Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jaffna Public Library Comes Under Attack, Again

  • Presidential Secretariat Allegedly Involved
By Dinouk Colombage
Pandemonium reigned in Jaffna when the Public Library was stormed by hundreds of unarmed assailants on October 23.
Hundreds of people in over 30 buses stormed the library at about 7 pm, says retired Municipal Council Commissioner C.V.K Sivagnanam in a letter to President Rajapaksa, dated October 27.
The Sunday Leader sought clarification from TNA M.P. Suresh Premachandran. He corroborated the story as written in the letter by Sivagnanam to the President to be accurate.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Britain reiterates support for independent inquiry into Sri Lanka war crimes

TamilNet[TamilNet, Thursday, 28 October 2010, 00:39 GMT]
British Prime Minister David Cameron Wednesday reiterated his government’s support for an independent inquiry into war crimes committed during the closing stages of Sri Lanka’s protracted war. Mr. Cameron comments on his government’s stance, made in response to a question from opposition MP Siobhian McDonagh, come a week after similar comments by British Foreign Secretary William Hague in the wake of his meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart, Prof. G. L. Peiris.

Prime Minister, David Cameron
Prime Minister, David Cameron
Siobhain McDonagh
Siobhain McDonagh
During the weekly Prime Minister’s question time at Westminister, Labour MP McDonagh asked: “As a former PR man would the Prime Minister agree with me that no matter how much Bell Pottinger tries to spin the Sri Lankan government that the demands for an international, independent war crimes tribunal intensifies as more evidence of alleged assassinations and civil rights abuses come out”.

Ms. McDonagh’s question elicited a chorus of approval from the packed House, in an otherwise acrimonious PMQ session.

Mr. Cameron replied: “I think the Honourable lady makes a fair point. We do need to see an independent investigation of what happened. Everyone has read the papers and seen the T.V. footage, but we need an independent investigation to work out whether what she suggests is right”.

The chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Tamils (APPG-T), Mr. Lee Scott MP (Conservative), welcomed the British government’s position.

“I absolutely agree with the Prime Minister. The statement by the Foreign Secretary last week clearly shows that the coalition government is serious about finding a permanent and fair political solution to [Sri Lankan] conflict,” he said.

“In my view, an independent international inquiry is an important first step.”

In a press statement issued by Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on October 20, Foreign Secretary William Hague was quoted as saying “the political settlement needs to address the needs of all Sri Lanka's communities”.

“The Foreign Secretary discussed the work of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commisson with Professor Peiris and hoped that it would engage with the UN Panel of Experts,” the statement further said.

“The Foreign Secretary stressed the need for Sri Lanka to have a credible and independent process to address allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during the conflict.”

“He hoped that Sri Lanka would show clear commitment towards democracy, human rights law and freedom of the press,” the FCO statement said, adding: “the two Ministers also discussed wider bilateral relations and areas of common interest.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) welcomed the British government’s reaffirmation of support for an independent inquiry.

“It is clear that there is continuity in Britain’s policy on accountability for war crimes, despite the change in government early this year,” he said. “In that sense Sri Lanka is a litmus test of international community’s commitment to the International Humanitarian Law, as well as the principles of democracy, good governance and, in particular, human rights.”

Referring to Sri Lanka’s hiring of the British PR firm, Bell Pottinger, the GTF spokesman noted the contradiction between Colombo paying the firm £3million per year, whilst at the same time receiving £13.5m over the past 2 years in humanitarian funding.

Related Articles:
04.08.10 British PR firm whitewashing Sri Lanka’s reputation - report

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Unruly Sinahala tourists storm into Jaffna Public Library

[Sun, 24 Oct 2010, 05:00 GMT]

TamilNetA group of Sinhala visitors from South on Saturday stormed into Jaffna Library while the All Ceylon Medical Association sessions were in progress. The group was from the Sinhala tourists who arrived Saturday in more than 30 buses at the main entrance of Jaffna Public Library. Despite a sign board in three languages – Sinhala, Tamil and English on display that no visitors will be allowed during the usual visiting hours (4:30 p.m to 6:30 p.m) due to the conference, the Sinhala visitors had demanded the security guard and the only unarmed policeman to allow them in, an eyewitness told TamilNet. Following heated argument the visitors smashed the sign board and overpowered the guard and stormed into the library where the seminar was in progress. The seminar which began Friday is to continue until Sunday. Full story >>

