Wednesday, 30 July 2014
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 Tamil Affairs
Tamil Guardian 30 July 2014
Sinhala settlements continue in North says TNA MP
The Sri Lankan government is attempting to build Sinhala settlements in land that was appropriated supposedly for army camps, forcing Tamils into refugee camps, the TNA's General Secretary, MP Maavai Senathirajah was quoted by the Uthayan as saying, when speaking at an ITAK event.

"People who did fishing and farming for generations are facing unfortunate lives as homeless refugees, as their native lands are being grabbed by the military," he said.

"Those who are seizing those lands are planning to build Sinhala settlements in Tamil regions. Today, Sri Lankan government acts to reduce the proportion of Tamils. It is focused on creating restlessness in North and the East and to banish [Tamil] people from there," he added, stating that almost 2 lakhs of Eelam Tamils were currently in refugees camps in India.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 30 July 2014
MoD rejects US concerns, accuses embassy being led by 'pro-LTTE diaspora'
Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence rejected concerns expressed by the US embassy this week, accusing embassy officials of fashioning their perceptions on Sri Lanka "primarily on the interests of pro-LTTE diaspora and likeminded elements within the country."

"The government of Sri Lanka rejects unreservedly these baseless and uncorroborated statements and repeated attempts by the US Embassy in Colombo to malign the conduct of Sri Lanka’s security forces," said the military spokesperson Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya in a statement published in the pro-government paper, Island on Wednesday.

Accusing the US of "departing from all accepted norms of respectful engagement, which should characterise diplomatic exchanges between countries", Wanigasooriya said the embassy appeared to be attempting to "sensationalize issues rather than find answers".

"It appears the US Embassy officials are unaware of the factual position with regard to strengthening of democratic freedoms since the end of the conflict in May 2009," directing them to "revisit the 1987-89 period" and warning them to "desist from indulging in exaggerated statements".

"In this context, it is particularly unfortunate to note that perceptions of the US Embassy officials about reconciliation in Sri Lanka seem to be fashioned primarily on the interests of pro-LTTE diaspora and likeminded elements within the country. Such perceptions largely ignore the ground realities as well as the tremendous progress that has been made in Sri Lanka in recent years," he concluded.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 30 July 2014
Violence against Tamils continues in occupied North-East says USTPAC
Marking the 31st anniversary of Black July, an anti-Tamil pogram that saw over 3000 Tamils killed by state-sponsored Sinhala mobs, the US based advocacy group, USTPAC, stressed that violence against Tamils continues in the North-East where Tamils live under occupation.

“Black July was a watershed event that signaled to the Tamils that they would have only a subservient place in a Sri Lanka ruled by the majority Sinhala Buddhists, for their exclusive benefit,” said USTPAC President, Dr Karunyan Arulanantham.

"Tamil lands are expropriated, Tamils are denied the right to mourn their dead, Tamil children and women are raped with impunity, all while an ex-military governor appointed by the president holds executive authority and the largest military per capita in Asia is stationed in the traditional Tamil homelands," he added.
 

[more]

Tamil Guardian 30 July 2014
British tourist sexually harassed in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan police have arrested a person on suspicion of sexually harassing a 20 year old British woman, in Arugam Bay, according to Sri Lanka Mirror.

According to the police, the incident took place near the Kudakalli area of Arugam Bay on Tuesday night and the suspect will be produced before the court today.

Attempted rape of German tourist in Sri Lanka (24 April 2014)

Sexual assaults on tourists increase in Sri Lanka (31 March 2014)

Australian student raped by tourist guide in South (26 January 2014)

Tamil Guardian 30 July 2014
Sri Lankan Army ‘permits’ church festival in High Security Zone

A celebration at a church in the High Security Zone in Palali has been facilitated by the Sri Lankan Army, after a request by a priest, reported the army’s Jaffna command website.

Over 500 people are reported to have attended the centenary celebrations of St James’ Church, which lies within the militarised High Security Zone around Palali South.

