Wednesday, 16 April 2014
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Tamil Guardian 16 April 2014
Journalist attack could not have occurred without state's knowledge - TNPF

Amidst the heightened surveillance in the North-East, the violent attack against the journalist Sivagnanam Selvatheepan on Monday could not have been carried out without the Sri Lankan state being aware the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) said today.

“The army, the police and the intelligence service are involved in surveillance all over the Tamil homeland. In such circumstances, there is no way that this attack could have been carried out unknown to the state. Therefore the government must accept full responsibility for this assault,” a statement quoted party secretary, S. Kajendran as saying. 

Stating that the TNPF “deeply condemned” the “cowardly” attack on the 29-year-old journalist, Mr. Kajendran said, 

“We have learnt that Selvatheepan was [previously] threatened several times by groups seeking to continue repressing and strangling the voice of the Tamil people.”

Calling on the international community to act, Mr Kajendran said it must take steps to curb the oppression and attacks which the Sri Lankan government has “unleashed” on media and journalists.

Pointing to the "use of terrorism prevention laws to arrest and torture of human rights activists and Tamil people struggling for justice against government oppression, the assaults and murders of journalists seeking to expose injustices, and the burning of press offices", Mr. Kajendran said, "these things have all become commonplace throughout the Tamil homeland.”


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Tamil Guardian 16 April 2014
Gotabaya says 'terrorist' fronts within Tamil diaspora continue propaganda against Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's Secretary of Defence, Gotabaya Rajapaksa said whilst Sri Lanka had defeated terrorism on the island, it was still alive within the Tamil diaspora, reports Colombo Gazette.

'LTTE network continues to sustain an international propaganda campaign against Sri Lanka through front organisations that have now put on a democratic face' Mr. Gotabaya is quoted as saying whilst addressing delegates at Malaysia's 'Defence Services Asia' conference today.

Colombo Gazette further quoted him as saying,
'Some nations seem to have chosen to turn a blind eye to these front organisations and their activities because they claim to support political activism or humanitarian relief. At the same time, the network’s operatives, most of whom are trained terrorists, remain involved in various illegal activities, and are constantly seeking ways to revive terrorist activities in Sri Lanka.'

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Tamil Guardian 16 April 2014
TNA MP had close links with ‘Gopi’ – Minister

Sri Lankan security forces are investigating alleged ‘close association’ between TNA MP Sritharan and ‘Gopi’ and his associates, who were accused by Sri Lanka of reviving the LTTE before being killed by the army, after a manhunt spanning several weeks.

Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake told The Island that the MP had harboured the fugitives and provided them with transportation, and that he had been seen with ‘Gopi’ in Colombo and Batticaloa.

Dissanayake said a mobile phone used by ‘Gopi’ was recovered and details retrieved from the phone will be used to reveal more information.

Police spokesperson Ajith Rohana said that there was evidence to prove that ‘Gopi’ had contact with the MP and several others.
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Tamil Guardian 16 April 2014
Sri Lanka ranks 4th in global impunity index for killings of journalists
Sri Lanka ranked 4th on a global impunity index by the US based press freedom group, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), on the murder of media workers.

"Government and military officials are suspected to be behind several of the murders," said CPJ.

The index included 13 countries where at least five journalists had been murdered without any convictions, over the past year. Iraq, Somalia, and the Philippines, ranked ahead of Sri Lanka, with Syria just behind in 5th place.


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Tamil Guardian 16 April 2014
Congress did more than any other party for Tamils in SL – Sonia Gandhi

The president of the Congress Party Sonia Gandhi said at an election rally in the Tamil Nadu, that her party had done more than any other party for the welfare of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Speaking in Kanyakumari on the southern-most tip of India, she rejected allegations by political parties in the state, who say that the Congress has not done enough for Tamils on the island, just across the water from the town.

"I want to ask them, is there any party, which has done more than the Congress party for the Sri Lankan Tamils? Rajiv Gandhi sacrificed his life while fighting for our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka," she said.