Sri Lanka: Jaffna Public Library destroyed by Sinhala Police

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sri Lanka: Jaffna Public Library destroyed by Sinhala Police
For Tamils this is only an example, albeit the most glaring, in the grand scheme of genocide in Sri Lanka. Living in a country that constitutionally displays a penchant for Nazi style mono-ethnicity and ethnic purity (in a flag, an official language, and a state religion) for the last fifty years, and having lived through multiple state-sponsored pogroms to eradicate the identity of all others (the Non-Sinhala-Buddhists), there can be no doubt that this was an act of genocide.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Remembering the Jaffna
Public Library

“A city’s public library is the eye of the city by which the citizens are able to behold the realness of their heritage, and behold the still greater greatness of their future.”

- K. Nesiah (Education and Human Rights in Sri Lanka)

On the 2nd of June every year, Tamils all over the world wake-up with sorrow and grief - over an event that took place twenty-one years ago. It started with the citizens of Jaffna waking up, that many years ago on this fateful morning, to an absolute horror.
On the night of 1st June 1981, the splendid Jaffna public library, housing 97,000 rare books and manuscripts, was burned to the ground. The shock experienced by the men, women and children of Jaffna that morning is indescribable. That day all Tamils lost a piece of themselves. It was the most magnificent piece of architecture (leave aside the treasure it contained) ever created in Thamileelam.

This act of arson was carried out, not by a bunch of nameless hooligans, but by a posse of two hundred officers of the Sri Lankan police force, taken to Jaffna by two senior Sri Lankan Cabinet Ministers (Cyril Mathew and Gamini Dissanayake, both self-professed Sinhala supremacists), ostensibly to oversee an election.
These two Sinhala Cabinet Ministers, who watched the library burn from the verandah of the nearby Jaffna Rest House, subsequently claimed that it was an ‘unfortunate incident’, where a ‘few’ policemen ‘got drunk’ and went on a ‘looting spree’, all on their own. This ‘justification’ has been echoed, and re-echoed, by many Sinhala leaders and the Sinhala media.
Let us look back.

Sri Lanka: Jaffna Public Library destroyed by Sinhala Police

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Toronto Star-Amid Sri Lanka’s boom, life for Tamils remains bleak

News | World

Amid Sri Lanka’s boom, life for Tamils remains bleak

Sat Oct 23 2010
Father Cryton Outschoorn, a priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. He says some residents are still frightened a year after the end of the country's civil war.
Father Cryton Outschoorn, a priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. He says some residents are still frightened a year after the end of the country's civil war.
Rick Westhead/Toronto Star
Image By Rick Westhead

TRINCOMALEE, SRI LANKA—The weathered wooden bench that serves as an open-air confessional booth at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church doesn’t enjoy much down time nowadays.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

On Sri Lanka, Stealth Solicitation of Submissions by UN Ban War Crimes Panel UNexplained

Inner City Press

On Sri Lanka, Stealth Solicitation of Submissions by UN Ban War Crimes Panel UNexplained

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 20 -- The lack of seriousness of the Panel of Experts on war crimes in Sri Lanka appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is exemplified by the “soft launch” of their call for the submission of evidence.

Days ago, Inner City Press was forwarded a copy of what seemed to be a UN Panel notice that evidence could be e-mailed until December 15. But the notice came from the comments section of a Sri Lankan website. An Internet search on the morning of October 20 found the notice on only one other website.

So at the UN noon briefing on October 20 Inner City Press asked for confirmation that this obscure notice did in fact originate from Ban Ki-moon's Panel. Ban's acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq read a prepared statement that yes, it was the Panel's notice. He refused to explain where it has been posted, and why it had been so quiet.

