Friday, 24 June 2016
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Tamil Guardian 24 June 2016
Scotland to hold independence referendum before UK leaves EU

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has indicated that Scotland will hold an independence referendum before the UK leaves the European Union, reports The Times

The first minister ordered her staff to start drawing up legislation for a new independence vote for Scotland, adding that it was “unacceptable” that Scotland would be forced to leave the EU despite having 62% of the Scottish population voting to remain in the EU.

IN a press conference with the EU flag and Scottish Saltire behind her, Ms Sturgeon said the Scots would get a second vote in independence within the next two years despite agreeing during the last independence referendum that issue would be settled for a generation.

Arguing a “material change in circumstances”  that were “democratically unacceptable,” Ms Sturgeon said, that a referendum would have to take place quickly due to the need to keep Scotland in the EU before the UK withdraws.

 “There are many people who voted against independence in 2014 who are today reassessing their decision,” she added, concluding that she would take “all possible steps” to ensure that Scotland remains in the EU and the single market.

Tamil Guardian 24 June 2016
UK votes to leave EU, Prime Minister resigns, Scottish independence referendum 'highly likely'
The British public have voted in favor of leaving the European Union, in a referendum election that saw the highest voter turnout in decades.

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation shortly after the British European results were confirmed which saw 52% vote in favor of leaving the EU.

In response to the referendum decision, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was

“absolutely determined” to keep Scotland in the European union, adding “I’m proud of Scotland and how we voted yesterday. We said clearly we don’t want to leave the European Union”

Ms Sturgeon added that it was “democratically unacceptable” that Scotland faced the prospect of leaving the EU against the will of its voters, and said a second Scottish independence referendum was “highly likely.”

The President of the European commission, Jean Claude Juncker, continued to reject suggestions that Britain’s exit would cause the other nations to withdraw from the EU. Speaking to press shortly after the referendum results, he said,

“I expect France and Germany to take a very clear position, as it is clear and obvious to everyone that tis situation of uncertainty that we are in now cannot last too long. We have to speed things up. This is an unprecedented situation but we are united in our response. We will stand strong and uphold the EU’s core values of promoting peace and the well-being of its peoples.” 

Acknowledging Britain’s decision to leave, he added,

“The British people have expressed their wish to leave. We regret this decision but respect it.”

The presidents of the European council, commission and parliament – Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz said any delay to Britain’s exit would “unnecessarily prolong uncertainty”.

Following a set of emergency talks in Brussels, the EU leaders said they regretted, but respected Britain’s decision.

See more here, here and here.
Tamil Guardian 24 June 2016
Appeasement is no answer to brutal suppression of civil liberties – FT on Bahrain
The United States and United Kingdom should take “tougher measures” against Bahrain argued the Financial Times View this week, following the decision to strip the country’s most prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim of his citizenship.

In a piece entitled “Bahrain crackdown fans the sectarian flames”, the Financial Times stated the move, alongside preventing activists from attending the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, “together constitute the most significant assault on civil society and the moderate opposition since Saudi troops crossed into Bahrain in 2011 to help crush protests inspired by the Arab spring”.

“Since then, the regime has at times launched attempts at a peaceful solution and made promises of political reform,” it added. “But Bahrain’s allies in London and Washington cannot with honesty speak now of progress. To do so smacks of appeasement.”

See more extracts from the piece below. See the full piece here.

“Bahrain, which hosts the US fifth fleet, is a decadent autocracy that Philip Hammond, Britain’s foreign secretary, this year said was “travelling in the right direction” on human rights and political reforms. That was not true then. It looks even less so now.”

“The disturbing turn of events threaten Bahrain’s long-term stability. That should worry Washington and London. The UK wants to avoid jeopardising a recent deal for the expansion of an existing naval base that is being financed by the Bahraini government. American officials have also long argued that a policy of engagement tempers hardliners within the regime and encourages reform. Clearly this is not the case.”

“Washington should reimpose the ban on arms sales to Bahrain lifted last year. The UK should follow suit. Mere statements of concern are deeply unconvincing. The time has come for tougher measures.”
Tamil Guardian 24 June 2016
Farc and Colombia sign historic ceasefire agreement
The Colombian government and Farc rebels have sighed a historic ceasefire deal in Havana which includes UN monitors to oversee the disarmament of rebels after a political peace deal is signed.

Speaking shortly after the announcement of the ceasefire the leader of the Farc militant group Rodrigo Londono TimoChenko said,

“Let this be the last day of the war.”

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said,

“We have reached the end of 50 years of death, attacks and pain. This sit h end of the armed conflict with Farc.”

Mr Santos added that he hoped to signed a peace deal with the Farc by the end of July reports the BBC.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon was also present at the ceremony announcing the ceasefire.

Colombia and Farc request UN to monitor any ceasefire
(20 Jan 2016)

Agreement between Colombia and Farc risks impunity - HRW (29 Mar 2016)
Tamil Guardian 23 June 2016
McDonalds receives $3 billion worth of local bids to expand in China
The McDonald’s Corporation has received several bids for its plans to open up stores in China and Hong Kong, which could amount to a total sum of $3 billion reports Reuters.

