Posts Categorized: Politics

Arrest of Azath Salley

“Azad Sally’s arrest, and the harassment he has faced over the past weeks, is indicative of the climate of fear government critics in Sri Lanka are forced to live under. He must be released immediately or charged with an internationally recognisable criminal offence,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

“He has been campaigning to end oppressive practices against minorities in Sri Lanka, in particular Muslims and Tamils, for which he has faced the ire of the Sri Lankan government.

Returning to Mulliyawalai

While in Mullaitheevu (and in Vavuniya too) tension over land between Muslims and Tamil returnees are building up to the point of burning down poor returnees’ temporary huts in Mulliyawallai and blaming each other, in Weli Oya (Mullaitheevu) and Thalapogaswewa (in Vavuniya) Sinhala settlers are being brought by the government in bus loads for colonization. To date there have been about 4800 Sinhala families brought to Weli Oya and about 2000 families to Thalabogaswewa.

Buddhist Violence in Burma

In Sri Lanka, Buddhism is a faith that defines society for the Sinhalese, and it becomes the identifying characteristic when they feel threatened. That still doesn’t entirely explain how it became the rallying call of the modern Sri Lankan military, or large segments of it, and how its nonviolent, introspective teachings were so easily abandoned not only in time of conflict—perhaps understandable given the brutality of the Tamil Tigers—but also when time came to make a just peace with the civilian population of the Tamil north.

Discourse on the NPC Elections

From T.K. The 13th Amendment has been discussed in great length here and elsewhere as nowhere near  power devolution of any kind for Tamils. However, the insertion of it in Tamils’ path TODAY cannot be termed as about ‘nothing’. Even the parliament and judiciary cannot withstand the Sri Lankan presidential system, so why do we make much ado about the… Read more »

Grounding the Struggle

They constitute the systematic transfer of private land from Tamils to Sinhalese, with the associated intent to permanently dismantle the Tamil economy (farming and fishing), alter irrevocably the ethnic demography of the North-East and thus further weaken Tamil political mobilisation…

International ambitions for ethnic reconciliation as the basis for the peace, would be better served by attention to the drivers of everyday insecurity, disenfranchisement and oppression, exemplified by the state’s forcible appropriation of Tamil-owned land, rather than elections to impotent local assemblies.

Land Grabs In The North And East

Recent weeks have seen a steep rise in the number of land grabs in the North and East…

These land grabs by the military, together with activities relating to colonization of the North and East are part of the attacks on the democratic rights of the Tamil People in the North and East. These attacks are clearly carried out with the active support, sanction and collusion of the Sri Lankan government. They are part of the many vain and counterproductive attempts to suppress and persecute Tamils for their political aspirations. The Tamil National Alliance has called on the Sri Lankan government to immediately cease these acts of violence directed against the Tamil People. In order to prevent a non-recurrence of the past, Sri Lanka must expeditiously commence a meaningful and genuine process of reconciliation.

The Sri Lankan (Unitary) Mindset

I wanted to write a quick post as a corollary to the recent exchanges between Guru and Dayan in Colombo telegraph.  I was glad to read that exchange.  I was also very happy to see Justice Wigneswaran’s  speech. Hopefully more and more discussions will follow on the nature of Sri Lakan state. I had been arguing that the Sri… Read more »

A Never Ending Struggle

Provincial Councils were created at India’s insistence and the Indo-Lanka accord, and the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lanka Constitution. While it may have been conceived in the likeness of Indian states, it is but a pale imitation of that model. Unlike in India, in Sri Lanka, the President is the one who will, directly or indirectly, control the destiny of provinces through the Governor appointed by him…
The Governor is also the executive head of the province, and public service. He appoints the Chief Minister, and on his advice, the other members of the Board of Ministers. Decisions of the Board of Ministers are presented to the Governor who, at his discretion, has the power to accept or reject them. In other words, the decisions of the Board of Ministers, the elected representatives of the people, mean nothing!

Funds are allocated by parliament, on the advice of the President. Also police and land powers are outside the purview of the provinces, but the President can direct them through the bodies that exercise them. In effect, it is the President who decides everything for the provinces, through his Governor.

HRW: Burma, Ethnic Cleansing

Burma: End ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ of Rohingya Muslims by Human Rights Watch, New York, April 22, 2013 (Bangkok) – Burmese authorities and members of Arakanese groups have committed crimes against humanity in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in Arakan State since June 2012, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. The 153-page… Read more »

Much Ado About Nothing

The strategy seems to be to get the Tamils to ask, demand, struggle, fight for something so minimalistic; to get them to feel and identify with the Provincial Council as an institution that will solve their problems.