This takes place as major human rights groups have declined to participate in the Sri Lankan government's own “Lessons Learnt” panel, and Sri Lankan minister of external affairs G.L. Peiris in turn calls the human rights groups “colonialist.” Meanwhile, new pictures portraying identifiable Sri Lankan military officers leading bound prisoners, and corpses on the ground, have emerged.

Photo, ICP claims no copyright, UN Panel solicitation not shown
. full story

full story

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sri Lanka: Hague must insist on independent investigation into war crimes when he meets his Sri Lankan counterpart, says Amnesty

Sri Lanka:War Crime

Posted: 18 October 2010
Amnesty International today urged the Foreign Secretary William Hague to demand an independent international investigation into alleged war crime abuses in Sri Lanka when he meets his Sri Lankan counterpart, Professor GL Peiris, tomorrow.

In the months since last year’s conflict between the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, commonly known as the Tamil Tigers, numerous allegations of war crimes have surfaced – and so far none has been properly investigated.

Eyewitness accounts of the last months of war paint a grim picture of deprivation of food, water and medical care; fear, injury and loss of life experienced by civilians trapped in the fighting.

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said:
“It is time for a full and independent spotlight to be shone onto the horrors of what happened during the conflict and William Hague needs to stress that when he meets the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister tomorrow.
“He must tell Professor GL Peiris that given the magnitude of the crimes that have been committed by both sides of the conflict only a full independent international investigation into the alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka will satisfy the global community.
“At present those alleged to be responsible remain at large and at little threat of being brought to justice – that cannot be allowed to continue.”
Although two bodies – the Sri Lankan Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), and the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon’s Panel of Experts – have been set up to look into the claims, Amnesty International has huge reservations about the effectiveness of both.
Kate Allen explained:
“Given the Sri Lankan Government’s track record on dealing with human rights abuses, their decision in May to establish the LLRC was suspect at best.
“Historically, Sri Lanka’s internal enquiries into human rights abuses have not been adequately empowered or resourced to ensure real accountability and there is no reason to believe that this commission will be any more effective than its predecessors.
“Hundreds of children were among the civilians killed and maimed during the final stages of the conflict in 2009
“While Ban Ki Moon’s appointment of a Panel of Experts to advise him on accountability issues in Sri Lanka is an important first step it falls short of what is actually needed.
“In order that victims’ families get the justice they deserve Amnesty International has called on the United Nations to establish an independent investigation to document the full extent of crimes allegedly committed during the conflict.”
In addition, Amnesty International continues to have concerns for the well being of tens of thousands of displaced people who remain in makeshift camps, and the more than 7,000 Tamil Tiger suspects, who are being held incommunicado in what the state refers to as “rehabilitation camps”.

Foreign Secretary calls for Sri Lanka to work towards a comprehensive and lasting political settlement

20 October 2010
In a meeting today with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Professor GL Peiris, Foreign Secretary William Hague said the political settlement needs to address the needs of all Sri Lanka's communities.
The Foreign Secretary discussed the work of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commisson with Professor Peiris and hoped that it would engage with the UN Panel of Experts.

The Foreign Secretary stressed the need for Sri Lanka to have a credible and independent process to address allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during the conflict. He hoped that Sri Lanka would show clear commitment towards democracy, human rights law and freedom of the press.

The two Ministers also discussed wider bilateral relations and areas of common interest.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Sri Lankan civil war photos threaten to overshadow Britain visit s

The campaign for a war-crimes tribunal to investigate alleged atrocities in the Sri Lankan civil war has intensified following the release of photographs which appeared to show a massacre of Tamils.

Sri Lankan people wait behind barbed wire at Menik Farm refugee camp
Internally displaced Sri Lankan people wait behind barbed wire at Menik Farm refugee camp in Cheddikulam Photo: AFP/GETTY

The photographs, which showed blood stained bodies of young men and women who had been blindfolded and had their hands tied behind their backs, were released by the Global Tamil Forum (GTF), a group which includes former supporters of the Tamil Tiger rebels.

Their release was timed to coincide with the visit of Professor G.L Peiris, the Sri Lankan foreign minister, who will meet William Hague on Wednesday. A foreign office spokesman said Mr Hague will reiterate Britain's demand for a "credible and transparent investigation" into alleged war crimes. The United Nations estimates between 8,000 and 10,000 civilians died between January and May 2009 and claims the Sri Lankan army shelled a civilian 'no-fire zone'.

