Australian Greens push for SL High Commissioner to be recalled

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has called upon the Australian Government to send back Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Australia Admiral TSG Samarasinghe, until an independent international investigation into war crimes on the island has commenced. In a statement released by the Australian Greens, Senator Lee Rhiannon said, "It is not enough for Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Australia Admiral TSG Samarasinghe to claim Sri Lanka is conducting its own investigation into the later stage of the civil war.” "It is becoming more widely recognised that claims claim that Sri Lanka makes about...

HRW baffled by Sri Lanka's 'strident opposition'

A spokeperson for the international human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch, expressed confusion and disbelief at the Sri Lankan government's indignant opposition to the resolution tabled at the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council. "The Rajapaksa government's strident opposition to this is hard to understand ," "These are the expectations from any responsible government that must examine allegations of violations against its own people ," Drawing attention to the government's default position that anyone calling for accounability is "somehow linked to the LTTE", the spokesperson...

Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to India summoned to apologise

Sri Lanka's High Commissioner, Kariyawasam, to India apologised on Friday after suggesting that any Tamil Nadu MPs who spoke of accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity had been lobbied by the LTTE and should be investigated by Indian authorities. After being summoned for a meeting by India's ministry of external affairs with the ministry's joint secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Kariyawasam said, “I would like to apologise to MPs of Tamil Nadu if I have caused any discontent or concern or distress in their minds. I feel sorry about that,” “I am very sorry about that. That’s...

Militarisation and colonisation is to negate call for Tamil self-governance - ICG

In reports published Friday, the International Crisis Group detailed and condemned the "deepening militarisation" and "Sinhalisation" in the Tamil area of the Northen Province, that the report concludes are part of a strategy to ""change the facts of the ground", as has already happened in the east, and make it impossible to claim the north as a Tamil-majority area deserving of self-governance." See here for Sri Lanka’s North I: The Denial of Minority Rights. See here for Sri Lanka’s North II: Rebuilding under the Military. Extracts reproduced below: "Major new military bases require the...

TNA condemns 'broken promises', urges UNHRC action

In a statement released Wednesday, the TNA condemned the Sri Lankan government's catalogue of broken promises of political settlement and human rights, urging the member states of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to act. See here for full statement. Extracts reproduced in full below: "The Sri Lankan government has persistently claimed that, if provided time and space, it will evolve homegrown processes that will address the need for a political solution, improvement in human rights and accountability. This claim must be evaluated against the chronic unwillingness of the government to honour its own commitments to the people of Sri Lanka and the international community . Some of these commitments have been repeated for many years, with no progress made on the ground ." " Moreover, the trajectory of the government’s conduct indicates that, if given time and space, that time and space will be utilized to pursue the agenda that the government has brazenly undertaken despite assurances to the contrary. That agenda entails the silencing of the democratic voice of the Tamil people, the entrenching of power at the centre and the transformation of the linguistic, cultural and religious composition of the North and East so as to negate the need for a political solution."

A ‘diplomatic dance’ during the slaughter

The former UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator has stated that during the final weeks of the war in Sri Lanka, the international community was waiting for the inevitable defeat of the LTTE and hoped it “happened as quickly as possible”. Ahead of the broadcast of Channel 4’s documentary “War Crimes Unpunished” on Wednesday evening, director Callum Macrae spoke to the then UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, Sir John Holmes, who visited the island at least twice during the final few weeks of the war. Macrae, described Holmes as “remarkably...

US warns of renewed conflict risk if accountability not addressed

The US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia has stated that without accountability in Sri Lanka, new violence could arise on the island. Speaking in Washington, Robert Blake stated that both reconciliation and accountability were in Sri Lanka’s best interests so that, "they really can achieve peace and security and not sow anger in their own community that could give rise to new violence." He then went on to say, “Experience in many civil conflicts around the world has shown that countries that don't take adequate measures to address reconciliation and accountability frequently...

Indian Parliament erupts in uproar over Sri Lanka

Both houses of the Indian Parliament had to be adjourned earlier on Tuesday after parliamentarians were in uproar over the Indian government’s failure to hold Sri Lanka accountable for allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Members of the AIADMK and its rival DMK, along with members of the BJP and Left parties came together in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha demanding to know the Indian government’s stand on the proposed resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council. The MPs staged a vociferous protest, carrying newspaper reports of atrocities in Sri Lanka, and demanded that Indian Prime Minister Mamohan Singh, who was present in Parliament, clarify India’s position on the proposed resolution. V Maitreyan of the AIADMK said , "The entire world knows about the war crimes against Sri Lankan Tamils. The Tamil Nadu chief minister has raised this issue with the prime minister. We want an answer from the prime minister... will they support the UN resolution." The furore prompted Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to respond , "Traditional position of India has always been, not only in respect of this case, that we normally do not support any country-specific resolution. But what view on this issue will be taken will be determined as and when the time will be finalized in respect of the meeting of the Human Rights Commission." The uproar comes just days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Manmohan Singh stating that he wanted to avoid “deepening confrontation and mistrust” between India and Sri Lanka, yet wanted to achieve a “forward looking” outcome on accountability. See the full text of his letter below.

Amnesty releases report of ongoing abuses, calls for international investigation

In a report, 'Locked away: Sri Lanka's security detainees', released Tuesday, Amnesty International (AI) highlighted the ongoing arbitrary, illegal and often incommunicado detention of Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka. Sam Zarifi, AI’s Asia-Pacific Director said, “ A lack of accountability for alleged war crimes gives the green light to Sri Lankan authorities to act with impunity . Meanwhile the message coming from the Sri Lankan government is that those who dare criticise it risk harassment, or even disappearance.” If Sri Lanka is serious about ending impunity and committed to reconciling communities torn apart by conflict, the rule of law needs to be a large part of that equation. While governments have the right to address national security concerns, human rights abuses are never justified. “The war crimes alleged in Sri Lanka in the final stages of the war are of such magnitude that if unchallenged risk fundamentally undermining international justice mechanisms - the UN must support an independent international investigation into these alleged crimes.” In a statement , AI said, "Reports of illegal detentions persist. Since October 2011, 32 people have been ‘abducted’ or subjected to abduction-style arrests."

Reporters Sans Frontieres catalogues media suppression over past year

In a statement released Monday, Reporters Sans Frontieres, detailed the " violence, threats and propaganda aimed at journalists and media defenders seen as government critics " since 2011. Extracts reproduced below: "On 5 November, the information and media ministry ordered news sites to register with the government , yet another restriction on the free flow of information – and a step toward heavier government control of the media." "One day after the registration order, the ministry blocked access to four major independent news sites critical of the government – Sri Lanka Mirror, Sri Lanka...

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