Permission to enter the HSZ was granted by Jaffna Commander Major General Udaya Perera after a request by Fr. Anton Bala of St. Joseph’s church in Atchuvely.
[more]

Tamil Guardian 30 July 2014
Vatican confirms Pope visit to Sri Lanka
The Vatican confirmed on Tuesday that Pope Francis would be visiting Sri Lanka in January along side a visit to the Philippines.

He will be in Sri Lanka from January 12th till the 15th, before travelling to the Phillipines where he will be until the 19th, UCA News reported. An itinerary for his trip is yet to published.

Earlier this month, Tamil civil society groups urged the Pope to visit the North-East and to exert pressure on the Sri Lankan government to stop colonising Tamil land, account for the war-dead and disappeared, and ensure a political solution for the Tamil people.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 30 July 2014
Tamil Nadu to issue biometric ID cards to Eelam refugees
Tamil Nadu state government is to issue biometric identity cards to Eelam Tamil refugees living within camps, the Hindu reports.

According to officials the new system, due to start in September, is to ensure cash hand outs are given to the correct individual.

The cards will contain biometric information such as the fingerprints of the individual. All adults in the refugee camps will also have an account registered with the Indian Overseas Bank (IOB), the paper reported.

See here.

Tamil Guardian 29 July 2014
Buddhist monks 'operate under protection of government' in Sri Lanka – US
Sri Lankan authorities have allowed Buddhists monks to operate with impunity in attacking places of worship across the island and continued to build Buddhist shrines in the Tamil North-East, said the United States in a report released this week.

The US State Department, in their International Religious Freedom Report for 2013, stated that Sri Lanka had “failed to prevent the destruction of a Hindu temple in Dambulla and an attack on the Grandpass Mosque in Colombo”, adding that,
“In multiple instances during the year, police failed to respond or were reluctant to arrest or pursue criminal cases against individuals instigating attacks on minority religious sites.”
Stating that there was an “overall decrease in societal respect for religious freedom”, with Buddhist nationalist groups attacking other places of worship, the report said,
“The government was hesitant to arrest and prosecute Buddhist monks involved in numerous attacks against Muslims and Christians. Buddhist monks generally operated under the protection of the government. Some monks, particularly outside Colombo, operated with impunity in trying to eliminate Christian and Muslim places of worship.”
The report went on to take note of government-sponsored construction of Buddhist shrines in the Tamil North-East of the island, stating,
“Following the conclusion of a 27-year conflict between the Buddhist-majority government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), government troops continued to build Buddhist shrines in Tamil areas of the north, which are home to primarily Hindu but also Christian and Muslim populations. Some Tamil groups alleged this demonstrated government-sponsored Sinhalese colonization of former LTTE-held areas. The number of Buddhist shrines and religious sites in the northern districts of Jaffna and Kilinochchi also increased.”
See the full report here.
Tamil Guardian 29 July 2014
Jayalalithaa slams 'deliberate and callous' arrests as Sri Lanka detains more fishermen
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has written to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for decisive action over the arrests of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan authorities, as dozens more fishermen were detained this week.

The Sri Lankan Navy arrested 50 Indian fishermen for poaching in Sri Lankan waters on Tuesday reported Xinhua, following the arrest of a further 38 fishermen on July 22nd.

See our earlier post: 50 Tamil Nadu fishermen arrested by Sri Lankan Navy (29 July 2014)

Jayalalithaa wrote to Modi on Tuesday, saying,
“However, as part of a deliberate and callous design, the Sri Lankan side is yet to release the 55 boats and fishing gear which were impounded from Tamil Nadu fishermen apprehended earlier.”
The Chief Minister went on to call for Prime Minister Modi to “immediately take up the issue of frequent apprehension of our fishermen and their boats by the Sri Lankan Navy at the highest diplomatic levels” calling on him to “kindly take decisive steps to ensure the immediate release of the boats and fishing gear of our fishermen which are still in Sri Lankan custody.”

