We fear Sri Lanka may fail to take credible steps - US

Speaking to journalists on the resolution tabled at the UNHRC, the US ambassador, Eileen Donahue, said , "We don't think of this as a symbolic vote," "We see this as a meaningful effort to encourage the Sri Lankan government to take credible steps. We fear the government of Sri Lanka might fail to take those credible steps ." Whilst Robert Blake, U.S. assistant secretary of state for South Asia and Central Asia, said, " We think they've had quite a lot of time to develop an action plan and we're disappointed they haven't done so ," "Much remains to be done to ensure that Tamils, especially in...

Indian activists urge government to follow through support for resolution

In a joint statement , a large coalition of activists and civil society actors in India have urged the Indian government to follow through on its recent statements expressing an inclination to support the resolution. "Our communications with activists and community leaders in Sri Lanka have confirmed need for significant improvements , including efforts to help trace the missing, to devise and implement a political solution, to widen space for civil society groups and to address land conflicts, remain pressing issues, which if left unaddressed can undermine the existing situation in Sri Lanka , where there is a real opportunity for lasting peace." “ The unwillingness of Sri Lanka to make progress on the LLRC and other measures such as the talks with the Tamil National Alliance is the fundamental obstacle to move forward . " It is thus incumbent for other governments, such as ours, to encourage the Sri Lankan government to do so ." “The U.S.-sponsored resolution calls for Sri Lanka to report back to the UNHRC on the implementation of the LLRC and to accept technical support from the U.N. to implement it. We sincerely hope that the Government of India will follow through on its own statement by supporting this resolution, and strongly urge it to do so ."

Sri Lanka’s patriotic corporations rally

Giving the term ‘public-private partnership’ a new twist, Sri Lanka’s leading corporations staged their own demonstration Tuesday against growing international pressure over accountability for mass atrocities in the final months of the island’s war. See The Island’s report here . “The cream of Sri Lanka’s private sector last evening thronged in their numbers, … around 5,000 people gathered … expressing solidarity in their clarion call for the United States to leave Sri Lanka alone,” the paper said. The representatives of the corporations which gathered included: John Keells Holdings , Aitken...

SL Minister: ‘Americans are trying to kill me’

Following his call to boycott all American goods and products last week, Sri Lankan Government Minister Wimal Weerawansa has claimed that “local Americans” have been trying to assassinate him. The minister said , “Yes, I made a request from our patriotic Sri Lankans to boycott America and American products to show our protest to the American sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions in Geneva and express our solidarity with the government. Surprisingly, the local Americans are attempting to kill me for making this statement. ” Weerawansa went on to say, “ It seems President...

Witness testimonies from the front line

The Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice has released a series of witness stories from the final war zone in Sri Lanka during the past week, marking the run up to a vote on a resolution regarding Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council. The stories have been released under the pseudonym "The Social Architects", who compose of a group of writers that have collected witness testimonies. Extracts from the stories have been reproduced below. See all eight stories on their blog here . Rasadurai’s story: “They used phosphorous bombs in Udaiyarkaddu... It melted tarpaulins and the pieces fell onto the people below and burned them. It keeps burning once it gets on the skin. I saw one man badly burned by phosphorous lying on banana leaves.” “They used a variety of types of cluster bombs . The main bomb explodes in the air and splits into many pieces. One kind of cluster bomb, used in Iranaipalai, produced colorful ribbons . Children were attracted and picked pieces up; as they handled the pieces they exploded .” “The Army soldiers were throwing grenades into the bunkers and killing the people all night.” “One soldier said in Sinhala, “The commander has given the order to kill everyone.” They ordered us to remove our upper clothes. Then we argued, “We are priests. These are children.”... They had black cloths tied around their faces and they were like animals ready to kill .” “We walked on the road past burning vehicles with charred corpses under them. It was a scene like hell. The soldiers were laughing, saying, “We have killed Pirapakaran, Pottu Amman, and all the leaders, and now you are our slaves.” ” “There were about fifty soldiers who had piled up about three hundred naked corpses. They had placed tube lights to show off all the bodies, and they were laughing and taking photos of them. It was like a celebration. “ “The first week of internment at Menik Farm we had no food or water and no toilet... We felt our lives were in danger there... They treated us like animals. ” Shamanthi's story: “ I don’t know if my husband was killed or if he is alive. This is why for two years I have refused to go to Canada where my father is living. Until I know more about my husband, I don’t want to go there. On Maveera Nal (Heroes Day), my daughter wished to light the lamp of her own accord. I didn’t stop her because she is used to this culture as a Tamil. She can follow our traditions. I should raise my children with good education, then they can decide for themselves. We will support the Tamil people.”

In defence of impunity

Hundreds of Sinhala Buddhist monks protested against the resolution tabled at the UN Human Rights Council urging Sri Lanka to investigate the allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In a statement, read out at the end of the protest, the protesters said, “evil forces both local and international, have joined hands to deprive Sri Lanka of the present environment of peace...and take this blessed island back to an era of darkness.” “We therefore pledge with national determination that the Sri Lankan government and people will be able to defeat the resolution and the evil forces...

India ‘inclined’ to back resolution

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced on Monday that India was ‘inclined’ to back the resolution on Sri Lanka being circulated at the UN Human Rights Council. The Congress party came under strong pressure by parties and organisations from across India, especially from the southern state of Tamil Nadu. “We are inclined to vote in favour of the resolution if the resolution will cover our objectives namely the achievement of a future for the Tamil community in Sri Lanka that is based on equality, dignity, justice and self respect," Singh said during a debate in Parliament.

UK continues to sell arms to Sri Lanka

Despite evidence having emerged suggesting the Sri Lankan Army has violated international humanitarian law Britain has continued to sell weapons to Sri Lanka, continuing after the end of the decades-long ethnic conflict in 2009. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) released a statement challenging the British government to explain why weapons are still being licensed to Sri Lanka despite evidence of serious war crimes. Since the climax of the war in May 2009 over £3 million of military and “dual use” equipment has been licensed for export to Sri Lanka with weapons sales alone comprising over £2...

Head of Army inquiry denies war crimes

The head of a Sri Lankan Army inquiry into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity has denied that any human rights abuses had taken place, while addressing troops earlier this week. Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, who has appointed a five member of Army officers to inquire into “alleged civilian casualties”, made the statement in Puthukudirippu, which saw some of the heaviest civilian casualties in the closing stages of the war. He told his troops, "The army is disciplined, they did not abuse human rights during the war ." “I, as the Wanni Commander...

Sri Lanka’s emerging economic crisis

From AFP (see full text here ): Sri Lanka's president Mahinda Rajapaksa began his second term vowing an economic miracle after decades of conflict, but the post-war boom is already fraying. Sri Lankan economist and former central bank deputy governor W. A. Wijewardena believes the economy is in trouble despite an official 7.2 percent growth forecast for 2012. He says the balance of payments problem will have a knock-on effect on Sri Lanka's ability to service its large commercially raised foreign debt, the value of the local currency and domestic prices . The country needs to borrow heavily...

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