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Tamil Guardian 07 October 2015
Sri Lankan soldiers sentenced for gang rape of Tamil woman

A group of four Sri Lankan soldiers have been sentenced to 25 years in jail for the gang rape of a Tamil woman that took place in 2010.

The Jaffna High Court found the men from Sri Lanka’s 572 Brigade guilty of raping the 27-year old Tamil mother of two, in Kilinochchi in 2010.

The case is the first on the island of a Tamil rape victim identifying the perpetrators in court, and comes despite reports of repeated military intimidation. Whilst three of the soldeirs appeared in court, the fourth suspect had earlier absconded and remains at large.

Judge M Elancheliyan said the crime was “unbearable and unforgivable since the victim’s dignity was damaged by them after the end of the war”.

A report by Yasmin Sooka, The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) and The International Truth & Justice Project (ITJP) previously detailed the incident, which involved the soldiers sexually abusing another Tamil woman. The report said:

"When the victim, who could identify the alleged perpetrators, reported the crime to the local military camp, she was told to have a bath first. Then she was offered money by the military to go away but she insisted on lodging a complaint with the police. A judicial medical report confirmed sexual assault. At a court hearing in which the victim identified her attackers, there were reportedly a hundred military men present to intimidate the victim. The accused were arrested but released on bail after five months. Since then, one has been absconding from the hearings, while the victim has been repeatedly harassed and threatened by military and police, most recently in February and March 2014."

See the full ITJP report here.

Tamil Guardian 06 October 2015
Sri Lanka PM calls for Japanese assistance to develop country

 Sri Lanka’s prime minister Ranil Wickremasinghe called on Japan to convene a donor conference for the social and economic development of the conflict affected areas in the island, reports Colombo Page.

Addressing Japanese parliament, Mr Wickremasinghe said, that Sir Lanka was seeking the assistance of japan for its efforts to bring reconciliation and peace to the country.

Sri Lanka’s prime minister added that Sri Lanka was ready to further strengthen ties with Japan and that new avenues for Japanese investment were now open in Sri Lanka.

The prime minister is on a five visit to Japan on invitation from his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe.

Tamil Guardian 06 October 2015
US Senator urges 'most robust international role' in accountability process

A senior US senator has called on his government to push for the "most robust international role" in the accountability process, mandated by a UN resolution last week at the Human Rights Council.

Senator Ben Cardin, who is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Sri Lanka must resolve "long standing issues of accountability", before opportunities for greater economic and security cooperation can be realised.

"This resolution is not perfect, but if fully implemented, it provides the most promising path forward since the end of the war. The resolution leaves open the possibility for international judges and prosecutors in Sri Lanka’s judicial mechanism to promote accountability. The current government has made clear that the international role will be limited to providing technical assistance and advice. As the U.S. works with Sri Lanka to implement the resolution, I urge our diplomats to push for the most robust international role in the accountability process," the senator said.

Tamil Guardian 06 October 2015
Sri Lanka parliament disrupted by opposition to UNHRC accountability resolution
Photograph: Ceylon Today

Parliament sitting were temporarily suspended in Sri Lanka after MPs clashed on discussion on the implementation of a resolution on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights adopted at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC.)

Leader of the National Freedom Front (NFF) Wimal Weerawansa accused the Sri Lanka’s prime minister of agreeing to a hybrid court without consulting parliament. The leader of the Hosue Lakshman Kiriella responded, stating that there was no such recommendation for a Hybrid court at the UNHRC, adding that it was the imagination of Mr Weerawansa.

A few other MPs displayed a banner that opposed a hybrid accountability court in Sri Lanka whilst parliament sittings were temporarily suspended, reports Ceylon Today.

Describing proposed inquiry as 'domestic' is a big lie – Wimal (04 Oct 2015)
Tamil Guardian 06 October 2015
Sri Lanka to interview for a new hangman next week

Sri Lanka announced that 20 applicants will be interviewed later this month, for the post of hangman at the Department of Prisons.

