Sri Lanka News Update 05 October 2018

Mangala claims to have halted UN investigation and saved Rajapaksa
Finance minister Mangala Samaraweera claimed his government was able to halt a United Nations investigation into human rights violations committed by the military and saved former president Mahinda Rajapaksa from facing trial at an international tribunal – Tamil Guardian.

Sri Lanka’s police chief pulls out of controversial visit to Scotland
A controversial visit to Scotland this week by Sri Lanka’s police chief has been cancelled at the last minute after organisers appeared to bow to external pressure. Sri Lanka’s Tamils have long accused police there of using torture to crush its independence movement – Scotsman.

Political prisoners at Magazine prison join hunger strike – 750,000 cases pending in courts
Forty political prisoners at Colombo’s Magazine prison have begun a hunger strike, as protests were held across the North-East in support of ten Tamil political prisoners who started a hunger strike two weeks ago – Tamil Guardian. Meanwhile Justice Minister Atukorale said as many as 750,000 cases remain pending in courts across the island – Tamil Guardian.

Archaeology department abused power by allowing Buddhist monks to carry out ‘research’ – Mullaitivu court
Granting permission for Buddhist monks to carry out ‘research’ on a Mullaitivu mountain was an abuse of power by the Sri Lankan archaeology department, the Mullaitivu court has warned. The court also said that devotees were free to access the mountain to worship at the existing Hindu temple – Tamil Guardian. The forest department also has appropriated 100 acres of cultivation land belonging to around 50 families in Mullaitivu – Tamil Guardian.

Sirisena orders release of all Tamil civilian lands by December 31
It was not clear if the latest release instructions came from Sirisena in response to representations made by the main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA), in late August. The TNA had told Sirisena that even 9 years after the conclusion of the civil war both agricultural and residential lands continued to be in possession of the armed forces – Indian Express.

Army organises art competition for Tamil schoolchildren

British politicians discuss justice for Tamil genocide at Conservative Party conference
The British Tamil Conservatives (BTC) hosted their annual reception at the Conservative Party Conference on this weekend, where ministers and parliamentarians came and pledged to work towards justice in Sri Lanka. The event, which in recent years has become a popular fringe event at the conference, attracted many senior members from the British government and the Conservative party – Tamil Guardian. Meanwhile a British minister said Sri Lanka’s pace of progress on a number of key issues, including accountability, remains slower than the UK had hoped for – Tamil Guardian.

US Naval Special Warfare Unit conducts further training for Sri Lankan troops
The US Naval Special Warfare Unit held further training sessions for Sri Lankan navy soldiers in Trincomalee last week, as engagement between the two militaries continues to grow despite a lack of accountability for war crimes committed by Sri Lankan troops – Tamil Guardian. The head of Sri Lanka’s air force meanwhile was invited to attend a military conference in Hawaii earlier this month – Tamil Guardian.

Sri Lankan ambassador to China: Hambantota Port is not a ‘debt trap’
As a response to media concerns that China is “militarizing” the Port, Kodituwakku pointed out that “in Sri Lanka’s case, from the very beginning, we have very clearly indicated to the Chinese side, it’s only an economic venture.” He said Sri Lanka does not allow anybody to interfere with the defense affairs of Sri Lanka. – China Global Television Network.


Editorial: Veering backwards
“In the three years since the UNHRC resolution 30/1, Tamils remain unchanged in their demands around reconciliation: accountability; justice; demilitarisation and land-release; and a meaningful political solution. The international community’s premature leap into overt engagement has failed to produce sufficient action, and more dangerously, it signals that Sri Lanka’s culture of impunity can continue unbridled, with no material consequences internationally. Sri Lanka is now once again trying to regress the narrative to the immediate aftermath of 2009, when the UN congratulated the state for the way it handled the end of the war. Without firm international action, a ‘progress’ that has been so far glacial at best, is under threat of veering backwards.” – Editorial, Tamil Guardian.

China’s Grip Tightens Over Sri Lanka’s Ports, India Should Be Wary
“70 percent of India’s containers and almost 100 percent of its containers bound for the US are trans-shipped through the Colombo harbour which has, after the imposition of strict port security measures introduced by the US after 9/11, special detection capability for nuclear and other radioactive material in containerized cargo” – Ashok Mehta, The Quint.

Lenin M. Sivam’s new film subverts the traditional Tamil love story with a tender trans romance
Lenin M. Sivam’s third film Roobhais unlike the traditional Tamil love-story films that he grew up watching. “It’s the love story between Roobha, who is a transgender [woman], and Anthony, an older Sri Lankan Tamil man,” says Sivam,who wrote and directed the film. “It’s this story of a forbidden love, which is unique.” – CBC.

Believing Women, and the Gaslighting of M.I.A.
“M.I.A.’s public story in MAYA / MATANGI / MIA comprises highlights, mostly of being -splained, her claim to space questioned, whether by a male cousin back in Sri Lanka, who said she hadn’t suffered enough from the region’s conflict to care — despite the fact that her dad remains largely absent due to the civil war that devastated that country, a resistance leader who abandoned the family when Maya was a toddler, walked out, as in the tales, for a glass of milk, just one more small and fantastical detail that makes an M.I.A. story feel suspect, to borrow the characterization of the novelist Gary Shteyngart, author of one of the most sweeping profiles of the artist available; by Bill Maher, who uses her British accent as ammunition to deflate her claim to care about Sri Lanka; or by Lynn Hirschberg, the Times Magazinecontributor who produced perhaps the loudest laugh, via the profile, in which M.I.A.’s political fixations are framed as “radical chic” put-ons.” – Mallika Rao, Vulture.

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