Monday, 27 June 2016
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Tamil Guardian 27 June 2016
Tamil North-East leads island in taxes from intoxicants

The Sri Lankan government gains the most amount of tax from intoxicants from the Tamil North-East stated Maithripala Sirisena.

The Sri Lankan president said that the areas were the government collects the most tax was from Jaffna, Nuwara Eliya and Batticaloa respectively.

Alongside a rises in alcohol use, there has been an increase of illegal drug usage across the North-East, which civil society activists and politicians say has been contributing to the breakdown of the social fabric of the North-East.

[more]

Tamil Guardian 27 June 2016
'Unwarranted praise' will cause SL to further withdraw from commitments - TCSF

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid al Hussain should identify the "fundamental transgressions in the approach of the Government to the resolution", the Tamil Civil Society Forum said on Monday, days before the release of the high commissioner's oral report.

"The unwarranted praise and promotion that the Sri Lankan Government continues to receive from certain powerful sections of the International Community, which also ironically co-sponsored the resolution, will only encourage the Government to further withdraw from its obligations under the Geneva resolution and is unlikely to inspire them into honouring their commitments," a statement released by the group said.

The TCSF highlighted the government's pledges not to adhere to the resolution's call for foreign judges to be included in any accountability mechanism, the disregard shown to genuine consultations, progress in normalising civilian life in the North-East, including through demilitarisation and the denial that systemic crimes took place.

See full statement here.

Tamil Guardian 27 June 2016
Victim confidence in Sri Lanka's ability to deliver on accountability and justice fading - NGOs at UNHRC
More to follow
"Initial hopes for accountability and justice are fading fast in the Tamil population," said Mr. Mario Arulthas, Advocacy Director for People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (P.E.A.R.L.) during an informal event at the 32nd Human Rights Council on Friday June 24th. The panel moderated by David Whaley (a former UN Resident Coordinator), also featured Ms. Nimalka Fernando (IMADR), Mr. Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon (Campaign for Free and Fair Elections, CaFFE), and Mr. Ruki Fernando (INFORM).

Ms. Nimalka Fernando noted that while we now have the Resolution which provides guiding principles, it doesn't actually match up with the daily realities facing victims.

The panelists addressed the Sri Lankan government's failure to build confidence and trust in victims in Sri Lanka, and meaningfully implement Resolution 30/1. For example, speaking specifically on the Office of Missing Persons, Mr. Ruki Fernando stated that confidence of families of the disappeared and their supporters had been undermined by the government's secrecy around the process.

"Why hasn't the Sri Lankan government taken the OISL report to the South? They need to start laying the groundwork for future prosecutions," stated Mr. Arulthas. "Renewed positive engagement of the international community and muting of criticism of the state in light of failures contributes to victims' disillusionment," he added.
Tamil Guardian 26 June 2016
Sri Lanka Navy constructs and opens home science building in Jaffna
A new home science building constructed by the Sri Lanka Navy for the students of Nunasai Viyalayam in Madagal, Jaffna was opened last week.

The project was conducted under the supervision of the Commander of the Navy Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne with the aim of providing education infrastructure for children.

The Navy also donated kitchen utensils and stationery items for the students in the school, reports Sri Lanka’s defence ministry website.

See more here.
 
Tamil Guardian 26 June 2016
‘Blaming Rajapaksa demons for lack of progress is a false pretence’ – GTF spokesperson
The Sri Lankan government cannot continue to blame members of the former regime for the lack of progress in furthering accountability said the Global Tamil Forum’s spokesperson Suren Surendiran, in a piece published in Colombo Telegraph on Saturday.

“Barely four months since [the] Government of Sri Lanka internationally committing by co-sponsoring Resolution A/HRC/30/L.29 in Geneva, the U-turn came in spectacular fashion from the highest authority in the country, the President himself,” said Mr Surendiran.

“As if there wasn’t enough trust deficit between communities in Sri Lanka, this major let down, haemorrhaged the trust of Tamils in the new President and in his new coalition government.”

[more]

Tamil Guardian 25 June 2016
Sri Lankan military hands out milk packets to Tamil women
 

The Sri Lankan military reported that troops handed out milk packets to former LTTE cadres in Jaffna earlier this month, in what was labelled a series of “Socio Economic Welfare Coordinating Workshops”.

A Sri Lankan military website reported on the workshops and published photos which were edited to cover the faces of the Tamil women, showing them receiving milk packets from uniformed soldiers.

The workshops were organised “with the sheer intention of establishing reliance within their society” said the website.

Tamil Guardian 25 June 2016
Sri Lankan army must release list of surrendees – Sri Lanka Campaign
The Sri Lankan armed forces must release the list it stated it had compiled of LTTE cadres who surrendered in 2009, said the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice.

One of the biggest questions that remain unanswered from the final brutal months of the armed conflict is “what happened to the many hundreds of LTTE ‘surrendees’, as well as the thousands of Tamil civilians, who were taken into the custody of the Sri Lankan army,” said the organisation, in a blog post released this week.

“For many of the families who are still searching for answers about what happened to them, it is often at this stage in the timeline that the trail runs cold.”

However, an admission by Major General Chanayaka Gunaratna (head of the Army’s 58th Division), “that the army is in possession of a list of people that surrendered during the final stages of the war is of enormous significance” it said.

“The army must disclose this information as a matter of urgency. It is now incumbent on the judiciary and political leadership in Sri Lanka – as well as the international community at the ongoing Human Rights Council session – to apply the pressure to ensure they do so.”

