Sri Lanka Timeline - Year 2015
| January 5
The campaign for the upcoming
presidential polls in Sri Lanka ended with sporadic violence having
marred the final day. Three opposition activists were injured
when unidentified gunmen shot and injured them while they were
engaged in putting up a dais for the opposition leader, Maithripala
Sirisena, on the final day of campaigning in the southern town
of Kahawatte in Ratnapura District.
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
called on the Sri Lankan government again to ensure a peaceful
election that is inclusive of minorities. Responding to a media
query on the election violence in the run-up to the election Presidential
election on January 08, Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General,
said the Secretary General's call to the Government to ensure
that the elections are peaceful and that they're inclusive, including
for minorities is much more important now on the backdrop of the
A clash between supporters of
the UPFA and the NDF at Rambukkana in Kegalle District had left
four government supporters injured and one Opposition supporter
injured. The NDF supporter with cut injuries was admitted to the
Kegalle hospital while the four injured UPFA supporters have been
admitted to the Rambukkana hospital. Five persons have been taken
into custody in connection with the incident along with a firearm
they had in their possession, Police said. Three vehicles and
several shops were also attacked.
The CMEV said there had been a
rise in major incidents of election violence between November
20 and January 5 whereas the number of incidents of election violence
seemed to have dropped when compared to the previous elections.
The CMEV Coordinating Secretary D.M. Dissanayake said it had documented
420 incidents of election violence with 237 categorised as major
incidents while 183 as minor incidents. He said the highest number
of major incidents was reported from Jaffna District with 22 incidents
followed by Badulla, Kurunegala and Kandy with 19, 18 and 17 incidents
respectively. Dissanayake said CMEV had recorded 26 incidents
involving firearms and 03 incidents of petrol bombings. He said
CMEV had recorded 132 incidents of gross misuse of State resources
for election purposes with excessive use of State media by the
incumbent and very limited airtime for opposition candidates.
Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu from
the CMEV at a media briefing, said that concerns have been raised
that voter intimidation on election day will lead to a low voter
turnout, especially in the North. Saravanamuttu said that communities
and political leaders have raised concerns about the vote in the
north in particular and about the deployment of security forces
that could have an adverse impact on the voter turnout.
The victim of the shooting incident
at an opposition rally in Kahawatta on January 5, succumbed to
his injuries. The victim, one of the three people, who were shot
by the supporters of the Deputy Minister Premalal Jayasekara,
has been treated in the Intensive care Unit at the Ratnapura Hospital
for the past three days. The other two persons who received gunshot
injuries are still receiving treatment at Ratnapura hospital.
Sri Lanka's Commissioner of Elections
Mahinda Deshapriya said the Police are empowered to use maximum
force if anyone tries anything unlawful at the polling stations
during tomorrow's presidential election. Addressing a media briefing,
the Election Commissioner the Police had been given authority
to use maximum power, even shooting a violator, if any one tries
to intimidate or attempts to obstruct a voter using their right
The Sri Lankan government said
the UN recent call to the government to ensure that the elections
are peaceful and inclusive, is "gratuitous and inappropriate."
Issuing a statement, the External Affairs Ministry said Sri Lanka
notes with concern the recent remarks by the Spokesperson of the
Secretary-General of the UN recalling the Secretary-General's
call to the Government to ensure that the forthcoming Presidential
elections are peaceful and inclusive. "The Spokesperson's comments
are gratuitous and inappropriate," the statement said.
A high voter turnout was reported
at the just concluded 2015 Presidential elections, based on information
provided by returning officers in the Districts. Officials said
that Pollonaruwa recorded 80 percent voter turnout by 4pm as the
deadline to cast votes ended with Nuwara Eliya also recording
80 percent, Anuradhapura recording 76 percent, Trincomalee 72
percent, Kurunegala 77 percent, Puttalam 71 percent, Batticaloa
60 percent, Badulla 61 percent, Matara 73 percent, Kandy 75 percent,
Hambantota 70 percent and Puttalam 70 percent.
The local election monitor, CMEV
has received a report that ruling UPFA Deputy Minister Sarana
Gunawardena and a group of supporters have hit two women in Attanagalle
electorate of Gampaha District. The women were assaulted by the
Deputy Minster and his supporters at around 1.00 pm near the Yatiyana
Junior School polling center. The Deputy Minster and his group
of supporters have been roaming the area in 7 vehicles, the CMEV
Despite hospitals being alert
to possible emergencies during the Presidential polls that lasted
from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., no incidents were reported. Director of
the National Hospital, Dr. Anil Jasinghe when contacted said that
the hospital had not received any patients with injuries sustained
during voting. The Hospital had functioned normally despite large
number of its employees taking time off to cast their vote.
Sri Lanka's incumbent President
Mahinda Rajapaksa conceded defeat, said his official media unit,
following clear signs of his opponent Maithripala Sirisena's victory
in the presidential elections. Rajapaksa vacated Temple Trees,
his official residence, following a meeting with Opposition Leader
Ranil Wickramasinghe, assuring him of smooth transition. With
final result yet to be declared, Sirisena is expected to be declared
winner by around 4,00,000 votes.
