Monthly Archives: June 2013

Sri Lanka Govt Shuns Reconciliation with Move to Annul Constitutional Provisions

The fundamental reason was that Tamils realised that devolution proposed under the 13thamendment would be hobbled by the very thing it was supposed dismantle – power wielded in Sri Lanka’s legislature by Sinhalese members of parliament. This constraint was due to the unitary character of the Sri Lankan state. This means that the central government, in which the executive presidency and parliament are key institutions, remains constitutionally supreme.

Time to Let Peace Builders Do Their Job

Last Friday marked the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project in which the Court held the sweeping view that “material support” to terrorist organizations included even support aimed at promoting peace. That means the U.S. government can criminally prosecute groups or individuals for facilitating peace talks, offering training… Read more »

Amnesty: Torture in Sri Lanka

The Prevention of Terrorism Act – a holdover from the 1980s – is one of the main legal tools deployed by the government to silence its critics. Under it, people can be arrested without charge or trial and held for up to 18 months under a detention order, or pending trial – indefinitely. Locked in a sinister limbo and denied the right to a lawyer, they are left vulnerable to torture – despite a constitutional ban on the practice.

Sometimes the authorities eschew legal avenues altogether, harassing and assaulting their critics through anonymous means. Credible reports of people being bundled into white vans by unidentified assailants and later dumped, or never seen again, are alarmingly frequent.

Amnesty: “Tell the Truth”

by Amnesty International, London, June 26, 2013 Amnesty Tell the Truth Six Points for CHOGM June 2013 AI index: ASA 37/015/2013 26 June 2013 Four years have passed since the end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan authorities continue to deny mounting evidence of crimes under international law committed by its forces during Sri… Read more »

Amnesty: Forgotten Prisoners

Several years after the end of the war in Sri Lanka — during which both sides committed gross human rights abuses, including deliberate and indiscriminate attacks against civilians, torture and the use of child soldiers — hundreds of people are languishing in prison without charge or trial under Sri Lanka’s repressive anti-terrorism laws.

The Tyranny of the Majority

Culture matters; and so do rules. In Patterns of Democracy, political scientist Arend Lijphart argues that democratic governments come in two basic models: majoritarian, like the British, with strong single-party cabinets dominating decision-making, or “consensual,” with power exercised through coalitions. Lijphart observes that while in homogeneous societies all citizens can feel reasonably represented in a majoritarian system, the same model in nations deeply divided by class or identity “spells majoritarian dictatorship and civil strife.” He argues for electoral rules which guarantee a measure of proportional representation, coalition governments, an empowered and truly bicameral legislature, decentralization. Lijphart claims that the consensual model maximizes democratic legitimacy without sacrificing effectiveness.

Extremism Rises Among Myanmar Buddhists

“Myanmar monks are quite isolated and have a thin relationship with Buddhists in other parts of the world,” Phra Paisal said. One exception is Sri Lanka, another country historically bedeviled by ethnic strife. Burmese monks have been inspired by the assertive political role played by monks from Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese majority.

Taking Stock at the Afghan Milestones

Diplomacy usually shapes final outcomes. Most armed conflicts, including civil wars, end with some negotiated coming to terms. That is true even of most one-sided outcomes. The surrender Grant accepted at Appomattox was not unconditional; it was a negotiated surrender, which let Confederates keep their horses and the officers among them keep their sidearms. Again, there are exceptions; the Sri Lankan government’s final eradication of the Tamil Tigers in 2009 did not involve a coming to terms. The conditions for any similar outcome have never been present in Afghanistan.

The Uphill Road

by ‘The Economist’s’ Banyan blog, June 22, 2013  OFTEN, when Sri Lanka’s ethnic-Sinhalese-dominated government appears to be offering a hand in friendship to the Tamil minority, it turns out to be a slap in the face. For example, in 2010 it appointed a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the final phase of the… Read more »

Why Christian Persecution is Worrisome in Sri Lanka

Moreover, the government appears to be desperate to garner popular support – on which the survival of some top officials depends in the post-war scenario – by aggressively pursuing Sinhala Buddhist nationalism.

If the propaganda against Christians and Muslims carries on unabated and the government continues to provide impunity to Buddhist groups, the space for religious minorities to practise their basic freedoms is likely to shrink much further. The International community needs to act sooner than later.

The 13th Amendment: What Next?

Defeating the LTTE did not create a united Lankan nation. Sri Lanka today is what she was after 1956: one and indivisible, with marginalised minorities and seeds of separation germinating underground.

Maximalism is a mindset, a way of looking at the world and living in it. It is a habit that dulls the eyes, stops the ears, blunts the intellect and silences the conscience. It is a habit which makes one do not only what is wrong but also what is counterproductive.

Re-Launch of NESoHR with Report on Jaffna Students

Maaveerar Day attacks on Jaffna University students and NESOHR re-launch The North East Secretariat for Human Rights (NESOHR) was born in the northern part of the island of Sri Lanka in July 2004 during an internationally sanctioned ceasefire and it was destroyed in January 2009 in the genocidal war.  Some of NESOHR founding members, who… Read more »

MGR Remembered – Part 9

by Sachi Sri Kantha, June 13, 2013 Part 8 Number of Tamil movies released between 1936 and 1947 MGR’s rivals for action roles during 1936 to 1947 Two of MGR’s pre-hero movies, namely Harichandra (1944) and Salivahanan (1945) deserve mention in tracing MGR’s ascend as a movie icon. In both of these movies the hero… Read more »

Gajendrakumar on 13th Amendment

Gajendrakumar exposes New Delhi’s deception behind 13th Amendment New Delhi that had wanted the LTTE to commit on federal solution as condition to bring in ceasefire, started arrogantly imposing the unitary 13 Amendment once the war ended in genocide, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam exposes, bringing out the roles played by new Delhi’s National Security Advisor, M.K. Narayanan,… Read more »

Tamils Want More Devolved Power in Sri Lanka’s North

Photo: Contributor/IRIN TNA leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan COLOMBO, 11 June 2013 (IRIN) – Ahead of Sri Lanka’s planned provincial election in a former war zone, the country’s main ethnic minority Tamil party is pushing to have as much power devolved from Colombo as possible. The island nation has grappled for decades with the question of the devolution… Read more »

Lights, Camera, Election

by ‘The Economist,’ London, June 8, 2013 WHEN the film “Parasakthi” was released in Tamil Nadu in October 1952, it played for over 100 days to rapt audiences… During the past 50 years, five of Tamil Nadu’s eight chief ministers have been film stars or scriptwriters. To this day, power still ricochets between Mr Karunanidhi’s… Read more »

Kuttimani Files

Thirty years ago, the name Kuttimani made waves in Sri Lanka. His given name was Selvarajah Yogachandran, and he was one of the Tamil militant leaders in Sri Lanka in 1970s. On July 25th 1983, he was one of the Tamil prisoners who were killed inside the Welikade jail. As such, it may be appropriate… Read more »

Time for U.S. Pressure on Sri Lanka

Editor’s note: Karunyan Arulanantham is the executive director of the Tamil American Peace Initiative, an organization of Tamil Americans. The views expressed are the writer’s own. Amid the jungle and sandy beaches of northeast Sri Lanka’s Vanni region lie tragic truths the government has desperately sought to suppress in the four years since its civil… Read more »