6,151 Candidates from 21 registered political parties and 201 independent groups are contesting the Sri Lankan Parliamentary elections scheduled for August 17th 2015. Of these 3, 653 are from the 21 parties and 2,498 from independent groups. Predictably the spotlight in general has been on the major political parties both nationally and regionally in g. However a particular group of independents contesting in the north has also attracted much attention. This is because the group comprises former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
“Gazing out over the parched earth of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, one might think these farmlands have not seen water in years. In fact, this is not too far from the truth.”
The drought has emerged a serious challenge in Sri Lanka, hitting as many as 1,11,459 families living in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Hambantota, Puttalam, Mannar, Vavuniya, Moneragala and Ampara districts across the country, according to official estimates. The crisis prompted President Mahinda Rajapaksa to announce an LKR 1,300 million (USD 10 million) development programme recently, seeking to provide temporary income to families facing acute shortage of water for cultivation and daily needs.
“Cinq ans après avoir écrasé la guérilla des Tigres de libération de l’Eelam tamoul (LTTE), l’armée et le gouvernement du Sri Lanka ont commencé à réhabiliter les zones de combats. Les villes reprennent vie. Mais, sans véritable réconciliation ni réforme politique, le pays reste divisé entre la majorité cinghalaise et la minorité tamoule. La frustration grandit et la colère gronde, notamment dans le Nord.”
18th March 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is deeply concerned by the arrest and detention last week of several individuals in the North and East, including Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). CPA condemns these attempts by the Government of Sri Lanka to silence critics and supress legitimate civil society activity. We call for the immediate release of all activists including Balendran Jeyakumari, Ruki Fernando and Fr. Praveen Mahesan.
Balendran Jeyakumari was arrested in Kilinochchi on 13th March 2014, allegedly for aiding and abetting an ex-LTTE cadre who was fleeing after shooting a police officer in Kilinochchi. Ms. Jeyakumari’s 13 year old daughter was also detained although the police media spokesperson later stated that she was handed over to the department of child-care and probation. Ms. Jeyakumari, is reported to be detained in the Boossa detention centre, which is located hundreds of miles away from her family, especially her young daughter. Ms. Jeyakumari has lost two sons to the war and is in search of her third son who allegedly surrendered to the Government forces at the end of the war in 2009. Five years on, she continues her search at the forefront of a large number of families searching for their disappeared family members. CPA is also concerned about the recent detention of several others involved in the search for disappeared family members.
On 16th March 2014, two prominent HRDs were arrested in Kilinochchi. Although the police initially denied arresting Mr Ruki Fernando and Fr. Praveen Mahesan, it was later reported that a special team fromthe Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) had made the arrest. It is also reported that both Mr Fernando and Fr. Praveen Mahesan are now being held at the Colombo office of the TID. CPA is deeply concerned for their safety.
CPA has had a long-standing association with both Ruki Fernando and Fr. Praveen Mahesan. They are peaceful individuals deeply committed to the cause of protecting the basic human rights of vulnerable individuals. CPA is shocked by accusations levelled against them of “terrorists” and of attempting to “incite violence amongst communities”. As recently as last week, an extremist religious group publicly stated that they would organise themselves as an “army” if their demands were not met. Surprisingly, none of these individuals or organisations are being called into question, let alone arrested on charges of causing communal discontent; HRDs on the other hand, continue to be threatened and intimidated through the use of unconscionable anti-terrorism legislation.
These detained activists are prominent campaigners against the large number of past and continuing cases of disappearances in Sri Lanka. In a context where Sri Lankan civil society organisations have challenged the credibility and independence of the investigations being conducted by the recently appointed Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into missing persons in the Northern and Eastern provinces, and where civil society organisations have taken an active role to hold the CoI accountable in order to ensure that it delivers on the promise of justice to victims, attempts to intimidate HRDs working on these issues clearly illustrates the Government’s unwillingness to ensure credible and transparent investigations into serious human rights violations.