The GTF said these latest photographs had been passed to them by a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elaam (LTTE) intelligence official who said he'd acquired them from within the Sri Lankan Army.

A group spokesman said the pictures had not been verified but raised serious questions which only an independent investigation could address. He said some of the photographs of Sri Lankan Army officers inspecting rows of dead bodies suggested the pictures may have been taken as 'souvenirs'.

One showed a semi-naked young woman lying, apparently dead, with blood trickling from her nose. She is surrounded by dead bodies of other young men, some naked, and all blindfolded and bound.

Father S.J Emmanuel of the Global Tamil Forum, said the pictures showed a "blatant disregard for humanity" and while he did not know if they were authentic, the possibility that they might be highlighted the need for a UN war crimes investigation.

"If Government of Sri Lanka has nothing to hide, why wouldn't they at least now admit to allowing the UN to investigate?" he said.

The Sri Lankan government said the photographs had been released to discredit it during Prof Peiris’s visit to London by a pro-LTTE group which admitted it could not verify them.

The defeat of the LTTE had given Tamils new freedoms while a 'Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’ “will consider matters relating to international humanitarian law, reconciliation and governance.”

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "We have consistently called for a credible, independent and transparent investigation into allegations of violations of human rights and humanitarian law. These allegations will haunt the country for many years to come, and will hinder much needed reconciliation between the communities, unless there is an honest process of accountability for the past."

Rs. 50 m. ransom: Army major arrested

Rs. 50 m. ransom: Army major arrested

By Chris Kamalendran
An Army Major and two accomplices were arrested yesterday for allegedly kidnapping a wealthy gold merchant and demanding a ransom of Rs. 50 million for his release. The same businessmen had been kidnapped earlier allegedly by the same group and was released after he paid Rs. 20 million as ransom, a senior police officer said.
He said the group had kidnapped the merchant from Kotahena on Wednesday while he was driving his son to school. The gang had released the child and later asked the businessman to inform his family by telephone of the ransom demand.
He said the businessman had told his abductors it was not possible to raise such a large amount of money without his presence at his business place. He had therefore sought his release with a promise that the money would be delivered the next day.
The abductors decided to release the hostage after threatening him with death if he spoke to the police or any others. The businessman later called from a leading Colombo private hospital, telling the men to come there to collect the money.
Colombo Crime Division Officers dressed in civvies ambushed the Major when he was returning after having collected the money from the businessman at an upper floor of the hospital. The two accomplices waiting for the Major on the ground floor near the lift were also arrested.
Police said they were searching for two more accomplices who were waiting in a vehicle outside the hospital.

Friday, October 15, 2010

US War Crimes Unit receives list of Sri Lanka's missing Tamil surrendees

[TamilNet, Friday, 15 October 2010, 21:32 GMT]
TamilNetTamils Against Genocide (TAG), a US-based activist group, submitted to the War Crimes unit of the U.S. Department of State, a list of persons known to have surrendered to the Government of Sri Lanka forces in the final stages of the war in the first five months of 2009 and who remain missing in custody as of October 2010. The list was compiled from witness statements and interview data collected by Tamil Diaspora groups in the UK.

Over 70% of those surrendees who had been previously associated with the Liberation Tigers and who are missing in custody were with the political and other administrative and non-combat sections of the organisation, including medical and finance.

PDF IconCiting photo evidence, HRW
calls for UN war crimes probes
Earlier this year Human Rights Watch (HRW) obtained photographs taken by a solider of the Sri Lankan Air mobile brigade of a young man tied to a tree in the custody of GOSL. He was later seen executed in a subsequent photograph. Tamilnet identified this young person as 21 year old Chandraseenan Vinothan a political cadre within the LTTE.

SLA tortures, murders LTTE surrendee
Recently a video has emerged via global social media of this young man being tortured in custody. Concerns among human rights community grow that the surrendees will have been tortured and killed contrary to the laws of war amid the significant volumes of photographic and video evidence of executions.

