“’Strong Women’: A book review” by Womens Action Network

The Ministry of Women’s and Children’s affairs is mandated to work towards women’s empowerment and equality. However once again it has failed to do so, instead exposing its ethnic, religious and class bias. The Ministry’s opinion that only women working in the field of politics and that too mostly in the ruling party, and government sector are to be considered ‘strong women’ is in line with the overall regressive attitude of the Sri Lankan government towards women and women’s rights.

Via http://groundviews.org/2014/03/07/strong-women-a-book-review/

source: Groundviews

“Colossal Mihin Lanka losses: Some context” by Groundviews

“We (Goundviews)  asked two years ago, and reiterate, who is holding Mahinda Rajapaksa accountable for this colossal waste of public coffers?”

See Mihin Lanka’s colossal losses in context –http://groundviews.org/2014/03/07/colossal-mihin-lanka-losses-some-context/

source: www.groundviews.org

“Britain joins call for UN to investigate alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka” by Ben Quinn

“Britain is to join the US and three other countries in pushing for a full international inquiry into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka after the government there failed to satisfy international calls for a such an inquiry, Downing Street announced on Sunday.”

via: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/09/britain-un-alleged-war-crimes-sri-lanka

source: www.theguardian.com

“A Commentary on the Presidential Commission to Investigate Missing Persons During the Period of June 1990 – May 2009 in the Northern and Eastern Provinces: Issues and Concerns in the Search for Truth, Justice and Accountability” by CPA

6 March 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) has closely monitored previous Commissions of Inquiry (CoI) appointed by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and recommended policy alternatives in the search for truth, justice and accountability. While CPA acknowledges the need to have credible domestic processes, the present framework does not provide for an independent inquiry. As such, CPA at the outset calls for legislative reform to amend the present Commission of Inquiry Act to ensure that future CoIs are independent and free from the interference of the Government and its agents. CPA also calls for the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and for domestic legislation to be brought in line with international standards.

The present document consists of two sections. Section “A” briefly examines the shortcomings of the CoI mechanism in general in the context of the existing legal and constitutional framework. This section draws on the substantial body of work previously done by CPA in relation to CoIs in the past.

In this document CPA has broadly highlighted the underlying shortcomings of the CoI mechanism in Sri Lanka, calling into question its legitimacy and independence, as control over appointments, formulation of mandates and functions are all powers deeply embedded within the Executive. CPA believes that there needs to be societal and victims’ consultation throughout the CoI process in order for it to be an inclusive one that assures confidence in the system. Furthermore, all CoI reports should be made available to the public, thereby complementing the process with transparency.

Section “B” examines the latest commission appointed on disappearances. Several concerns are raised and recommendations are made to address these concerns. The concerns and recommendations highlighted are made in the spirit of constructive engagement. CPA urges the Commission to consider these recommendations when designing its future work plan and their specific inclusion in the interim report to be handed over to the President.

CPA’s specific examination of the ongoing work of this CoI, leads us to the conclusion that on the basis of its formulation and current operation, the Commission is incapable of carrying out a comprehensive, independent and transparent inquiry.

The issue of missing persons and the connected social and psychological challenges confronting families of missing persons pose serious challenges to reconciliation in a post war setting. It is hoped that the Commission will continue its functions mindful of these challenges. Similar initiatives in the past have failed to ensure victims’ right to truth and justice. The present Commission, beset by structural flaws and the specific concerns regarding its functioning, does not inspire confidence that it will prove to be any different. CPA urges therefore that the Commission takes onboard the proposed recommendations to provide victims and affected communities with much needed redress and to make the call for much needed reform in the search for truth, justice and accountability in Sri Lanka.

Download the full report here or read it online here.

source: Centre for Policy Alternatives

“Myanmar’s Tamils seek to protect their identity” by Swaminathan Natarajan

“People of Indian origin make up of roughly 2% of Myanmar’s 55-million population, but the experiences of Tamil people – who comprise the largest group – have veered from one extreme to the other in the past 200 years. After independence in 1948, the introduction of land reforms, the imposition of the Burmese language and the decision to give preferential treatment to the majority Burmese community pushed Tamils down in the social hierarchy. They are now trying to revive their language and culture by opening new schools.”