These acts are part of a continued effort to stifle criticism of the Government of Sri Lanka and to suppress the flow of information in respect of past and continuing human rights violations. Despite repeated requests by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the harassment, intimidation and detention of HRDs continue unabated. In this instance, it is noteworthy that the harassment and detentions continue during the on-going 25th Session of the UNHRC, and further by immediate and disproportionate recourse to the anti-terrorism law rather than the ordinary law and order processes.
CPA has repeatedly called on the Government to repeal, if not amend the PTA so as to bring its provisions in line with Sri Lanka’s own constitutional standards of fundamental rights as well as its international obligations, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The PTA gives wide discretionary powers to law enforcement authorities on matters relating to detention and admission of confessions, providing little or no safeguards against abuses of power. It also provides for vague and loosely defined offences with heavy penalties that are inconsistent with general principles of criminal liability. The Act was initially conceived as a temporary measure to respond to extraordinary security challenges faced by the State in 1979. However, the draconian provisions of the Act have been regularised over time and have often been used to punish perceived opponents of the Government in power. Furthermore, the PTA’s continued existence in post-war Sri Lanka runs contrary to the narrative of peace and stability the Government projects both within and outside Sri Lanka.
In the context of growing international pressure on its human rights record, we call on the Government to act responsibly and engage with the international community in order to ensure the protection and guarantee of human rights ofall citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion, or political belief. It is also paramount that the Government adheres to its international and national obligations including to the obligations provided by its own National Human Rights Action Plan. Most pressingly, we reiterate our call for the immediate release of the three HRDs currently in detention without charge.
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.
“The issue of assistance is definitely one of the current dominant problems to addressing the IDP [internally displaced persons] problem,” said Mirak Raheem, who recently authored an extensive research study on protracted war displaced in Sri Lanka. “Donor financial support has played a crucial role in humanitarian work and now it will be incumbent on the government to fill the gap.”
“When Sri Lanka’s bitter civil war came to an end in May of 2009 it drew to a close an era crippled with fear and drenched in blood. No independent journalists were given access to the frontlines during its final stages and while propaganda and misinformation filled the void, the reality on the ground went unrecorded and the war itself went un-witnessed.
That was until three student journalists ventured into Sri Lanka from the UK. Their naivety afforded them access to areas denied to journalists from the BBC or CNN and went further than any had gone before them. They captured everything they saw on 30 hours of DV tapes, audio recordings and over 4,000 photographs.
They were given exclusive access to the IDP Camps of Menik Farm — then the most infamous IDP camps in the world at the time — and walked through the ruins of Kilinochchi — the former Tamil Tiger capital. By the end of their journey they also became the first foreign journalists to witness the aftermath of the final battlegrounds in Mullaitivu and Chalai.
The film is a snapshot of a country at a crossroads, amid diverging narratives in the wake of war. They witness the loss of human dignity for those caught up in the conflict and provide a searing assessment of war reportage at a time when propaganda blurs the line of fact and fiction. This is a story told from their eyes about a journey through a conflict that is in very real danger of being forgotten forever.”
According to a letter issued by the Kilinochchi zonal education director on the 03rd of January 2013, hundred and three security personnel have been employed to teach the Sinhalese language in all schools within the Kilinochchi zone.
It is illegal to employ any person for teaching in government schools other than those who have been appointed by the Ministry of Education and who have been properly trained according to the teacher services regulations. This decision also goes against the LLRC Recommendation which urges that security forces personnel should move out of civil administration activities as a vital step towards post war reconciliation. As per Recommendation 9.134 of the LLRC report, “the security forces should dis-engage itself from all civil administration related activities as rapidly as possible.” In addition to this, Recommendations 9.171 calls for “the phasing out of the involvement of the security forces in civilian activities…”
click to read the article: http://vimarsanam-vimansa.org/report/military-teaching-in-north-schools-defies-llrc/