The alleged torture and executions of surrendees depicted in these photos and videos took place under the command of General Sarath Fonseka, a United States Green card holder. According to a deposition made by a former General in the Sri Lankan army, who is currently in the United States, the orders to execute surrendees were given by Defense Secretary Rajapakse, a dual citizen of the United States and Sri Lanka.

Further, direct testimony of surviving spouses of surrendered and missing LTTE cadres are raising further concerns among the human rights community on the wide-spread violations of laws of war, and war crimes committed during the final stages of the war.

“I have not seen my husband after Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers took him away saying that he was to be given medical treatment and I do not know what had happened to him,” Vanitha Ilanthirayan, the wife of former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) spokesman Ilanthirayan (Rasiah Sivaroopan), said on 10th October to the LLRC in Batticaloa District Government Secretariat.

Ananthi Sasitharan, the wife of Elilan, the former Trincomalee Political Head of the LTTE, told the BBC Tamil Service, after complaining to the LLRC, that SL President should know the whereabouts of her husband and fellow LTTE officials surrendered through a Catholic Priest in Mullaiththeevu on 18 May 2009.

Photographs of disabled ex-LTTE fighters held in undisclosed locations by GOSL and believed to have been tortured have also been provided by the group War Without Witnesses to the US government.

TAG previously authenticated a video aired by Channel 4 of blind-folded, naked prisoners being executed by GOSL soldiers. The group is also in possession of photographs showing similar scenes of executions.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Commonwealth has abandoned human rights commitment – leaked memo

Leaked document obtained by the Guardian shows staff told by secretary general it is not their job to speak out against abuses
Kamalesh Sharma, the Commonwealth secretary general Kamalesh Sharma, the Commonwealth secretary general, says it is not his job to speak out against abuses of human rights. Photograph: Akira Suemori/AP
The Commonwealth has abandoned its commitment to defending human rights, according to a leaked document obtained by the Guardian in which the secretary general tells his staff it is not their job to speak out against abuses by the 54 member states.
David Cameron and the foreign secretary, William Hague, have both said they will put new emphasis on the Commonwealth in Britain's foreign policy. But the organisation's London-based institutions, the secretariat and the charitable foundation, are both in turmoil, riven by disputes over their purpose and direction, and internal wrangles over the treatment of staff.
Coming soon after the well-publicised shortcomings in India's preparations for the Commonwealth Games, the latest revelations about dysfunction within the secretariat and foundation are likely to add to questions over what the Commonwealth is for. The most threatening internal rupture is over human rights. Staff at the secretariat were furious when the secretary general, Kamalesh Sharma, remained silent over a series of abuses by member states in recent years.
For example, when the Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh, threatened to behead homosexuals in 2008; when government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels were accused of widespread atrocities at the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka last year; and when a Malawi court in May sentenced a gay couple to jail for being homosexual, the secretary general ignored calls from secretariat staff urging him to express concern at least.
"All those cases were all about the values the Commonwealth is supposed to stand for and we failed," said one staff member. "I feel we could become moribund."
In response to complaints from employees, the secretary general's office told his staff that the institution had no obligation to pronounce on the issue.
"The secretariat … has no explicitly defined mandate to speak publicly on human rights," Sharma's office told senior staff. "The expectation is that the secretary general will exercise his good offices as appropriate for the complaint and not that he will pronounce on them."
Human rights activists said the comments represented a reversal of the Commonwealth's tradition of speaking out over gross abuses, such as apartheid. They said the secretary general was contradicting a key policy document adopted by Commonwealth heads of state in 1995 that calls for the "immediate public expression by the secretary general of the Commonwealth's collective disapproval of any such infringement" of democratic values and fundamental human rights.
Purna Sen, the head of the secretariat's human rights unit, said yesterday: "We have been accused of being over-cautious. Our work below the radar is extremely important but we need to explore more fully where we can make public statements. Public comments need not be condemnations, but we need to defend our values."
Others question whether quiet diplomacy by the secretariat has been effective, as states have little to fear from the Commonwealth.
Danny Sriskandarajah, director of the Royal Commonwealth Society, said: "I recognise the Commonwealth often works behind the scenes, but without public achievements on its values it will lose credibility."
He added: "Many of the Commonwealth institutions were created in the 1960s and have structures and hierarchies that now seem outdated. It needs to modernise its institutions if it wants to be fit for purpose in the 21st century."
The Commonwealth Foundation, a charitable trust aimed at promoting co-operation between professional bodies in the member states, has also been split since a decision last year to cut direct funding for HIV and Aids prevention programmes by more than half.
The internal dispute came to a boil last October when the woman in charge of the programmes, Anisha Rajapakse, was suspended, escorted out of the foundation and then summarily dismissed, on the basis of allegations by an intern.
According to the foundation, the intern alleged that Rajapakse had tried to persuade her to forge a letter purported to come from a civil society group complaining about the cut in funding.
However, the intern, Elizabeth Pimentel, wrote to the foundation's board of governors in August distancing herself from the allegations.
In her letter, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, Pimentel said her name had been "wrongly connected" with the disciplinary action against Rajapakse, and that she had not wanted remarks she made to the management "to be construed as a complaint at any point".
She added: "My discussions have been misinterpreted and used out of context."
Rajapakse and Pimentel both refused to comment on the dispute, which is due to go before an employment tribunal in December.
Two other members of the foundation's 20-strong staff have started grievance procedures against its director, Mark Collins. A secretariat staff member said: "There is a climate of fear at the Foundation. Everyone is afraid of doing something the director does not like because of what happened to Anisha."
Collins said it was an "undesirable situation" to be the focus of so many staff complaints at the same time but denied that there was any systemic problem at the foundation.
He said Pimentel had not formally withdrawn her original allegation against Rajapakse. "At the time, she felt that an investigation was justified," he said, suggesting Pimentel had since become "fearful" over the impending employment tribunal.

