Thursday, 23 October 2014
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Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
TNA notes 'undeniable' genocide of Tamils over several decades, highlights UN mandate to investigate
Genocidal acts have “undeniably” been carried out by the Sri Lankan over several decades, said the Tamil Naitonal Alliance (TNA) today in a press release responding to a proposed draft resolution aimed at calling on the international community to act against the Sri Lankan state genocide of Tamils.

“That acts specified in article 2 of the Genocide Convention of 1948 have undeniably been perpetrated on the Tamil people by functionaries of the Sri Lankan state over several decades,” said the press release.

The press release went on note that the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) required “an investigation of all international crimes; war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, where relevant.”

Ending with further consideration of the proposed NPC resolution on the genocide of Tamils, the press release stated,

“That it would be improper and inappropriate for the Northern Provincial Council or any other political body to make pronouncements in the form of resolutions or otherwise on matters of evidence and law currently being considered by the OSIL. That any such pronouncement would undermine the due regard, respect and right to independent functioning properly due to the OSIL.
Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Travel restrictions on Northern Province to remain ‘indefinitely’ – military

The Sri Lankan military says the restrictions on foreigners travelling to the Northern Province will remain indefinitely.

Speaking to Ceylon Today, military spokesperson Ruwan Wanigasuriya said there was no specific reason, as to why the requirement for foreigners to obtain Ministry of Defence approval before travelling to the North was re-introduced, but that the decision was “based on careful study” of the situation in the region.

"We need to have a track of all foreigners, who go there, for security reasons," he said.
[more]

Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Presidential election ‘casts doubt’ on papal visit

Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church asked the government for clarification in regards to the presidential election in Januray announced this week, which has casted doubt on the visit to Sri Lanka by Pope Francis, according to AFP.

The Church had earlier said it would be "inappropriate" for the Pope to visit a country at the time of a national election.

"We are yet to decide anything," church spokesman Cyril Gamini Fernando told AFP.

"There will be a meeting of the bishops to discuss this."

Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
UNP blames government for EU ruling on LTTE
Sri Lanka's opposition party, the United National Party (UNP) blamed the government for the European Union's annulment of anti-terror measures against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) last week.

"When we come to power we will work to reinstate the ban and we strongly urge the government to do everything it can to ensure the Tamil Tigers remain proscribed as a terror organisation," UNP MP Eran Wickramaratne was quoted by the Global Post as saying.

Wickramaratne blamed the government's "politicised" foreign service, and lack of career diplomats.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
Sri Lanka passes law banning sale of land to foreign citizens
The Sri Lankan parliament passed the law banning the sale of land to foreign citizens, on Monday night, reports Reuters.

The Land Bill, will mean that foreigners will only be able to lease land for up to 99 years.

The law will also prevent companies and firms that are over 50% foreign owned from buying land.

See more here.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
Jaffna Press Club remembers Nimalarajan and Sachithananthan

The Jaffna Press Club held a memorial service over the weekend, remembering the lives of two Tamil journalists - Mylvaganam Nimalarajan and Mr Sachithananthan.

The event was held on the date marking the 14th death anniversary of Nimalarajan, who was a senior journalist having contributed to the BBC Tamil and Sinhala services, the Tamil daily Virakesari and Sinhala weekly Ravaya. The Committee to Protect Journalists stated he was gunned down in his home due to his coverage of the political violence before and during the 2000 parliamentary elections. Members of the government aligned paramilitary group the EPDP, are suspected of carrying out the killing.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
Sri Lanka and Iran vow to continue improving bilateral ties
Sri Lanka welcomed Iran’s technical and engineering assistance and called for further cooperation between the two nations on Monday.

The two nations outlined plans to prioritise the expansion of bilateral ties in both of their future plans, during  a meeting between the Iranian deputy foreign minister for Asian pacific affairs, Ebrahim Rahimpour, and the Sri Lankan foreign minister G L Peiris, reports Fars News.
Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
Mother of man killed by military prevented from leaving Sri Lanka

The mother of Suntharalingam Gajatheeban, also known as Theiveegan, who was killed by the Sri Lankan military in April, was prevented from leaving Sri Lanka on Tuesday, despite being in possession of a valid visa, the Daily Mirror reports.

Fifty-seven year old Rajithamalar was held at Bandaranaike International Airport, where she was due to take a flight to Canada, for which she has a 6-year visa.

Sourced told the paper that she may have been prevented from leaving the island due to ongoing investigations into the activities of her son.
[more]

Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
EU defends annulment of measures against LTTE, as Sri Lanka decides to appeal decision

The European Union has defended the annulment of the measures in place against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in a statement released on Tuesday, saying the moves were of a legal nature and not political.

