Friday, 31 October 2014
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Tamil Guardian 31 October 2014
Protests in Tamil Nadu against SL death sentence to fishermen

Protests erupted in Tamil Nadu on Friday against a Sri Lankan court’s sentencing of five Tamil Nadu fishermen to death for alleged drug trafficking.

Effigies of Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa were and the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission in Chennai was laid siege to, reports Deccan Chronicle. Over two hundred demonstrators were arrested said police.

In Rameswaram, the home of many Tamil Nadu fishermen who have faced arrest and detention by the Sri Lankan navy, local fishermen have launched an indefinite strike unless the Indian government appealed the death sentence in a higher court, the paper added. See more here

Tamil Guardian 31 October 2014
UN Human Rights Committee raises concerns in Sri Lanka's ICCPR review conclusions
The UN Human Rights Committee’s concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of Sri Lanka, released on Thursday,  outlined several concerns on the state of freedom of expression and participation in the political process, freedom of assembly and freedom of association, rights of persons belonging to minorities, torture, enforced disappearances and former combatants.

Highlighting the attacks on freedom of assembly and association of Tamils in the north-east, the report said,

“The committee is concerned at the disproportional and discriminatory restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly and association against Tamils, particularly in the North of the State party, including restrictions of religious and/or civil ceremonies commemorating the loss of loved ones during the armed conflict.”

Drawing upon concerns regarding the Rights of persons belonging to minorities, the report highlighted further concerns about, “ the restrictions and conditions placed on the enjoyment of cultural, linguistic and religious freedoms of minorities in the State party, such as the Muslim, Tamil and Christian communities, including refusal of school admission on grounds of religion, and harassment against minority religious groups which includes attacks on the places of worship of Hindu, Muslim, Evangelical Christian and Jehovah’s Witness communities.”


Tamil Guardian 30 October 2014
Sri Lanka sentences 5 Tamil Nadu fishermen to death, India says men innocent
A Sri Lankan court sentenced five Tamil Nadu fishermen to death on Thursday on drug trafficking charges.

The Indian government is to appeal the judgement, through legal channels as well as political channels, reports the Hindustan Times.

"India's High Commission in Colombo will appeal to higher court through a lawyer against the judgement by the lower court against these five Indian fishermen," India's External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told a press conference on Friday.

"Since then this court case has been going through the Sri Lankan judicial process. Now that a lower court has given its judgement, we intend through our High Commission to appeal against this judgement," Akbaruddin told Times Now.

"Simultaneously, we have been pursuing with the Sri Lankan government our view, that we feel these fishermen are not guilty, because we have done our due diligence on our side, and we find that they are innocent," he added.


Arani Kumaran Tamil Guardian 30 October 2014
Review: 'Sri Lanka's Secrets: How the Rajapaksa Regime Gets Away with Murder'

'Sri Lanka's Secrets: How the Rajapaksa Regime Gets Away with Murder' by Trevor Grant, is a powerful book, containing many details that will inform, energise and enrage even those who are familiar with Sri Lanka, let alone those who are new to understanding the issues that continue to fester on this island. Trevor Grant’s contribution to the literature on Sri Lanka should be compulsory reading for everyone interested in Sri Lanka. His extensive research, access to individuals willing to talk, and ability to tie individual stories back to a bigger argument make this a very powerful book.


Tamil Guardian 30 October 2014
UN agency says it is ready to support Upcountry landslide rescue
The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said it was ready to assist in the rescue operation following a landslide in the Upcountry on Wednesday, which is believed to have left hundreds dead.

"The National Disaster Management Center reports that at least six people have died, 300 people are missing and 150 houses are destroyed," a UN spokesperson said.

"OCHA is in close contact with this centre and stands ready to support as requested."

"The Sri Lankan Red Cross Society has mobilised first aid teams, while the World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health's efforts to assist the affected communities," he added.


Tamil Guardian 30 October 2014
30 Oct 1995: Jaffna exodus as Tamils flee for Vanni ahead of SL military advance

On October 30, 1995, over half a million Tamil men, women and children fled their homes in Jaffna, ahead of a major military offensive by the Sri Lankan government led by Chandrika Kumaratunga, in what became known as the Jaffna Exodus.

The entire town of Jaffna, the largest Tamil population centre in Sri Lanka, streamed out in a mass exodus for the safety of the Vanni, which was then controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Walking for several miles east, crossing the Navatkuli bridge, the throngs of people, carrying whatever they could manage, made their way to the neck of the Jaffna peninsula, before making the dangerous boat journey on to Kilinochchi. 

All the while, heavy fighting raged as the LTTE battled to keep the Sri Lanka military at bay.

Making the journey

The context in which the exodus took place was aptly summed up by The Times, whose correspondent, Christopher Thomas, wrote on October 30:
“Many civilians have been killed by government shelling and bombing, which has hit residential areas of the town. There is panic among the 600,000 Tamils on the Jaffna peninsula. The greatest humanitarian crisis of the war is in the making...Tamil civilians in Jaffna are evidently terrified by the advancing of the soldiers and are looking to the Tigers to save them from what they are convinced will be a massacre.”


Tamil Guardian 29 October 2014
Govt accused of neglecting Upcountry Tamils after hundreds buried in landslide
Hundreds are believed to be trapped under rubble after an extensive landslide struck the tea plantations in the upcountry region, on Wednesday morning.