Sri Lanka: International inquiry needed to address alleged war crimes

14 October 2010
AI Index: PRE01/341/2010
Amnesty International has declined an invitation to appear before Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and calls again for an international inquiry into the evidence of war crimes and other abuses during the civil war.
In a joint letter released today, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group announced that they would not appear before the Commission, saying it did not meet international standards for independent and impartial inquiries.
“Amnesty International would welcome the opportunity to appear before a credible commission of inquiry aimed at securing accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka”, said Madhu Malhotra, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Asia-Pacific. “We believe effective domestic inquiries are essential to human rights protection and accountability. But the LLRC falls far short of what is required”.
Like its predecessors, the LLRC exists against a backdrop of continuing government failure to address accountability and continuing human rights abuses. Amnesty International documented Sri Lanka’s long history of impunity and the failed Presidential Commission of Inquiry in its 2009 report Twenty Years of Make-believe; Sri Lanka’s Commissions of Inquiry.
“The LLRC’s mandate, its composition, its procedures, and the human rights environment in which it is operating all conspire to make a safe and satisfactory outcome for victims of human rights violations and their families extremely unlikely”, said Madhu Malhotra. “Amnesty International is particularly concerned about the lack of any provisions for witness protection and the fact that former officials who have publicly defended the Sri Lankan government against allegations of war crimes serve on the commission”.
Amnesty International has received numerous credible reports from witnesses that both the government security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) committed serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during the armed conflict, particularly in the final months of the war. Some of their testimony was included in Amnesty International’s 2009 briefing “Unlock the Camps; Safety and Dignity For The Displaced Now”. But the LLRC’s mandate does not requires it to investigate these allegations, which include summary executions, torture, attacks on civilians and civilian objects, and other war crimes.
“The hundreds of civilians who sought to testify before the LLRC in Killinochchi in September did so without guarantees of protection or any real hope of justice. Their willingness to come forward shows the need of Sri Lanka’s war survivors for news about what happened to missing relatives and for justice”, said Madhu Malhotra. “If the Sri Lankan government is serious about accountability and reconciliation, it must be serious about truth and justice for these people. Any credible commission must be given adequate scope and resources to allow for individuals to receive a fair hearing and sufficient authority to ensure redress. It must also treat all witnesses in a safe and humane fashion.”
Amnesty International remains committed to contribute to any genuine effort in Sri Lanka to find a just way forward from the decades of civil war and human rights abuses.
Associated links:
Joint Letter to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission
Twenty Years of Make Believe, Sri Lanka’s Commissions of Inquiry
Unlock the Camps

