely hit during each aerial raid, while the rest of the compound was left mostly untouched.

"Not a single member of our staff reported any fighting inside the hospital compound prior to the US air strike on Saturday morning."

Tamil Guardian 04 October 2015
Russia continues bombing raids as Assad warns of Mid-East 'destruction'

Russia has continued its bombing campaign in Syria for a fifth day, targeting at least 10 positions of the Islamic State militant group, according to its defence ministry.

"As a result of our air strikes on Isil [IS] targets, we have managed to disrupt their control system, the terrorist organisation's supply lines, and also caused significant damage to the infrastructure used to prepare acts of terror," the ministry said.

However, Syrian opposition groups say the Russian forces focussed on targeting other rebel groups and that civilians had died in the attacks.

Meanwhile Syria's President Bashar al Assad said the coalition between his country, Russia and Iran were united in fighting terrorism and unlike the US-led coalition would achieve "practical results".

He said if the coalition doesn't succeed "the whole region will be destroyed".

Tamil Guardian 03 October 2015
US bombing of Kunduz hospital may be war crime - UN human rights chief

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussain said the bombing of an Afghan hospital in Kunduz by the US may constitute a war crime.

The US-led air strike on the hospital in the Taliban-held city of Kunduz killed at least 19 people, including 12 staff of Doctors Without Borders.

Mr Hussain said the attack was "inexcusable" and possibly criminal, and called for a full and transparent investigation, saying that "if established as deliberate in a court of law, an air strike on a hospital may amount to a war crime".

US defence chief Ash Carter described the incident as "tragic" and acknowledged that US forces were operating nearby in support of the Afghan army.

"While we are still trying to determine exactly what happened, I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to everyone affected. A full investigation into the tragic incident is underway in coordination with the Afghan government."

Tamil Guardian 03 October 2015
EU imposes sanctions on Burundi officials

The EU has placed asset freezes and travel bans on three Burundians, who stand accused of ordering excessive force against peaceful protestors, who objected to President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for an unconstitutional third term and one military official who took part in a failed coup earlier this year.

The sanctions were imposed on Godefroid Bizimana, deputy head of the national police, accused of decisions that led to the "disproportionate use of force and acts of violent repression", Gervais Ndirakobuca, a cabinet official responsible for police matters, accused of giving orders that caused violations of international human rights law, Joseph Niyonzima, a senior intelligence official accused of arming and training a pro-government militia and Leonard Ngendakumana, a former general who stands accused of "obstructing the search for a political solution".

Foreign Minister Alain Nyamitwe told the BBC's Kirundi service that the force used was justified, because the protests were violent and had been preventing people from going about their daily business in the capital, Bujumbura.

Inescapable truth
Road To Reckoning
Promise of Justice
‘Inclusion of exiled victims will be litmus test for Sri Lanka’ – Frances Harrison
‘Proof of change will come in how Sri Lanka treats most vulnerable victims’
Critical moment in Geneva - but will Tamils see justice? - APPG-T chair
Triumphant return for president who 'achieved a great victory' at UNHRC, as he pledges 'domestic inquiry'
Consensus resolution on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka adopted at UNHRC
NGOs call for internationalised accountability process and monitoring of ongoing violations against victim Tamil community in Sri Lanka
  Culture & Community
A night to remember as Tamil comedy takes to the stage
'Super Singer Junior' audiences stunned by song dedicated to Eelam Tamils
Denmark Tamil schools compete in Malathy Cup football tournament

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