Ten bodies have been pulled from the rubble so far, whilst over one hundred are feared dead. The military has been deployed to help in the rescue effort.

The landslide has led to criticism of the policies of successive government over the living conditions of upcountry Tamils.

“Irresponsibility of Sri Lanka’s past governments responsible for housing, plantation organizations and plantation trade unions are the reasons for the flaws in housing for the upcountry people," the human rights activist and researcher, S. Balakrishnan, told BBC Tamil.

He went on to say:

“Upcountry Tamils were only treated as commodities, such as teas, not as citizens. Their rights are not respected and nor were there any preparations made to guarantee their needs.”

“There is no one to think about the standards of the housing for the upcountry people."


Tamil Guardian 29 October 2014
Commonwealth head calls for ‘legitimate Tamil concerns’ to be addressed

The Secretary General of the Commonwealth Kamalesh Sharma called for a reduction of the Sri Lankan military;s role in the Northern Province, saying this was important to address Tamil people’s legitimate concerns.

Speaking at the conclusion of his visit to Jaffna, Sharma said there were concerns about the restriction and monitoring of locals and those visiting the province.

“The steps that needed to be taken to empower the people affected by the conflict include addressing legitimate concerns about restricted and monitored movement of both the citizens of the province and those visiting them for lawful purposes,” he said, according to The Hindu.

“A continued reduction of the military role in civilian life in the (northern) province was important to see legitimate concerns of Tamils being addressed,” he added.

Tamil Guardian 29 October 2014
IDPs suffer as Vali North camp flooded
Internally displaced persons at the Mallakam, Konappulam welfare centre in Valikaamam North are without basic amenities after the monsoon rains lef the camp flooded.

The residents, who have been displaced for over 25 years after the Sri Lankan military took over their lands, have complained that no relief has been provided to them, reports Uthayan.


Tamil Guardian 29 October 2014
Sri Lanka’s Church confirms papal visit

The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has confirmed that the visit of Pope Francis to the island wil go ahead as scheduled, despite the controversy regarding the presidential election, due to occur in the same time period.

“We wish to affirm that as it stands the visit of the Holy Father to Sri Lanka will take place as scheduled,” a statement issued by Church spokesperson Cyril Gamini said.

“We request the Catholic faithful of this country to pray that God will help all of us to make the Holy Father’s visit to the country a success,” he further said.

The Church previously said it would reconsider the visit in view of the poll, as it would be “inappropriate” for the pontiff to visit during the election period.

Editorial Tamil Guardian 27 October 2014
Impeding justice
The Sri Lankan government’s announcement of restrictions on foreign passport holders travelling to the North is a brazen and calculated attempt to obstruct evidence collection for the UN inquiry into mass atrocities, [more]

Editorial Tamil Guardian 22 September 2014
The eyes of the world were on Scotland last week, as the Scottish people voted in a historic referendum on independence. The majority of Scots (55%) chose to keep their homeland as part of the United Kingdom with the promise of more devolved powers, [more]

Arani Kumaran Tamil Guardian 30 October 2014
Review: 'Sri Lanka's Secrets: How the Rajapaksa Regime Gets Away with Murder'
'Sri Lanka's Secrets: How the Rajapaksa Regime Gets Away with Murder' by Trevor Grant, is a powerful book, [more]

Tamil Guardian 01 October 2014
'Why Sri Lanka's detention of Balenderan Jayakumari is so sinister' - Callum Macrae
Documentary maker Callum Macrae says Sri Lanka has continued with its “particularly sinister” arrest and intimidation of possible witnesses to a United Nations investigation into mass atrocities in Sri Lanka – including of Tamil disappearances activist Balendran Jayakumari - in a piece in the Huffington Post. Macrae, [more]

Tamil Guardian 02 August 2014
‘Legal Avenues to Prosecute a US Citizen for War Crimes—The Case of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’

Ryan Goodman, Professor of Law and Co-Chair of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law has called on the United States to prosecute Gotabhaya Rajapaksa for war crimes, [more]

Tamil Guardian 01 October 2014
UK Ministers and MPs rally behind Tamil calls for justice

Tamil Guardian 26 September 2014
Remembering Thileepan
Today marks the 27th anniversary of the death of Lt. Col Thileepan, after he fasted to death on hunger strike, appealing to the Indian government to honour pledges made to the Tamil people. [more]

Tamil Guardian 24 September 2014
#GetThePicture campaign maps Sri Lankan state massacres of Tamils
The United States Tamil Political Action Council released an updated version of their #GetThePicture campaign map this week, [more]

  Culture & Community
Tamil Guardian 25 October 2014
Barts and London University Tamil Society host language workshop
The Barts and the London University Tamil Society and the university's Language and Culture Society, joined forced to host a ‘Basic skills in the Tamil language’ workshop on October 6th. [more]

Tamil Guardian 24 October 2014
Canada's York Uni introduces landmark Tamil studies award

Canada's York University has established the country's first ever scholarship graduate award in Tamil studies last month. [more]

Tamil Guardian 19 October 2014
UK Tamil students hold workshop on university application process for Year 13s
Photographs TSI The Tamil Students Initiative (TSI), a network of UK university Tamil societies, [more]

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