Gandhi also called on Tamil Nadu to reject the BJP’s Narendra Modi.
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Tamil Guardian 16 April 2014
Sharma disappointed at Canada's decision to cut Commonwealth funding over Sri Lanka
The Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma, expressed his "disappointment" at Canada's decision to withdraw its $10m funding to the international body in light of Sri Lanka's role as chair.

A statement released by the Mr. Sharma's office on Tuesday, read,
"Mr Sharma expressed disappointment at this step but looked forward to the resumption of the contributions."
See full statement here.

Announcing Canada's decision to cut funding on Monday, the country's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said,
"We can no longer justify providing additional funding to an organization that turns a blind eye to human rights abuses, anti-democratic behaviour and religious intolerance in its member states".

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Tamil Guardian 16 April 2014
Attempts to silence us will create the need for more international action -Ananthy tells Govt
Ananthy tells UNHRC March 18th - 'Sri Lanka is a genocidal state, it cannot conduct an inquiry itself'.
Photograph Tamil Guardian


Attempts to silence those who speak out against the injustices faced by the Tamil people will create the need for more international action, Ananthy Sasitharan, the TNA Northern Provincial Councillor told the government.

She was responding to calls
from the ruling coalition partner, the JHU, for herself and TNA MPs who campaigned in support of an international investigation last month, including MA Sumanthiran and Suresh Premachandran, to be arrested.
 
"If [they] think that by arresting us they can silence our voices that would be a mistaken calculation, any attempts to arrest us will bring grave consequences on an international stage," said Ms Sasitharan in a statement issued in Tamil on Tuesday.

 
"It will create the need for even more international action," she said.


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Tamil Guardian 16 April 2014
5 years today - 600 shells fall in No Fire Zone, US calls for halt to shelling, international access

16 April 2009 - 600 shells fall in No Fire Zone, US calls to halt shelling and allow international access

The US department of state, in a press release, called on the government of Sri Lanka to halt shelling of the No Fire Zone, allow international monitors to ensure the safe passage of Tamil civilians and enforce international humanitarian standards within IDP camps.

See full statement here.

The statement came as over 600 shells fell in the No Fire Zone within the space of a day. Sources in the No Fire Zone registered over 1500 shell explosions with roughly 600 occurring within the No Fire Zone.
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Tamil Guardian 15 April 2014
Tamil media workers demand justice for attacked journalist
Condemning yesterday attack against the journalist Sivagnanam Selvatheepan, the Sri Lankan Tamil Media Alliance called for those responsible to face justice.

"Attacks and threats on journalists in the North has become commonplace nowadays," said K. Jeyandran the group's secretary to Thinakurral.

Calling on the government to take action he said,
"The government should take action to identify the people involved in this attack, to bring them to justice, and to allow journalists in the North to work freely."
"Those who are in charge are failing to arrest the people responsible for such incidents and bring them before justice," Mr. Jeyandran said.


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Tamil Guardian 15 April 2014
Mother of 'Gopi' released by TID
The mother of one of the Tamil men shot dead by the Sri Lankan military, after claiming that he was attempting to revive the LTTE has been released from prison, reports Uthayan.

The mother of the man, named by the military, as 'Gopi, was arrested by officers of the Terrorism Investigative Division on March 26th along with another woman.

No charges were brought against her.

Tamil Guardian 15 April 2014
Malaysia PM welcomes Defence guests
The Malaysian Prime Minister, Mohd Najib Tun Razak, received the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Dunne at his office today in two separate meetings.

 

The Malaysian government is at present hosting the annual 'Defence Services Asia' conference at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

Tamil Guardian 15 April 2014
SL accuses Canada of using Commonwealth funds as political tool

Sri Lanka has accused the Canadian government of using the funding it gives to the Commonwealth as a political tool, holding the body to ransom due to electoral politics, reported Colombo Gazette.

Canada yesterday suspended its voluntary funding to the Commonwealth over ongoing human rights concerns in Sri Lanka and condemning the country’s role as the organisation’s chair.

