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Tamil protests to reclaim land persist in Sri Lanka
Published Date: 03/03/2017 (Friday)
“When I lie down here at night, I imagine being under the roof of my home,” says Singarathinam Sellamma, 83, seated among a small group of people outside the divisional secretariat in Puthukkudiyiruppu here. For about 25 days now, representatives of 49 families have been taking turns and fasting at the entrance of the government’s administrative unit in the small town, staying put under a roadside shelter. Their demand is simple – they want to return to their homes across the road, located on the 19 acres of land that the military has occupied since 2009. Hundreds of families like theirs were displaced in the final phase of the war.
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Sri Lanka Dodges Questions on Women’s Rights at UN Committee
Published Date: 03/03/2017 (Friday)
If there were any doubt where women’s issues rank in the Sri Lanka government’s list of priorities, it was laid to rest last week in Geneva. When the Sri Lanka delegation appeared before the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) on February 22, it should have been well-prepared for the occasion. It was the country’s eighth periodic review, and the questions that the committee would raise were no mystery – the CEDAW Committee and Sri Lankan civil society groups have had steady dialogue with the government over their concerns.
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Lanka to co-sponsor UN resolution
Published Date: 03/03/2017 (Friday)
Sri Lanka will co-sponsor a resolution led by the US and the core group at the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the Government confirmed in Geneva yesterday. Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms Mano Tittawela told Daily FT in Geneva that the Government would submit a resolution together with the US, UK and Montenegro that it hopes would provide more time for implementation of UNHRC resolution 30/1 which was adopted by the Council in October 2015.
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Linguistic slights spur ethnic division in Sri Lanka Monoglot officials are impeding post-war reconciliation
Published Date: 03/03/2017 (Friday)
From its gleaming new headquarters, Jaffna’s police force serves around 100,000 people. The vast majority of the local population are Tamils or Tamil-speaking Muslims; fewer than 50 locals are members of Sri Lanka’s biggest ethnic group, the Sinhalese. But the vast majority of the city’s 532 police officers are Sinhalese; only 43 are Tamil, and very few of the rest speak the Tamil language well. This is not just an affront to Tamils, whose complaints about discrimination lay at the root of a 26-year civil war that ended in 2009. It is also a practical problem. Sripathmananda Bramendra came to the new headquarters one day in December to obtain the paperwork needed to replace a lost licence-plate.
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Tamils hold protest in Lanka as UNHRC begins session
Published Date: 02/03/2017 (Thursday)
Hundreds of Tamil people, mostly relatives of those who disappeared during Sri Lankas civil war, today held protest outside the missions of India, the US, UK and EU here as the UN Human Rights Council session began in Geneva. The protesters held placards which said India please help in demilitarisation (in the north) and India stop betraying Tamils.
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Labour Party urges UK Government to ensure Sri Lanka is held to account by United Nations institutions
Published Date: 02/03/2017 (Thursday)
‘It cannot be right that the Sri Lankan government is allowed to investigate itself’ – UK’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Senior Labour Party MPs, including leading members of the Labour Shadow Cabinet, have called on the UK Government to ensure that Sri Lanka honours the promises it made - in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution 30/1 - to address the legacy of the country’s armed conflict. The Government of Sri Lanka’s commitments to achieving justice, accountability and reconciliation, under resolution 30/1, will be assessed by the UNHRC at its current 34th Session in Geneva, Switzerland
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Minister says govt. has made far-reaching gains in two years
Published Date: 02/03/2017 (Thursday)
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera says the delay on the part of the Sri Lankan government in moving ahead with reconciliatory efforts are due to “extremist forces”, who were creating road blocks for narrow political gains. Speaking at the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Minister said: “While stubbornly refusing to acknowledge any of the far-reaching gains we have made in the last two years, they argue that we have either done too much or too little.”
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Sri Lanka Tamils agree to more time over war probe
Published Date: 02/03/2017 (Thursday)
Sri Lanka's main Tamil party Wednesday accused Colombo of failing to comply with a UN Human Rights Council resolution, but said they were willing to give more time for war crimes investigations. The main Tamil party said President Maithripala Sirisena who secured 18 months more from the UN rights body after coming to power in January 2015 has done little to address war-crimes. Sirisena's administration agreed with a resolution which, among other things, called for special war crime tribunals and reparations for victims of an offensive that crushed separatist Tamil rebels by May 2009.