CMEV has received a report that
North Central Chief Minister S.M. Ranjith and his supporters had
assaulted opposition supporters in Senapura, Mihinthale. The assailants
have carried wooden rods and guns. The victim, Wimalasiri A.H.M.
has been admitted to the Senapura Hospital. No complaint has been
lodged. The CMEV said three explosions have so far been reported
on the day of polls. The first was in Point Pedro reported and
a second incident involved an explosion from Beruwala targeting
a house of a Muslim businessman. No injuries were reported. The
third incident is from Vavuniya where a grenade exploded near
the Polling Station at Nelukkulam Kalaimagal Maha Vidyalaya. No
injuries were reported and the police are investigating. It has
been reported in Jaffna that the members of the government ally,
EPDP were intimidating TNA party members.
The winner of the 2015 Presidential
Election Maithripala Sirisena was sworn in, as the 6th Executive
President of Sri Lanka. Sirisena took oaths as the new President
before Supreme Court Justice K. Sripavan at the Independence Square
in Colombo. In his address to the nation following the swearing-in,
the new President said he has no intention to seek a second term
and said Sri Lanka will have friendly relations with every country.
Opposition leader Ranil Wickramasinghe took oaths as the Prime
Minister of Sri Lanka before Executive President Maithripala Sirisena
at the same venue.
In Kandy District, after the swearing-in
ceremony, the seventh President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena
expressed his gratitude to those who voted for him and he was
thankful to everyone who assisted to hold a peaceful election.
He said it is time for a transformation society - to bring about
a humane society with good governance and respect to law. He also
said that this would be the only time that he would contest the
The former LTTE leader Kumaran
Pathmanathan alias KP, who was in Sri Lanka under protective
custody, rejected the reports that he fled the country after the
defeat of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa at last week's elections.
Speaking over phone, from his orphanage at Kilinochchi in the
North, the former arms procurer for the LTTE said he is still
there and have no plans to leave the country.
Marxist party JVP filed a petition
in court seeking the arrest of a former top leader of the LTTE
Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP. The JVP filed the petition
in the Court of Appeals seeking to arrest KP, who was in protective
custody under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa's Government.
JVP parliamentarian Vijitha Herath said KP has to answer many
questions and he needs to be arrested for his activities. KP was
an international arms smuggler who procured massive loads of weapons
worth billions of dollars for the terrorist organization that
ravaged a deadly war for 30 years. He was involved in arms smuggling
operations across Asia, Canada, US and Europe.
Former Army Commander of Sri Lanka
Sarath Fonseka has been fully pardoned by the President Maithripala
Sirisena. The former Army general who led the decisive war against
the LTTE to end the terrorism in Sri Lanka was stripped off of
his ranks and rights by the previous Government. President's Media
Division said that "Fonseka has been acquitted of all charges
filed against him under the previous Government and has been granted
complete amnesty by President Maithripala Sirisena."It also said
that the President Sirisena pardoned the former General by the
powers vested in him under Article 34 of the Constitution. Accordingly,
Fonseka's rank will be restored and will be entitled to all military
and social privileges without any legal barrier. He will be awarded
back his medals and honors.
| January 23
The Chairman of the PCICMP, Maxwell
Paranagama has sought a time with the President Maithripala Sirisena
to discuss the future proceedings of the Commission. Paranagama
said that the Commission plans on making an interim report on
the inquiries they have currently completed. According to the
Chairman, the Commission is continuing to function without break
amid the election of a new President and currently investigations
into filed reports and received evidence are underway.
The new Sri Lankan Government
has decided to terminate a mandatory military style leadership
training program initiated by the previous Government for school
principals and university entrants. New Education Minister Akila
Viraj Kariyawasam said the Government is ending the program that
was compulsory for the students entering the country's universities
under the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration.
Report said that previous Government's mandatory leadership training
program for undergraduates was highly unpopular among the students
and parents, and has been seen by intellectuals as a militarization
of the education sector.
| January 25
The Court of Appeal in Sri Lanka
on January 27 will take up a Writ Application filed by the Marxist
party, JVP seeking an order to arrest and prosecute former LTTE
leader Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP. The petition was
filed in the Court of Appeal on January 19 and has sought Writs
of Mandamus to arrest KP and produce him in Court to investigate
the offences committed by him and to initiate judicial proceedings
against him. The petition demanded the arrest and trial of the
former LTTE leader who is believed to be the head of the international
wing of the terrorist organization. KP is currently operating
a NGO under military protection in the Northern Province.
TNA said that there is no need
to appoint new commissions with regard to the war in Sri Lanka
and the national question. TNA parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran
said that rather than appointing new commissions, it is more important
to enact the recommendations made by the committees that have
been appointed so far. TNA has also said they do not expect a
new PSC to be appointed over the national issue. TNA is also a
stakeholder of the NEC and is engaged in implementing the 100
day programme of the new Government.
| January 27
The Appeal Court of Sri Lanka
issued notice on the Attorney General to appear before the Court
on February 5 in connection with the writ application filed by
the JVP against former LTTE Leader, Kumaran Pathmanathan alias
| January 28
President Maithripala Sirisena
said more attention would be paid to national security and a well-structured
plan would be implemented to ensure national security for the
welfare of the country and the people. The President said that
every effort would be initiated in strengthening the national
security within the democratic framework according to the constitution.
He added that precise understanding of issues that poses in various
faces nationally and internationally has to be addressed in a
constructive manner while formulating appropriate solutions. President
requested the Security Council to submit new proposals and recommendations
in addition to the programme now being implemented on national
security as it the expectation of the government to implement
a programme to strengthen national security locally and internationally.
