Posts Tagged ‘Sri Lanka’

Tamil Tiger video killing is genuine, declares the UN

January 8, 2010

The Times/UK, Jan 8, 2010

A photograph taken by The Times from a Sri Lankan helicopter

A photograph taken by The Times from a Sri Lankan helicopter flying the UN Secretary-General shows a devastated refugee camp in the ‘no-fire’ zone

Catherine Philp, Diplomatic Correspondent, and James Bone in New York

A leading United Nations expert called yesterday for a war crimes inquiry in Sri Lanka after his investigation concluded that a video showing soldiers summarily killing Tamil prisoners last year was authentic.

In a damning report citing top scientific experts, Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, dismissed the Sri Lankan Government’s claims that the footage shown by Channel 4 had been fabricated. He urged Colombo to allow UN experts to investigate “persistent” allegations of war crimes in the final stages of its three-decade civil war.

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SRI LANKA: Five Years after Tsunami, Many Still without Shelter

December 23, 2009

By Amantha Perera, Inter Press service News, Dec 23, 2009

KALMUNAI, Sri Lanka, Dec 23 (IPS) – “We have been here for almost five years. So many promises have been made, but very few have been kept,” complains Mohideen Nafia, 22, one of the survivors of the 2004 Asian tsunami still living in a temporary facility in the coastal town of Kalmunai, located 300 kilometres east of the capital, Colombo.

Newly married Nafia would have preferred a house of her own with her husband. But at the moment she has to make do with what amounts to a shelter, a one-room unit in a government-provided disaster camp, which the couple shares with Nafia’s family of five and is located about a one kilometre from the beach.

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Demand the release of Tamil detainees in Sri Lanka

October 7, 2009

By the Socialist Equality Party (Sri Lanka),, Oct 7, 2009

The Socialist Equality Party in Sri Lanka and the World Socialist Web Site are launching an international campaign to demand the immediate and unconditional release of more than 250,000 Tamil civilians who have been detained in huge internment camps since the defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May.

The government falsely describes these squalid prison camps as “welfare villages.” However, detainees are not permitted to move in or out of their camps, which are surrounded by barbed wire fences and guarded by heavily armed soldiers. Relatives are allowed to see inmates only after the type of rigorous screening found in high security prisons.

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Tamil detainees in Sri Lanka: “Almost living in hell”

September 25, 2009

By our correspondent,, Sep 25, 2009

The Sri Lankan government has underscored its determination to keep 280,000 Tamil civilians in internment camps indefinitely, in blatant violation of their basic democratic rights.

UN Under-Secretary, Lynn Pascoe arrived in Sri Lanka last week for further talks on resettling detainees. Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse told him his government had a target of resettling 70 percent of the people within 180 days. But he added that this target would depend on the de-mining of the former war zone in the island’s north.

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Sri Lanka ‘expels Unicef spokesman’

September 7, 2009
Al Jazeera, Sep 7, 2009

Thousands of Tamil children are being held in military-run displacement camps [Reuters]

A senior official from Unicef, the United Nations’ children’s fund, has been ordered to leave Sri Lanka after he expressed concerns over the plight of Tamil children during the government’s military campaign against Tamil rebels, the UN has said.

James Elder, the official spokesperson for Unicef, has reportedly been told by Sri Lankan officials that he has two weeks to leave the country.

Unicef says no reason has been given for the expulsion.

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Sri Lanka Continues War on Media

September 4, 2009

Thursday 03 September 2009

by: J. Sri Raman, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

In a statement, President Barack Obama said journalist J.S. Tissainayagam was “guilty of nothing more than a passion for truth and a tenacious belief that a free society depends on an informed citizenry.” (Photo: Reuters)

Colombo’s war on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam may have ended. But its war on media freedom is far from over. Unlike the army offensive in the northeast of Sri Lanka, this is a war waged in disregard of the island-state’s ethnic divide.

The latest illustration of this years-long offensive has come with the Colombo High Court sentencing a Sri Lankan journalist to a 20-year prison term, with “hard labor,” on August 31 for his published comments on the armed conflict. Forty-five-year-old Jayaprakash Sittampalam Tissainayagam is a Sri Lankan Tamil, but has never been known to function as a member of the LTTE.

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Sri Lanka jails journalist who criticised war policy

September 1, 2009

Twenty years for writer who was hailed by President Obama as a hero facing persecution

By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent,  The Independent/UK, September 1, 2009

Journalist JS Tissainayagam leaves court yesterday after he was jailed for 20 years for causing 'racial hatred' and 'supporting terrorism'

Journalist JS Tissainayagam leaves court yesterday after he was jailed for 20 years for causing ‘racial hatred’ and ‘supporting terrorism’

A Sri Lankan reporter, recently named by US President Barack Obama as an example of the way journalists are persecuted around the world, has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for writing articles critical of the government’s military operations.

