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Statement by Sri Lankan Civil Society members on OHCHR reports on Sri Lanka
Published Date: 18/09/2015 (Friday)
We the undersigned Sri Lankan civil society activists and organisations welcome the report of the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka, and the report of the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL). We fully endorse and call for the immediate implementation of the OISL’s recommendations to the GoSL, the UN system and the Member States of the UNHRC.
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Moving towards accountability
Published Date: 18/09/2015 (Friday)
Accountability for past excesses is not easily achieved in post-conflict societies, but its need and relevance cannot be brushed aside. Fostering peace and reconciliation among formerly feuding sections of society, and finding constitutional solutions to core political issues are often the final objectives. However, transformative and substantive justice requires establishing the truth about past crimes perpetrated as part of a deliberate policy. The human rights investigation report on Sri Lanka, submitted to the UN Human Rights Council by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, seeks to address the crucial question of accountability in the island nation for the “horrific crimes” committed by all parties to the conflict that ended in 2009.
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Nationwide Campaign to counter threats to National Interests.
Published Date: 18/09/2015 (Friday)
Over sixty organisations is expected to meet this morning in Colombo to launch a nationwide campaign to counter what they call new threats to national interests. The organisations would meet at the Sri Sambuddhaloka Vihara in Colombo Fort to unveil a five-point plan to devise a national political agenda for that purpose, Member of the Chairmen Board of the newly formed Jathika Ekamuthuwa
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The Liberal Party of Canada welcomes UN report on Sri Lanka
Published Date: 17/09/2015 (Thursday)
Today, the Liberal Party of Canada welcomed the Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka released in Geneva yesterday. The UN report is the result of 6 years of intense work by victims groups, Non-Governmental Organizations and the United Nations Human Rights Council.
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India, Sri Lanka ink civil nuclear pact, agree to expand defence ties
Published Date: 16/09/2015 (Wednesday)
Taking the ties to a new level, India and Sri Lanka today inked a civil nuclear pact besides deciding to expand defence and security cooperation. This was announced after the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena during which both the leaders expressed commitment to find a solution to the emotive fishermen issue by adopting a constructive and humanitarian approach.
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Critical Moment In Geneva - But Will the Tamils See Justice?
Published Date: 16/09/2015 (Wednesday)
In the closing stages of Sri Lanka's 26 year civil war in 2009, government forces closed in on the beleaguered Tamil Tigers and encouraged Tamil civilians to seek refuge in "no fire zones". These no-fire zones were then systematically shelled by the army. Thousands of Tamil civilians died. Between 1956 and 2001, it is alleged that the Tamil population suffered over one hundred massacres. Other communities have also suffered as a result of the Tigers, as well as at the hands of the state. I heard horrendous stories from Tamil constituents of the violence that took place in Sri Lanka. It was these haunting experiences that were relayed to David Cameron when he visited Jaffna in 2013.
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UN urges creation of special court in Sri Lanka after new report confirms ‘horrific’ abuses
Published Date: 16/09/2015 (Wednesday)
A new report released today by the United Nations human rights office has identified patterns of grave violations in Sri Lanka between 2002 and 2011, and recommends the establishment of a hybrid special court to ensure that justice is served. “Our investigation has laid bare the horrific level of violations and abuses that occurred in Sri Lanka, including indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, harrowing accounts of torture and sexual violence, recruitment of children and other grave crimes,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a news release.
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Sri Lanka Official on Reconciliation
Published Date: 16/09/2015 (Wednesday)
A particularly shocking finding, the United Nations report says, was “the extent to which sexual violence was committed against detainees, often extremely brutally, by the Sri Lankan security forces” during and after the conflict, with men and women victimized. Torture by the security forces was widespread, systematic and premeditated, particularly in the aftermath of the conflict, the report says, describing centers equipped with metal bars for beating, barrels of water for waterboarding and pulleys for suspending victims.
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Tamil Nadu assembly for international probe on alleged war crimes in Northern Lanka
Published Date: 16/09/2015 (Wednesday)
A day after India and Sri Lanka decided to renew efforts to address the vexed ethnic issue in the island nation, Tamil Nadu today stepped up pressure on the Modi government for an international probe against alleged human rights violations and war crimes committed in 2009 in Northern Sri Lanka. In a resolution adopted in the Assembly, the Jayalalithaa government sought diplomatic efforts by India to change any possible pro-Lanka stand adopted by the US in a UN rights body.