A Government spokesman, Rajitha
Senaratne said that Sri Lanka is planning an investigation into
accusations of human rights abuses in the final stages of civil
war amid international frustration at the failure to look into
numerous civilian deaths. “We are thinking of having our own inquiry
acceptable to them to the international standards,” Rajitha Senaratne
said in Colombo, referring to the UN. “It will be a new local
inquiry. If we need, we will bring some foreign experts,” he added.
Rajitha Senaratne also said that the new Government was looking
at releasing political prisoners, mainly suspected members of
the defeated LTTE.
The new Government plans to return
private land seized by the military in the civil war-ravaged north
and release several hundred detainees in an apparent move toward
reconciliation with ethnic minority Tamils. Governemnt Spokesman
Rajitha Senaratne said that the Government of new President Maithripala
Sirisena will ease its military presence, and that unlike the
previous administration that was defeated in the January 8 election,
does not believe military action alone can prevent a resurgence
of the rebels. Rajitha Senaratne said, "We don't think you
can stop an LTTE resurrection (just) with an army, so spending
on security will be very moderate."
Rajitha Senaratne said that he
has sought an inquiry into information that former Defense Secretary
Gotabaya Rajapaksa is using two serving army officers to train
400 soldiers to whip up a bogey about an LTTE revival in the run
up to the April parliamentary elections. Senaratne said that this
army unit is being trained by two serving officers, Brig. Harendra
Ranasinghe and Col. Mahinda Ranasinghe of the Army Training School.
According to Senaratne, the idea is to get 400 Tamil speaking
Sinhalese soldiers to go to the North in disguise and provoke
the army. The ensuing clashes would help show people in the Sinhalese-speaking
South, that the LTTE have become active in the Northern Province
and that the Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe Government
is unable to tackle it. The LTTE-revival card could help former
President Mahinda Rajapaksa win the elections. Senaratne said
that to ensure national security, the Sirisena regime would rely
on political engagement with the minorities and not on the military.
| January 29
Following the recommendations
of the LLRC, Sri Lanka's new Government at the Independence Day
celebrations this year prepares to expresses sympathy and reach
out to the victims of the country's three-decade long civil war.
Report said that the Cabinet of Ministers has approved a joint
proposal made by the acting Foreign Minister Ajith P. Perera and
the Minister of Home Affairs and Fisheries Joseph Michael Perera
to make a statement on Peace at the 67th Independence Day Celebrations
to be held on February 4. The Ministers, taking into consideration
the LLRC recommendations, have proposed to express sympathy and
cooperation with the war-affected in the country and to pledge
that it will be dedicated in unity to prevent recurrence of such
situations in the country in the future.
| January 30
Sri Lanka appointed Justice K
Sripavan, an ethnic-Tamil, as its new Chief Justice, days after
his predecessor Mohan Peiris was asked to resign following an
uproar in the parliament over allegations he tried to help the
former President retain power illegally. The President’s office
said in a statement that Justice Sripavan took oath as the 44th
Chief Justice before President Maithripala Sirisena.
| January 31
Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith
P Perera said that the new Government has no intention of lifting
the ban imposed on the several Tamil Diaspora groups for their
alleged involvement with the LTTE and over attempts to revive
terrorism in the country. He said that the new Government hopes
to maintain the ban imposed on the organisations that were alleged
to have links with the LTTE. During the previous regime the LTTE
and 15 Tamil Diaspora groups including the TGTE, GTF and BTF were
banned in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Army said that it has
recently enlisted 34 Tamil youth from war-torn North as tradesman.
Report said that SFHQ-MLT recently enlisted 34 Tamil youth to
the SLAVF from Mullaitivu area in Mullaitivu District of Northern
Sri Lanka's new Government will
soon arrest LTTE leader Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP
and the decision will be available by the end of this week, a
reliable source informed. According to the report the file which
contains unpublished details of secrets revealed by KP is to be
presented to the Government by the intelligence units. During
his previous interrogations, it had been revealed that it was
KP who had provided weapons, aircrafts and other equipment for
the LTTE to attack the state armed forces. According to reports,
it has also been revealed that KP had purchased "Slime" type aircrafts
from a Bangladeshi agrarian company and has brought them from
Indonesia to Mullaitivu in Northern Province.
The JVP has filed a petition at
the Court of Appeal requesting the immediate arrest of KP as well
as urging the authorities to reveal what happened to the immense
wealth of the LTTE that was controlled by KP, under the Mahinda
| February 1
PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said that
the new Government will investigate the LTTE activities over the
past few years including its funding and alleged links it had
with the previous Government. He said that the Government wants
to know what happened to the funds of the LTTE. He said “This
is part of our probe on corruption. The former Government always
accused us of having links with the LTTE but it was they who had
links with the Tigers.” He said that investigations will include
obtaining information on the LTTE ships, gold and money yet to
be found even after the war. The Prime Minister said that the
public in the North have said they have evidence to share over
the LTTE and so that evidence will also be obtained. “This is
a large scale investigation,” he added.
