Sri Lankan police and members of the navy photograph Tamil protesters who blocked their attempts at surveying land for appropiation (Photo: @uthayashalin)
PEARL’s News Update 14 March 2016
Sinhala students attack Tamils
Nine Tamil students were attacked by Sinhala students at the Eastern University’s campus in Trincomalee. One of the injured students said animosity between Tamil and Sinhala students had been growing – Tamil Guardian. Meanwhile the Buddhist organisation Bodu Bala Sena has claimed that there is a conspiracy to remove Sinhalese from the North-East – Daily Mirror.
UN Human Rights Council hears statements on Sri Lanka
Member states and non-governmental organisations have reiterated their support for the full implementation of a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussain said the Sri Lankan government needs to move faster on releasing land held by the military, reviewing cases of Tamil detainees and resolving the issue of disappearances.
The European Union called on Sri Lanka to “further increase its cooperation” with the OHCHR and the UK said it was “firmly committed to the full implementation of the resolution” on accountability for mass atrocities committed during the final phases of the armed conflict – See a list of statements by NGOs and countries on the Tamil Guardian.
Minister says foreign judges would be “unconstitutional”
Meanwhile a Sri Lankan minister declared on Wednesday that it would be unconstitutional to engage foreign judges in a judicial mechanism that would investigate war crimes. Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe’s comments at the news briefing from the Department of Information had the concurrence of President Sirisena. Samarasinghe’s assertions also comes as answer to Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, after he was asked about President Sirisena’s remarks that he would not allow any foreign participation in Washington when Samaraweera said that it was Sirisena’s personal view – Sunday Times.
“Can anything be more stupid?” – TNA leader Sampanthan slams government on Tamil political detainee issue
The leader of the Tamil National Alliance R Sampanthan slammed the government’s lack of progress in releasing Tamil political detainees. “How can you justify holding people under the PTA any longer – a law you yourself unequivocally condemned as being draconian in many ways? These people are being held in custody for a long period of time, with some of them being held 10-15 years. If these people had been sentenced, most of them would have come out by now,” he said. Sampanthan further pointed out that former LTTE members Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanathan and Kumaran Pathmanathan were made ministers and guests of the previous government, saying it was “stupid” to claim that the release of the Tamil political prisoners would divide the country – Tamil Guardian.
In response, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the government was in the process of repealing the PTA. Rehabilitation Minister D Swaminathan said that some of the detainees had rejected the government’s controversial offer of rehabilitation – The Hindu. Meanwhile Tamil detainees abandoned a hunger strike, after Swaminathan assured them of speedy trials – NDTV. Jaffna University students joined protests demanding the release of the detainees – Tamil Guardian.
House Foreign Affairs Committee chair writes to Secretary of State John Kerry
The chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep Ed Royce, wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry this week, urging the US government to press Sri Lanka to release Tamil political detainees, repeal the PTA and return land held by the military. Rep Royce said he supports the increased diplomatic engagement with the Sri Lankan government and pointed out that the Sirisena-administration had made several promises and continues to make “impressive, positive steps” – Tamil Guardian.
More Tamil protests in North-East
Tamils have continued protests against military landgrabs this week. Attempts by the Navy to survey land reported to be targeted for appropriation were scuppered by angry Tamil protesters. The protesters complained of intimidation by the military and the police who were videoing and photographing them – Tamil Guardian. Tamil IDPs in Mallakam meanwhile protested demanding resettlement – Tamil Guardian. The army has also completed the construction of a “model village”, where they plan to settle IDPs displaced from Keppapilavu , despite their demands to be allowed to return to their own land – Tamil Guardian.
China will build an extensive port city in Sri Lanka
China will go ahead with its plans to build a massive port facility in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, despite earlier political hurdles stemming from environmental concerns – TIME.
Standard and Poor’s second ratings agency to downgrade Sri Lanka
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services on Thursday revised the outlook on its ‘B+’ long-term sovereign credit ratings on Sri Lanka to negative from stable on rising fiscal and external imbalances, a week after Fitch downgraded its ratings for the country – LBO. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe questioned the downgrades – Sunday Times. Meanwhile India has approved a $700 million forex swap with Sri Lanka until it receives a loan by the IMF – Reuters.
Malaysian court acquits human rights activist
A Malaysian activists, jailed for screening the No Fire Zone documentary, which showed evidence of human rights violations committed during the armed conflict in Sri Lanka, was acquitted by a court in Kuala Lumpur – Malay Mail.
Tamil man arrested at Colombo airport
A Tamil man was arrested at Colombo airport after he was deported from Australia – Ceylon Today.
Malaysian organisation opposes hiring of Sri Lankan ex-soldiers
The Malaysian Indian Congress said the government should not hire former Sri Lankan soldiers as security guards, due to human rights concerns and the sensitivities of the large Tamil population in the country – The Star.
Army hands out biscuits and coffee at Tamil Hindu Sivarathri festival
Sri Lanka’s army continues its involvement in civilian activities, this week taking part in festivals at several temples – CIMIC Jaffna.
OPINIONS & COLUMNS
Attracting foreign direct investment vital for economic development
Getting adequate foreign direct investment (FDI) of the right types has eluded the country for many decades. While former communist countries like Vietnam have attracted sizeable amounts of FDI, Sri Lanka continues to get an inadequate flow of FDI. The statistics of the amount of FDI received are flawed as they contain other capital inflows. Even the exaggerated figures are low and inadequate. The country has reached a turning point when the attraction of much higher amounts of FDI is vital to sustain the growth momentum – Sunday Times.
Sri Lanka should finally release Tamil political prisoners
Colombo should finally release or bring to trial all Tamil political prisoners. If political expediency continues to supersede humanitarian and human rights exigencies, we can be sure that Sri Lanka’s wounds of war will not heal on Sirisena’s watch – Taylor Dibbert.