Saturday, 29 August 2015
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Tamil Guardian 29 August 2015
UNP MP ignores court summons for the third time

A newly elected parliamentarian with the ruling UNP government has ignored three consecutive summons to appear before a magistrates court for threatening a police sergeant, The Island reports.

Sri Lanka's police force is said to have requested an arrest warrant for Sujeewa Serasinghe after his initial failure to appear in court, however the magistrates only reissued a notice for the MP to come before the Homagama court.

"According to normal procedure of the court, once a notice is issued if the accused does not appear before court, he should be arrested as the notice had been pasted on the door of his residence, but the Magistrate has only verbally asked the police to arrest MP Senasinghe without giving a written order. When the police requested the Magistrate to issue a warrant to arrest, he had instead issued a notice once again to appear on September 30," police spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekara said.

Tamil Guardian 29 August 2015
TNA demands opposition leader post

The Tamil National Alliance has laid claim to the leader of the opposition post, in Sri Lanka's parliament.

In a statement published on Saturday, the TNA said as the party with the second-highest number of seats, the UPFA, has decided to form a national government with the UNP, it is not anymore an opposition party and as such the TNA is now the largest opposition party.

"It has been announced that a National Government has been formed and that Members of Parliament who contested and were elected under both the UNP and the UPFA have accepted cabinet portfolios. Accordingly, both the UNP and the UPFA bear collective cabinet responsibility. As political parties in Parliament, they thus must publicly support all Governmental decisions made in Cabinet. This support includes voting with the Government when sitting in Parliament. There is thus no question whatsoever of the UPFA sitting in opposition in Parliament," the statement said.
[more]

Tamil Guardian 29 August 2015
‘UK remains fully committed to OHCHR investigation’ – British High Commission

The British High Commission in Sri Lanka stated the UK was still fully committed to the UN process, including the upcoming report on mass atrocities on the island, yet called on the Sri Lankan government “to make progress domestically”.

In response to a query from The Island a spokesperson for the High Commission said:

"The UK remains fully committed to the UN process, including the OHCHR investigation and the publication of its report in September. It will then be for the government of Sri Lanka to demonstrate what progress it has made towards reconciliation and accountability, and how it will take forward the recommendations of the OHCHR report.”

The spokesperson went on to say:

“We have consistently called for Sri Lanka to make progress domestically. It is important that any accountability process is credible, inclusive, transparent, independent and meets international standards."

[more]

Tamil Guardian 29 August 2015
Sri Lanka paid $6.5 million to Washington lobby firms in 2014

Updated 1000 GMT

Sri Lanka paid an estimated US $6.5 million to a major fundraiser to the Obama campaign in order to lobby US officials and is yet to finish making payments, reports Foreign Policy.

According to the paper’s investigation, the Sri Lankan government over a five month period in 2014 paid $6.5 million to Imaad Zuberi, a venture capitalist whp was one of the biggest contributors to Obama’s re-election campaign.

A document obtained by Foreign Policy found that a lobby firm owned by Mr Zuberi was paid $2 million by the Sri Lankan government for consulting services which included influencing the US government.

The transactions have come under scrutiny after it was found that payments to Mr Zuberi were not disclosed to the US Justice Department as required under federal law. The Foreign Agents Registration Act of FARA states that paid representatives of foreign governments must disclose those relationships to the Justice Department and carries a punishment of up to 5 years in prison.

Through Mr Zuberi, Sri Lanka “made hundreds of contacts with government officials, think tanks, and journalists, and arranged meetings on Capitol Hill”. One such meeting was on July 14 2014, when former Sri Lankan MP Vass Gunawardena and 14 other Sri Lankan officials, spent thousands of dollars on food and drinks for members of Congress in Washington DC.

Mr Zuberi however denied he worked for individuals, telling FP, “Our work was for the government of Sri Lanka… not Mr Vass Gunawardena as a person”.

He also rejected allegations of corruption within the then Sri Lankan government, led by Mahinda Rajapaksa. “Perhaps we were lucky that we didn’t encounter corruption,” said Mr Zuberi. “But we only explored opportunities and didn’t really make any investment.”

[more]

Tamil Guardian 29 August 2015
More than 35,000 houses needed in Jaffna - District Secretary
More than 35,000 houses are needed in Jaffna in order to resettle Tamils living below the poverty line in the peninsula, said Jaffna District Secretary N. Vedanayagam.

Mr Vedanayagam said the figure had been arrived at through data collected by the Jaffna District Secretariat.

He went on to note that large areas in Jaffna still remained under military control and had not been released to their rightful owners. If this land does ever get released, more houses would be needed, he added.

He appealed to organisations from around the world to contribute towards the reconstruction.
Tamil Guardian 29 August 2015
Karunanidhi warns of cover up if Sri Lanka conducts inquiry
The Tamil Nadu politician and DMK leader, M Karunanidhi warned of a cover up if Sri Lanka is allowed to conduct its own inquiry into war crimes, criticising the US for its stance on a domestic inquiry, The Hindu reported

Earlier this week the US said it would support such a move if it was credible, with some degree of international involvement.