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Sri Lanka: attacks on free media put displaced civilians at risk

August 15, 2009

Vigil marking the first anniversary of the detention of Sri Lankan journalist Jayaprakash Sittampalam Tissainayagam, London, March 2008

Vigil marking the first anniversary of the detention of Sri Lankan journalist Jayaprakash Sittampalam Tissainayagam, London, March 2008

Amnesty International, Aug 14, 2009

Attacks on journalists, relentless intimidation, and government-imposed restrictions on reporting threaten freedom of expression in Sri Lanka and jeopardize the safety and dignity of civilians displaced by war.

The Sri Lankan government actively obstructed reporting on the last stages of the recently concluded armed conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE – Tamil Tigers). Civilians were subjected to artillery attacks and both sides were accused of committing war crimes.

The government continues to deny journalists and media workers unrestricted access to hundreds and thousands of displaced people living in camps, hindering reporting on their war experiences and on conditions in the camps themselves.

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Ban Ki Moon gives in over Sri Lanka war

June 6, 2009

The Times/UK, June 6, 2009

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Image :1 of 2

Michael Evans and Catherine Philp

The UN Secretary-General caved in to demands to brief the Security Council on his trip to Sri Lanka yesterday after calls mounted for an international war crimes inquiry into the fighting this year.

Ban Ki Moon was to address the Security Council in a closed-door session last night after Russia and China failed to keep Sri Lanka off the council’s agenda.

The briefing came as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reiterated calls for an independent investigation into alleged war crimes committed by both sides and pledged the UN’s support for such an inquiry.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, Rohitha Bogollagama, angrily rejected allegations of wrongdoing after last week’s revelations in The Times that more than 20,000 civilians were believed to have died in the island’s so-called no-fire zone, most of them from Sri Lankan army shelling.

“Within the no-fire zone we never returned fire because we would never have taken that degree of chance for inflicting harm on civilians,” he told The Times on a visit to London yesterday. “Nothing could have provoked us to fire on civilians.”

Mr Bogollagama blamed all civilian deaths on Tamil Tiger rebels, upholding accounts by refugees who said that they were fired on by the rebels while fleeing, but discounting the same witnesses when they talked of deaths from government shelling. He strenuously maintained the Government’s line that not one single civilian died as a result of army action.

Last month the UN calculated that the civilian death toll was more than 7,000 by the end of April, a figure that was passed on to foreign missions, including Britain and the US. UN sources in Colombo later told The Times that the final toll was probably more than 20,000.

Mr Bogollagama dismissed both sets of figures, claiming that the UN had “apologised to the Sri Lankan Government” for releasing figures that “create a hype so that the international community would intervene”.

Sir John Holmes, the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, told The Times this week that the civilian toll was “unacceptably high” and urged Sri Lanka to launch a proper investigation.Sri Lanka has refused to allow free access to camps where 270,000 Tamils are interned until it has finished screening those held there for links to the Tamil Tigers.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Secretary, Palitha Kohona, warned yesterday that the screening process could be lengthy, saying that it was “quite likely” that even many elderly people were “with the LTTE [the Tamil Tigers], at least mentally”. The Government said yesterday that a group of government doctors who worked in the no-fire zone would be investigated on charges of collaborating with the rebels for relating news of civilian casualties to the media.

During the final phase of the war, the doctors reported on thousands killed in government shelling, including at a makeshift hospital.

The doctors were arrested as they fled the zone with thousands of Tamil civilians in the last day of the offensive and have been in detention since. The United States has said that they “helped save many lives” while the UN called them “heroic”.

Mahinda Samarasinghe, the country’s Human Rights Minister, told the BBC the doctors would be brought to trial next year. “I don’t know what the investigations would reveal but maybe they were even part of that whole conspiracy to put forward this notion that government forces were shelling and targeting hospitals and indiscriminately targeting civilians,” he said.

Mr Holmes said that the Government’s aggressive posture raised legitimate fears about their commitment to reconciliation with the Tamil community.

Doctors who braved bombs in Sri Lanka imprisoned

June 6, 2009

Government accuses medics of collaborating with Tamil Tigers

By Andrew Buncombe, Asia correspondent | The Independent/UK, June 6, 2009

Civilians injured during the conflict were treated at a makeshift hospital inside the conflict zone

Civilians injured during the conflict were treated at a makeshift hospital inside the conflict zone

Three doctors who struggled to help tens of thousands of civilians wounded in Sri Lanka’s war zone could be held for up to a year before being charged with harming the country, the government has revealed.

Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Minister, Mahinda Samarasinghe, said the doctors were being detained on “reasonable suspicion of collaboration with the LTTE [Tamil separatists]”. He said the men had to be presented before a court on a monthly basis, but that investigations could take more than a year.

In the final bloody months of the war, the three government-appointed medics – Thurairaja Varatharajah, Thangamuttu Sathyamurthi and V Shanmugarajah – worked with the most basic medical facilities to run a makeshift clinic inside the conflict zone.

Without many of the drugs they required, or sufficient staff numbers, the doctors struggled to manage while their clinic came under regular bombardment, reportedly from both the LTTE rebels and government forces.

Yet, to the fury of the government, the doctors were also one of the few sources of independent information about the civilian casualties of a conflict that was all but hidden from view.

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