Politics and cricket: stepping up to the crease on Sri Lanka

With protests demanding stern Indian action Sri Lanka continuing across the country, Delhi’s relationship with its unruly neighbour has come under intensifying criticism. India’s policy of meek diplomacy and appeasement has only fuelled Sri Lanka’s brazen defiance. In this context the Tamil Nadu state government has responded to the growing public mood by announcing a state wide ban on Sri Lankan players participating in the Indian Premier League. This step has highlighted an avenue for more concerted and co-ordinated international action. A resolute sporting boycott can be utilised as a...

Beyond Geneva

The UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka last week rightly invoked mixed sentiments. On the one hand, the passing of the second resolution in two years and the advocacy efforts that accompanied it underlined that Sri Lanka remains firmly on the international agenda and that the coalition of state and non-state actors pursuing accountability for the slaughter of tens of thousands and continuing rights abuses is expanding. On the other hand, the quest for consensus on the Council, and in particular the support of India, resulted in a significant weakening of the resolution’s force and the introduction, as Delhi’s pound of flesh, of elements deeply antithetical to the goals of accountability and justice, and injurious to the political aspirations of the Tamil nation.

A common wealth of values that Sri Lanka does not share

On Monday - Commonwealth Day - the Queen as the head of the Commonwealth, signed a new Charter outlining 16 core beliefs purported to underpin the organisation. The vision set out is a welcome one. Yet the next key Commonwealth event, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2013 (CHOGM), is due to be held in a country that evidently does not share this vision, nor care to. Four years on, Sri Lanka is no closer to accounting for the crimes of 2009 nor achieving a political solution to prevent renewed violence. Instead, it has exploited its military victory to execute unchecked...

Leaping tiger or cowering mouse

In the almost four years that have passed since the end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka, the Colombo government has worked relentlessly to consolidate Sinhala dominance over the Tamil speaking regions. During this time, India’s tentative policy of appeasement and meek diplomacy in the hopes of crafting a political solution on the island has, in no uncertain terms, failed dismally. This timid approach has only seen Sri Lanka’s brazen defiance swell, with the state continuing to act audaciously in the face of creeping international pressure, safe in the knowledge that India’s placation will...

Why Balachandran had to die

The recent publication of pictures of Balachandran Prabhakaran, hours before his execution, reiterates once again the brutality of Sri Lanka’s armed forces. The youngest son of the LTTE leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran was only one of thousands killed by the Sri Lankan army, but this execution was different from most other killings. The twelve year old was singled out and executed because he was seen as a representation of the Tamil national struggle. In killing him, the Sri Lankan army, was fulfilling its intention of materially destroying the Tamil struggle. Due to Balachandran’s significance...

More time and space is more of the same

The report by the United Nations High Commissioner’s Office, released last week on Sri Lanka, is another welcome voice to the chorus of heavy-weights slamming the state's crimes against the Tamil people in 2009 and its on-going failure to account for them – but it must be more. The atrocities of 2009 are now well-established, unavoidable truths, however, still there has been no hard action. Instead, acquiescing to Sri Lanka's hollow rhetoric, the state is granted time and space to sort itself out. A year after the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on Sri Lanka calling for the most...

The writing on the wall

The Sri Lankan president's public rejection of Tamil autonomy or devolution of powers during his Independence Day address this week, should come as no surprise. Despite the international community's periodic calls on Sri Lanka not to squander its military victory, but use it to negotiate a lasting political settlement, the Sri Lankan state has stubbornly continued to do quite the reverse. Although some international observers remain bewildered by Sri Lanka's stance, in truth key political figures of successive Sri Lankan governments have never shied away from making their fundamental...

Avenues for action: the UNHRC and beyond

As the March session of the United Nations Human Rights Council approaches, and nearly a year after the resolution at the 19th session called on Sri Lanka to take credible action to ‘ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation’, it is clear that the island’s ethnic crisis has only deepened. The 2012 resolution relied on Sri Lanka acting responsibly and was therefore, arguably, bound to fail. Sri Lanka’s hostile reaction to the resolution and subsequent insincerity in addressing the issues it raised are not surprising. It is time for the international community to take decisive...

Asylum policies are extensions of Sri Lanka’s repression

During a recent high profile visit to Colombo, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced that his country would be pumping millions of dollars into Sri Lanka, as part of a concerted effort to stem the ever rising flow of asylum seekers, comprising almost entirely of Tamils, from the island. Measures included providing surveillance training and equipment for the Sri Lankan Navy and intelligence services. By reducing the ‘problem’ to one of insufficient surveillance and security, these measures ignore the pervasive and deepening conditions of repression that compel increasingly desperate...

Ruling the Law

Recent weeks have seen much comment and criticism of the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake by a Parliamentary Select Committee appointed by the President's brother Chamal Rajapaksa. The vocal criticism was followed by celebration on Monday when it was quashed by an Appeals Court. Whilst the incident appears to have inspired many Sri Lankans to rally against it, to the Tamils in the North-East the entire saga pales into irrelevancy. The heightened drama surrounding it, only serves to highlight the long-standing absence of meaningful judicial process and rule of law available...

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