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Westminster Hall Debate – Tamil People’s Rights in Sri Lanka
Published Date: 15/09/2015 (Tuesday)
The Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office speaking at the Westminster Hall Debate on Tamil People’s Rights in Sri Lanka . I congratulate my Honourable Friend, the Member for Kingston and Surbiton, on securing this debate. And I commend the valuable work he has already done in the short time since his election, to raise the important issue of Tamil rights.
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Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein’s speech at the UN HCHR
Published Date: 14/09/2015 (Monday)
Speaking at the Oprning session of the Human Rights Council today, UN Hign Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra.ad Al Hussein said, Six years ago, we were confronted with serious violations and loss of civilian life in the last months of Sri Lanka's long civil war. This Council has been deeply engaged with the need for accountability, as a necessary step towards reconciliation in that country.
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Palestine flag to fly at UN headquarters after majority vote
Published Date: 11/09/2015 (Friday)
Palestine’s flag will fly at UN headquarters after the general assembly overwhelmingly approved a Palestinian resolution, infuriating Israel with a move that Palestinians described as a step toward UN membership. There were 119 votes in favor out of 193 UN members. The US and Israel were among eight countries that voted against the Palestinian-drafted resolution, which says the flags of non-member observer states such as Palestine shall be raised at the New York headquarters.
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Coalition for the ICC: Call on Sri Lanka to join the ICC
Published Date: 11/09/2015 (Friday)
With its new leaders promising to put Sri Lanka on a path towards reform and reconciliation, justice for grave crimes must not be neglected. By joining the ICC, Sri Lanka can signal to its citizens and the international community that it is ready to break away from impunity and its violent past. Add your voice now. Six years after the end of its 26-year long civil war, victims of grave crimes from all sides are still awaiting justice. The Sri Lankan government must no longer turn its back on its responsibility to protect its citizens.
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New short film, Sri Lanka: The search for Justice launched
Published Date: 10/09/2015 (Thursday)
The team behind the controversial Emmy-nominated feature documentary No Fire Zone – credited with playing a key role in convincing the international community to take action over the Sri Lankan massacres of 2009, in which tens of thousands of Tamil civilians died – have today launched a new short film, Sri Lanka: The Search For Justice. The hard-hitting half-hour long video coincides with the long anticipated publication of the international war crimes investigation into the massacres, ordered by the United Nations Human Rights Council 18 months ago in Geneva. It will be made live to an international public today – initially in English and Spanish, with translations in Tamil, Sinhala, French and Hindi to follow online in the next few days.
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India: New Killing of ‘Right-to-Information’ Activist Investigate Attacks; Increase Transparency in Public Institutions
Published Date: 10/09/2015 (Thursday)
Indian authorities should promptly and thoroughly investigate threats and attacks on so-called right-to-information activists, Human Rights Watch said today. The killing of a right-to-information activist in Bihar state in August 2015 highlights the risks to people requesting information from the authorities, as provided by law. Since India’s Right to Information (RTI) Act was enacted in 2005, at least 45 right-to-information users and activists have been killed and over 250 assaulted, harassed, or threatened, according to local groups. Police often fail to investigate the attacks, under pressure from politicians and contractors with vested interests in keeping the information from becoming public.
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Sri Lanka's historic election that voters lost
Published Date: 10/09/2015 (Thursday)
The naming of deputy ministers of the new government has kept pace with the record-setting cabinet and confirmed that voters were the clear losers at the August 17 parliamentary election. The business community had high hopes of seeing Harsha de Silva and Eran Wickremaratne getting key positions where their knowledge on monetary and fiscal matters could have been fully utilised.
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Amb. Stephen Rapp on Sri Lanka’s War Crimes Investigation
Published Date: 10/09/2015 (Thursday)
At the end of August, the United States announced that it would support Sri Lanka’s plan for investigating alleged war crimes that occurred during the final years of the country’s long-running civil war, which ended in 2009. This announcement signaled a shift in position for the State Department, which had long insisted on an international investigation. But, in the coming weeks at the UN Human Rights Council’s next session, the US will offer a resolution supporting Colombo’s proposed process for investigating and prosecuting potential war crimes.