See more excerpts from the letter to the Prime Minister here
Tamil Guardian 29 July 2014
Sri Lanka ‘committed to repression’ of Tamil journalists – Jaffna Press Club

The Jaffna Press Club “strongly condemns” the treatment meted out by the military to Tamil journalists, travelling to a work shop in Colombo, and accused the Sri Lankan security forces of deliberately placing marijuana in the vehicle they were travelling in.

In a statement, the group said that Sri Lanka is “committed to preventing journalists from the North from fostering a relationship with journalists in the south in every way [and] repressing them by any means available”.

“On one hand, as the Sri Lankan government is trying to portray the journalists of the [Jaffna] peninsula as terrorists, on the other, it is taking measures to ensure their circle of contacts does not widen,” the statement charged.

The statement described how the journalists were followed by vehicles, from Jaffna, before being stopped at Maankulam and Omanthai, by members of the police and the military.
[more]

Tamil Guardian 29 July 2014
50 Tamil Nadu fishermen arrested by Sri Lankan Navy

Sri Lanka’s navy has arrested 50 fishermen and seized seven trawlers from Tamil Nadu off the coast of Jaffna, accusing them of poaching in Sri Lankan waters.

There are already 38 Indian fishermen and 55 trawlers in Sri Lankan custody, according to The Hindu.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa last week called on Prime Minister Modi to secure the release of the fishermen describing it as a "deliberate strategy of the Sri Lankan government to destroy the primary means of livelihood of Indian fishermen."
[more]

Tamil Guardian 28 July 2014
US concern about intimidation of journalists

The US embassy in Colombo has expressed “grave concern” about the intimidation by Sri Lankan security forces of journalists, covering the court proceedings related to the gang rape of an 11-year old Tamil school girl by Sri Lankan Navy personnel in Jaffna.

In a statement released on Monday, the embassy also said it was deeply concerned about the cancellation of a training session for Tamil journalists, which was financially supported by the US embassy, after protests hit the venue in Colombo.

The US said that “well-organised protestors” disrupted the third such event since May, threatening to harm the participants, and accused the Sri Lankan police of not providing security to the threatened journalists, or taking action against the groups making the threats, despite their presence during the incidents.
[more]

Tamil Guardian 28 July 2014
Cross-party concern over 'betrayal' of Sri Lankan soldiers in Presidential Inquiry
The Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Missing persons, this week, received criticism from both opposition and ruling coalition parties, reports the Sunday Leader.

The opposition UNP in a statement criticised the decision to conduct the inquiry, suggesting that it was a betrayal of Sri Lankan soldiers.

“They (the public) should be told why President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who boasted he would sit in an ‘electric chair’ than betray soldiers, has now done an about turn and that too quite secretly. The UNP strongly believes the public should also know whether the actions are in the best interests of Sri Lanka or are the outcome of ignorant, shady but powerful brokers who are on an adventure wrapping up secret diplomatic deals behind the backs of the people,” read the statement.

The leader of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), a party within the ruling party (UPFA) coalition, criticised the government’s expansion of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Missing Persons without gaining approval from members of the ruling coalition.

Warning of unrest should anything happen to Sri Lankan soldiers as a result of the inquiry, the General Secretary of the JHU, Minister Champika Ranawaka said,
[more]

Tamil Guardian 28 July 2014
Police summons 7 Tamil journalists who protested against military for questioning
Journalists who protested against military intimidation have been called for questioning  tomorrow by the Omanthai police, reports a journalist at Yarl Thinakkural, a Jaffna based newspaper.

The journalist, Monday morning, tweeted that 7 journalists who protested against the military had been called in for police questioning.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 28 July 2014
Govt spends over $100m on US lobby firms
The Sri Lankan government spent over $100 million in hiring US lobbying firms in an attempt to improve its international image following the launch of an UN inquiry into mass atrocities.