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Trying To Understand Keppapilavu: Resistance, Solidarities & Politics
Published Date: 01/03/2017 (Wednesday)
For the past twenty-eight days, Tamil people of Keppapilavu and Puthukkudiyiruppu in Mullaitivu district including women and children have been protesting against the authoritarian occupation of their homelands by the Sri Lankan military and Air Force. These people who were displaced during the civil war wish to go back to their homes and lands. To return to and resettle in places where they had been living for decades is not just these people’s wish but it is their right too. The state and the military cannot encroach on this right and deny the people their homes, lands and the environment that had been an integral part of their lives prior to their displacement. Eighty-four families, of which thirty are women-headed, have been denied entry into their lands in Keppapilavu by the military.
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UK getting ready to set cut-off date for EU citizens
Published Date: 01/03/2017 (Wednesday)
One of the most contentious issues in the debate around the post-Brexit immigration system has been the cut-off date for the free movement of EU citizens into the UK. Many had hoped that EU citizens would enjoy free movement including visa free travel and no work restrictions until the UK formally leaves the EU in 2019. However, the headlines over the weekend revealed that the government is more likely to set the deadline for when the EU citizens will no longer have an automatic right to stay in the UK permanently on the date of triggering of Article 50, which is expected in mid-March
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Renowned International Law Experts Recommend International Criminal Court (ICC), if Sri Lanka continues to Fail to Act
Published Date: 01/03/2017 (Wednesday)
In a Press Conference held in Geneva within hours of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Smaraweera’s address to the UN Human Rights Council, a group of well renowned international Law experts recommended Sri Lanka be referred International Criminal Court (ICC), ”if Sri Lanka continues in bad faith and/or fail to take significant steps towards implementing the word and spirit of the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1, including establishing a hybrid war crimes court with the participation of international judges and prosecutors.” The group Monitoring and Accountability Panel (MAP), was established to monitor Sri Lanka’s compliance to the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1, which Sri Lanka itself co-sponsored.
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The unity of the Tamil leadership needed to fulfil political aspirations of Tamils – S. Jaishankar
Published Date: 01/03/2017 (Wednesday)
Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar has requested the Tamil National Alliance to strengthen its unity before finding solutions for the Tamil political issues. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) representatives led by R. Sampanthan met Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar who was on a two-day visit to Colombo at the Indian High Commission last Sunday (19). Jaishankar’s meeting with the Tamil National Alliance took place in the backdrop of TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran’s return from Geneva where the United Nations Human Rights Commission officials were urged by Sumanthiran not to allow the Sri Lankan Government to make alterations to the UNHRC resolution which was co-sponsored by Sri Lanka in 2015.
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Justice for North and East
Published Date: 28/02/2017 (Tuesday)
There is at present an acute shortage of Tamil-speaking High Court Judges in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. In a statement issued by the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), President’s Counsel Geoffrey Alagaratnam in relation to the recent appointment of High Court Judge, R. Kannan and the private bar’s role in it, Alagaratnam said that the representations made especially by lawyers practising in the Eastern Province, over a period of one year, had been made at the meetings of the BASL’s Bar Council and Executive Committee.
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What will be India’s next big step on SL?
Published Date: 28/02/2017 (Tuesday)
Amidst continuous agitations over the continuity of the Malabe private medical college, SAITM, President Maithripala Sirisena last week said he would take a decision on the issue regarding the private universities in the country, including the SAITM for the best interests and the productivity of the country. He said this during a meeting with the SAITM Parents' Association and Dr. Neville Fernando, regarding the prevailing issues on private universities in the country at the President's Official Residence.
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UNHRC 34 opens, Zeid’s annual report notes Sri Lanka
Published Date: 28/02/2017 (Tuesday)
The 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council opened in Geneva today with UN Secretary General António Guterres and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein calling on the Council to ensure the rights of all communities are protected around the world. The session will see Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein submit a report on Sri Lanka and a discussion also taking place on the progress made so far on addressing the issue of accountability during the war.
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More snags foul up Constitution making
Published Date: 27/02/2017 (Monday)
Moves to draft a new National Constitution has hit a few snags because some clauses in the existing Constitution cannot be expunged except through a referendum. The policy framework placed before the country by President Maithripala Sirisena ahead of contesting the 2015 Presidential Election stated that the Executive Presidency will be replaced by an executive system that will be accountable to the Cabinet of Ministers and Parliament.
