|PEARL’s News Update 19 April 2016
White van abduction by state forces
A Tamil man from Jaffna who was abudcted in a white van was revealed to be held in the CID HQ’s notorious 4th floor. According to reports at least 11 Tamils have now been detained by security forces this month in Jaffna alone. The Government had consistently denied that white van abductions continued to occur – Ceylonews.
Another militarised Tamil New Year
The Sri Lankan military held a series of events across the North-East once again this week, to mark the start of the Tamil New Year – Tamil Guardian. Chief Minister Wigeswaran, in his speech marking the occasion, said that the passing of time had not resolved Tamil issues – Tamil Guardian.
Human rights violations continued in 2015 – Department of State
Human rights violations by Sri Lanka’s security forces reported in 2015 include harassment, arbitrary detention, torture and rape, according to the US Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices – Tamil Guardian. The Sri Lankan army said it would respond to the US human rights report – The Sunday Leader.
TNA seeking federal solution
Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party TNA is seeking a federal solution to resolve the long-pending issue of political independence for the counry’s minority Tamil community – The New Indian Express.
Sri Lanka to introduce new security measures
Heads of security institutions have decided to hold special round-table discussions on national security headed by the President and Prime Minister immediately after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year celebrations – Sunday Leader.
British parliamentary group calls for recognition of Tamil right to self-determination
The Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPGt) called for a political solution that recognises the Tamils people’s right to self determination and stated the British government are “looking for action” from Colombo, in a message released to mark Tamil New Year on Wednesday – Tamil Guardian.
NPC member highlights Sinhala colonisation of North-East
More than 600 Sinhala fishermen have now settled in 9 different coastal areas across Mullativiu said Northern Provincial Council member T Ravikaran, as he outlined details of state-sponsored colonisation of the Tamil North-East – Tamil Guardian. Meanwhile Tamils protested against attacks by Sinhala fishermen who were settled in their area – Tamil Guardian.
Sri Lankan officials in DC for IMF and World Bank spring meetings
The IMF mission led by Todd Schneider said in an eve of departure statement from Colombo that “discussions will continue in Washington DC on the margins of the Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, with the objective of concluding a staff -level agreement with the authorities, subject to approval by the IMF management and the Executive Board, in the next two weeks.” Further talks have been necessitated by the Government’s requirement for an enhanced Extended Fund Facility. The amount is US$ 3 billion – a sum which highlights the gravity of the adverse financial situation. Both Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran are now in Washington DC pressing Sri Lanka’s case for the increased amount – The Sunday Times.
US navy training Sri Lankan navy
A twenty member Sri Lanka Navy diving squad is presently undergoing diving training with the US Navy sailors from the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5 in Guam – Daily Mirror.
Low and middle income groups to be hit hardest by VAT rises
Low and middle income groups will be worst hit by the Government’s move to raise Value Added Tax (VAT) to 15 percent from May 2. Set to rise are their telephone, water and electricity bills. This is on top of their having to pay more for consumer items, medical bills and even private education – Sunday Times.
TNA-Govt. spat over housing scheme intensifies
The spat between the Government and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) intensified last week after both parties levelled allegations on issues pertaining to the controversial 65,000 housing scheme for war affected people – The Nation. Arcelor Mittal’s plan for the houses was also slammed by Sri Lankan experts – Sunday Times.
FEATURES & COLUMNS
Sri Lanka’s National Security Fearmongers
Unfortunately, the current administration hasn’t been great for minority communities either and, more generally, is off to a rather unimpressive start. Nonetheless, the insinuation that the discovery of these weapons augurs a return to Tamil militancy is utterly baseless. To complicate matters, Sirisena’s coalition government is comprised of an awkward alliance between the two main political parties that have historically been rivals, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP). What’s more, the possibility of a Rajapaksa resurgence remains real and the SLFP is still divided – Taylor Dibbert in The Diplomat.
GoSL unable and not disposed to making progress
A Canadian member of parliament said in an interview to Ceylon Today that Sri Lanka is not dipsosed to make progress on accountability issues. Gary Anandasangaree, who is Canadian-Tamil, said that the government was backtracking on it promises – Ceylon Today.
Seven years ago today the final month of the armed conflict between Sri Lanka and the LTTE began, before it reached its bloody conclusion on May 18, 2009. Tens of thousands of Tamils were killed during this time period. The Tamil Guardian is looking back at key developments which occurred during some of the darkest moments of the Tamil nation’s history.
On April 19 2009, the British Foreign Minister David Miliband called for an immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka, and for Tamil civilians to be allowed to leave the conflict area: “Protests and demonstrations around the world have highlighted the tragic loss of life of innocent civilians in Sri Lanka. Further loss of life will only compound the tragedy. We have heard their voice and will keep listening. We are committed to do all we can to bring this terrible conflict to an end,” he said.
A few days prior to that, the US State Department called on Sri Lanka to stop the shelling of the No Fire Zone – “The United States calls upon the government of Sri Lanka to assist its Tamil citizens by halting shelling of the safe zone, permitting international monitors to ensure the safe exit of the civilians. The government of Sri Lanka should also enforce international humanitarian standards in IDP camps, grant visas to international aid groups and permit entry into Sri Lanka of international monitors and media access to those camps” – Department of State.
The Tamil National Alliance, in a letter to the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, said that Sri Lanka’s actions proved that ‘the real intention of the Sri Lankan State is the progressive extermination of the Tamil people.’ – See the Tamil Guardian feature looking back at the events of 2009 here.