“[I]t is important to remember that it is a legal ruling of a court; it is not a political decision taken by the EU governments. The separation of the judicial system from the legislature is a key distinction in a healthy democracy,” the statement said.

The European Court of Justice last week annulled measures taken by the Council of the European Union against the LTTE, namely the designation of the LTTE as a terrorist organisation and the freezing of its funds.

“Furthermore, this legal ruling is clearly based on procedural grounds and it does not imply any assessment by the Court of the substantive issues of designating the LTTE or of freezing LTTE funds,” the statement further said.
[more]

Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
TNA only remaining obstacle to peace – Sri Lankan MP

Ruling party MP Sajin de Vass Gunawardene accused the Tamil National Alliance of obstructing peace in Sri Lanka, according to Asian Mirror.

Speaking at parliament at the second reading of the Land (Restrictions on Alienation) Bill on Monday, the monitoring MP for the External Affairs Ministry said that peace had been realised to 99%, but that the remaining one percent cannot be achieved due to the TNA.

“We are unable to realize this one percent because of the TNA,” Gunewardena said.

“The LTTE seized land from innocent people and burned the deeds and even killed the people. This Act will be of a lot of service to the poor people. Our economy is growing, industries are improving and agriculture productivity is increasing. Land reform will help this process” he said.

Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
BBS to contest parliamentary elections

The Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena said on Tuesday it will contest parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka, but denied reports that it would field a candidate to run against President Mahinda Rajapaksa in January's presidential election.

General Secretary Gnanasara Thero said monks will not contest, but that the BBS will put forward laymen candidates to contest the parliamentary seats.

"Buddhist monks will offer guidance to them and will not contest elections,” Gnanasara said.

He denied reports in Sri Lankan media that the BBS would contest the presidential election in January.

“The Bodu Bala Sena has no intention of presenting a candidate for the presidential election and we have not extend our support to any political party”, Gnanasara said to the Asian Mirror.

Rajapaksa will be seeking re-election for a third term in January, after removing the two-term limit on his second election win in 2010.

Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
India to enhance bilateral defence ties with Sri Lanka
India is to provide equipment and training to the Sri Lankan military reports Colombo Page.

Bi-lateral cooperation is expected to increase between India and Sri Lanka with India working to build Sri Lanka’s military capacity by providing training and hardware.

The announcement comes after the Sri Lankan defence secretary and his Indian counterpart met to discuss defence ties on Monday.

Over 800 Sri Lankan military personnel are trained by Indian military establishments every year.


Gotabaya meets with Indian defence minister (20 October 2014)
Tamil Guardian 20 October 2014
School girl reported missing in Jaffna
A 17 year old high school student has been reported missing in Jaffna after she failed to return home from a tuition class, reports the Uthayan.

Sivanesan Perani, who lives and goes to school in Mandaithivu, was reported missing in Jaffna on Monday. 

The parents of Perani have informed the police, who are reportedly investigating the disappearance.

Young woman reported missing in Batticaloa (04 October 2014)

Tamil student found dead in south (09 September 2014)

15 year old Tamil girl reported missing in Wattagoda (09 September 2014)
Tamil Guardian 20 October 2014
Diaspora attempts to oust president through lifting EU proscription on LTTE says Rajapaksa
The recent European Court of Justice ruling to lift restrictions placed on individuals and organisations allegedly linked to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is a result of “pro-LTTE” diaspora and opposition parties attempting to oust the current presidency said the Sri Lankan president on Monday.
 
"European Union has lifted the ban on the LTTE. It happened within two weeks of certain opposition leaders having talks with the pro-LTTE diaspora. They are working with foreign forces to oust me. They have gone and met them in Europe. They have promised action to fulfil pro-LTTE diaspora demands," Mahinda Rajapaksa is quoted as saying at a function last weekend.

Rajapaksa drew attention to the proposed EU ban on Sri Lankan fishing imports coinciding with the LTTE restrictions lift, stating,

"On one hand they lift the ban on the LTTE while threatening to stop our fish exports. The notice had come during the same week."

Sajin Vaas, BBS warn EU annulment of LTTE proscription measures aids Tamil diaspora (18 Oct 2014)


Tamil Guardian 20 October 2014
Travel restrictions to North will stop diaspora funded war against government says SL official
Travel restrictions have been placed on the North to prevent foreign elements funding another war against the Sri Lankan government, said the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) coalition party's general secretary on Monday.

Susil Premajayanth added that the lifting of the European Union ban on the LTTE could be blamed on pro-LTTE diaspora and stressed that the government had a responsibility to prevent another war, reports
Colombo Gazette.

"Susil Premajayanth said that if the LTTE ban is lifted in the EU as a result of the EU court ruling it could allow LTTE elements to fund another war in the north," reports Colombo Gazette.

