Sri Lanka News Update 22 February 2016

 



Statue of goddess at the Sri Meenakshi Amman temple in Jaffna is adorned with doves and the outline of Tamil Eelam, during a festival last Thursday (Photo: Tamil Guardian)

PEARL’s News Update 22 February 2016

NEWS

Tamils call for federalism, self-determination and right to remember at constitutional reform consultation
Tamils in the North-East have begun submitting their proposals to the government’s Public Representations Committee on Constitutional Reforms. Written and verbal statements are being collected from civil society groups, political parties and individuals, many of which were focussed on federalism, self-determination and the right to remember the war dead – Tamil Guardian.

 

Stating that the idea of a “unitary state… has nothing or very little to do with the idea of a united country”, the Tamil Civil Society Forum in their submission said that in Sri Lanka, “it has everything to do with centralising power in the majority Sinhala Buddhist nation.”

 

“The unitary character of the state hence permits Sinhala Buddhist nationalism to impose a deep hegemony through a composition of bounded unity of territory, state and nation of the island revolving around a majoritarian axis of Sinhala Buddhist religion, language, culture and people,” it added, saying such a solution was “unacceptable”. See the complete text of the TCSF submission here.

 

New constitution will not contain “drastic changes” – Ranil
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is reported to have told the TNA that the new constitution will not contain drastic changes, will remain rooted in the 13th amendment and that the North-East will not be re-merged. The TNA and others are reported to be formulating proposals based on a federal system – The Sunday Times. Also see translation of TNA leader R Sampanthan’s interview with the Sinhala Divaina news paper here.

 

Sri Lanka admits having a record of surrendered Tamil fighters
The Sri Lankan military has admitted it has a list of LTTE fighters who surrendered at the end of the armed conflict, after years of denials – JDS Lanka.

 

Tamil political prisoners launch hunger strike
A group of Tamil political prisoners on Monday launched a hunger strike demanding the government to release them without further delay – Ceylonews. Meanwhile Tamil detainees that were released recently have been denied identity documents – Ceylon Today.

 

ITAK taken to court over separatism charges
The TNA’s main constituent party, the ITAK, has been taken to the Supreme Court over charges that it aims to establish a separate state – The Island.

 

Sri Lanka has no enemies in the world today – President Sirisena
President Maithripala Sirisena said that no country or organisation are against Sri Lanka and invited members of the diaspora, including those who fled as refugees to return to the island, while speaking in Germany and Austria during his recent trip – defence.lk.

 

US Sri Lanka caucus hears of ongoing violations in the North-East
The US Congressional Caucus on Ethnic and Religious Freedom in Sri Lanka was given an update on the current situation in Sri Lanka and on developments in the UN Human Rights Council, during a briefing in the Longworth House Office Building in Washington DC earlier this month. PEARL’s Advocacy Director Mario Arulthas and law expert Professor Dermot Groome addressed the event – Tamil Guardian.

 

TNA Councillor atacked in Vavuniya
A Northern Province councillor with the Tamil National Alliance was attacked in Vavuniya by unidentified assailants on Thursday night – Tamil Guardian.

 

Ranil warns media over conduct
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe warned that action would be taken against media, who used government’s telecasting licence to insult religions and some sections of the society, in relation to a song the recent singing by a female singer, who sang the sinhala song ‘Danno Budunge’ in opera style. In another statement, the PM said he would take on media that did not conduct themselves appropriately – Colombo Gazette.Mr Wickremesinghe singled out the Daily Mirror and Derana for criticism, accusing them of supporting Rajapaksa – Colombo Telegraph. The CID has also launched an investigation into another singer, claiming that he defamed Buddhism – Tamil Guardian.

 

CPA files legal challenge against appointment of Sarath Fonseka as MP
The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and its Executive Director filed a Fundamental Rights application challenging the appointment of Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka to fill the vacancy created by the death of Mr. M. K. A. D. S. Gunawardana, as a Member of Parliament elected in terms of Article 99A of the Constitution (the National List) – CPA.

 

REPORT

 

Sri Lanka: Ending poverty and promoting shared prosperity – World Bank
A World Bank Report has found that the Tamil North-East stood out as regions with high concentrations of poverty.Tamils and Muslims have relatively high levels of poverty, however, empirical analysis finds that most of the difference in monetary poverty is related to inequality of opportunities. However, when focusing outside of the post-conflict regions, both Sri Lankan and Indian Tamils have higher labor force participation and employment rates relative to their Sinhalese counterparts. This suggests that different rates of participation are mostly determined by differences in employment opportunities – World Bank.

 

OPINIONS

 

No turning back – Tamil Guardian editorial
Having been pivotal in bringing this government into power last year, the Tamil people were asked to keep their faith in the promise of reform. Despite having repeatedly outlined avenues for action, through the forming of new political bodies, the passing of resolutions and proposals and constant demonstrations, pledges of long-lasting change remain unfilled. Sri Lanka though, seemingly emboldened by a perceived alleviation in international pressure, wavers on its commitments to the victims – Tamil Guardian.

 

Problems continue to plague Sri Lanka’s Northern Province
It’s been over a year since Maithripala Sirisena assumed the presidency, although much about daily life in Sri Lanka’s war-torn Northern Province remains the same, Taylor Dibbert, who recently returned from Jaffna, writes in The Diplomat.

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