The War May Be Over But The Idea Lives On

Former Tamil MP Ponnambalam puts it simply: “I think it’s dangerous for us to think about what is possible. If we start thinking about that, it only means assimilation. We must stop talking Tamil, we must give up our religion. We must be Sinhalese and Buddhist.”

OVER AND above the geopolitics and domestic Tamil politics that directly affects India, the Sri Lankan Tamils’ story raises a disturbing question. Can the desperate and continuing plight of a people be explained away by terrorism alone? For now, more than 22 lakh Tamils within Sri Lanka and an estimated 10 lakh in the diaspora, are asking this universally perplexing question. As their story also serves as a warning to other displaced people without a nation — while the world and the UN plays a double game, your idea of nationhood could be the next to disappear.

But even in the aftermath of the terror and genocide, the Tamil idea of nationhood has not disappeared. If India does not want another cycle of violence at its doorstep, it cannot afford to be indifferent to the voices of the Lankan Tamils.

Attacks Choke Sri Lanka’s Press

“If you attack a journalist, you are likely going to get away with it – that’s the message,” said Fred Carver, director of Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice, a London-based rights group.

“While there is little outright censorship, there’s a real climate of fear that makes it very difficult to be critical of the government,” added Mr. Carver, who says the Tamil press has been especially targeted.

Country Report: Human Rights 2012

Discrimination against the ethnic Tamil minority continued, and a disproportionate number of victims of human rights violations were Tamils.

Urgent Need for Visible Rights Reform

Despite disturbing video footage released by Channel 4 supported by compelling eyewitness accounts that civilians compressed into a tiny area were repeatedly shelled and bombed, Rajapaksa asserted, “No, but we never fired like how they do in bombing Afghanistan. We never did that.” He also denied that hospitals were shelled – which Human Rights Watch reported on in detail — insisting “it was a complete propaganda,” and that he had seen pictures to the contrary. And despite the 2011 report of a United Nations Panel of Experts that found credible allegations of war crimes and said that up to 40,000 civilians were killed in the final months of the war primarily by indiscriminate shelling from government forces, the president declared: “LTTE shot some of them when they tried to escape. Other than that I don’t think any civilians were killed.” So how many? asked interviewer Shekhar Gupta. The president responded: “I would say less than 100.”

Throwback

Vittachi concludes the book with a question. “Have the Sinhalese and the Tamils reached the parting of the ways?” The question was asked in 1958. It was definitively answered, 25 years later, in 1983. Another 26 years later, in 2009, we were reminded of the answer.

55 years after Vittachi first asked the question, who in the Sinhala community is willing to openly ask the question,

Shed Obsession with 13th Amendment

by Meera Srinivasan, ‘The Hindu,’ April 12, 2013 The obsession with the 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution will hardly help the Tamils, politicians and activists in northern Srilanka told the Indian parliamentary delegation, which wound up its visit to Sri Lanka on Thursday. While members of the Indian delegation were rather reluctant to… Read more »

R2P and Sri Lanka

by Henrietta Briscoe, Tamils Against Genocide, April 2013 for Responsibility to Protect Conference, Faculty of Law, Ljubljana, Slovenia, April 11 – 12, 2013 http://www.r2pconference.com/ R2P Poster Slovenia Conference TAG April 2013 ————————- Henrietta Briscoe interview in Delhi, March 2013 ————————- Tamil Genocide Framework Highlighted in Slovenia Conference [TamilNet, Thursday, 11 April 2013, 11:14 GMT] The framework… Read more »

US Policy Towards and Continuing Engagement with Sri Lanka

The 2012 resolution, passed by a majority of countries on the Human Rights Council, sent a clear message that the international community shared the United States’ concerns regarding the lack of progress on reconciliation and accountability. The 2012 resolution simply asked the government of Sri Lanka to fulfill its own commitments to its people from its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report, and to meet its own international obligations.

TNA Leader Urges GoSL to Protect Muslims

Our people are too closely intertwined for one to think that it can survive the fate of the other. …We wish to emphasize that the enforcement of law and order, and ensuring the safety and security of all the people, including the Muslim people, is primarily the responsibility of the State. Recent events have shown that the State has not discharged this responsibility in a manner beyond reproach.