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dublin Tribunal finds against Sri Lanka on charges of War Crimes People's Tribunal on Sri Lanka

Former UN asst secretary general urges inquiry into Sri Lankan rights violations

Centre for International Studies
Dublin City University

Event Details

Lecture by Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations (6 Oct 2010)

Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations will speak on Wednesday 6th October at 2pm, on the topic of the "Dublin Tribunal verdict on Sri Lanka - what is to be done ?"

About Dennis Halliday
Denis Halliday resigned from his 34 year old career in the UN because of the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq by the Security Council. Laureate of the Gandhi International Peace Award;
former United Nations Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq (1997-1998). In 2000 Dennis Halliday was jointly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize with Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness, the campaign against sanctions on Iraq.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Denis J. Halliday, a national of Ireland, to the post of United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Baghdad, Iraq as of 1 September 1997, at the Assistant Secretary-General level. In October 1998 he resigned after a 34 year career with the UN. He did so to free himself of the constraints imposed on him by the Secretary-General and thereby speak out publicly on the terrible impact of UN economic sanctions on the people of Iraq. Prior to that, and from mid 1994, Mr. Halliday served as Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management of the United Nations, based in its New York Headquarters. Mr. Halliday has spent most of his long career with the United Nations in development and humanitarian assistance-related posts both in New York and overseas, primarily in South-East Asia. Following a year in Kenya as a Quaker volunteer 1962-63, Mr. Halliday joined the United Nations in 1964 serving in Teheran, Iran as a junior professional officer in the forerunner of UNDP - the United Nations Technical Assistance Board and Special Fund. From 1966 to 1972, he served in the Asia Bureau of UNDP Headquarters in New York and then transferred to Malaysia in 1972. In Malaysia, covering programmes in that country plus Singapore and Brunei, he served until 1977 as Deputy Regional Representative. In Indonesia, he continued at the Deputy level for two years until 1979, when he was asked to reopen and head up as Resident Representative the UNDP office in Samoa covering that country, the Cook Islands, the Tokelau Islands and Niue in the South Pacific. In 1985, he took up the post of Deputy Director, Division of Personnel before becoming Chef de Cabinet in 1987.

A brief introduction to the Follow-up events (DCU and TCD) of the People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka

The Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) (successor to the Bertrand Russell Tribunal) conducted a People’s Tribunal on the war in Sri Lanka and its aftermath in Dublin in January 2010. Following its investigations the Tribunal found the Sri Lankan government guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The ten-member expert panel of judges of the Tribunal also declared that the International Community, particularly the UK and USA, share responsibility for the breakdown of the peace process. The EU was also held responsible for the obstruction of the peace process. There were over 20 witnesses who testified at the Tribunal. Many of them were surviors of the last phase of war who managed to flee the country. The former head of the Nordic monitoring mission of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) in Sri Lanka gave evidence at the Tribunal Video footages from the war-torn region were presented before the panel of judges while a large number of written affidavits were also taken into consideration by the PPT.

The panel of judges comprised of internationally renowned former UN officers, academics and peace and human rights campaigners. The panel was chosen by the PPT from across the Global South and North in order to transcend geopolitical barriers and to ensure that its findings are both credible and ethically binding. The People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka (PTSL) was supported by a large number of individuals and human rights and peace organisations throughout the world. It was organised by the Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka (IFPSL). Ireland was chosen because of its historical status as a post-colonial nation, the success of the Northern Ireland peace process, and its traditional policy of neutrality.

Please visit the following website for the full report of the Tribunal:

( This contains some video footages)


Sunday, October 3, 2010

On Ban's “Abnormal” Understanding with Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa, UN Won't Answer

Inner City Press

On Ban's “Abnormal” Understanding with Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa,

UN Won't Answer

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 1, 2010 -- The UN's stonewalling on Sri Lanka expanded on October 1 with the Spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dodging whether Ban reached a private understanding with President Mahinda Rajapaksa that Rajapaksa could represent what Ban said in a one on one meeting about the limits of the UN war crimes panel.