“It is the Government of Sri Lanka which is best placed to continue the evolution of a home grown solution for its people in accordance with a realistic time frame,” an External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said to the Colombo Gazette.


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Tamil Guardian 15 April 2014
A militarised New Year

New Year's event in Konapulam, Jaffna (Picture: CIMIC-Jaffna)

The Sri Lankan Army organised several events for the Tamil community in the Northeast to celebrate the Tamil and Sinhala New Year.

The Security Force Headquarters - East (SFHQ-E) held an event at Welikanda, a few miles from the border with the Batticaloa district. The official army website reported that the 54th Division, under the direction of Major General Lal Perera, organised the event, which gave “prominence to Sinhala and Hindu traditions”.

Tamil women soldiers, who were recently recruited into the army also participated in the event, the website said.


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Tamil Guardian 14 April 2014
Canada suspends over $10m Commonwealth funding over Sri Lanka as chair
Canada is suspending over $10 million funding of the Commonwealth Secretariat over on-going human rights concerns in Sri Lanka, condemning Sri Lanka's role as Commonwealth chair.

In a statement announcing the funding cut, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the country would be reallocating its funding for the next two years, so long as Sri Lanka remained chair.

"We can no longer justify providing additional funding to an organization that turns a blind eye to human rights abuses, anti-democratic behaviour and religious intolerance in its member states", said Mr. Baird.


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Tamil Guardian 14 April 2014
Journalist beaten with iron bars in Jaffna


An independent journalist who wrote for the Tamil daily newspapers, Virakesari and Thinakurral, was attacked by two unidentified men in Jaffna on Monday, reports Global Tamils News and Uthayan.



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Tamil Guardian 14 April 2014
We have real concerns in Sri Lanka - UK FCO Minister Hugo Swire
Writing in Conservative Home on the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this year, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister, Hugo Swire, said the UK had "real concerns" about Sri Lanka, the Commonwealth Chair.

Stressing the importance of upholding Commonwealth values, Mr. Swire wrote,
"Let us take values first. The Commonwealth Charter, agreed in 2012, is historic: the first ever declaration of our common values in a single document. But, frankly, implementation is patchy. We have real concerns in Sri Lanka, the Commonwealth’s Chair in Office, where there has been very little progress in investigating the terrible atrocities in the civil war that ended five years ago. The Prime Minister has shown great leadership in securing an international inquiry into this through the UN Human Rights Council."
See here for full post.

Tamil Guardian 14 April 2014
Tamil woman found dead in Jaffna

The body of a Tamil woman was recovered from a well in Jaffna on Sunday, reported the Uthayan, making it the second such case in the last few days.

The woman was identified as 22-year-old Jeromy Conselita, from Gurunagar, Jaffna.


Warning - some viewers may find this distressing


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Tamil Guardian 14 April 2014
MP withdrew from SL trip over rejection of UN probe

The Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, Sharon Hodgson, said she withdrew from a planned trip to Sri Lanka over the government’s refusal to cooperate with an international inquiry as mandated by the UNHRC last month.

The trip was called off after a senior Labour figure intervened, causing the two Labour MPs, Ms Hodgson and Stephen Hepburn to pull out and leaving the remaining MPs no choice but to cancel the trip, Channel 4 reported last week.

“I have a long-standing interest in seeking justice for those who have been the victim of war crimes and human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, and was a co-signatory to a letter in 2010 calling for an independent, international inquiry into them," Ms Hodgson said.


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 International Affairs
Tamil Guardian 16 April 2014
EU looks to impose sanctions on Russia an avoid retaliatory impact
The European Commission distributed documents outlining trade and financial sanctions on Russia, reports Reuters.

Elaborating on the need for a strong and balanced sanctions package, a diplomat briefed on the sanctions said,

“We can’t have a situation where a set of sanctions ends up having a retaliatory impact o none member state or two or three member states. If there are going to be repercussions from this, they have to be shared out.”