[more]

Tamil Guardian 25 June 2016
Sri Lankan FM pledges victims approval will be sought for international participation

Sri Lankan Foreign Minsiter Mangala Samaraweera pledged that his government “will and must have the approval” of victims who suffered during the armed conflict when deciding the degree of international participation in courts that will prosecute perpetrators of human rights abuses.

Addressing the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs in Oslo on Tuesday, Mr Samaraweera said “there’s a certain degree of controversy” when it came to the issue of international involvement in the setting up of a court to try perpetrators accused of committing violations of international humanitarian law.

However, he went on to add,

“That too will be decided after the consultations are over but all I can say now is whatever we decide upon, will and must have the approval, not only ourselves but of the victims those who suffered. This is not an exercise to please ourselves. So the final contours of the architecture of the courts we are hoping to set up will be in discussion. Especially with parties like the TNA and other groups which represent the victims.”

In his wide ranging speech, the minister went on to state that his government had “the intention of de militarizing the North and the East immediately after coming into power”.

“We are now in the process of even giving back the land which has been taken over for military purposes over the years,” he said.

He continued to say,

“In fact I know that during the course of this week another 700 acres will also be released. So far nearly 4000 acres but perhaps an equal amount of land remains to be released and that too we have told the military, that all must be released in a timeline going up to the end of 2018.”


[more]

Tamil Guardian 25 June 2016
NPC votes for army to withdraw from Vanni preschools

The Sri Lankan Army should leave the preschools it runs across Vanni and Kilinochchi, the Northern Provincial Council decided in a vote this week.

In a resolution passed at the NPC's 55th session, members called for army personnel to withdraw from preschools currently being run by the C.S.T army wing.

Over 18,000 children are reported to be studying in these army-run schools.

Tamil children should be able to learn their language and culture, and teachers should be able to teach free from army control, the resolution said.

Tamil Guardian 24 June 2016
Sri Lanka’s credit profile hinges on implementation of IMF reforms – Moody’s
Sri Lanka’s credit profile will depend on how effectively the government will be able to implement a series of reforms laid out by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Moody’s Investors Service.

In a new report entitled “Government of Sri Lanka: Reform Implementation Key to Lasting Fiscal, External Improvement from IMF Program”, Moody’s noted that Sri Lanka’s fall in foreign currency reserves and balance of payments crisis was what led to the government seeking IMF intervention.

“Therefore, in Moody’s view… a more durable improvement in the macro-economic and balance of payments pressures will depend on the extent to which authorities can durably reverse the ongoing fiscal deterioration,” reports Lanka Business Online.

The latest report comes as the Associate Director of Fitch APAC Sovereigns Sagarika Chandra said the challenge for Sri Lanka will be to meet criteria laid out before it by the IMF.
 
HIGHLIGHTS
  Editorial
Editorial Tamil Guardian 18 May 2016
Enduring resistance
Seven years after the armed conflict ended in May 2009 and the height of Tamil genocide by the Sri Lankan state, Tamils this year mark May 18th with the weight of a UN report behind them. [more]

Tamil Guardian 19 April 2016
Accountability is imperative for peace
Editorial [more]

  Opinion
Tamil Guardian 26 June 2016
‘Blaming Rajapaksa demons for lack of progress is a false pretence’ – GTF spokesperson
The Sri Lankan government cannot continue to blame members of the former regime for the lack of progress in furthering accountability said the Global Tamil Forum’s spokesperson Suren Surendiran, [more]

J. S. Tissainayagam Tamil Guardian 21 June 2016
Sri Lanka: Broken Promises again at the UN? - JS Tissainayagam
The international community should insist on course correction by Colombo through strong statements and continued monitoring after the high commissioner submits his final report in March 2017, writes JS Tissainayagam in the Asian Correspndent. [more]

Tamil Guardian 18 June 2016
UN Human Rights Council should press Sri Lanka on international participation – Alan Keenan
Members of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Human Rights Chief “should press the (Sri Lankan) government to follow through on its commitment to meaningful forms of international participation on the proposed special court for war crimes, [more]


  Feature
Tamil Guardian 20 June 2016
Leaked photos confirm cluster bomb use in Sri Lanka
Leaked photos appear to confirm the use of cluster bombs by the Sri Lankan government during the height of a large scale military offensive seven years ago. [more]

Tamil Guardian 13 June 2016
Sri Lanka has made little progress conclude UK parliamentary groups
All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPGT) hosts panel with the All Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group (PHRG). [more]

Tamil Guardian 10 June 2016
Exiled Tamil victims call for international judges – ITJP

Exiled Tamil victims who survived the final stages of the armed conflict on the island have called for international judges to participate in an accountability mechanism for mass atrocities, [more]


  Culture & Community
Tamil Guardian 22 May 2016
A poet's fearless death

Puthuvai Ratnathurai is an Eelam Tamil Revoluntary Poet. He was in charge of the Tamil Eelam Arts and Cultural Guild.  Mr Rathnathuai was last seen in the custody of the Sri Lankan military on 18 May 2009 in Mullivaikkal and to date his fate is not known.  He has written hundreds of poems. Here we publish just one such poem, [more]

Tamil Guardian 24 April 2016
American Tamils raise awareness of breast cancer in community
The Tennessee Tamil Sangam held an event last month to raise awareness of breast cancer and highlight the importance of early detection. [more]

Tamil Guardian 16 April 2016
London Tamil Market showcases very best of British Tamil business success
The two day exhibition held on 9th and 10th April 2016 included over 150 Tamil businesses and saw thousands of visitors coming through its doors. [more]



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