Australia deports more asylum seekers

The Australian government has sent a group of 30 asylum seekers to Colombo, the second such group in as many days, in a specially chartered flight Christmas Island earlier today. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen told media that the group were "involuntarily"' returned, bringing eh total number of asylum seekers deported to Sri Lanka 186, since new immigration policies were put into place in August of this year. Bowen went on to say , "They were advised of their status and that they were subject to removal from Australia. They raised no issues that engaged Australia's international obligations...

Rajapakse raises taxes and increases defence budget

Finance Minister Mahinda Rajapakse, who also happens to be President and Defence Minister, has presented the 2013 budget to parliament today. Three years after the end of the armed conflict, Rajapakse has allocated a record US$ 2.2 billion to the defence ministry. This increase is partly financed by a rise in taxation on luxury goods and other imports, like milk powder. Rajapakse also announced a ban in the sale of land to foreigners, whose purchases are thought to have raised local prices, reported the AFP .

WTC resolution endorsed by Tamil delegates from NE, diaspora and TN

Mavai Senathirajah, TNA (central, speaking) Delegates at the World Tamil Conference - including Tamil activists and politicians from the North-East and the diaspora, as well as politicians and civil society activists from Tamil Nadu - gathered at the British Houses of Parliament for a second day to discuss and endorse the resolution proposed. The resolution put before the delegates, which received widespread backing on the first day, including by several British parliamentarians , called for an international, independent investigation into the allegations war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide by the Sri Lankan state against the Tamil nation.

TYO-UK Statement on UPR

Tamil Youth Organisation - UK have released a press statement on the recent review of Sri Lanka at the UPR. Full statement below: The United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) 2 nd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Sri Lanka formally concluded on Monday the 5 th of November 2012, with the outcome once again confirming the urgent need for drastic action to force Sri Lanka to abide by its human rights obligations. Sri Lanka has rejected outright 100 out of 210 recommendations made at the UPR. These included those made by a number of countries calling for the implementation of recommendations from Sri Lanka’s very own flawed LLRC report, as well as those made by the more credible UN Panel of Experts’ report. Although TYO-UK welcomes some of the effective recommendations made by countries, including the calls for accountability for war crimes and for ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, many of the recommendations lacked the required strength to effect tangible change on the island. Nearly all of the recommendations fail to take into account the ethnic nature of the conflict that continues to blight the Tamil people to this very day. What remains unchanged is that it is Tamils who suffer the consequences of the “time and space” that was requested by Sri Lanka, and granted by the international community.

Teach a soldier to fish...

The Sri Lankan Army has intimidated a fishing society to allow itself access to fish in Iranaimadukulam, reports Uthayan . Troops in Mullaitivu are reported to have approached the Freshwater Fisheries Co-Operative Society on Tuesday afternoon to demand access to fish in the waters, claiming it was necessary for camp food stocks. The Society said in a statement about the demands: “[The Army] said that they need 100 kilos of fish for their daily cooking needs and that we should allow them to catch those themselves. When society members refused this and said we could sell them the fish, they...

Sinhala nationalists unite against 13th Amendment

Ruling collation parties, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) and the National Freedom Front (NFF), have rallied together in their call against the 13th amendment, making a joint statement calling for its abolition. At a joint press conference held in Colombo, NFF leader and government Minister Wimal Weerawamsa reportedly said , "The 13th amendment to the constitution, which introduced the Provincial Councils to the country is not a suitable system for Sri Lanka. It was a system forced on us by coercion and PCs were set up in an undemocratic manner". "The 13th amendment to the constitution and the...

World Tamil Conference calls for an international investigation into crimes of genocide

TNPF leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam addresses World Tamil Conference Gathering at the 2012 World Tamil Conference, Tamil activists and politicians from the North-East and the diaspora, together with British parliamentarians and Tamil Nadu politicians and civil society activists, made a united call for an international, independent investigation into the allegations war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide by the Sri Lankan state against the Tamil nation. The event, organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPGT) and British Tamils Forum (BTF) , was held on Wednesday, inside the British Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London. Follow us on Twitter @TamilGuardian to see our live coverage of today's event. In a proposed resolution delegates from Tamil political parties and organisations worldwide urged: 1) Take immediate steps to provide for space for free flow of information that would bring to light as to the ground realities prevailing in the North and East of the Island of Sri Lanka. 2) To stop decimation of the Tamil Nation by the Sri Lankan State. 3) To stop Sinhalisation of the Tamil traditional Homeland. 4) To demilitarise the Tamil People’s Homeland for the people to exercise their democratic rights free from fear of persecution. See here for full text of proposed resolution. Addressing the event, the leader of the Tamil National People's Front (TNPF), Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam , asserted that the genocide of Tamils was nothing short of "a systematic dismantelling of the existence of the Tamils as a nation in the island of Sri Lanka", and though the international community may hestitate in recognising it to be so, the Tamil nation must never hesitate in articulating it.

Khurshid - expectation to go beyond 13A

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, at the 12th meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, India's new External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said that India "had no indication whatsoever that there is an issue of dilution or a reversal of the 13th Amendment." Khurshid said : "If anything, we have understood that there is a demand from one side for going beyond the Thirteenth Amendment and that the Thirteenth Amendment would not be adequate. This is my understanding of the distance between the two sides on moving forward. We have no...

EU ambassador calls for greater steps towards accountability

The ambassador and head of the European Union delegation to Sri Lanka, Bernard Savage noted that further efforts were needed to address the issue of accountability. Speaking to a journalists, the ambassador outlined various issues that were yet to be resolved. Referring to enforced disappearances, Savage said , “These are issues that have not been properly resolved. There are other cases of disappearances that have not been satisfactorily addressed. It is an issue where more clarifications are needed and the culprits brought to book.” Although the EU is not represented on the UNHRC, Savage emphasised that the EU member states were active members of the UN council and had already made interventions with regards to accountability issues.

Rights group slam Sri Lanka’s rejection of UPR recommendations

Several human rights organisations have reacted to Sri Lanka’s rejection of 100 UPR recommendations made by states at the United Nations and called for international independent investigations into massacres of aid workers and civilians. Highlighting in particular the cases of five students shot dead in Trincomalee beach in 2006, the father of one of the victims, 21-year-old Ragihar, Dr K Manoharan told reporters after the UPR, " I want an international inquiry and international judgment, otherwise I am not satisfied". Yolanda Foster from Amnesty International added that, "The Trincomalee 5 case along with the ACF case [where 17 aid workers were executed] is sort of emblematic of a culture of impunity in Sri Lanka where security forces are given carte blanche to continue to commit violations because the state is failing to independently investigate and prosecute". The President of Action Contre la Faim (ACF), Benoit Miribel, president of the French group Action Contre la Faim, said the organisation’s 17 aid workers were shot in the back of the head in their Muttur in August 2006, commenting, "In reality, the investigation has been a succession of obstruction, interference, of politics in the judiciary and a lack of transparency and independence... Nothing has really happened during the last six years. " Ian Seiderman, legal and policy director of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), added to calls for an investigation after Sri Lanka’s UPR rejection, stating, "This really underscores the need for a proper full-scale international inquiry." Speaking to Public International Radio, Alan Keenan from the International Crisis Group also added that things “things are going from bad to worse in Sri Lanka, in a slow way the world doesn't quite understand” .