Ukrainian efforts to re-establish control over eastern regions failed today as pro-Russian protestors seized Ukrainian military vehicles.
Tamil Guardian 16 April 2014
Security Council apologises for failure at preventing Rwandan genocide
The United Nations Security Council, commemorating the Rwandan genocide, apologised for the UN’s failure at preventing the mass atrocities.

The former president of the Security Council at the time of the massacre, Colin Keating, addressing the council today, said,

“This briefing also provides a fitting opportunity, for me in my capacity as former President of the Council to apologise for what we failed to do in 1994 and for that to be formally recorded in the official records of the Security Council.”

Expressing the need to improve early warning mechanism at the UN, Keating added,

"Even after the genocide had begun, events were being described for several weeks as simply a resurgence of civil war. The wholesale slaughter of civilians was not being conveyed to the Council.”

See full UN press release here.
Tamil Guardian 16 April 2014
British journalists' union calls for public inquiry into 1984 Amritsar massacre

Britain’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to establish a full public enquiry into the 1984 Amritsar massacre, following revelations in recently released official documents about British assistance in planning the Indian military’s assault on the Golden Temple in which thousands were killed.

In a statement Wednesday the NUJ said delegates at its conference last week unanimously accepted a motion calling for a British public inquiry that would cover “all the documents and events relating to India, covering the whole of 1984.”


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Tamil Guardian 15 April 2014
International tribunal rejects calls to drop genocide charges against Bosnian Serb army chief
The International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, today,  rejected arguments to drop charges of genocide against a former Bosnian Serb army chief, reports the BBC.

One of the judges, Alphons Orie, responding to assertions that there was not enough evidence, cited material presented by prosecutors including, video footage of the army chief calling for revenge against the Muslims in Srebrenica.

“The accused has a case to answer on all counts,” the judge said.

The Bosnian Serb army chief, Ratko Mladic, faces 11 charges, including genocide and crimes against humanity dating back to the Bosnian war from 1992 to 1995.
Tamil Guardian 15 April 2014
Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Nepal could violate core principles of international law, says UN rights chief
The foundations of genuine and lasting peace after a long civil war would be damaged if Nepal gives amnesties for serious crimes committed during the conflict, said the UN human rights chief today.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement Monday, warned that Nepal’s legislation to set up a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission on Disappeared persons’ would grant powers to the panel to recommend amnesties contrary to the fundamental principles of international law, reports Reuters.

Expressing her concern the High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, said,

“While I welcome steps taken by the government of Nepal to take the transitional justice process forward, I am extremely concerned by its new attempt to introduce amnesties for serious human rights violations,”
Tamil Guardian 15 April 2014
Schoolchildren abducted in north-east Nigeria
Approximately 100 school girls were abducted in an attack on a school in north0east Nigeria said officials today.

The gunmen, who are believed to be from the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, forced the teenage students into lorries reports the BBC.

The militant group, whose name means “Western education is forbidden” , is responsible for an armed movement looking to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.

A bomb blast yesterday, allegedly carried out by the group, in the same region killed over 100 civilians.

See related article:

Bomb blast kills scores in Nigeria, president vows to end terrorism as AU and UN Security Council condemn (14 April 2014)
Tamil Guardian 14 April 2014
Bomb blast kills scores in Nigeria, president vows to end terrorism as AU and UN Security Council condemn
Updated 23:40 GMT
At least seventy people were killed and over 124 injured when a bomb ripped through a crowded bus station near the Nigerian capital Abuja early Monday, reports said. The death toll was expected to rise.

The blast, which occurred at the Nyanya Bus Park station five miles (8km) south of Abuja, came as commuters travelled during morning rush hour.

It destroyed over 30 vehicles, including 16 luxury coaches, and hurled body parts across the area. Secondary explosions ignited vehicle fuel tanks.

See reports by Reuters, BBC and The Guardian.

The Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, which seeks to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, is widely suspected of carrying out the attack, though no one claimed responsibility.

Intense confrontations between Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces has killed over 135 civilians in the past few days, and over 1,500 people, have of them civilians, this year. Some 250,000 people have been forced to leave their homes because of the fighting.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who has placed three north-eastern states under a state of emergency since May last year, visited the site of the blasts later Monday.

