29th January 2015

UK minister cites ‘other stakeholders’ in furthering Geneva investigations

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

The visiting British Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire in Jaffna said that there was no change in British position on proceeding with Geneva-based war crimes investigations. But, there are also other stakeholders behind the Geneva discourse, the visiting British minister told the Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran. In the meantime, Conservative and Labour MPs who debated the developments in the island of Sri Lanka on Wednesday that took place in British parliament have recognised the crime against Tamil civilians as genocide and have called for continuation of Geneva-based investigations as a necessary step for reconciliation. Yet, the British politicians’ framework continues to harp on ‘unitary Sri Lanka’ and ‘minority Tamils’, British Tamil activists lamented. Full story >> Latest Reports: Jan 29 20:35 […]

TNA seeks exclusive body to solve problems faced by Tamils

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

By Mirudhula Thambiah The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has made a request to President Maithripala Sirisena to appoint an exclusive body to solve the problems of the Tamil speaking people in the North and East. TNA Leader R. Sampanthan said that he will be emphasizing on an exclusive body, to solve the problems of Tamil speaking people when he meets Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe next week. Sampanthan added that the party emphasized that the lands in the high security zones should be handed over to the people immediately. Also it was recommended that the new government remove all army camps from the private lands of the people. “Resettlement activities have been dragging on for years. People from Valikamam-North and Sampur should be resettled immediately. These […]

Sri Lanka’s new government plans fresh war crimes probe

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

(Reuters) – Sri Lanka is planning an investigation into accusations of human rights abuses in the final stages of a 26-year civil war amid international frustration at the failure to look into numerous civilian deaths, a government spokesman said late on Wednesday. Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was ousted in a surprise election defeat this month, had refused to cooperate with any U.N. investigation into claims the army committed atrocities in the war that ended in 2009.Without some accountability for civilian deaths, the United Nations argues there will be no lasting reconciliation to allow Sri Lanka to move on from the war that dragged on for decades as ethnic Tamil rebels battled for autonomy in the island’s north and east. “We are thinking of having […]

Political change at provincial level needed – Devananda

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

Political change at provincial level needed – Devananda By Pranavesh Sivakumar Parliamentarian and Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) leader Douglas Devananda said the Tamil people should make a change in Provincial politics similar to that at National level, where they showed interest in the last presidential election. “Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) Leader Mavai Senathirajah said that a specific time frame has been given to the new government to solve the issue of the Tamil People. But that is just an eye wash to cheat the people,” he said. Devananda added that if there is no proper solution for the problems faced by the Tamil people, Senthirajah had emphasized that a non-violent struggle would be launched by the ITAK. But the situation had changed and […]

Wigi, Swire discuss situ in Jaffna

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

Northern Province Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran and British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire met in Jaffna today and discussed the situation in the north. Wigneswaran said that at the meeting, the issue over the military presence in the north including on private land being occupied by the army, was discussed. At the meeting Wigneswaran had said that the Tamils were concerned over comments made by the new Government that the army will not be immediately withdrawn from the north. Wigneswaran and Swire had also discussed the March session of the UN Human Rights Council where a report on Sri Lanka is to be submitted. Swire, who arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday, is paying a second visit to Sri Lanka which comes shortly after the formation of a new government. […]

Sri Lanka’s Tamil party rejects domestic probe

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

Colombo, Jan 29 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party Thursday said it would oppose any domestic inquiry into the alleged human rights violations during the final stages of the country’s civil war and reiterated its call for an international probe. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) spokesperson Suresh Premachandran told reporters that the Tamil minorities in the island nation had no faith or trust in a domestic inquiry, noting that numerous domestic commissions were futile in the past. “We categorically oppose any domestic inquiry. Tamils have no faith or trust in a domestic investigation and we reiterate our call for a UN-backed international probe,” Xinhua news agency quoted Premachandran as saying. He also urged the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to table a report on Sri […]

Government is to make a promise

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

The Government is to make a special statement during the 67th Independence Day Celebrations to be held on 4th February, 2015 where is will assure the public that a situation similar to that which occurred during the war will not take place in future. The Cabinet of Ministers approved the joint proposal made by the Acting Foreign Minister Ajith P. Perera and the Minister of Home Affairs and Fisheries Joseph Michael Perera to make the statement on Peace at the 67th Independence Day Celebrations. The statement will be made taking into consideration the recommendations that have been made in chapters 9.284 and 9.285 of the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to express sympathy and cooperation with all those who were subjected to the war situation […]