Myanmar also used to be home to a seizable Ceylon Tamil population of whom many later returned after independence as refugees to Jaffna and other parts of North and East.

via: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-25438275

source: www.bbc.com

“Commentary on the Census on human and property damages due to conflict 2013” by CPA

5 March 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The results of the ‘Census on human and property damages due to conflict – 2013’ are due to be published in March 2014, in time for the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva from 3 – 28 March 2014. However, despite the Director General of the Department of Census and Statistics claiming that this census will “help arrive at an exact decision on the persons missing and died during the period of conflict in the country”, it is evident from the methodology juxtaposed against the fear and intimidation people feel in the Northern Province alone, that the ‘Census on human and property damages due to conflict – 2013’ will not reveal the true extent of death, disappearance and damage caused by the war.”

Download the full report here, or read it online here.

source: CPA

“Tutu to the UN: Sri Lanka needs healing” by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

“The biggest issue Sri Lanka faces is a systemic lack of respect for the rights of its citizens, particularly – but not exclusively – its minority citizens. This is rooted in a culture of impunity that is in turn rooted in a failure to hold to account those, on both sides, who committed some of the worst atrocities this century.”

Via http://mg.co.za/article/2014-03-04-letter-from-desmond-tutu-to-the-un-sri-lanka-needs-healing

“Sri Lanka under fire at Human Rights Council” by Asian Correspondent

No matter what happens in Geneva this month, the way forward for Sri Lanka will be difficult. The situation on the island is clearly worsening and, up to now, international efforts to exert pressure on the regime have been largely ineffectual. Since the ability of international actors to shape events in Sri Lanka is limited, the passage of a strong resolution at the HRC – one that emphasizes an independent international mechanism to monitor ongoing human rights trends and also to conduct an examination into the war’s final phase – would not guarantee a decline in authoritarianism. On the other hand, the passage of a weak resolution or – less likely – the failure to pass any resolution on Sri Lanka this time around would probably encourage heightened repression, the continued rejection of Tamil and Muslim rights and an even more evident period of ethnic discord.

Via http://asiancorrespondent.com/120237/sri-lanka-under-fire-at-human-rights-council/

Seminaire “Paternalism & Women’s Political Participation in Sri Lanka” by Malathi de Alwis, at UMASS Boston, on March 5, 2014, 4:00-6:00 PM

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 The Consortium invites you to:
Paternalism & Women’s Political Participation in Sri Lanka
Malathi de Alwis
Consultant Socio-Cultural Anthropologist, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 4:00-6:00 PM  
Campus Center, Room 3545, UMass Boston
Feminist activism with regard to women’s political participation in Sri Lanka has primarily focused on quotas to increase their numerical strength within political institutions. This emphasis on “bodies” has however precluded a deeper discussion on the lack of “voice.”
Malathi de Alwis received her PhD in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at the University of Chicago and is currently affiliated with the Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo and the Faculty of Social Sciences, Open University, Colombo. She has also taught at the University of Chicago (Illinois), New School for Social Research (New York), the International Women’s University (Hannover) and the University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg). She has written extensively on nationalism, humanitarianism, maternalism, suffering and memory. She is the co-editor ofTsunami in a Time of War: Aid, Activism and Reconstruction in Sri Lanka and Aceh(2009), Feminists Under Fire (2003) and Embodied Violence (1996).
Refreshments will be served  
We hope you will be able to join us. Please feel free to share this invitation with colleagues and students who might be interested.  In addition, if this speaker is relevant to a course you are teaching, please feel welcome to bring your class or recommend this event to your students.
For directions to the University of Massachusetts Boston, a campus map, and information about parking and public transportation, please go to: http://www.umb.edu/the_university/getting_here/

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay’s Opening Remarks to 25th Session of UN HRC in Geneva

This Council has accomplished much in a world which cries out for respect for human rights daily. The challenges we face and which we must plan for are at times daunting – discrimination in all its forms, civil strife which can lead to crimes against humanity and war crimes, the development of new technologies – such as drones and lethal autonomous robots – which push us to the outer edge of our thinking on how to ensure our rights are protected, social media and new information technology which raises the question of where the public and private space lies and the importance of on-line and off-line freedoms, and the environmental degradation which affects not only economic and social rights but also impacts on the civil, cultural and political rights.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay’s Opening Remarks to 25th Session of UN HRC in Geneva –https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CiLFSqikACTeNc9F4rSc4oqSaWD2kh17YzDvxsRtAHA/edit?usp=sharing

“Joint Civil Society Memorandum to the Human Rights Council and the International Community” by CPA

“We recognize the framework agreed upon in resolutions 21/1 HRC (2012) and 22/1 HRC 2013 supporting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka and efforts made by member states calling on the Sri Lankan government to address grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law committed before, during and after the war which ended in May 2009. We recognize too the efforts of member states calling on the Sri Lankan government to address continuing violation of human rights and democratic norms in Sri Lanka.