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Film spotlights post-war social, emotional trauma in Sri Lanka Muttruppulliya crew had to overcome many roadblocks
Published Date: 27/02/2017 (Monday)
While a lot has been spoken about the violence during the decades-old war in Sri Lanka, I wanted to highlight the social, psychological and emotional trauma that many continue to grapple with even after the war is over, said Sherine Xavier, at the screening of her movie Muttruppulliya, on Sunday. The movie throws light on the post-war conditions in Sri Lanka and is narrated through the lives of four individuals — a former combatant, a historian, an environmental activist from various parts of that country, and a journalist who visits Sri Lanka from Chennai. The film follows the characters as they cling on to the memories of their loved ones, cope with the changing social conditions and discover themselves and the people around them.
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TNA meets with French delegation
Published Date: 27/02/2017 (Monday)
The Leader of the Opposition and the TNA, Hon. R. Sampanthan MP met with a delegation of Senators from France at the Opposition Leader’s office in the Parliamentary complex today (27 Feb). At the meeting, Mr. Sampanthan briefed the delegation on the constitutional making process, stating that the new constitution should possess features that will give more powers to the provincial councils concerning matters of socio-economic development.
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Innocent military personnel will not be punished: President on firm stance
Published Date: 25/02/2017 (Saturday)
President Maithripala Sirisena is on a firm stance that innocent military personnel should not be punished. He was also of the view that those who had committed offences should be dealt with, said Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera. Minister Amaraweera made this observation yesterday in Parliament responding to NFF leader and Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa.
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Civil society alleges Gotabhaya responsible for Noyahr abduction
Published Date: 25/02/2017 (Saturday)
A civil society grouping that campaigned for Maithripala Sirisena at the January 2015 presidential poll yesterday alleged that the wartime Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was behind the abduction of Associate Editor of The Nation, Keith Noyahr in May 2008. Addressing the media at the Centre for Society and Religion (CSR) Chameera Perera, co-convenor of the Left Centre alleged that the ongoing investigation pointed to the direct responsibility of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in the heinous crime.
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UK Labour Party to reaffirm strongest possible support for the Tamil people at parliamentary event
Published Date: 25/02/2017 (Saturday)
Leading figures from the UK Labour Party – including the Leader, Jeremy Corbyn MP, the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP, and the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry MP - will be attending a Tamils for Labour event next week to express their solidarity with the Tamil people, both in the UK and in Sri Lanka. The meeting, due to take place in the UK Parliament on Tuesday 28th February, comes at a particularly opportune time. It will coincide with the opening of the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, where the situation in Sri Lanka – in particular President Sirisena’s Government’s unwillingness to support the full implementation of UNHRC Resolution 30/1 on Sri Lanka – will be a focus of discussions.
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UN wants further release of military held land in north
Published Date: 24/02/2017 (Friday)
A UN Special Rapporteur has called on the Government to continue and step up the release of the remaining 6,124 acres of the land currently held by the military in the North as well as other lands and coastal areas occupied by the military. Rita Izsák Ndiaye, the Special Rapporteur on minority issues who undertook a mission to Sri Lanka from 10 to 20 October 2016 in her report to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) also said that a proper mapping exercise of all the lands currently occupied by the military must take place, and lands currently not in use or whose use cannot be adequately justified for military purposes must be returned without delay to their rightful owners in a condition that is usable.
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TNA will achieve purpose whatever happens at referendum: JO
Published Date: 24/02/2017 (Friday)
If the government opts for a Constitutional referendum, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) will achieve its objectives regardless of the referendum results, the Joint Opposition (JO) said yesterday. Addressing the press, JO Parliamentarian MP Keheliya Rambukwella said the reason behind both R. Sampanthan and M.A. Sumanthiran calling for a referendum was because the TNA would benefit from it even if the referendum was lost.
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The Whole Country Must Know The Truth: R. Sampanthan
Published Date: 22/02/2017 (Wednesday)
All people who lived in Sri Lanka, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, or any other difference, whether Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim or Burgher made their fullest contribution to the achievement of independence. It is almost 70 years since Sri-Lanka attained Independence from Colonial Rule. Ethnic strife had plagued the Country from shortly after it attained Independence.
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Court of Appeal issues notice to individuals acquitted in Raviraj Case
Published Date: 22/02/2017 (Wednesday)
It was reported notice has been issued to the 5 individuals, who were arrested and later released, over the murder of former Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian Nadarajah Raviraj, to appear before the Court of Appeal, following an appeal filed by Nadarajah Raviraj’s wife calling for the verdict issued by the Colombo High Court pertaining to the case to be overturned. The five were summoned before the Appeals Court on the 28th of February.
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