Following Thompson Advisory Group LLC (TAG) and Majority Group, the government has now hired the Madison Group and Beltway Government Strategies, reported Ceylon Today.

Madison Group, which has been hired until June 2015, is "assisting the Ministry of External Affairs with creating situation awareness of current affairs in Sri Lanka", the paper said.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 28 July 2014
Sri Lankan Army organises football coaching for Tamil children

Photograph CIMICJaffna.lk

A football coaching camp for Tamil youths and schoolchildren was held by the Sri Lankan Army in Jaffna.

Coordinated by the Commander of the 533 Brigade Colonel Vijith Subasinghe and the president of the Sri Lankan Football Federation Ranjith Rodrigo, the three day camp in the Duraiyappa Stadium saw participation by coaches and players from the US-based Soccer Outreach Association, Pennsylvania.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 27 July 2014
Police stop peace march citing Buddhist clergy opposition
Photograph DailyMirror.lk


Sri Lankan police stopped a peace march on Saturday, stating that "they wanted to prevent any unruly incidents as Buddhist monks and other people were against the march," the Daily Mirror reported.

The march, which was due to take place in Waskaduwa, was organised by the United Socialist Party.

Tamil Guardian 27 July 2014
Only an international independent investigation will provide truth and justice - GTF
Only an ‘impartial independent international investigation can establish truth and serve justice,’ said the Global Tamil Forum spokesperson, rejecting the recently announced Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Missing Persons.

“When we do not have any faith in the commission or its limited mandate, why would anyone even consider being engaged in such a flawed process? The answer to your question is ‘No’,” said the GTF spokesperson Suren Surendiran, when asked by the
Sunday Leader if the Tamil diaspora would contribute to the investigation.

Questioning the credibility of a presidential inquiry, Suren Surendiran added,
“When an alleged party to crimes is involved in the decision making process of choosing the investigators or the counsel of advisors and their terms of reference for the investigation, that may not be impartial.”


[more]

 
 International Affairs
Tamil Guardian 30 July 2014
Khmer Rouge genocide trial under way in Cambodia
An UN-backed tribunal into the last two surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge, who are accused of genocide over the mass killings of Vietnamese and Cham Muslims in the country in the 1970s, is to begin on Wednesday.
 
Former head of state 83-year-old Khieu Samphan, and 88-year-old Nuon Chea, Pol Pot's deputy, have already faced trials over charges of crimes against humanity and are due to have a verdict delivered on August 7th.

The complex trials were split into two smaller proceedings, due to the defendants' age. The only other person to have been prosecuted over the Khmer Rouge's crimes, which saw the death of approximately 2 million people from 1975-1979, was former prison official Duch in 2010.

Court spokesman Lars Olsen told AFP,
“The second trial is equally important as the first, and more victims and witnesses will have the opportunity to testify about their experiences and suffering during the Khmer Rouge regime, on a broader range of criminal allegations."
See more from the BBC here and AFP here.
Tamil Guardian 29 July 2014
Rohingya community faces severe malnutrition after 2 years in Myanmar refugee camps

United Nations says that 135,000 ethnic Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar remain in refugee camps and face malnutrition, 2 years after they were first forced to vacate their homes amidst escalating ethnic riots, reports the Washington Post.

A representative from UNICEF in Myanmar, warned that there was an alarming increase in child malnutrition amongst the Rohingya community.

"What we have observed from March to June is a dramatic increase in admissions for severe acute malnutrition. We saw figures doubling," said Betrand Bainvel.

Ethnic rift deepens in Myanmar says UN Special Rapporteur (28 July 2014)

Tamil Guardian 29 July 2014
Gaza's only power plant hit as Israel strikes high profile targets
Israel attacked high-profile targets in Gaza on Tuesday, including Gaza's only power plant, whilst Egyptian mediators prepared a revised proposal to stop the escalating conflict, reports Reuters.

Palestinian officials say that at least 100 people have been killed in the past 24 hours.