Wickremesinghe also said that
when the European court ruled in support of the LTTE the former
Government did not take steps to assist the EU to reverse the
court ruling. He said “We have said we will assist the EU to ensure
the ban on the LTTE in the EU remains”. He also questioned the
previous Government’s failure to handover Kumaran Pathmanathan
alias KP to India. KP is wanted in India over the assassination
of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Minister of State for Plantation
and Industry K. Velayutham said that the election of Maithripala
Sirisena as the Sri Lankan President has offered a hope to the
Tamils in Sri Lanka and they are able to move freely without the
Army’s interruption. After meeting DMK leader M Karunanidhi in
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, he said he had explained the situation
after change in leadership and efforts were on to withdraw the
Army from the Tamil areas and camps. Velayutham said one of the
priorities of the new Government was to rehabilitate the IDPs
and those who were in the camps.
Families of missing and detained
persons in war-torn Northern Sri Lanka staged a protest in Kilinochchi
in Kilinochchi District of Northern Province urging the new Government
to establish the whereabouts of their family members disappeared
during and after the war. Family members of missing Tamil youth,
carrying placards with names and photographs of the missing and
detained, staged a protest in front of the District Secretariat
The Secretary General of the Commonwealth,
Kamalesh Sharma said in Colombo that the Commonwealth is pleased
with the measures the new Government of Sri Lanka is considering
to address the accountability and reconciliation needs and it
extended support for the vital domestic processes. He welcomed
the new Government's intent to establish a credible domestic investigation
mechanism that respects international humanitarian law and assured
the practical Commonwealth support and expertise to implement
the necessary measures including fuller implementation of the
recommendations of the LLRC.
The protesters complained that
the new Government is occupied with changing the governance in
the south and neglecting the pressing issues of Tamil people in
the North. They appealed to the President Maithripala Sirisena
to take measures to address the issue and called authorities to
publish the details about the missing persons and the detainees
for the families to know about them. They also urged the new President
to release all Tamil political prisoners from the prisons if legal
action is not resorted against them.
TNA said it will not support a
domestic investigation launched by the new Government over the
war between the LTTE and State SFs that ended in May 2009. TNA
parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran, during discussions with
US US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian
Affairs, Nisha Biswal, has stressed that an international probe
is the only way justice will prevail for the Tamils who have suffered
the war. According to Premachandran, the TNA had also informed
Biswal that the newly elected Government of President Maithripala
Sirisena had not properly addressed the Tamil issue, especially
in areas such as resettlement as lands occupied by the army in
the north continued to remain vacant. He has added that the Government
is slow in releasing the lands of the Tamil people. However, the
TNA has expressed its gratitude to the Government's effort in
implementing the new Government's 100 day programme.
TNA officially participated in
a National Independence Day celebration after several decades.
According to reports, main Tamil political parties had not attended
a National Independence Day celebration since 1972. However, senior
TNA Leader, MP R. Sampanthan and parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran
participated in the 67th Independence Day celebrations held at
the Parliament grounds in Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte in Colombo.
A Sri Lankan Court issued an order
preventing the former LTTE leader Kumaran Pathmanathan alias
KP from leaving the country. The Court of Appeal issued the order
barring Pathmanathan from traveling overseas. The Court granted
the motion of order as a sub decision based upon a petition filed
by the Marxist party, JVP. The Court had informed the Department
of Immigration and Emigration asking them not permit Pathmanathan
to leave the country until the end of the trial.
Sri Lankan Government presented
the regulation under the UN Act to locally ratify the ban on al
Qaeda as a global terrorist outfit. The Gazette notification had
been signed by former External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris on
December 14, 2014. According to the regulation, this organisation
is continued to be designated as a terrorist outfit. It is prohibited
for any individual to aid and abet the al Qaeda. The financial
intelligence authorities of Sri Lanka are authorised to seize
funds and assets of this terrorist outfit.
The Cabinet Spokesman, Minister
Rajitha Senaratne said that Cabinet has approved the setting up
of a special PTFR according to a cabinet paper presented by President
Maithripala Sirisena. The Minister said the President has decided
to appoint a special Task Force to cater to the need to build
a united and integrated nation, while healing the wounds of mistrust
and social and cultural stress generated from extended conflicts
and violence between different communities in Sri Lanka. The seven
members Task Force will inquire into issues related to ethnic
reconciliation and suggest remedial measures to bring about ethnic
The PTFR aims to identify the
immediate problems that required to be solved and recommend solutions
in order to achieve reconciliation and to alleviate the hardships
caused to citizens as a result of the conflict. It would study
and make recommendations with regard to persons under detention
as a result of the conflict, and all other matters relating to
rebuilding harmony and effective reconciliation. Senaratne also
said that according to the IG of Police, there are 275 Tamil prisoners
who have been in jail for long without being charged. The PTFR
would study these cases and determine whether they can be released.
TNA has welcomed the decision
to set up the PTFR. TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said that the
Government should see to it that the steps suggested by the PTFR
are implemented and that the PTFR does not become a devise to
delay implementation of measures already agreed upon.
| February 9
Families of missing persons in
Northern Province held a protest in the Jaffna town in Jaffna
District calling on the new Government to intervene in finding
out the whereabouts of their loved ones who had gone missing during
the civil war. Family members, carrying photographs of their missing
loved ones, held a march before holding a protest outside the
Jaffna District Secretariat in Northern Province. According to
reports, several politicians including representatives from the
TNA have taken part in the demonstration.
| February 10
The NPC adopted a resolution calling
for an international investigation into alleged acts of genocide
committed against the Tamils during the civil war. Northern Province
CM C.V. Wigneswaran presented an amended version of the resolution
calling for an international inquiry on genocide against Tamils
committed by the successive Governments since the country's independence
from the British in 1948. The resolution notes that the obligation
to prevent and punish genocide under the Genocide Convention is
not a matter of political choice or calculation, but one of binding
customary international law. In the resolution, the NPC has urged
the team appointed by the UNHCHR to investigate the war in Sri
Lanka, to comprehensively investigate and report on the charge
of genocide in its submission to the UNHRC in March 2015.
