Harper 'skeptical' of Rajapaksa’s promises

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed last month that he would not attend the 2013 Commonwealth summit to be held in Sri Lanka, unless Colombo agreed to independent investigations into war crimes committed by its forces. On Monday, British Premier David Cameron said his government’s position was ‘similar’ to Canada’s. Both leaders told reporters they had stressed the point to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa this weekend. Speaking to reporters later about his conversation with Rajapaksa, Harper said: “I think it's fair to say that the general tone of the president of Sri Lanka...

Attacks by SL navy on Indian fisherman must stop: LK Advani

The leader of the BJP, India’s main opposition party, has demanded an immediate stop to the attacks perpetrated by the Sri Lankan Navy on Tamil Nadu’s fishermen. "Sri Lanka must be told firmly that the repeated attacks on Indian fishermen must end," he told reporters in Madurai. "It should not be regarded as a local matter as it does not relate to Tamil Nadu only. It must be regarded as a part of the national strategy and the government must evolve a plan on how to deal with it," he said. "The repeated attacks on Tamil fishermen by Sri Lankan navy and security forces is deeply reprehensible...

Toronto Star on Sri Lanka and Commonwealth …

“[Canadian] Prime Minister Stephen Harper deserves credit for making Sri Lanka an issue at the Commonwealth summit in Australia this week. “There are other human rights offenders in the [Commonwealth], to be sure. But Sri Lanka is in a class of its own .” See the full text of the editorial here .

Tamils protest at Commonwealth summit

Hundreds of Australian Tamils joined others protesting outside the Commonwealth summit in Perth on Friday. See TamilNet 's report on the Perth protests here . Also, see the Daily Mail ’s report, with several photographs, on the Commonwealth summit, and the protests outside, here .

See no evil - Australia's way on war crimes

“Australia’s Attorney-General, Robert McClelland promptly quashed the case [against President Rajapaksa], claiming it breached domestic law and Australia's treaty pledges of diplomatic and sovereign immunity for visiting leaders. “ A smokescreen, of course, since domestic law does allow private war crimes prosecutions - if they are taken over by federal prosecutors and approved by the attorney-general. “ As for immunity , Australian National University expert Donald Rothwell says this is yet to be tested in an Australian court where serious war crimes are involved.” - Hamish McDonald , the...

Sri Lanka confident amid Indian backing

A senior Sri Lankan diplomat says that "plans have been" made to thwart any attempts to bring out issues related to Colombo's human rights at the Commonwealth summit in Austrlia. He said several Commonwealth countries have shown solidarity towards Sri Lanka and have dismissed those accusing Colombo of human rights violations. The unnamed diplomat added: " Already we have India backing us along with several South Asian and African countries. India has indicated that they will oppose a Commonwealth report that seeks to establish a monitoring group for member countries on human rights. " Most of...

From the Commonwealth summit ...

Hundreds of Australian Tamils joined others protesting outside the Commonwealth summit in Perth on Friday. See TamilNet 's report on the Perth protests here . See more pictures of the protest here . Also, see the Daily Mail ’s report, with several photographs, on the Commonwealth summit, and the protests outside, here .

‘Resettlement’ in Sri Lanka – what the figures show and conceal

Rather than resettling displaced Tamils, since the war ended, the Sri Lankan armed forces have occupied a further 7,000 sq km of land owned by Tamil people . So what do the government’s claims of resettlement mean? “According to the government's own figures as at 1st July 2011, 258,446 had been ‘returned' or ‘resettled' from welfare camps, leaving 12,661 in the Kadirgamar, Anandakumarasawmi (Zone 1), Arunachalam (Zone III) IDP camps. The most current figures suggest that only 7,440 persons remain in these camps, insinuating that all others have been returned or resettled. “ What the...

Asset expropriation bill expected to be passed soon

Sri Lankan courts are expected to pass a law that will allow the state to expropriate any assets from citizens that they deem “underutilized”. According to reports , anyone found guilty of not handing their assets over to the Sri Lankan government will be “liable to imprisonment of ten years or a fine or both". It targets not only "underperforming enterprises”, but “underutilized assets" also, allowing the state to seize land and any other asset from individuals to large businesses. The law was proposed under an “urgent bill”, a device which commentators say is used to rush bills through the...

Amnesty urges Commonwealth to act

Amnesty International has called on the Commonwealth to block Sri Lanka from hosting the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2013 or risk becoming “irrelevant”. The statement was released to mark the opening of the 2011 CHOGM in Perth, where Sri Lanka has come under increased pressure to deal with issues if war crimes and human rights. Madhu Malhotra, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director said, "It's absurd to even consider allowing Sri Lanka to host CHOGM as long as it fails to account for alleged war crimes". "Today Commonwealth leaders are faced with a choice –...

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