The Israeli military said that Hamas launched at least 52 rockets towards southern and central Israel, including the Tel Aviv area with 5 soldiers dying in combat overnight, the Israeli military reported.

A new, revised version of a truce proposal initially proposed by Egypt is expected to be presented to the delegation later today.

The latest escalation in the conflict comes as the Israeli Premier, Benyamin Netanyahu, suggested that there would be a 'protracted' struggle against Hamas.

"We need to be prepared for a protracted campaign. We will continue to act with force and discretion until our mission is accomplished," said Netanyahu.
Tamil Guardian 29 July 2014
EU widens sanctions on Russia, targets economy
The EU, Tuesday, adopted new economic sanctions against Russia that targeted the oil sector and defence equipment in attempts to stop Russian support for militant separatists in Ukraine, reports the BBC.

The full statement detailing the widening of sanctions is expected on Wednesday, where the EU is also expected to name individuals that will face asset freezes.

The latest news of sanctions comes as at least 22 Ukrainian civilians have been reportedly killed in the last 24 hours.
Tamil Guardian 29 July 2014
Kurdistan sells oil to US, defies Baghdad
A tanker carrying $100-million of oil from Kurdistan will discharge in Texas, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The delivery of Kurdish oil to the US has sparked discontent with the Iraqi government in Baghdad who view all Kurdish oil deliveries as smuggling, reports Al-Jazeera.

Iraqi Kurdistan has been selling its crude without permission from Baghdad since January.

Though the US has pressured governments to refrain from buying from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) it stopped short of placing buying restrictions on US firms. 
Tamil Guardian 28 July 2014
‘World’s worst’ food crisis in South Sudan – UN

The UN Security Council has warned of a looming famine in South Sudan, saying the "catastrophic food insecurity" was the worst in the world and urged donor countries to make good on their promise to donate $618m (£364m) in aid.

“The members of the Security Council expressed grave concern about the catastrophic food insecurity situation in South Sudan that is now the worst in the world. They further expressed deep alarm that the crisis in South Sudan may soon reach the threshold of famine as a result of continued conflict, civilian targeting and displacement,” a statement by the 15-member body said.

“WFP, UNICEF and our partners here on the ground have been working tirelessly to bring assistance,” said World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.

“But if we are to rapidly expand our operations and save more lives, then we need more resources, and the international community has to act now.”

Nearly one million children under five years of age in South Sudan will require treatment for acute malnutrition in 2014, according to the UN and UNICEF estimates that 50,000 children could die from malnutrition in the course of this year, if the world fails to provide the required assistance.

Tamil Guardian 28 July 2014
Cameroon Deputy PM’s wife abducted by Boko Haram

The wife of Cameroon’s deputy prime minister Amadou Ali, has been abducted by the Nigerian militant group, Boko Haram, according to Cameroonian military.

Members of Boko Haram attacked the northern town of Kolofata and also kidnapped the town’s mayor Seini Boukar Lamine.

"I can confirm that the home of vice-prime minister Amadou Ali in Kolofata came under a savage attack from Boko Haram militants," Issa Tchiroma told Reuters by telephone.

"They unfortunately took away his wife. They also attacked the lamido's residence and he was also kidnapped," he said, and at least three people were killed in the attack.

The attack on Sunday is said to be the fourth by the group since Friday, with at least four Cameroonian soldiers killed in the violence.

Tamil Guardian 28 July 2014
US accelerates supply of arms to Syrian rebels
The United States has accelerated its supply of arms and ammunition to the Syrian rebels, as fears grow of ISIS and other extreme elements gaining ground across Iraq and Syria, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

Under what the paper described as a "covert program", the US is reported to be sending arms deliveries to the rebels, along with ammunition and money, through Turkey and Jordan.

The paper further said the delivery, coordinated by 11 states within the Friends of Syria Alliance, was being directed towards groups deemed by the US as moderates.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar had reportedly stopped their funding previously, accusing the rebels of fueling the rise in Islamist extremist groups.