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Sri Lanka’s ‘Accountability’ Dilemma
Published Date: 10/09/2015 (Thursday)
With the opening of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s 30th session just days away, many Sri Lanka watchers are waiting to see how Colombo deals with the release of a major U.N. report focused on wartime abuses in Sri Lanka and its plans for handling “accountability” issues domestically. What will Colombo’s accountability mechanism actually look like? And is it actually possible for such a mechanism to work properly? What role, if any, will international actors play in such a process?
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PM calls for progress reports on major crimes during Rajapakse time
Published Date: 08/09/2015 (Tuesday)
Sri Lanka's Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has called on officials to provide progress reports on the investigations on several high profile murders and disappearances that were committed during the previous president Mahinda Rajapaksa's tenure. The Prime Minister has asked for reports on the progress of cases including the murders of former Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunga, former Tamil MP Nadarajah Raviraj, the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda and the death of national rugby player Wasim Thajudeen.
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TNA will not attend Geneva UNHRC session
Published Date: 08/09/2015 (Tuesday)
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) spokesperson and MP M.A. Sumanthiran said today that TNA had not decided to send a party delegation to attend the forth coming United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions. However, he said some members might go in their individual capacities. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, was in Geneva lobbying at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for release of the UN’s investigative report on allegations of war crimes committed in the last phase of the 2006-2009 Eelam War IV in North Sri Lanka.
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Vanni 2002 – 2006; What I Owe the People of the Vanni
Published Date: 08/09/2015 (Tuesday)
It was February 2002 when I returned to Sri Lanka from the US, scarcely a month after the announcement of the Ceasefire Agreement that ended hostilities, following the 20 year old civil war. Now, for the first time the marvel of peace among our people was a real possibility. Like many other Tamils of my generation who were nurtured on the premise of achieving our rights via peaceful and non-violent means, I was able to leave the country at the onset of the civil war when it became evident that violent means had hijacked all peaceful methods of non-violent agitation and activism for our rights.
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Prabhakaran's reluctance to embrace federalism and lack of bipartisan spirit of SLFP and UNP: Two difficulties encountered by Norway - Erik Solheim
Published Date: 07/09/2015 (Monday)
From 2000 to 2005, Mr. Erik Solheim was the Chief Negotiator for the peace process between the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and now-defunct militant organisation, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This peace process led to the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) in February 2002 which continued with six rounds of direct peace talks during 2002 to 2003, and what is known as the Oslo Declaration on a Federal State in Sri Lanka.
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The Left takes a back seat in Sri Lanka
Published Date: 05/09/2015 (Saturday)
The first sitting of Sri Lanka’s new parliament took place this week amidst some uncertainty. Following the United National Party (UNP) election victory, negotiations continue on the formation of a national government, with a number of MPs from the opposition Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) expected to be given ministerial portfolios. The new cabinet is yet to be announced. One thing that’s clear is that the Left will no longer wield much clout. Earlier, though few in number the leftist MPs held important positions.
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Why small states matter in international politics: The case of Sri Lanka
Published Date: 04/09/2015 (Friday)
Sri Lanka occupied little thought throughout the West for much of the period since independence in 1948. In the last few years, however, Sri Lanka began to feature as a country of strategic relevance to great powers, particularly China and the United States. Sitting at the center of the Indian Ocean, halfway between China and the key energy resources in the Middle East, Beijing has sought to influence politics on the island. But it has suffered blows this year, with Mahinda Rajapaksa (friendly to Chinese interests) losing the presidency in January and his party losing in recent parliamentary elections to the center-right United National Party. Now, pro-Western Ranil Wickramasinghe holds the position of prime minister.
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TNA agrees to give post of Chief Opposition Whip to JVP
Published Date: 04/09/2015 (Friday)
It was reported that the TNA has agreed to give the post of Chief Opposition Whip in Parliament to JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake. When the post of the Opposition Leader was obtained by a party usually the post of Chief Opposition Whip, too, went to the same party. Yet, the TNA had decided to hand that opportunity over to the JVP, TNA parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran said.
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