Minister of Housing and Samurdhi,
Sajith Premadasa said in the Parliament that there are illegal
armories in the Hambantota District in Southern Province. He said
that the illegal armories with weapons, ammunition and grenades
have been found in Beliatta and Weeraketiya in Hambantota District.
The Minister informed that a request has been made from the State
Minister of Defense to investigate the illegal armories found
in Hambantota. According to Premadasa, the illegal armories were
being operated by a MP representing the District.
| February 11
Sri Lanka is seeking a delay of
several months in the release of a UN report on the investigation
of alleged war crimes committed during the country's three-decade
long war. Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera during
his visit to Washington said that the new Government is seeking
a delay in releasing the report of the UNHRC mandated investigation
by several months until the Government had time to establish a
mechanism to deal with the issue. Samaraweera said that "Once
the report is finalized, we are hoping they can refer it to our
domestic mechanism for action." "We are hoping they
could hold on to it until our mechanism is in place - maybe August,
you know, or so," he added.
Government has decided to release
lands extending to 1,000 acres in the Northern HSZs in several
stages to civilians. The Cabinet of Ministers has approved the
proposal presented by President Maithripala Sirisena as the Minister
of Defense. As a first step 220 acres of land in the Valalai Grama
Niladhari Division of the Valikamam East Divisional Secretariat
Division is to be released to establish a pilot village for the
resettlement of 1,022 families displaced by the Civil War. Each
family will get 20 perches of land and financial assistance to
construct a house. It has also been proposed to establish a school,
a pre-school, a hospital, religious places of worship, community
centers and build other infrastructure activities. The remaining
780 acres of land will also be used in the future to resettle
the people displaced by the war.
While a large extent of land from
the 11,639 acres were under the control of the SFs during the
period of the war, 6,152 acres in the Palaly area is being maintained
by the SLA and the SLAF as an HSZ. Cabinet has also decided to
release the lands under the control of the SLAF in the Panama
area in the Eastern Province to landless people in the area except
the land in an extent of 25 acres in which buildings are now being
| February 12
US Secretary of State John Kerry
told the visiting Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Mangala Samaraweera
that the US is excited about the 100-day plan that the new Government
of Sri Lanka has put forward to move the country in a new direction.
Mangala Samaraweera met Secretary of State Kerry at the Department
of State for an hour-long discussion. "This is an exciting
moment for all of us here because Sri Lanka on January 8th had
an historic election in which there has been really a vote for
change, a vote to move Sri Lanka in a new direction, to open up
greater accountability and possibility for the preservation of
human rights, for democracy, for fighting corruption and putting
together a government that will speak for and to the people,"
Secretary Kerry said.
According to a leading survey,
Sri Lanka did not show any improvement in press freedom in 2014
although there were no journalists were killed and ranked among
the 20 worst countries in the world for media expression. The
annual World Press Freedom Index for 2015 compiled by Paris (France)
based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Sri Lanka 165th out
of180 countries. Although Sri Lanka's rank did not change from
that of last year score declined from 59.13 in 2014 to 60.28 this
year (2015), 100 being the worst. The RSF in its report said Sri
Lanka's Government attacks the foundations of journalism by systematically
obstructing the activities of NGOs that support the media.
| February 13
President Maithripala Sirisena
told the diplomatic community in Colombo that if “credible and
firm” evidence is found by the proposed inquiry into allegations
that Sri Lankan SFs committed human rights violations during the
fight against the LTTE, action would be taken against the guilty.
The President also invited the UNHCHR to visit Sri Lanka.
Sirisena said the Government needed time to bring about unity
and reconciliation as it had assumed office only a month ago.
Referring to Tamils living in the Northern Province, he said ‘doubts
and mistrust’ between ethnic groups should be removed.
Democratic Party (DP) Western
Provincial Councilor Susil Kindelpitiya handed over information
to the CID regarding 13 alleged disappearances and 'white van'
abductions that had allegedly taken place during the previous
Government. Kindelpitiya said that after Maithripala Sirisena
assumed the office of the President, several families in Colombo
had visited him and expressed their grievances over the alleged
abduction of their family members. In his letter to the Director
of the CID, Kindelpitiya had also requested for investigations
to be carried out based on the recent revelation made by former
Minister Mervyn Silva, alleging that former Defence Secretary
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was the architect of the 'white van' culture
in Sri Lanka.
TNA leader R. Sampanthan said
that the UNHRC report on the probe on alleged violations that
had taken place during the war should be released during the UNHRC
sessions in March as scheduled. Sampanthan noted that the UNHRC
probe would have been completed in an unbiased manner and the
report should be published in March as agreed in 2014.
UNHRC agreed to postpone the release
of report of war crimes committed during civil war by six months.