Prisons Commissioner Rohana Pushpakumara said that the interviews will be held next week and they would be assessing “psychological and physical fitness”.

Ahead of the interviews the gallows at the Welikada Prison were being refurbished reported Daily Mirror. The site, where the massacre of Tamil political prisoners took place during the 1983 Black July pogrom, is notorious for the endemic use of sexual violence and torture against Tamil detainees (See here and here).

The interviews were announced following Sri Lankan President Maithriapala Sirisena stating he is expecting to approve capital punishment on the island by next year.

His comments contradicted that of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, who told the UN Human Rights Council that Sri Lanka is would "maintain the moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its ultimate abolition".

Tamil Guardian 06 October 2015
PMK threatens to quit ruling alliance over India’s position on Sri Lanka
The leader of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) has threatened to withdraw his party from India’s ruling alliance, over the central government’s stance on an international probe to prosecute for mass atrocities in Sri Lanka.

“If it helps the Sri Lankan Tamils, I am ready to leave the NDA (National Democratic Alliance),” said Anbumani Ramadoss. “India’s stand shocked me and I have returned a disappointed man,” he said, having attended the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva last month.

Over the weekend the MP voiced his support for an international mechanism to prosecute for violations of international humanitarian law, stating “Tamils cannot live in peace and with dignity in a country that refuses to change its attitude and is not allowing an international inquiry”.

“The international community should not allow itself to be short-changed by the Sri Lankan government,” he added.
Tamil Guardian 06 October 2015
Minister guarantees protection of Sri Lanka’s ‘war heroes’

A Sri Lankan minister said his government would ensure the safety of Sri Lankan troops, after a UN resolution mandated an accountability mechanism to prosecute for mass atrocities committed during the final stages of the armed conflict.

The Island quoted Sri Lanka’s University Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella as saying “the government would not allow injustice to be caused to the war heroes” and that it would “ensure the safety of the war heroes so that there would be no problem for them”.

He also said the probe would be a “domestic” mechanism.


Tamil Guardian 06 October 2015
‘India should realise the real face of Sri Lanka’ says DMK leader

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader and M Karunanidhi called on the Indian government to “realise the real face of Sri Lanka” in a statement issued in Chennai on Monday.

Calling on India to support an international inquiry into mass atrocities committed by Sri Lanka the former chief minister said:

“Countries like the United States of America and the United Kingdom that moved the resolution and countries like India that supported it should realise the real face of Sri Lanka.”

“A [UN] resolution by India for an international inquiry will fulfil the long pending demand of the Tamils across the world. It will also provide India an opportunity to correct itself,” he added.


Tamil Guardian 06 October 2015
Tamil Civil Society Forum activist's residence visited by Sri Lanka surveillance outfit

The residence of a well-known lawyer and rights activist Father Yogeswaran was visited by persons claiming to be from the “Police Media Unit” in Trincomalee on Monday.

Father Yogeswaran who is currently still abroad after speaking on panels at the United Nations Human Rights Council last month is a co-ordinator of the Trincomalee branch of the Tamil Civil Society and anti-disappearances activist.

The “Police Media unit” is thought to be a proxy surveillance unit for Sri Lanka’s intelligence service. Last month, Tamil activists organising campaigns calling for an international accountability process to deal with the findings of the OISl report were also approached by personnel from the “Police Media Unit.”

Father Yogeswaran was well received at the UNHRC and spoke on Tamil sentiment in Sri Lanka at a range of side events organised by Amnesty International and the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR).

Speaking at an Amnesty International event at the UNHRC last month Father Yogeswaran said,

“We talk about transition but there is still no transition in the North-East. There is still military presence and surveillance.”

Commenting on the Tamil vote to bring in Sirisena at January’s presidential elections Father Yogeswaran said, “The victim community suffered for years before the war through systemic discrimination, they didn’t randomly pick up arms. Despite the systemic discrimination, the minority community brought positive change for the whole island. Yet still for the minority community nothing has changed. This is why there was a rise in protests in North-East over last months.