Despite the failure of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to deal adequately with issues of accountability, civil society broadly agreed to cooperate with the Sri Lankan government in the implementation of the main LLRC recommendations. However, the government has not engaged in meaningful dialogue with civil society, opposition political parties and the international community in the implementation of LLRC recommendations. Moreover, the National Action Plan (NAP) conceived by the Sri Lankan government in July 2012 for this purpose, glosses over the most important issues of the LLRC, diluting its recommendations, considerably.

In our opinion, the Sri Lankan government continues to procrastinate over the implementation of key LLRC recommendations and instead, showcases ostensible progress on the NAP. The latter totally ignores the call for the setting up of an effective national mechanism to address accountability issues. Accordingly, we affirm the reports released by prominent Sri Lankan think tanks and civil society organisations such as the Centre for Policy Alternatives, which highlight the failure and shortcoming of the Sri Lankan government in the implementation of the LLRC recommendations.”

Read & download the full statement here –http://www.cpalanka.org/joint-civil-society-memorandum-to-the-human-rights-council-and-the-international-community/

source: www.cpalanka.org

“Our new report points to ongoing crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka’s north” by Sri Lankan Campaign for Peace and Justice

Sri Lankan Campaign for Peace and Justice has today released a report that presents credible allegations pointing to the commission of crimes against humanity by Sri Lankan security forces during the five years since the civil war ended.

It is endorsed by a host of legal experts including UN Panel of Experts author Yasmin Sooka, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak, and international criminal law and human rights law scholar Professor William Schabas.

You can read it here:http://blog.srilankacampaign.org/2014/03/our-new-report-points-to-ongoing-crimes.html

Draft Resolution on Sri Lanka | HRC 25

Draft Resolution on Promoting reconciliation, accountability, and human rights in Sri Lanka, submitted by United Kingdom of Grt. Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Montenegro, FYR of Macedonia, Mauritius.

Download and read PDFhttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bxbk4wYolphwRE9QbldFcWVBNUk/edit?usp=sharing

“A food crisis waiting to happen” by Meera Srinivasan

A crop failure of this magnitude is not something they are used to. “There was a time when Kilinochchi was known for its fertile soil and unfailing yields. But the situation is quite the opposite now,” S. Kanagasabapathy, president of an agriculture committee in Kilinochchi, says.

The drastic drop in harvest, the uncertainty over the coming monsoon and the exploitative market scenario — all against an economic backdrop that points to rising costs in Sri Lanka — together foretell a possible food crisis, something that the Northern Provincial Council is dreading.

Via http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/a-food-crisis-waiting-to-happen/article5743673.ece

source: www.thehindu.com

“Buddhist Hell, Sri Lanka – Gruesome Photos Banned By Facebook, Revealed” by Nate Robert

“Like me, you may have assumed Buddhism was such a happy religion. Until I discovered Buddhist Hell, deep in the South of Sri Lanka, I figured that Buddhist temples were full of kind, enlightened, robe-wearing folks, living out their days in this world performing good deeds, and getting a stack of good karma to boot. From a Western perspective, brand-Buddhism is pacifism, tranquility, and paying a hundred bucks to see the Shaolin Monks world tour, and being ripped off by Buddhist monks selling plastic beads. But wait, there’s more.

Unfortunately, visiting Sri Lanka, one of the most stunning island nations on the entire planet, has taught me everything I never wanted to know about Buddhism. Like all religions, Buddhism has a special dark place where people just don’t want to end up in this life, or any other. Buddhists refer to it as “Naraka” or “Niraya”. You may know it as “hell”. One artists vision of this tormented and gruesome place is on display inside the Buddhist temple named Wewurukannala Viharain the town named Dikwella. And the Buddhist version of hell, makes your version of hell seem like not such a terrible place.

Buddhists have developed a complex, and rather specific, number of hell’s and punishments. There’s sixteen hells. A small sample includes “Nirarbuda”, a place where miscreant beings roam around a dark, frozen plain surrounded by icy mountains, where bodies blister from the icy cold, and are covered in blood and pus.Or maybe “Samghata”, where the residents are continually crushed by huge rocks until they are nothing but a bloody jelly. The rocks then move apart, the being is restored, and the brutal process is repeated. For precisely 10.0368 trillion years”

via: http://www.yomadic.com/buddhist-hell/

source: www.yomadic.com