The report was scheduled to present the investigative report on
the investigation mandated by the UNHRC at its 28th session in
Geneva on March 25. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein recommended delaying publication of the
report from March until the council's 30th session in September
as Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera during his
visit to Washington on February 11 seek a delay in releasing the
report of the investigation by several months until the Government
had time to establish a mechanism to deal with the issue.
TNA expressed displeasure at the
UNHRC decision to postpone the submission of war report. The TNA
continuously called for the release of the report on the scheduled
date on March 25 while the Government sought support from the
international community to postpone the report. TNA MP Suresh
Premachandran said that the decision to postpone the report will
be a setback to resolve the Tamil issue in the island.
The PCICMP will conduct its next
public sittings to hear cases of missing in Trincomalee District
in Eastern Province from February 28 to March 3. According to
report, since the establishment of the Commission on August 15,
2013 by the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Commission
to date has received in excess of 20,106 complaints inclusive
of approximately 5000 complaints from relatives of missing SFs
Australian authorities have returned
four Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers to Sri Lankan authorities
in mid-sea. The Australian Minister for Immigration and Border
Protection Peter Dutton said the Australian and Sri Lankan Governments
have worked together again to disrupt a people smuggling venture.
According to the Minister, a suspected illegal entry vessel (SIEV)
carrying four Sri Lankan nationals was intercepted by BPC North-West
of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands on February 9. The four Sri Lankan
nationals were transferred at sea from a vessel assigned to BPC
to Sri Lankan authorities last Tuesday (February 17), the Australian
Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe
ordered the release of copies of the Indian magazine, Frontline
detained at the Colombo airport by Sri Lanka's Customs Department
in January. The copies were of the special edition of the magazine
marking its 30th year, which republished a 1987 interview with
slain LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran, along with other interviews
and articles from its archives. An official statement from the
Prime Minister's office said that the interview with Prabakaran
would not create any threat to national security.
The Attorney General's Department
of Sri Lanka requested more time from the Court of Appeal to decide
on former LTTE Leader Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP. Deputy
Solicitor General Suhada Gamlath informed the Appeal Court that
the Attorney General's Department required more time to decide
on the nature of action to be taken against KP. He made this submission
when a petition filed by the Marxist party JVP seeking KP's arrest
was taken up for hearing. The case has now been put off till February
TNA has alleged that a secret
military camp, named Gota, in the naval base in Trincomalee was
in operation and held 700 Tamils and 35 Tamil families. TNA Jaffna
District Parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran had told the BBC
Sandeshaya that the Tamil people are of the belief that there
were many more of such camps.
Chief Minister of the NPC C. V.
Wigneswaran has expressed concern over the delay in releasing
Tamil political prisoners by the Sri Lanka Government. Wigneswaran
said that he fears the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has
refused to release prisoners because he does not want to anger
the Sinhalese majority ahead of parliamentary elections. "I'm
talking of a history of not living up to promises in the past.
The prime minister wants to play for time because the elections
are coming," he claimed.
Member of NPC M. K. Sivajilingam
has reportedly written to UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra'ad Al
Hussein saying the Tamils see the delay to release the report
based on the probe on the war in Sri Lanka as a failure of the
UN system to protect and listen to the victims of mass atrocities.
Sivajilingam has said the Tamil people hoped that the UN system
will not victimize the Tamils once again by delaying or denying
them full and complete justice. "The Tamil people are highly disappointed
and dismayed by your announcement on February 16, to delay the
OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) Report until September
2015. The Tamil people had been anxiously waiting with high hopes
for the release of the Report, but this unexpected delay has caused
serious concerns to the victimized Tamil population, and we strongly
believe justice delayed is justice denied," Sivajilingam has stated
in his letter.
Thousands of Tamils in Jaffna
city in the Northern Province staged a massive protest against
the UNHRC's decision to defer the report of the UN investigation
on alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka during the war. Thousands of
students of the University of Jaffna along with the residents
staged a protest march from the University. At the end of the
protest march, the president of Jaffna University Teachers Association,
A Rasakumaran handed over an appeal on behalf of the organizers
of the protest to Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph requesting him
to hand it over to the relevant UN agencies. The appeal, addressed
to the UNHCHR Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, requested the UN official
to have the findings of the investigations published as scheduled.
The appeal stressed that the Tamils in the North have no faith
in any domestic mechanism that the current government may establish
to investigate the injustices caused upon them by previous governments
and another domestic mechanism will only waste time.
A Colombo Court has ordered Balendran
Jeyakumari, who has been searching and campaigning for the release
of her son, to continue to be held in detention custody till March
10, as per the request made by the TID. Jeyakumari, who was arrested
on March 13 2014 on suspicion of harbouring former rebel cadres
at her home in Kilinochchi in Northern Province, was transferred
to the Welikada prison only last week, where she was allowed to
meet briefly her 13-year old daughter Vibushika, who is also in
the protective custody in Kilinochchi. According to the published
report, her son, Balendran Mahindan was alive and was going through
the government's "rehabilitation program" at an unknown 'rehabilitation'
centre. Several local and international human right organisations
have campaigned for her early release.
The UK based Amnesty International
(AI) organization has noted that several human rights violations
have taken place in Sri Lanka last year (2014). The organization
in its annual report has called on the new Sri Lankan Government
to take measures to address those violations. AI said that Sri
Lanka faced a catalogue of endemic human rights issues in 2014.
