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Tamil Guardian 03 October 2015
US bombing of Kunduz hospital may be war crime - UN human rights chief

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussain said the bombing of an Afghan hospital in Kunduz by the US may constitute a war crime.

The US-led air strike on the hospital in the Taliban-held city of Kunduz killed at least 19 people, including 12 staff of Doctors Without Borders.

Mr Hussain said the attack was "inexcusable" and possibly criminal, and called for a full and transparent investigation, saying that "if established as deliberate in a court of law, an air strike on a hospital may amount to a war crime".

US defence chief Ash Carter described the incident as "tragic" and acknowledged that US forces were operating nearby in support of the Afghan army.

"While we are still trying to determine exactly what happened, I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to everyone affected. A full investigation into the tragic incident is underway in coordination with the Afghan government."

Tamil Guardian 03 October 2015
EU imposes sanctions on Burundi officials

The EU has placed asset freezes and travel bans on three Burundians, who stand accused of ordering excessive force against peaceful protestors, who objected to President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for an unconstitutional third term and one military official who took part in a failed coup earlier this year.

The sanctions were imposed on Godefroid Bizimana, deputy head of the national police, accused of decisions that led to the "disproportionate use of force and acts of violent repression", Gervais Ndirakobuca, a cabinet official responsible for police matters, accused of giving orders that caused violations of international human rights law, Joseph Niyonzima, a senior intelligence official accused of arming and training a pro-government militia and Leonard Ngendakumana, a former general who stands accused of "obstructing the search for a political solution".

Foreign Minister Alain Nyamitwe told the BBC's Kirundi service that the force used was justified, because the protests were violent and had been preventing people from going about their daily business in the capital, Bujumbura.

Tamil Guardian 02 October 2015
India rejects Pakistan’s peace plan
India has rejected Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s four-step “peace initiative” proposed at the UN General Assembly. The plan sought to formalize a ceasefire in Kashmir and move towards demilitarizing the region.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told the General Assembly on Thursday, “we don’t need four points, we just need one: Give up terrorism and let us sit down and talk.” Earlier in a tweet on Wednesday, the spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Vikas Swarup, similarly said, “To de-militarize Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorize Pakistan is.”

India however did say that talks on terrorism between the two countries that collapsed in August should be held. Swaraj said, “[i]f the response is serious and credible, India is prepared to address all outstanding issues through a bilateral dialogue.”
Tamil Guardian 02 October 2015
Spain approves constitutional powers to tackle Catalan independence

On Thursday Spain’s parliament approved measures that permit the Constitutional Court to fine or suspend authorities that fail to carry out its sentences. This was reportedly done to address any officials in Catalonia that seek to ignore the orders from earlier this year finding that a referendum on independence is unconstitutional.

The move comes shortly after secessionist parties in Catalonia secured a majority in local parliament on Sunday.

The new powers introduced by the measures include the court being able to force the resignation of officials and civil servants, including politicians. The Ccurt will also be able to issue fines of up to 30,000 euros against officials.

One member of pro-independence party CDC said it was designed to specifically target the head of the Catalan regional government, Artur Mas, telling the lower house in Spain,“It’s personal – they want to wipe out Mas politically and personally.”

Tamil Guardian 01 October 2015
Palestinian flag hoisted at the United Nations for the first time
In a historic moment on Wednesday afternoon, the Palestinian flag was raised for the first time at the United Nations. While diplomats and reporters watched on in New York, hundreds of Palestinians gathered in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah to watch the flag-raising on a large screen staged in Yasser Arafat Square.
Addressing the crowd, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dedicated the ceremony to “the martyrs, the prisoners and the wounded, and to those who gave their lives while trying to raise this flag.”
Only minutes earlier President Abbas had addressed the UN General Assembly and spoke of the failure of more than two decades of peace agreements and negotiations for a Palestinian state. Speaking on the Oslo accords he said: “We will start the implementation of this declaration by all peaceful and legal means. Either the Palestinian National Authority will be the conduit of the Palestinian people from occupation to independence, or Israel, the occupying power, must bear all of its responsibilities.”