The official added that "the pro-LTTE diaspora is very much active in the EU and pushed for the ban on the LTTE to be lifted."

"The Government has a responsibility to prevent another war from taking place and so such security measures have to be taken," he was further reported as saying.

Travel restriction to North designed to prevent Tamils giving evidence to UN inquiry says TNPF (20 October 2014)

UK, Canada, Australia warn citizens of Sri Lanka's restrictions on travel to North  (19 October 2014)

Tamil Guardian 20 October 2014
Travel restriction to North designed to prevent Tamils giving evidence to UN inquiry says TNPF
The Sri Lankan government's re-introduction of travel restrictions to the North, preventing all foreign citizens from entering the region without prior written permission from the Ministry of Defence, is aimed at stopping Tamils from giving evidence to the UN inquiry, said the Tamil National People's Front (TNPF).

"The fact that the travel restrictions on foreign passport holders to the North has come at this juncture is not a surprise at all," the TNPF president, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam told the Tamil Guardian on Sunday.

"The government would have been observing closely and its intelligence sources would have revealed that the Tamil victims of the most heinous crimes are very eager to give evidence to the OHCHR Investigation into Sri Lanka (OISL). The only hesitation Tamils have is with regards to how the evidence can be submitted whilst maintaining secrecy. One of the safest ways would be to transfer the evidence through diplomats or foreigners who would be most likely to be able to get the evidence out of the country safely," he said.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 20 October 2014
Presidential elections to be held in January – Minister

Sri Lanka’s information minister Keheliya Rambukwella has confirmed that the presidential elections will be held in January, two years earlier than scheduled.

Rambukwella, who is also the government spokesperson said at a public meeting on Monday that a final announcement will be made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

"The presidential election will be held in January. I know the date but can't say it at the moment," he said.

Rajapaksa will be seeking re-election for a third term, after removing the two-term limit as soon as he won his second election in 2010.

 

Tamil Guardian 20 October 2014
Gotabaya meets with Indian defence minister

Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa met with Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley in Delhi earlier today and discussed “a number of issues”, PTI reported.

India’s Defence Secretary RK Mathur, who visited Sri Lanka recently, was also present.

Officials did not reveal what was discussed during the meeting.

 

 
 International Affairs
Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Canadian parliament in lockdown after shooting

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

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

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

Security has been tightened across the country following the incident.

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

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

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

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

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

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

On September 10 the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that the Syrian government had “systematically and repeatedly” used chemical weapons this year, increasingly since August.

Opposition activist Rami al-Sayed said,

“This whole story of the regime destroying its chemical weapons arsenal is nothing but a lifeline thrown by Russia to the Assad regime… It’s evident that Assad had not destroyed everything he has.”

See more from the Financial Times here.

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

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

The non-governmental organisation stated that it had documented “widespread use of cluster munitions,” adding that, “While it was not possible to conclusively determine responsibility for many of the attacks, the evidence points to Ukrainian government forces’ responsibility for several cluster munition attacks on Donetsk”.

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

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

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


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


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


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

The ARY News Channel took a pro-opposition stance during the protests, with the banned anchor, Ammad Yousuf, taking a prominent role in the protests.
Tamil Guardian 22 October 2014
Former Pinochet aide charged over murder of political prisoners

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

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

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

Labbé denies any wrong doing, with one of his lawyers, Cristián Espejo, saying, “He never tortured or assassinated anyone.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The secretary general heard further stories of families who had been killed because they refused to convert to Islam, reports the
New York Times.
Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
Myanmar confirms 2015 elections will be held in presence of international observers
Myanmar’s government announced that the 2015 general elections will be held as scheduled, rejecting rumours that the election was to be postponed, the Associated Press reports.

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

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

Tamil Guardian 21 October 2014
Islamic State militants release video of captured US aid drops
Islamic State militants claimed that they had captured US aid drops that were meant to arm Kurdish rebels, in a video released on Tuesday.

The Pentagon press secretary, commenting on reports that US air drops fell in to the hands of Islamic State militants, said that analysts were working to determine what happened, the Washington Post reports.

“The Defense Department is aware that one bundle didn’t make it into the right hands, and is not sure whether the one that appears in the video is the same one CENTCOM already reported destroying,” John Kirby is quoted as saying.

US air-drops arms to Kurdish forces fighting IS (20 October 2014)

Tamil Guardian 20 October 2014
Turkey to allow Kurds to join battle for Kobane
Turkey has announced that it will facilitate Iraqi Kurdish fighters cross the border into Syria, to battle against Islamic State (IS) militants in Kobane.

Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said in a press conference that his government was “helping the Peshmerga cross over to Kobane,” adding that “consultations are going on.”