EU agrees to help Lanka lift ban

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

The European Commission has offered Sri Lanka assistance to meet the regulatory requirements that would enable an early lifting of the ban on fish exports to the EU. This follows talks held between Sri Lanka and the European Commission, the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement today. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera, concluded a two day official visit to Brussels today. Foreign Minister Samaraweera met Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders and members of the European Parliament. He also held talks with the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, and the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica. Discussions focused on strengthening Sri Lanka’s relations with the European Union and Belgium, the steps Sri […]

Australian court rules detention of SL asylum seekers at sea, lawful

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

Australia’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that the detention of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka on the high seas for almost a month was lawful, a win for the government’s tough immigration policy. The High Court ruling means the group of 157 ethnic Tamils, who were picked up by an Australian customs boat last June after setting out from India, are not entitled to seek compensation. Lawyers for the asylum seekers were disappointed with the decision, but noted it was not unanimous and said the case succeeded in drawing attention to Australia’s secretive “Operation Sovereign Borders” activities. The United Nations refugee agency, which has criticised Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, made submissions in the case. “It took this case for the government to finally break […]

How the ‘Great Wall 329’ submarine rocked Mahinda’s boat.

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

How the ‘Great Wall 329’ submarine rocked Mahinda’s boat… When the Chinese naval submarine ‘Great Wall 329’ arrived at the Colombo Port, Mahinda Rajapaksa may have not dreamt that even his royal astrologer, Sumanadasa Abeygunawardene’s prediction may prove wrong about his victory. Also, having declared a presidential election and when he travelled to Lord Venkateswara Temple, India, Mahinda may not have felt that the correct Temple to worship was the Temple at South Block, New Delhi. Be that as it may, Mahinda’s destiny was not changed by Maithripala who had hoppers and left him, but by the Chinese submarine ‘Great Wall 329’. When the first Chinese submarine came to Colombo, India summoned then Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to New Delhi. Gotabhaya was told that the […]

Why did Maithri send Dhanapala to UNHRC?

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

Why did Maithri send Dhanapala to UNHRC? No doubt Presidential Advisor on Foreign Affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala is now in Geneva to met UNHRC High Commissioner, Zeid Hussein to discuss the issue of the war crimes probe against Sri Lanka. The UNHRC is expected to present a report in March which may contain the necessity to initiate such a probe against Sri Lanka and the refusal by the previous Rajapaksa government to permit the probing team passage to Sri Lanka to conduct investigations. Dhanapala’s mission to Geneva could be to make amends before that report is presented to the UNHRC and assure that an internal mechanism would be put in place to probe alleged war crimes. The talk in many circles is why Dhanapala and Foreign […]

The future state of the nation

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

Pre-Independence Day thoughts 2015 In the run-up to Independence Day 2015, we must thank God for Sumanthiran. He is indubitably a moderate and an intellectual. Let us give thanks also for the Sunday Observer, which is a State-run newspaper not given to running stories or distorting them in a manner inimical or embarrassing to the Government of the day. Therefore, when Sumanthiran says something to the Sunday Observer, I take it seriously because I know I am on safe ground. Sumanthiran tells the newspaper that the TNA doesn’t expect much movement on addressing the Tamil political question during the 100-day program. That is realistic – and anyway, who’d want to affect the UNP’s chances at the general election by pressing home Tamil political demands? He […]

Sri Lankan government promises “devolution pact”?

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

By Pani Wijesiriwardena 27 January 2015 Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe declared last week that his government would implement the 13th amendment to the country’s constitution. After nearly three decades, the amendment, which provided for the limited devolution of powers to the Tamil elite on a provincial level in the island’s north and east, has never been carried out fully. Wickremesinghe made the statement on January 19 while explaining the government’s agenda to the first parliamentary sitting following Maithripala Sirisena’s election as president on January 8. Sirisena appointed Wickremesinghe, leader of pro-US United National Party (UNP), as prime minister based on a new ruling coalition, the National Democratic Front, which includes a number of right-wing parties. Wickremesinghe’s promise to implement the 13th amendment is […]

Will Sri Lanka’s new president Sirisena spoil his own tea?

