Sri Lanka: UNHRC action remains crucial

Briefing Note: Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka: UNHRC action remains crucial[ ICG ][ Mar 01 17:29 GMT ]

The government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has failed to comply with two successive Human Rights Council (HRC) resolutions. Failure is most obvious with respect to accountability for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the final phase of the civil war, but also by the lack of devolution of power, ongoing militarisation of the north and east, and deepening authoritarianism throughout the country. Decisive HRC action now is required in light of GoSL’s repeated failures to undertake the necessary steps alone; it is necessary also in order to decrease the risk of a return to deadly conflict in Sri Lanka. [ full story |

We will do it in Sri Lanka – US Secretary of State John Kerry[ Daily Mirror ][ Feb 28 14:06 GMT ]

” “Our concern about this ongoing situation has led the United States to support another UN Human Rights Council resolution at the March session. We will do so because we know countries that deny human rights and human dignity challenge our interests as well as human interests. But we also know countries that advance those values, those countries that embrace these rights are countries that actually create opportunities,” [ full story |

Sri Lanka: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013[ US State Department ][ Feb 28 13:26 GMT ]

The major human rights problems were: attacks on, and harassment of, civil society activists, journalists, and persons viewed as sympathizers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorist organization by individuals allegedly tied to the government, creating an environment of fear and self-censorship; involuntary disappearances and a lack of accountability for thousands who disappeared in previous years; and widespread impunity for a broad range of human rights abuses, particularly torture by police and attacks on media institutions and the judiciary. [ full story |

Channel 4 refutes Sri Lankan “propaganda offensive”[ Channel 4 News ][ Feb 28 18:21 GMT ]

Channel 4 has today taken the unprecedented step of publishing a detailed refutation of “an international propaganda offensive” launched by supporters of the Sri Lankan government against its reporting of events at the end of Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war. Channel 4’s News and Current Affairs journalists have led the way in exposing the country’s war crimes, culminating in the broadcast of the feature length documentary No Fire Zone – a forensic investigation into the final weeks of the bloody civil war in Sri Lanka. [ full story |

Sri Lanka Feels the Heat[ IPS ][ Feb 28 19:23 GMT ]

Sri Lanka is heading into a major crisis under extreme heat, as the rains stay away. Fears are growing of power cuts and interruption to the water supply because reservoir levels are running scarily low. By the third week of February, the Ceylon Electricity Board said it was relying on expensive thermal generators for 76 percent of the country’s power supply. Around August 2012, extended dry weather almost dried up hydro-reservoirs. The country spent over two billion dollars to import furnace oil. The drought impacted over a million persons, according to the Sri Lanka Red Cross. [ full story |

Sri Lankan family finds mass grave in garden [ Al Jazeera ][ Mar 01 06:42 GMT ]

A Sri Lankan family has stumbled upon the remains of at least nine bodies buried in the garden of their home, police reported, the latest mass grave to be discovered in the country’s former war zone. The family made the grisly find on Friday while clearing out their garden in the town of Puthukkudiyiruppu in the northern district of Mullaittivu, police spokesman Ajith Rohana said on Saturday. “Remains of nine people had been found so far and the skeletal remains were taken for analysis by the judicial medical officer in the area,” Rohana told reporters. [ full story |

Let the U.N. Unmask the Criminals of Sri Lanka’s War[ New York Times ][ Mar 01 06:36 GMT ]

IN early 2009, as many as 40,000 civilians were killed in the final days of Sri Lanka’s civil war, having been herded into an area about the size of Central Park and subjected to relentless shelling. No one has been held accountable for these crimes, and even now the government in Colombo remains intent on burying the past. Only an international commission of inquiry stands any chance of rectifying this omission. So when the United Nations Human Rights Council meets Monday in Geneva, it should seek an investigation. It would be a decisive step toward justice and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. [ full story |

Sri Lanka ‘uncomfortable’ with rights resolution[ AFP ][ Feb 28 13:51 GMT ]