Tamil Guardian 01 October 2015
Call for UN inquiry into Yemen conflict replaced with consensus resolution at UNHRC
The Netherlands on Wednesday withdrew the draft of a resolution supported by mainly Western countries mandating the High Commissioner for Human Rights to send experts to conduct an investigation into the conduct of the war in Yemen.
The resolution came out of a key recommendation made by the High Commissioner in his report on the conflict in Yemen earlier this month, which detailed the extensive loss of civilian life in Yemen resulting from indiscriminate airstrikes by the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the indiscriminate shelling by Houthi rebels.

In addition to an international independent inquiry, the resolution called for parties to the conflict to allow access for humanitarian groups into the conflict zone.
However, reportedly following pressure from Saudi Arabia and its military coalition members, Netherlands withdrew the resolution and instead, Western governments are reported to have accepted a resolution sponsored by Saudi Arabia with no reference to an international inquiry into the conflict.


Tamil Guardian 01 October 2015
ICC begins trial of witness tampering by former Congolese vice-president
The International Criminal Court on Tuesday began its trial of former Congolese vice president, Jean-Pierre Bemba, and four of his associates, on charges that they tampered with witnesses during Mr. Bemba’s war crimes trial.
Mr Bemba’s militia, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo were alleged to have committed war crimes including murder, rape and pillaging, during the conflict between 2002 and 2003 in the Central African Republic. ICC prosecutors charged Mr Bemba as commander-in-chief at the time, with responsibility for the international crimes committed. In the same month that submissions closed for that trial in November 2014, ICC judges confirmed charges of witness tampering against Mr Bemba and four of his associates.


Tamil Guardian 01 October 2015
Russia launches first airstrikes in Syria
Russia launched its first airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday hours after President Putin’s request to use military force was approved by Russian parliament.
Russian defence officials asserted that they carried out 20 missions targeting the Islamic State but this was quickly disputed by the United States, activists and rebels on the ground. The BBC reported that the airstrikes had hit rebel-controlled areas of Homs and Hama provinces and others reported that targets attacked were all opposed to the Assad regime.
Earlier on Wednesday, US Secretary of State, John Kerry told the UN Security Council that the US would support “any genuine effort to fight Isil and al-Qaida affiliated groups” but that they “would have grave concerns should Russia strike targets where Isil and al-Qaida affiliated targets [were not] operating.” He emphasized the need for Russia and the US to coordinate efforts in the region saying, “[w]e have informed Russia that were are prepared to hold these deconfliction talks as early as possible: this week.”


Tamil Guardian 28 September 2015
Ban Ki Moon calls for Syria to be referred to the ICC

Addressing the UN General Assembly’s 70th session, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon called for the ongoing crisis in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“It is time now for others, primarily the Security Council and key regional actors, to step forward," Mr Ban said.

“Five countries in particular hold the key: the Russian Federation, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey.  But as long as one side will not compromise with the other, it is futile to expect change on the ground.”

“Innocent Syrians pay the price of more barrel bombs and terrorism.  There must be no impunity for atrocious crimes.  Our commitment to justice should lead us to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.”

See more here.

UN probe into Syria chemical weapon attacks goes ahead after Russia drops objection (11 Sep 2015)

UN says satellite imagery confirms Palmyra temple destruction (01 Sep 2015)

UN Sec-Gen calls for probe into chemical weapons usage in Syria (27 Aug 2015)

Tamil Guardian 27 September 2015
Putin calls for coordination to fight IS

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has called for coordination in the fight against the Islamic State, while reiterating his support for Syria's beleaguered president, Bashar al-Assad.

In an interview with the US TV station CBS, Mr Putin said Syria's troops were "the only legitimate conventional army there". He said that they were fighting terrorist organisations and Russia "would be pleased to find common ground for joint action against the terrorists".

US Secretary of State John Kerry, however, said the efforts were "not yet co-ordinated" and the US had "concerns about how we are going to go forward".

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

Tamil Guardian 30 September 2015
Strong calls for Sri Lanka to implement said commitments and deliver justice as OISL discussed at UNHRC
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights' Investigation into Sri Lanka (OISL) is currently being discussed at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. [more]

Tamil Guardian 26 September 2015
Remembering Thileepan
Today marks the 28th 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]

  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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