"Turkey has no wish to see Kobane fall," said Cavusoglu.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 20 October 2014
22 killed in market attack in Xinjiang
At least 22 people have been killed and dozens more injured after attackers armed with knives and explosives, attacked police officers and merchants at a market in Xinjiang, western China.

All 4 attackers were shot dead by police officers, reports Radio Free Asia. Chinese state media has yet to report on the incident, though recently Xinjiang has seen an increase in attacks following increasing discontent amongst the region's mainly Muslim Uighurs. Han Chinese migrants and police officers seem to have been the target of Sunday's attack.

At least 244 people have been killed in a series of attacks since unrest kicked off in the region in May, following a crackdown by the Chinese government. More than 1,000 ethnic Uighur youth have reportedly been jailed since May.

Tamil Guardian 20 October 2014
Both sides in eastern-Ukraine conflict committing atrocities says Amnesty International
Both sides in the eastern Ukraine conflict have committed atrocities though not on the scale reported by Russia, said Amnesty International in a statement on Monday.

“There is no doubt that summary killings and atrocities are being committed by both-pro-Russian separatists and pro-Kyiv forces in Easter Ukraine, but is difficult to get an accurate sense of the scale of these abuses. It is likely that many have not yet been exposed and that others have been deliberately misrecorded," said the Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International, John Dalhusein.

"
It is also clear that some of the more shocking cases that have been reported, particularly by Russian media, have been hugely exaggerated,” Dalhusein added. 

Tamil Guardian 20 October 2014
Myanmar jails former minister and journalists
A series of separate trials that concluded in Burma this week, resulting in the jailing of a former minister, a group of journalists and 9 farmers, have faced criticism from human rights organisations.

The three trials saw the defendants found guilty over charges of sedition, territorial disputes and “state defamation”.

Dave Mathieson, senior researcher in the Asia division of Human Rights Watch said,
“This is reminiscent of some of the darkest days of military rule... The legal system in this country is still used to intimidate critics of the government.”
See more from the Financial Times here.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 20 October 2014
US air-drops arms to Kurdish forces fighting IS
The United States air-dropped arms to Kurdish forces currently fighting Islamic State (IS) militants in Kobane, Syria, the US Central Command said in a statement on Sunday.

Medical supplies were also dropped from the US C-130 cargo planes along side arms supplies, in "multiple" air-drops.

"The aircraft delivered weapons, ammunition and medical supplies that were provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq and intended to enable continued resistance against ISIL's attempts to overtake Kobani," the statement read.

The decision by the US to air drop arms to Kurdish fighters is likely to anger the Turkish government, which has resisted widespread calls to arm Kurdish fighters and to allow fighters cross the border into Kobane in order to help defend the city, despite the IS advance towards the country.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 19 October 2014
Renewed Taliban attacks kill troops

Taliban fighters have launched deadly attacks on troops and villages in Afghanistan.

Around 500 militants launched attacks on two villages in Ghor, a province in the centre of Afghanistan. A local official told the BBC that details about casualty figures are not yet known.

At least 4 Afghan soldiers were killed when militants attacked security posts in Logar province in the east of the country.

Last week the Taliban launched attacks in the north of the country, killing at least 22 members of the Afghan security forces.
[more]

Tamil Guardian 19 October 2014
Iraq signs deal to allow Australian military training

The Iraqi government has approved a deal with Australia, which will see 200 members of Australian special forces train Iraqi troops to fight against Islamic State.

Legal protection for the troops demanded by Australia caused a row between the countries and delayed the signing of the agreement, with the troops waiting in the UAE for over a month.

"We have reached an agreement for a legal framework and now it will be a matter for our military when our special forces will be deployed," Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said at the end of her trip to Baghdad.

Australia is a major contributor to the US-led coalition in the fight against IS and has committed a total of 600 soldiers.

Tamil Guardian 19 October 2014
Fire exchanged on Korean border

Fire was exchanged across the border between North and South Korea on Sunday, the second time skirmishes erupted in the past 10 days.

Reports indicate that North Korean troops approached the border in response to a leafleting campaign by the South, after which southern troops opened fire.

The first border clash on October 10, came after North Korean soldiers fired at balloons released from across the border, carrying leaflets critical of Kim Jong-un.

Last week officials from both countries met for the first time in three years in an attempt to ease tensions, however the talks ended without any agreement.

Tamil Guardian 18 October 2014
Renewed clashes at Hong Kong protest site

Clashes have erupted at the site occupied by protestors in the Hong Kong district of Mong Kok.

According to reports, police moved in after some protestors had breached their barriers, resulting in the clashes.

The protestors say the police charge was unprovoked.

Pro-democracy activists, many of them students and youths, have been out on the street in Hong Kong for over a month, calling for democratic reforms. They oppose the Chinese government's control over the candidates for the city's chief executive, demanding that the candidacy should be opened up to all.
[more]

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



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