‘US stand on Sri Lanka perverts international justice’ – J. S. Tissainayagam

The United States’ reported backing for a domestic process of accountability with ‘international technical assistance’ perverts international justice said exiled Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam on Tuesday. Writing in the Asian Correspondent, Mr Tissainayagam said: “the U.S. and the international community are misguided in believing that the two elections and a national government have brought about enduring change that merits Washington to collaborate with Colombo on the forthcoming resolution at the UNHRC. This is because despite regime change there is little evidence that the new government has either the capacity or the political will to domestically investigate, try and punish perpetrators of international crimes.” He went on detail the inadequacy in “important institutions of state that will be vital in determining if the process of accountability effectively delivers justice to the victims”. “Even as he campaigned for the presidency, Sirisena, who has admitted being acting minister of defence “when most of the LTTE leaders were killed,” was insistent that Rajapakse and the military leaders implicated in mass atrocities against Tamils would not be brought before an international tribunal for war crimes,” said Mr Tissainayagam, adding, “Installed in power, the Sirisena government intervened directly to protect the status of those in the military implicated in war crimes”. The journalist also stated that Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe “has been no less emphatic in expressing similar reservations on an international investigation”.

Tamil nation must ensure TNA holds true to elected mandate - JS Tissainayagam

It is up to the Tamil public, civil society and diaspora to ensure that the Tamil National Alliance remains true to the mandate given by the voters, said exiled Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam on Friday. Writing in the Asian Correspondent Mr Tissainayagam noted Tamil discontent at ambiguous aspects of the Tamil National Alliance’s manifesto, and called on, “Tamil voters, Tamil civil society – especially organisations such as the Tamil Civil Society Forum – and the Tamil diaspora to keep the TNA accountable and not deviate from its policy statements declared before elections.”

Profiles of 2006 Sencholai massacre

Marking the ninth anniversary of the Sencholai massacre when 53 school girls were killed by a Sri Lankan military air strike on a children's home, Together Against Genocide (TAG) published an account of the incident based on interviews. The following account written by Shash Trevett is based on interviews to Together Against Genocide (TAG). Personal details of Meena (not her real name), place names and dates have been changed to protect her identity. It was early in the morning of 14th August 2006. Meena was at home getting ready to attend a computer course at her school. She had completed her A Level examinations a couple of months before, and was shoring up her qualifications further. At 7.30am that morning, Meena was outside her family home when she saw Kfir planes belonging to the Sri Lankan Air Force fly over her house. A few seconds later she heard a loud explosion, accompanied by a bright light. Terrified, she dropped to the ground, covering her ears, trying to protect herself from the sounds of the aerial bombardment.

Sri Lanka’s most pressing problems are both structural and systemic - Taylor Dibbert

A more subtle war still rages across the historically Tamil northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, said Taylor Dibbert, writing in The Diplomat on Tuesday. Full piece reproduced below.

We cannot henceforth be a nation that is deceived - CV Wigneswaran

Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran speaking at the International Association of Tamil Journalists annual lecture in the London, UK. I am meeting you today in the context of exactly thirty years this week since the Thimbu talks and thirty two years since the Black July riots next week. Although all of you fall within the term “diaspora”, many of you did not come here rejecting your birth place. You came here wounded in body and in mind. In spite of this you foster and safeguard a connection between yourselves and your homeland. Some still have land there. Many have...

Seize this opportunity for true reform - CV Wigneswaran

Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran writing in The Hill, a major Washington DC-based newspaper which focuses on politics and international relations. Come September, the United Nations Human Rights Council will assemble in Geneva for its 30th session. This session marks an important date for Sri Lanka, the United States and the international community: the long-awaited release of the UN report on war crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s civil war. Secretary of State John Kerry in May urged Sri Lanka to launch a credible investigation into human rights abuses and to release remaining political prisoners, and added that the U.S. is willing to support these developments with legal and technical assistance. This U.S. political will, ready to support justice and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, and the upcoming release of the UN report on war crimes, which disproportionately affected the ethnic Tamil population, mean the next few months are crucial for pursuing true reform in Sri Lanka. U.S. leaders have praised progress from newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena, like passing the 19th Amendment that limits the presidency to two terms, but the country’s Tamil population in the North and East remains disempowered and displaced. Slow reforms, the delayed release of the UN report and proposed accountability mechanisms that don’t meet international standards fuel the growing feeling that genuine justice and reform, a cause long-backed by the U.S. and multilateral organizations, is being sacrificed for domestic political maneuvering.

Sri Lanka's concept of accountability not in accordance of international standards - BHRC Chair

Sri Lanka's concept of accountability has not been in accordance with international standards, said the Chair of the BAR Human Rights Committee for England and Wales, whilst calling on Sri Lanka to take a “first step by providing a list of names of all those detained.” Speaking to Tamil Guardian at the 29 th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Kirsty Brimelow QC, said, “So far the Sri Lankan government’s concept of accountability has not been in accordance with international standards. Truth, justice and reparation equals accountability. This means putting victims at the heart of...

‘In Defence of Diaspora and Sri Lanka's Invisible Victims’

Hundreds of recent survivors of torture have been forced to flee Sri Lanka, says former BBC correspondent Frances Harrison, in a piece in the Huffington Post. “Torture is for life,” said Ms Harrison who stated that those who have fled abroad “should not be rendered invisible”. Extracts from her piece have been reproduced below. See the full piece here . “The Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora numbers some million people worldwide. Some settled abroad decades ago; others fled only in recent months. In the current period of transition in the country there's much talk of victims' rights, though arguably little to realise them yet. The unthinking assumption is that the "victims" are those Tamils eking out a living in the former war zone, searching for loved ones, as well of course as the Sinhalese and Muslims who suffered. It's the victims inside the country whose fate is considered the litmus test for any future reconciliation effort.” “But what about those who've fled abroad, those who've been driven out after experiencing unspeakable crimes. I call them the invisibles.”

Tamils struggle for freedom in Sri Lanka’s ‘new democracy’

Mullivaikaal today is a picture perfect beach with a small fishing community. Boats line the seafront, stuffed with freshly caught fish, sting rays and even tiny sharks. It is hard to imagine that this beach was soaked in the blood of thousands of Tamils in 2009, as the Sri Lankan military indiscriminately shelled the last strip of territory controlled by the outlawed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The fishermen say they were allowed to return here in 2012, and the physical signs of massacre have mostly been erased now, apart from a few sand bags in a crater behind the beach. But the pain is still etched onto the memories of the survivors, and many live in ramshackle shelters struggling to make a living.

Chief Minister's statement delivered at May 18 remembrance event in Mullivaikkal

Chief Minister’s Statement relating to the death of our dear ones during the last stages of the war on this Anniversary date - 18.05.2015 Today is the day of remembrance of those relatives of ours who died during the last stages of the war. This day brought forth sad and grief stricken news about our people six years ago which wrenched the hearts of not only Sri Lankan Tamils but also those residing abroad. This day is thus a significant emotive day for us. The Mullivaikal incident left indelible marks on the collective human conscience of our people. Human rights’ denied, media intervention...

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