"Unlawful detentions and torture by SFs were carried out with
impunity as the authorities continued to rely on the Prevention
of Terrorism Act to arrest and detain suspects without charge
or trial. Human rights defenders and family members of people
subjected to enforced disappearance were threatened and arrested,
and fatal attacks on religious minorities went unpunished," the
AI report said. Political violence and intimidation - mainly against
political opposition supporters and civil society activists -
were reported in the run-up to the snap presidential election
called for January 2015, it noted. It also said that UN-led investigation
into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the
conflict raised hopes for victims waiting for truth and justice,
but this will require the full cooperation of the new Sri Lankan
The UNHRC defended its move to
defer the release of a report into alleged war crimes committed
during Sri Lanka's civil war saying that it was a "very rational"
decision taken in a "relatively unique" case. The new President
of the UNHRC Joachim Rücker said that the decision to defer the
release of the report on the human rights violations in Sri Lanka
by six months to September was "very rational".
The AG of Sri Lanka requested
six months to present a comprehensive report to the Court of Appeal
on former LTTE leader and arms procurer Kumaran Pathmanathan alias
KP. According to the Attorney General's Department, the 193 incidents
mentioned in the petition against KP have to be examined properly
and time was required for the matter. The Court of Appeal at the
last hearing directed the Attorney General's Department to inform
of its proposed action on KP at today's hearing. However, the
Department has now sought more time.
Newly appointed Commander of the
SLA, Lieutenant General Chrishantha De Silva, during a visit to
Kandy in Central Province has assured that national security will
be given highest priority and will not be compromised at any cost.
He said the Army will maintain security even in the north. "I
will give the highest priority to National Security. The army
has a responsibility towards the National Security of the country,"
De Silva said. The Army Commander said that discipline of the
army will also be given priority. However, he added that there
is confidence that Sri Lankan soldiers will not violate the code
of conduct in the army.
TNA has expressed the party's
lack of faith in a domestic probe into issues related to the war
crimes. TNA leaders met with UN Under Secretary General for Political
Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, who is currently in Sri Lanka, and discussed
several issues including the proposed domestic investigation on
the war promised by the new Government. TNA Spokesperson MP Suresh
Premachandran said that the TNA had informed Feltman that the
party did not have faith in a domestic probe. Feltman however
had told the TNA that the Government had given an assurance that
the domestic probe will meet international standards. He had informed
the TNA that the UN is willing to work with the new Government
on the investigation and other issues.
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister
of Sri Lanka, Ajith P. Perera said the domestic investigation
into some of the allegations over the war will not be completed
by September, 2015. The Deputy Minister said that it will be difficult
to complete the legal process before the September sessions of
the UNHRC as only the structure and laws will be in place before
September. The UNHRC has agreed to defer a report on Sri Lanka
which was to be submitted to the Council during this month's (March)
session to September.
Although there was no violence
and there is an apparent reduction of threats against journalists
in Sri Lanka after the January 8, 2014 election, significant challenges
to press freedom are still remaining in Sri Lanka, an international
media organization said. The international media mission, which
represents the IFJ, the International Press Institute and International
Freedom of Expression Exchange, said the continued surveillance
of journalists and media organizations in the north of Sri Lanka
must cease. The mission said all journalists acknowledged there
have been no cases of over violence since the January 8 elections
and that there has been an apparent reduction in threats, but
significant challenges to press freedom are remaining. These challenges
include the self-censorship due to uncertainty about the political
future of the country; restrictions on access to information;
and continued surveillance and monitoring of journalists.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
said the accusations that Tamil youth were being held in secret
detention camps were baseless. Wickremesinghe emphasised that
all those who had been taken into custody were being held in legally
run facilities and, therefore, all detainees could be accounted
for. He said instructions had been given for preparing a full
list of persons in custody in a bid to dispel fears expressed
in some quarters as regards secret detention camps. According
to the report, the Prime Minister didn't mince his words when
he declared that those missing but not listed among those in government
custody had either perished during the conflict or were now living
overseas. Authoritative sources said that Sri Lanka's efforts
to track down missing persons living overseas hadn't been successful
due to Western countries' refusal to cooperate. Sources said that
a joint effort was needed to establish the whereabouts of those
who had assumed new identities and citizenship in other countries.
Police have questioned several
Sri Lanka Navy personnel of an investigation unit of the Navy
on disappearances of children. The Police Media Spokesperson SSP
Ajith Rohana said that statements have been recorded from seven
Navy personnel regarding the disappearance of 10 children during
the 2008-2009 period. In 2010 the CID had commenced investigations
into complaints received over the disappearance of some youth
and their parents between the period of 2007 and 2009 in Colombo
and in Trincomalee. Rohana said the CID has interrogated the officer
in charge of the investigation unit of the Sri Lankan Navy, Commander
D. K. P. Dassanayake, who was also the former Navy spokesman,
in this connection. It has also been revealed that the officials
of the investigative unit had taken ransoms in large measure from
the parents of the children. The activities of the infamous unit
were reported to have centered on Trincomalee and Fort.