Tamil Guardian 06 October 2015
Finance bill discourages private sector investment - Ceylon Chamber of Commerce

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce says the finance bill proposed in March was sending 'negative signals' to the private sector and discouraged investment, LBO reports.

“The CCC believes that the Finance Bill of March 2015, presented to Parliament recently sends a negative signal to the private sector and is likely to deter investment,” the statement said.

“This is unfortunate since the Bill comes at a time that the Sri Lankan private sector was gearing itself to partner the Government in realising the full potential of the country’s economy.”

The statement further said the proposed bill is likely to be perceived as a serious impediment in building a credible and deep partnership between the government and the private sector and therefore urged suitable amendments, prior to the enactment of the bill.

See more here.

Tamil Guardian 21 September 2015
Road To Reckoning

The release of the long awaited OHCHR investigation into Sri Lanka (OISL) report last week is a monumental moment for the victims of mass atrocities on the island and all those who continue to work towards seeing justice served. [more]

Tamil Guardian 01 September 2015
Promise of Justice

The visit by senior US officials, Nisha Biswal and Tom Malinowski this week, and the US’ endorsement of a domestic process of accountability into mass atrocities committed against the Tamil people during the end of the armed conflict in 2009 has been met with a sense of relief by the Sri Lankan government and was reported triumphantly across the southern English-language Sri Lankan press. However, [more]

Tamil Guardian 02 October 2015
‘Proof of change will come in how Sri Lanka treats most vulnerable victims’
The proof of change in Sri Lanka following the passing of a UN resolution this week, will come in how it treats survivors of sexual violence, wrote Nimmi Gowrinathan and Kate Cronin-Furman. [more]

Tamil Guardian 17 September 2015
Critical moment in Geneva - but will Tamils see justice? - APPG-T chair
Writing in the Huffington Post, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils chairman James Berry called on the British government to lead the world in seeking proper accountability for Sri Lanka’s atrocities. [more]

Tamil Guardian 16 September 2015
Process failing to win support of survivors in Sri Lanka 'doomed to fail' - Sonya Sceats
Writing in The Guardian, the director of Freedom From Torture (FFT) UK Sonya Sceats, stressed that any process to deal with findings of the UN investigation into Sri Lanka’s mass atrocities that fails to win support of survivors “is doomed to fail before it even begins.” Full piece reproduced below: Sri Lankan war crimes will be laid bare in a harrowing UN report to be published on Wednesday. The Sri Lankan government has already launched its latest charm offensive to convince the world it can deal with these issues, [more]

Tamil Guardian 03 October 2015
Triumphant return for president who 'achieved a great victory' at UNHRC, as he pledges 'domestic inquiry'

Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena returned from his trip to the UN General Assembly in New York to a triumphant welcome, [more]

Tamil Guardian 01 October 2015
Consensus resolution on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka adopted at UNHRC
Photograph: Tamil Guardian [more]

Tamil Guardian 01 October 2015
NGOs call for internationalised accountability process and monitoring of ongoing violations against victim Tamil community in Sri Lanka
Non-Governmental Organisations stressed the importance of ongoing monitoring in Sri Lanka, an internationalised judicial process for accountability, ending ongoing violations against the majority victim Tamil community and seeking a lasting political solution during the general debate on the OISL report into Sri Lanka on Wednesday. Addressing member states of the UNHRC during the debate, [more]

  Culture & Community
Tamil Guardian 22 March 2015
A night to remember as Tamil comedy takes to the stage

  All photographs: Thamarai With Tamil variety shows having been a staple part of the British Tamil calendar for years, [more]

Tamil Guardian 22 February 2015
'Super Singer Junior' audiences stunned by song dedicated to Eelam Tamils
A 15 year old Canadian Eelam Tamil singer, Jessica Judes, stunned audiences of the widely popular Tamil Nadu singing competition - Super Singer Junior on Saturday, [more]

Tamil Guardian 21 February 2015
Denmark Tamil schools compete in Malathy Cup football tournament
Tamil schools across Denmark came together for the Malathy Cup football tournament on February 14. [more]

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