“The US government's move looks as if it wants to cover up the war crimes. I hope it will not happen. If Sri Lanka is allowed to conduct its own inquiry, the DMK will strongly condemn the US,” Mr Karunanidhi was quoted by the paper as saying in a statement.


[more]

Tamil Guardian 28 August 2015
Successive Sri Lankan authorities have ignored commissions – Amnesty International

Amnesty International stated that successive Sri Lankan governments have appointed and largely ignored commissions to investigate the issue of disappearances on the island.

In a statement released to mark the “The Day of the Disappeared” on 30 August, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said:

“Governments in every region of the world, from Syria to Mexico and from Sri Lanka to Gambia may be holding hundreds or even thousands in secret detention. In many countries, the authorities continue harassing and intimidating those who are looking for their relatives. The struggle for justice must not cease.”

Amnesty International said that “tens of thousands are presumed to have disappeared” in Sri Lanka with “very few cases have been resolved and there has been blatant intimidation reported against families who have dared to ask questions about the whereabouts of their loved ones”.

“Several commissions have been appointed by successive governments since 1990 implicating leading politicians and high ranking officers in the police and security forces,” continued the statement. “However, the authorities have mostly ignored recommendations that these figures, some of whom remain in their positions, should be prosecuted.”

[more]

Tamil Guardian 28 August 2015
Sri Lankan president has power to choose opposition leader

Sri Lanka's president Maithripala Sirisena has been granted the power to choose the leader of the opposition and cabinet ministers from members of the Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP).

Following a meeting of the SLFP Central Committee today, it was decided that the president will also have the final say in appointing other key ministerial positions.

 

Tamil Guardian 28 August 2015
War-affected Tamils call on US to support international accountability mechanism

Over 40 Tamil civil society activists have called on the US to help in the establishment of an international mechanism to address accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka.

In a letter, addressed to and welcoming the new US ambassador Atul Keshap, the Tamils, all directly affected by the war, said it was not possible to rebuild their lives without seeing justice for the crimes that occurred.

“We cannot rebuild our lives without dealing with the past. We must know what happened, who was responsible, and how those persons will be brought to justice,” the letter said.

Welcoming the US public stance regarding the importance of accountability and justice, the activist pointed out that local mechanisms have completely failed to deliver justice and that despite the new government’s promises, no progress had been made since the change in regime in January.
[more]

Tamil Guardian 28 August 2015
Sinhala opposition to domestic inquiry

The president of the National Patriotic Movement, Dr Gunadasa Amarasekara said the domestic investigation into war time abuses, thought to have been committed by Sri Lankan forces, will actually be an international investigation conducted according to the will of the US, who this week expressed its support for a domestic process.

"The investigation will be conducted according to their rules and regulations under the supervision of persons appointed by the US and the report will be submitted making those under investigation guilty," Dr. Amerasekera said, according to The Island.

Mr Amarasekara said the aim of those supportive of the domestic mechanism, was to find guilty those responsible for “liberating the country from the clutches of terrorists” and that 43 members of the military had been targeted for the prosecution.
[more]

 
HIGHLIGHTS
  Editorial
Tamil Guardian 24 August 2015
Litmus Test

With the conclusion of Sri Lanka's parliamentary elections last week, the island has reached an important juncture. In the North-East, the Tamil National Alliance swept the polls on a clear platform of self-determination through federalism and an international mechanism of accountability for the massacres of Tamils. In the Sinhala south, [more]

Tamil Guardian 06 August 2015
A failure of justice

Reports that the United Nations has begun drawing up plans for the Sri Lankan government to lead a purely domestic mechanism into the mass slaughter of Tamils have widely, and rightly, been met with dismay by the victims. [more]

  Opinion
J. S. Tissainayagam Tamil Guardian 21 August 2015
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. [more]

Together Against Genocide (TAG) Tamil Guardian 15 August 2015
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. [more]

Taylor Dibbert Tamil Guardian 29 July 2015
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. [more]


  Feature
Tamil Guardian 18 August 2015
TNA becomes third biggest party in Sri Lanka with 16 parliamentary seats
Tamils cast their vote in the North-East. (Photograph Tamilwin). [more]

Tamil Guardian 17 August 2015
Election polls close in Sri Lanka amid unanimous Sinhala rejection of Tamil demands
As the Sri Lankan government's delivery on key issues to the Tamils in the North-East of Sri Lanka continues to falter, this year has seen increased protests demanding internationalised action to solve their immediate concerns. [more]

Tamil Guardian 14 August 2015
14 Aug 2006: 53 Tamil school girls killed by Sri Lankan air strike on children's home
On 14th August 2006, four Sri Lankan Air Force jets dropped sixteen bombs over the Sencholai children's home in Vallipunam for orphaned girls. Fifty-three Tamil school girls and 3 staff members were killed, and over 150 injured. [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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