Sri Lanka’s president on Friday acknowledged his discomfort at the prospect of being censured by the UN’s top rights body, as he accused Washington of treating Colombo like Muhammad Ali’s “punching bag”. “The whole resolution, we are uncomfortable with,” Rajapakse said at his Temple Trees residence. “There should not be a resolution at all.” “We feel acutely uncomfortable by the pressure brought on us by a powerful country.” “I advocated investigations into disappearances in 1989 and 90 (during an uprising by Sinhalese Marxist rebels). Even today, I believe in it (human rights),” Rajapakse said. [ full story |

Sri Lanka turns killing fields into tourist attraction[ Toronto Star ][ Mar 01 14:21 GMT ] Five years ago on this narrow strip of land along the Bay of Bengal, Sri Lanka’s military waged some of the most controversial but decisive assaults on its Tamil adversaries. The terrain here bears the scars of intense battle. A moonscape of bomb craters lies amid shallow, closely packed, hand-dug shelters. Bits of corrugated metal sprinkle the sand like macabre confetti where shells scored direct hits on the few reinforced bunkers. [ full story |

Sri Lanka’s president denounces U.S. plan for rights resolution[ Reuters ][ Feb 28 18:20 GMT ] Sri Lanka’s president denounced Washington’s plan to move a U.N. human rights resolution against the island nation on Friday, comparing the U.S. move over alleged war crimes to a professional boxer taking on a schoolboy. “There should not have been a resolution at all,” Mahinda Rajapaksa said in his first news conference with the foreign media in Colombo for more than three years. “If they have evidence they should have given (it) to us.” [ full story |

Sri Lanka ‘uncomfortable’ with rights resolution[ AFP ][ Mar 01 06:34 GMT ] Sri Lanka’s president on Friday acknowledged his discomfort at the prospect of being censured by the UN’s top rights body, as he accused Washington of treating Colombo like Muhammad Ali’s “punching bag”. The United States is the author of a resolution due to be voted on by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 28, which accuses Sri Lanka of failing to investigate allegations of war crimes at the end of its conflict against Tamil separatists in 2009. [ full story |

Sri Lanka President Rejects Calls for War Crimes Investigation[ Time ][ Mar 01 06:35 GMT ] Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa remained defiant in the face of intensifying calls for an independent war crimes investigation this week. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay recommended in a Feb. 24 report that an independent, international inquiry be launched into alleged human rights violations in 2009, during the final phase of Sri Lanka’s long and bloody civil war against ethnic Tamil separatists. Speaking to TIME and a handful of other news outlets in Colombo on Friday, Rajapaksa insisted “no one knows why” the West is pushing for the investigation. [ full story |

Sri Lanka transforms its killing fields into a tourist attraction[ Global Post ][ Feb 28 13:59 GMT ] Five years ago on this narrow strip of land along the Bay of Bengal, Sri Lanka’s military waged some of the most controversial but decisive assaults on its Tamil adversaries. An increasingly solid body of evidence points to numerous war crimes committed by government troops at this site — including mass rape and summary executions of surrendered fighters, in addition to intentional shelling of civilians.If you visit the site today, you wouldn’t get the impression that there was ever a war crime scene. Instead, Sri Lanka’s government has transformed it into a tourist attraction. [ full story |

Sri Lanka after the war: Seeing both sides[ The Economist ][ Mar 01 14:23 GMT ] THE end of their bitter war, nearly five years ago, has done little to unite Sri Lanka’s divided communities. In their modest way, a photographer and an anthropologist are working together to try bridging the distance that separates the country’s two largest ethnic groups—by showing them how they worship the same goddess. The majority, Sinhala-speaking Buddhists, call her Pattini while the minority Tamil Hindus name her Kannaki. For the most part, neither of the two communities knows that the other reveres her under a different name. But their beliefs are deeply syncretic, and point towards a shared history and traditions. [ full story |