He denounced "the activities of those who are trying to move our country backwards" by staging such an attack.
"We will get over it ... The issue of Boko Haram is temporary," he vowed.
A spokesperson for the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) urging Nigerians to unite behind the president to end terrorism called on the international community to act.
“There is a need for western [countries] to quickly assist Nigeria so that terrorism would be defeated,” a PDP spokesperson said.
The African Union condemned the attack, as did the UN Security Council.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in a statement he “strongly condemns all indiscriminate killings and acts of violent extremism.
“The perpetrators of this attack, and those responsible for the continuing brutal attacks in the northeast of the country, must be brought to justice,” he said.
This would not be the first time that Boko Haram has attacked the capital, Abuja. In 2011, Boko Haran claimed responsibility for an attack on the United Nations building, killing 21 people and wounding 60 others.

Tamil Guardian 14 April 2014
Ukraine calls for UN intervention as activists seize official buildings, EU widens sanctions on Russia
EU foreign ministers said today that they would expand a list of names targeted by EU sanctions, as pro-Russian activists occupied more buildings in the eastern regions of Ukraine.

The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague , told reports that the seizure of official buildings “is something that is being planned and brought about by Russia.”

In a telephone conversation with the United States president, Barack Obama, the Russian premier, said that allegations of Russia’s involvement were “based on questionable information,” reports the BBC.

Condemning the violence in eastern that resulted in seizure of several buildings, the Ukrainian prime-minister called on the UN to assist in combating the aggression.
Tamil Guardian 14 April 2014
Canada prepares for various Syria intervention scenarios
Canadian defence and diplomatic officials have been quietly working on plans for possible Canadian military missions in Syria, the Ottawa Citizen reports.
 
Internal documents obtained by paper show the defence ministry has drawn up at least five scenarios for which Canadian forces should prepare.
 
At least one possible intervention “assumes that a legitimate armed opposition group has been recognized” by Canada, although details about the rest of this scenario have been blacked out, the paper said.
 
National Defence spokesman Daniel Blouin described such planning as “routine to significant international events” and part of the military’s due diligence to be prepared for any eventuality.
 
That such plans have been drawn up indicates the degree of seriousness to which defence officials and the government are taking the fighting in Syria, which brings with it the risk of escalation and broader regional impacts, the paper said.
Tamil Guardian 14 April 2014
Middle East talks as crisis deepens
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on Sunday held a rare meeting without US mediator Martin Indyk present, as they try to salvage peace talks before a deadline of April 29, the Wall Street Journal reports.
 
The U.S., Israel and the Palestinians are trying to defuse a crisis that erupted after Israel delayed a prisoner release and announced hundreds of new housing units in the West Bank, while the Palestinians applied for membership as a state in 15 international treaty conventions.
 
Negotiation meetings continue to be held even though Israel responded to the Palestinian treaty applications by imposing economic sanctions and curtailing government relations.
 
The goal is to extend nine months of peace talks pushed by US Secretary of State John Kerry beyond the April 29 expiration.
Tamil Guardian 14 April 2014
UN rights chief condemns systematic torture in Syrian detention facilities
The United Nations human rights Chief, Navi Pillay, commenting on a report released by her office today, condemned the ‘rampant’ and ‘routine’ use of torture by Syrian authorities.

“In armed conflict, torture constitutes a war crime. When it is used in a systematic or widespread manner, which is almost certainly the case in Syria, it also amounts to a crime against humanity,” said the human rights chief.

The report highlights a pattern of torture and ill-treatment against individuals in Government facilities, through interviews with individuals that had been released or escaped Syrian detention facilities.

See full report here.
Tamil Guardian 14 April 2014
Colombian President would think twice about killing FARC leader
The Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, said last week that he had chosen not to kill the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Rodrigo Londono, despite knowing where the leader was hiding.

Santos, suggested that he ‘would think twice’ about killing the leader after considering progress made 16 months into peace talks with the FARC in Havana, reports Reuters.