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

Will Sri Lanka’s new president Sirisena spoil his own tea? -Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal This question puzzles everyone – both analyst and layman. It is because these days governments behave alike and prefer to pursue similar policies though generally new governments come on anti-incumbency wave. On January 8, the Sri Lankan electorate achieved the impossible by voting President Mahindra Rajapaksa out of office – something inconceivable just a couple of months ago when he as a dictator was too strong to be ousted. Unlike other countries that have had to oust dictators through bloody violence or street protests, Sri Lankan voters ended Rajapaksa’s decade-long, increasingly authoritarian rule via democratic means, the ballot box. The January poll made Maithripala Sirisena the new president of Sri Lanka […]

Tamil Nadu CM urges Modi to defer meeting on repatriation of Sri Lankan refugees

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

CHENNAI: Asserting that the conditions in the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka are still not conducive for the refugees to return to their native land, Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam on Wednesday said a meeting convened by the Union external affairs ministry to discuss the voluntary repatriation of refugees is premature and that it should be deferred. The ministry had sent an invite to the state government recently to depute an officer to attend an inter-ministerial meeting on January 30 to discuss the issue of voluntary repatriation. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the chief minister conveyed the state’s concerns. “The process of voluntary repatriation could be considered only after concrete and credible measures are taken by the Sri Lankan […]

Will Mahinda Now Look Towards UN And US For Relief?

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

by Upul Joseph Fernando – “The media does not highlight the threats hurled at my supporters. The media behaves in a manner as if it does not know such things” – Mahinda Rajapaksa tells BBC Sandeshaya Channel from Medamulana after his defeat. When in power Mahinda labelled the BBC and the international media as contractors of the LTTE. When the United States brought a resolution before the UNHRC against the Rajapaksa government in March 2013, Mahinda’s government disrupted the BBC Tamil Service. He censored all news that was critical of his administration. That was a violation of the agreement between the BBC and the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. It appears that Mahinda has forgotten that past. So now he claims that the media ignores attacks […]

 Ex US Amb.Tesi Schaffer: Suspend UNHRC Probe On Sri Lanka

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

By Daya Gamage A former senior diplomat of the U.S. State Department who served in the nineties in its diplomatic mission in Colombo as the ambassador, counsels Washington to “soften its voice” on human rights while advocating that the UNHRC – Geneva should suspend its probe on Sri Lanka. Ambassador Teresita C. Schaffer Another former senior foreign service officer who served in the same diplomatic mission as Political Counselor during the same period endorses the suggestion. The United States has been an influential voice in UN Human Rights Commission and Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva moving three resolutions criticizing Sri Lanka for its role during the final stage of the military offensive against the separatist Tamil Tigers while urging to […]

Sri Lanka: Eastern Province Military Governor Removed

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

New Governors took their oaths before President Maithripala Sirisena today (27) at the Presidential Secretariat. Eastern Province governor Rear Admiral Mohan Wijewickrama has been replaced by  former civil servant a Austin Fernando. He was the  was Defence Secretary when the Prime Minister at the time, Ranil Wickremesinghe, signed the Norwegian-brokered ceasefire agreement (CFA) with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in February 2002. The six new governors are: Mr.H.M.G.S.Palihakkara – Governor Northern Province Mr.Austin Fernando – Governor Eastern Province Mr.B.M.A.R.Perera – Governor North Western Province Ms.Suranganee Ellawela – Governor Central Province Mr.P.B.Dissanayake – North Central Province Mr.M.P.Jayasinghe (Attorney-at-Law) – Uva Province The following three Governors were sworn in before President Maithripala Sirisena on January 23: Mr.K.C. Logeshwaran – Governor of the Western Province Mr.Hemakumara […]

The Rajapaksa Regime and the constitutionalisation of populist authoritarianism in Sri Lanka

29th January 2015 // 0 Comments

Asanga Welikala reviews the constitutional changes introduced by Sri Lanka’s former president Rajapaksa to remove key limitations on presidential power. He argues that Rajapaksa’s surprise defeat this month suggest the basic ideals of democratic government have deeper roots in the Sri Lankan polity than have been visible in the recent past. In a dramatic reversal of electoral fortunes, Mahinda Rajapaksa was ousted from power in Sri Lanka’s presidential election on 8th January. This was not an outcome that was contemplated as a possibility by even the most optimistic of Rajapaksa’s critics barely three months ago, when his regime appeared to enjoy what seemed like the impregnable support of the Sinhala-Buddhist majority. Part of the reason for Rajapaksa’s appearance of invincibility had been the constitutional changes […]