It's up to individual heads of state” to issue whatever summaries they want, Spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

But did Ban reach an understanding with Rajapaksa, that he could say things not included in Ban's own summary of their meeting? Nesirky did not answer. Video here, from Minute 47:28.

Inner City Press asked again, as it has for months, for a desciption of Ban's contacts with Rajapaksa, including before and as Ban became Secretary General.

After having promised already to provide the answer, Nesirky on October 1 said he didn't understand the question: a list of meetings? Yes, of meetings and topics and whether Ban considers Rajapaksa a personal friend.

How else to explain what Ban's adviser Nicholas Haysom called the “abnormal” summary of the two men's meeting -- which unlike other UN summaries included the President's as well as Ban's words -- and the separate understanding about Rajapaksa issuing his own summary?

Nesirky has still refused to explain how the “abnormal” summary of Ban's meeting with Rajapaksa was produced. Hayson, for one, seemed surprised to see its content.

That Nesirky couldn't or wouldn't explain how it was produced implies that Nesirky was not involved in his preparation. Who was, then?

On the question of Ban's son in law Siddarth Chatterjee's involvement in Sri Lanka, with the Indian army force, Nesirky deemed it “irrelevant” two weeks after saying he would answer it. On October 1, Inner City Press asked if Nesirky had even deigned to ask Ban or his Office about it -- that is, whether Nesirky had the answer and wouldn't provide it, or didn't even have the answer. Even this was not answered.

UN's Ban and Rajapaksa September 2010, understanding not shown

Nesirky concluded by repeating that there are a lot of other issues than Sri Lanka: the Middle East, Myanmar...

After Inner City Press agreed but noted that Sri Lanka is the only country in which Ban has been burned in effigy - and from which people protested his speech at a midtown Manhattan hotel -- and that an “abnormal” summary of his meeting with the President had been issued, Nesirky asked if Inner City Press was saying that because of the burning in effigy, the summary was different. Perhaps it was a rhetorical question.

Friday, October 1, 2010

UN Blatantly Turns Blind Eye As Sri Lanka Becomes Nation of Totalitarianism

The Seoul Times

Global Views
Special Contribution
By Heike Winnig

Tamil civilians held in internment camps in Sri Lanka

With the 18th amendment in his pocket and control of the Election Commission assured, President Mahinda Rajapaksa will remain president of Sri Lanka for life.
With the Sri Lankan parliament’s passing of the 18th amendment empowering this man with utter and complete command of the small island nation, Sri Lanka’s tyranny and domination is unstoppable. Sri Lanka’s future is sealed.
"Rajapaksa Looks to His New Era," published on Sept. 11, 2010 by Sudha Ramachandran on Asia Times Online, exemplifies that:
"By its very definition, an executive presidency is anti-democratic. In Sri Lanka, it has been more so, as checks and balances have been steadily whittled away, enabling successive presidents to function in an authoritarian manner. This has prompted calls for abolition of the executive presidency."
In September 2006, an opinion on The Hindu reported that Mumbai based think-tank, Strategic Foresight Group (SFG), has confirmed what many long feared: Sri Lanka has emerged as one of the most militarized society in South Asia.
The study, "Cost of conflict in Sri Lanka," says the island nation has 8,000 military personnel per one million population. Even Pakistan, of which it is said that while every country has an army the Pakistan army has a country, has only half that number, 4,000 military personnel per one million capita. The figures for other South Asian countries are: Nepal 2,700; India 1,300; and Bangladesh 1,000. Sri Lanka also had the greatest military expenditure of gross domestic product (GDP).
“Even among the conflict-afflicted countries there could be very few that have witnessed the level of militarization seen in Sri Lanka. The study has established a direct linkage between the ongoing ethnic conflict and the steep rise in defense spending.”

For reporters and journalists, it still is one of the most dangerous places in the world.
[ full story ]