Santos has faced strong criticism from opposition politicians for embarking on long drawn peace-talks with the FARC.
Tamil Guardian 13 April 2014
China eases overseas investment regulations
China’s economic planner announced this week that restrictions on local firms investing overseas would be eased, reports Reuters.

New legislations will mean that from May 8, Chinese firms planning to invest less than $1 billion overseas will not need to seek approval from the National Development Reform Commission (NDRC), announced the commission.
Tamil Guardian 13 April 2014
135 civilians killed in attacks in north-east Nigeria
135 civilians were killed by gunmen  in North-east Nigeria this week, reports the BBC.

A senior state senator, Ahmed Zannah said today the militants are from the Islamist Boko Harim movement.
The Nigerian official further added that attackers targeted a teachers training college and abducted several women.

Over 250,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in the North-East of Nigeria due to fighting between the Nigerian army Islamic militant groups.

See related article:

Amnesty calls for war crimes probe in Nigeria  (31 March 2014)
Tamil Guardian 13 April 2014
US threatens Russia with further sanctions
The United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, in a telephone call to the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, threatened fresh sanction against Russia, reports the Financial Times today.

A senior state department official told the Financial Times that Kerry expressed “strong concern” that the unrest in eastern Ukraine was “orchestrated and synchronised, similar to previous attacks in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.”

“The secretary made clear that if Russia did not take steps to de-escalate in eastern Ukraine and move its troops back form Ukraine’s border, there would be additional consequences,” the official further said.

The latest warnings come as sources on the ground say that that people dressed in unmarked military attire have blocked roads and highways connecting cities in eastern Ukraine.
Tamil Guardian 12 April 2014
Iran's nominated ambassador to UN refused visa
The Iran's nominated ambassador to the United Nations, Hamid Abutalebi, was denied a US visa today due to his involvement in the seizure of the US embassy in Iran over 30 years ago, reports the BBC.

A spokesperson from Iran’s mission to the UN, Hamid Baaeui, describing the decision as ‘regrettable’, said that the decision violated international law.

The US decision will in effect bar the Iranian diplomat from fulfilling his role at the United Nations in New York.
Tamil Guardian 12 April 2014
US imposes sanctions on Crimean gas company
The US government today imposed sanctions on the Crimean division of Ukraine’s national gas company, Chernomorneftegaz, reports the Financial Times.

Gas companies in the US were set to explore areas in the Back Sea on a joint resource exploration venture with the Crimean based company. The new sanction makes it highly likely that US companies will miss out on revenue from resources from the oil and gas rich regions.

The United States undersecretary of commerce, Eric Hirschhorn, called the sanction “a strong message of the United States government’s condemnation of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine and expropriation of Ukrainian assets.”
Tamil Guardian 11 April 2014
Turkey condemns US Senate resolution on Armenian genocide
The Turkish Foreign Ministry today, condemned a United States Senate resolution that deemed the massacres of a speculated 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 a genocide, reports Reuters.

“We reject this attempt at political exploitation that distorts history and law and we condemn those who led this prejudiced initiative,” the ministry said in a statement.

The narrative regarding the 1915 massacres has remained a hold point in relation between Turkey and Armenia. The Turkish government continues to dispute estimates of the number of people killed today.

See related article:


US senate recognises Armenian genocide, Turkey expresses disappointment
(10 April 2014)
 
HIGHLIGHTS
  Editorial
Inducing fear
Transcending Terror
The Beginning
  Opinion
The proscription of the Tamil Diaspora: War by other means
UN resolution the first step on rocky path to accountability
Another step in a long and arduous path towards justice
  Feature
'We will continue to keep Sri Lanka issue alive' says Stephen Rapp at event on international criminal justice
What drew bond investors to Sri Lanka this week?
Diaspora groups reject SL ban, vow to continue struggle
  Culture & Community
Paddy Field
Talking Taboo: Discussing LGBT issues in the Tamil community
Tamil talent takes centre stage at LSE



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