|PEARL’s News Update 29 March 2016
‘Amazing evening of sweet music’ at US navy concert with war crimes-accused Sri Lankan military
The USS Blue Ridge docked in Colombo over the weekend amidst much fanfare. Tweets by the US Embassy in Colombo celebrated the joint performance of their band alongside the Sri Lankan military. Twitter users pointed out that the Sri Lankan military still stands accused of war crimes with impunity still reigning. Ambassador Atul Keshap caused further controversy by tweeting a selfie of himself and notorious Sinhala nationalist and Rajapaksa-defender Dayan Jayatillake – Tamil Guardian.
Those who raped and executed those who surrendered must be held accountable – EU
The European Union’s Charge d’Affaires to Sri Lanka Paul Godfrey said in an interview that those who violated codes of good conduct must be held accountable. Mr Godfreyr said Sri Lanka still had a long way to go on human rights and reconciliation, although excellent progress had been made – Sunday Observer.
An editorial by the Sunday Times meanwhile drew the ire of the European Union’s delegation in Sri Lanka. The piece attempted to link the Brussels terrorist attacks to the EU’s suspension of GSP+ trade tariffs over Sri Lanka’s human rights record, and the ban on fisheries imports. The EU said the Sunday Times tried to “exploit attacks in Brussels for nationalist raging” – Tamil Guardian.
Sirisena ups rhetoric
President Sirisena said his government will not “hound war heroes” to prosecute them and pledged that he would “never surrender to any country”, at remarks made at several events over the past week – Ceylonews. Meanwhile government minister Champika Ranawaka of the JHU warned the international community that he would not allow questioning of Sri Lankan troops on war crimes charges – Daily Mirror.
‘Reconciliation village’ forcibly settles Sinhalese soldiers in North-East – TNA
The Tamil National Alliance rejected Sri Lankan government plans to build a village in the North-East for Sri Lankan soldiers who have married Tamil women, stating that it was a intended to forcibly colonise Tamil areas with Sinhalese soldiers – Tamil Guardian. Meanwhile the Government says land in the North needed for security will not be returned to the owners – Colombo Gazette.
Military permission needed to access drinking water – Poonakari Hospital
The head of Poonakari hospital has had to seek permission from the Sri Lankan military in order to access drinking water from the previous hospital grounds which are now being occupied by the army, as a shortage threatens to affect the health of patients – Tamil Guardian.
NPC protests against inauguration of military quarters
Northern Provincial Council members protested against the Sri Lankan president’s upcoming inauguration of military quarters in Vavuniya – Tamil Guardian.
Compromise Struck on Controversial Issue Of Housing For War Displaced Tamils
The Sri Lankan government and the Lankan construction industry have struck a compromise on the controversial issue of building 65,000 houses for the war displaced in the Tamil-majority Northern Province. Top sources in the Lankan builders’ consortium Major Constructors of Sri Lanka (MCSL) told Express here on Monday, that as per the compromise, Lakshmi Niwas Mittal’s ArcelorMittal will build 65,000 houses in the North as already planned, and the MCSL will build 65,000 houses elsewhere in the island – The New Indian Express.
Sri Lanka, rupee, in trouble after Keynesian stimulus
Sri Lanka has increased government spending to boost ‘aggregate demand’ after coming to power in 2015, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe admitted in parliament, as a policies are now being devised to rescue the country from a ‘stimulus’ fallout – EconomyNext.
JVP complains about “snail-paced” probes on corruption
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) said that when considering the slow pace of the investigation process it wondered whether the government had entered into political deals with those alleged to have committed fraud and corruption – Daily Mirror.
Freedom From Torture disputes UK Foreign Minister comments on torture of Tamils
Freedom From Torture’s Advocacy Director Sonya Sceats said she had assured British Foreign Minister Hugo Swire that the organisation’s eight cases of torture in 2015 were verified by doctors from the NHS and forensic lawyers. Mr Swire had told British Tamils at an event in London to get on planes and see the “positive changes” in Sri Lanka for themselves – Tamil Guardian.
Sri Lankan military organises football tournament for Tamil school children
The Sri Lankan army organised a football tournament for Tamils in Kilinochchi earlier this month – Tamil Guardian.
OPINIONS & COLUMNS
Political Prisoners and Sri Lanka’s Sincerity Crisis
In Sri Lanka, President Maithripala Sirisena had promised progress regarding Tamil political prisoners, although we’ve seen little of that. Unfortunately, the president’s dithering project has continued — with no end in sight […] Colombo’s cowardice regarding Tamil political prisoners is deeply troubling. Finally making a meaningful concession to the Tamil community could mean that the government is prepared to embrace bold changes, instead of cosmetic fixes. But until that happens, skepticism should remain the order of the day. If we’ve learned anything about Sirisena thus far, it’s that his Sinhala nationalist
credentials are impossible to deny – Taylor Dibbert, in The Huffington Post.
Bold unwavering policies needed to resolve current economic crisis
Confusion and uncertainty in economic policies are hampering the resolution of the current economic crisis. Palliatives such as the currency swap with the Reserve Bank of India is easing the stress on the foreign reserves but not providing a solution to the balance of payments problem. The crisis in the external finances is symptomatic of fundamental weaknesses in the economy that require bold fiscal measures to resolve. The lack of consistent policies to address them is astonishing – Sunday Times.
The Tamils of Sri Lanka are still stuck between a bloody past and hope
Decades of conflict has left northern Sri Lanka’s Tamil little to restart their lives with. Industrial machinery was destroyed and buildings flattened. Skilled workers either fled or got channelised into the war. But something else weighed heavily on the economy: systemic bias. Many local entrepreneurs feel they are being discriminated against by the state. Jaffna’s streets today showcase the old and new. War ruins alternate with new construction sites. But the largest hotels being built either belong to those from outside the region or to joint companies with Sinhalese (country’s ethnic majority) capital. Local businessmen claim it is easier for firms from southern Sri Lanka or even from abroad to establish businesses here. Yet, Tamils rarely get to tap the southern market. T. Jurison Jenaraj, CEO, Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Jaffna, says: “Somehow, companies from the south get permissions and approvals faster.” – Quartz.