See here for more.
Tamil Guardian 28 July 2014
UN Security Council urges unconditional immediate ceasefire between Gaza and Israel
The United Nations Security Council, Monday, called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Gaza as overnight ceasefire announcements between Hamas and Israel were violated by both sides.

The statement called on the parties to the conflict ‘to accept and fully implement the humanitarian ceasefire into the Eid period and beyond’ and ‘to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected ceasefire, based on the Egyptian initiative,” reports The Guardian.

The United States President, Barack Obama, Sunday, in a phone call to the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, expressed concern over the rising civilian death toll and called for an immediate ceasefire.

On Monday, Haaretz reported that the Israeli Defence Forces had ceased striking targets within the Gaza strip after a 24 hour ceasefire request. The Israeli Prime Minister, later accused Hamas of violating its own ceasefire by firing rockets into Israel.
Tamil Guardian 28 July 2014
Ethnic rift deepens in Myanmar says UN Special Rapporteur
The United Nations, Saturday, warned of a deepening ethnic rift between Buddhist and Muslim communities in Myanmar, reports Reuters.

The Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, during a news conference at the end of her 10 day visit, highlighting ‘deplorable’ living conditions for displaced Muslims, called on the government to tackle the reoccurring issue of inter-communal violence.

"The situation is deplorable. Many have remained in the camps for two years and I do not believe that there is adequate access to basic services,” said Yanghee Lee, after visiting displacement camps in the Rakhine state.

Lee added that Muslims continued to face systematic discrimination which included, restrictions to freedom of movement, restrictions on marriage and birth certification and restrictions on access to land food and water.
Tamil Guardian 27 July 2014
Australian official resigns over anti-Hamas remarks
Australia’s Community Relations Commission chairman for New South Wales, resigned from his position Sunday, after sending out an email suggesting that ‘all options are on the table’ in a war against Hamas, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Vic Alhadeff, who is also the chief executive of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, resigned from his community relations role, stating,

“I have chosen to do so in the interests of the CRC and its important work in fostering social harmony.”

Alhadeff faced severe criticism after failing to withdraw his comments that endorsed Israel's recent actions Gaza.

The Lebanese Muslim Association president ,welcomed the resignation as a step towards ‘ensuring that the work of the CRC continues to build on the charter of community harmony and cohesion.’
Tamil Guardian 27 July 2014
Fighting eases in Gaza whilst ceasefire remains elusive
The fighting eased in Gaza on Sunday after Hamas endorsed the UN call for a 24 hour humanitarian truce given the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, however the prospects of a lasting ceasefire remained low.

Limited firing of rockets by Hamas and artillery gun fire by Israel continued to take place despite the humanitarian truce, Al Jazeera reported.

In a phone call to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the US President Barack Obama on Sunday reiterated the need for an "immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire" Reuters reported.

"Ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza," he was quoted by the news agency as saying.

On Saturday, Hamas rejected the truce, calling for a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

"Any humanitarian calm that does not include the withdrawal of occupation soldiers from the Gaza Strip and enable the people to return to their houses and to evacuate the wounded is not acceptable," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.

Tens of thousands of Pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets of capital cities worldwide this weekend, accusing Israel of a genocide.

Hundreds of Israelis gathered in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv on Saturday, calling for peace and condemning the killing of civilians.

Tamil Guardian 26 July 2014
Embassies close as clashes escalate in Libya

The US became the latest country to close its mission in Tripoli after violent clashes between militias escalated over the past few weeks and moved closer to the embassy.

"Due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the US embassy in Tripoli, we have temporarily relocated all of our personnel out of Libya," spokesperson, Marie Harf, said.

"Securing our facilities and ensuring the safety of our personnel are top department priorities, and we did not make this decision lightly," Harf said. "Security has to come first. Regrettably, we had to take this step because the location of our embassy is in very close proximity to intense fighting and ongoing violence between armed Libyan factions."