The US fast food corporation announced that it planned to reorganise its operations in Asia by seeking joint ventures with local partners who would own restaurants within a franchise business.

The McDonald’s cooperation recently hired Morgan Stanley to run the sale of approximately 2,600 restaurants in China, Hong-Kong and South Korea.
Tamil Guardian 22 June 2016
Former Bosnian Serb soldiers arrested under suspicion of mass killings and torture

Bosnian police arrested six former Bosnian Serb soldiers under suspicion of being involved in the killings of 27 Muslim Bosnians during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

The arrested men allegedly separated 27 men from their families, tortured them and made them dig their own mass grave before killing and burying them. Following the end of the war, the suspects are thought to have uncovered the remains they could find and dispose of them into the river to avoid being caught in the future.

A statement from the prosecution office released on Tuesday said the men were arrested in northwest Bosnia on suspicion of participating in the expulsion, torture and killings of the Muslim Bosniak population in the area.

 See more here.

Tamil Guardian 22 June 2016
Eritrean refugees call for European action against government

Around 2000 asylum seekers from Eritrea protested in Israel on Tuesday, calling for senior members of the Eritrean government to be tried for crimes against humanity.

The protest, held outside the European Union office in Ramat Gan, follows the EU's decision to give economic support to Eritrea in order to prevent African refugees from arriving in Europe.

A UN inquiry report last year found the Eritrean government responsible for systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations, some of which could amount to crimes against humanity.

The report also urged continued international protection for Eritrean refugees.

Read more on Haaretz.

Tamil Guardian 22 June 2016
Bemba sentenced to 18 years for crimes against humanity

The former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has become the highest level political leader to be sentenced by the International Criminal Court, after he was jailed for 18 years for committing crimes against humanity.

Jean-Pierre Bemba was found guilty in March of five charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, a landmark ruling that marked the first time the court had found rape as a crime against humanity and that held commanders responsible for the actions of their troops.

Judge Sylvia Steiner said Mr Bemba’s troops had carried out "sadistic" crimes of "particular cruelty". Prosecutors had called for a minimum 25 year sentence.

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told AFP,

“I believe this is a very important day for international criminal justice, especially when it comes to sexual and gender-based crimes.”

The sentencing was hailed by the ICC, with spokesperson Fadi El Abdallah saying the ruling shows "justice may take time but ends by being done".

Geraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, international justice advocacy director at Human Rights Watch said the sentence offered "a measure of justice" for the victims.

"Other commanders should take notice that they, too, can be held accountable for rapes and other serious abuses committed by troops under their control," she said.


Tamil Guardian 20 June 2016
Former Congolese politician to be sentenced at The Hague
The International Criminal Court is due to sentence Congolese politician Jean-Pierre Bemba on Tuesday, after a landmark case that focussed on rape committed by troops under his command as a crime against humanity.

Prosecutors have called for a minimum 25 year sentence to be handed down after a three-judge panel convicted Mr Bemba in March of this year. He was found guilty of five charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, with the court ruling he had "failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures to prevent" troops under his command from committing murder and rape.

Carrie Comer from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) told AFP,
"It's really important that the court recognise the command responsibility... and there's an opportunity here to provide a deterrent."

"If you knew, or you should have known, that these things were going on and you execute effective control over your troops then, yes, you're absolutely responsible for ... not preventing or punishing these crimes."

See more here.
Tamil Guardian 20 June 2016
UN report finds Rohingya may be subject to crimes against humanity

A newly released United Nations report on Rohingya Muslims and other ethnic groups in Myanmar found that they may have been subject to crimes against humanity.

The report, released by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday found that the Rohingya are suffering from “arbitrary deprivation of nationality, severe restrictions on freedom of movement, threats to life and security, denial of rights to health and education, forced labour, sexual violence, and limitations to their political rights”.

Following a spate of anti-Rohingya violence in 2012 in the Rakhine State, some 120,000 Rohingya and Kaman Muslims remain displaced living in camps for internally displaced people. The report also highlighted abuses faced by other ethnic groups, some of whom were in armed conflict with the government.

“There has also been an alarming increase in incitement to hatred and religious intolerance by ultra-nationalist Buddhist organisations,” the report added, with a press release noting that the “pattern of violations against the Rohingya may amount to crimes against humanity”.


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]

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]

Tamil Guardian 24 May 2016
‘Human rights issues in North-East not settled’ - Penang Deputy Chief Minister
Human rights issues in the Tamil North-East have not yet been settled and the Sri Lankan government is yet to prosecute members of the armed forces responsible for war crimes, said P Ramasamy, the Deputy Chief Minister of Penang. [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]

Tamil Guardian 01 June 2016
Jaffna Library burns - May 31st 1981
Thirty-five years ago, Sri Lankan security forces set the Jaffna Library ablaze, destroying a monumental collection of Tamil literary manuscripts. [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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