Turkey also closed its embassy on Friday and the UN and other aid groups had left due to the clashes.

Different militias are vying for control of the country, which has not had an army since the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011, with the government paying the militias ever since to maintain law and order.

Tamil Guardian 26 July 2014
Israel accepts 24 hour ceasefire request

The Israeli government has accepted a request by the UN to extend the truce agreed on Friday by another 24 hours, although Hamas earlier rejected an earlier move by Israel to extend the initial 12-hour ceasefire by four hours.

Hamas demanded a complete withdrawal by Israeli troops from the Gaza strip and continued to fire rockets into Israel, claiming that the country was using the truce to prepare more attacks.

"Any humanitarian calm that does not include the withdrawal of occupation soldiers from the Gaza Strip and enable the people to return to their houses and to evacuate the wounded is not acceptable," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.

Israel warned that its military would act if the Palestinians breached the truce and said it would continue its operations against the tunnels used by Hamas.

A total of 1,033 Palestinians have now died in the most recent clashes, with the majority being civilians. 2 Israeli civilians and 40 members of the security forces also died in the violence.

Tamil Guardian 26 July 2014
ISIS to be investigated for war crimes in UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria
The United Nations could include fighters and heads form the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in its list of war crimes suspects in Syria, said the chief investigator of Commission  of Inquiry on Syria, reports the BBC.

"I can assure you that we are collecting information on perpetrators from all sides including non-state armed groups and ISIS. They are good candidates for the list," Paulo Pinheiro said.

The UN human rights investigator Karen Koning Abu Zayed, further warned that Syrian rebels were defecting from their own groups and joining the hardline Isis movement.
 
Tamil Guardian 25 July 2014
Israel agrees to 12 hour ceasefire with Hamas
Israel, on Friday, agreed a UN proposed 12-hour ceasefire with Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the US secretary of state today.

The announcement came after the Israeli government rejected earlier calls from John Kerry to implement a seven-day ceasefire, reports abc.news.
Tamil Guardian 25 July 2014
Veteran Kurdish politician appointed President of Iraq
Iraqi leaders, Thursday, selected a veteran Kurdish politician as President, in a move to help confront Islamic State militants and stop the country from breaking up, reports the Washington Post.

Fouad Massoum received 211 of 269 votes in the Iraqi parliament after Kurds presented him as their candidate.


The United States and other countries have been pushing the Iraqis to form a new government to combat the Islamic State.


Massoum formerly served as the first Prime Minister of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan and is a founding member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
Tamil Guardian 25 July 2014
Protests erupt in the West Bank as 3 Palestinians are shot dead
The conflict in Gaza spread to the West Bank on Friday, with at least three Palestinians killed, reports the Guardian.

Thousands of Palestinians today took part in a demonstration after over 15 women, children and United Nations stage were killed when a UN shelter was hit yesterday.

Three Palestinians were shot dead during confrontation with the Israeli army in the West Bank.
Israel reported that 35 rockets had been fired from Gaza today as the United Nations Secretary General called for calm.

“On this, the last Friday of Ramadan, I call for an immediate, unconditional humanitarian pause in the fighting in Gaza and Israel. This pause would last through the Eid al-Fitr holiday period,” said Ban Ki-Moon.
 
HIGHLIGHTS
  Editorial
Significance of Aluthgama
Silences between the shouts
Inducing fear
  Opinion
Review: 'This Land Belongs to the Army'
'Sri Lanka’s Scapegoat for its Own Terror'
‘Australia’s dangerously close relationship with Sri Lanka’
  Feature
Black July 1983 remembered
US should push prosecution of individuals in Sri Lanka - Congressional Caucus hears
Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict concludes with declaration
  Culture & Community
Tamil youth mark Black July raising awareness of ongoing genocide
Tamil Eelam defeats Darfur United
Sápmi defeats Tamil Eelam in closely contested match



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