Police arrested a former leader
of the LTTE Sea Tiger Women's Wing, identified as Murugesu Jayaganesh
Pakeerathy alias Murugesu Bairahi alias Burugesu
Pahiradiat at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo
while she was about to leave for France. Police Spokesperson SSP
Ajith Rohana said that the TID of the Police had launched investigations
over reports that Murugesu Bairahi had arrived in Sri Lanka. The
41 year old former Sea Tiger was arrested by the TID when she
was preparing to leave the country and is currently held on detention
for 72 hours. Police informed that Murugesu Bairahi headed the
women's wing of the LTTE Sea Tigers from 1997-2000 and that she
had fled to France in 2005. Police further said the investigations
had revealed that she had returned to Sri Lanka last month and
was staying in Parathion in the North. The suspect has been produced
at the Colombo Magistrate Court.
Government has assured an international
media delegation visiting the country that the long-awaited Freedom
of Information bill would be tabled this month and passed in parliament
before the upcoming general election. The International Media
Solidarity Delegation during its five-day visit to the island
called on the Sri Lankan government to ensure that critical media
reform measures are made permanent and media freedom to be an
absolute priority of the new administration. The Government has
also assured the delegation a commitment to tackle impunity for
crimes against journalists, which according to the journalists,
is a long-running and festering blight on Sri Lanka's reputation
globally. Government representatives have said that they had already
requested the IG of Police, N.K. Ilangakoon to carry out thorough
investigations into journalist killings, with priority given to
the 2009 murder of Lasantha Wickrematunga and the 2010 disappearance
of Prageeth Eknaligoda.
South Africa had told the former
Sri Lankan Government that the LTTE was not operating in South
Africa as was alleged at the time, Al Jazeera said quoting
a secret cable. According to the report the previous Sri Lankan
Government was told quite plainly that, at least in the case of
South Africa, the LTTE posed no threat at all, according to a
secret intelligence agency cable (PDF) obtained by Al Jazeera's
investigative unit. In the cable, dated June 9, 2010, South Africa's
State Security Agency (SSA) replied to a request for information
about several cases of purported LTTE activity in South Africa,
from a suspected "military training camp" held in May 2010 to
suspicions that local Tamil organizations were raising money for
the LTTE and allegations that the LTTE was in contact with former
members of the South African military. In every case, South African
intelligence concluded that there was no sign of LTTE activity
or support in the country. "The LTTE does not have any offices
or known representatives in South Africa," the cable states. However,
Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry did not respond to multiple requests
for comment from Al Jazeera, by phone and by email,
about the cable and the statements made subsequently by government
officials. The office of Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera
said that the new minister had not been briefed on the issue and
could not comment.
In an interview ahead of Indian
PM Narendra Modi's visit to Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe
said that Indian politicians might have developed "amnesia" over
the fact that India had assisted former President Mahinda Rajapaksa
in the LTTE war of 2009. Lankan Prime Minister said "Without the
help of India, President Rajapaksa could not have wiped out the
LTTE. He got that help and he agreed to give concessions even
beyond the 13th amendment ... But he did not do so ....". Asked
specifically about the UPA's denials of help to Sri Lanka, especially
because of opposition from its alliance partner the DMK, he said,
"Amnesia, you know is very common among politicians."
Wickramasinghe accused the TNA
Government in the Northern Province and Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran
of being "irresponsible" in passing a resolution for an international
genocide investigation to look into allegations dating back to
the 1970s. The Prime Minister said that in that case, not only
would the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE had to be charged
with killings, but so would the IPKF that went in to assist in
the late 1980s. He said "Casualties took place under the Sri Lankan
SFs, the IPKF and also by the LTTE ... But to say that it was
only the Government of Sri Lanka is wrong."
The UNHCHR Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein
urged the Sri Lankan Government to design mechanisms that will
work to address the human rights issues and not repeat the failures
of the past. Delivering the Opening Statement at the 28th Session
of UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland, the High Commissioner said the
Member States were due to consider his report on the implementation
of UNHRC resolution 25/1 on accountability and reconciliation
in Sri Lanka, including the findings of the comprehensive investigation
mandated by the Council at this session. The High Commissioner
said he will present the report on the UN mandated investigation
into the alleged human rights violations by Sri Lanka during the
war at the 30th Session of UNHRC in September.
Sri Lankan authorities have extended
the detention of a former Sea Tiger Women's Wing leader of the
LTTE arrested earlier this week. Police on March 2 arrested the
former LTTE leader Murugesu Jayaganesh Pakeerathy at the Bandaranaike
International Airport in Colombo while she was about to leave
for France with her eight-year-old daughter, a French national.
The authorities initially detained her for 72-hours pending investigations
by the Unit TID and the detention has been extended to 90 days
under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. SSP Ajith Rohana said "We
have now got a detention order under the Prevention of Terrorism
Act which means we can hold her for a period of 90 days." "We
are hopeful of completing investigations very soon," he added.
| March 9
The GTF has requested the British
Government to persuade the new Sri Lankan administration to lift
the ban on Tamil Diaspora groups imposed by the previous Government.
The GTF is among those groups included in the list of proscribed
organisations. GTF President Reverend Father S. J. Emmanuel has
requested the ruling coalition’s Secretary of State for Foreign
and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond, MP, to take up the issue
with the visiting Sri Lankan delegation led by President Maithripala
Sirisena. The President and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera
are scheduled to meet British PM David Cameron on March 10. GTF
spokesperson Suren Surendiran confirmed their request to the British
Government. Surendiran said that they strongly believed that the
gazette notification bearing the number 1854/41, dated March 21,
2014 should be repealed.
Filmmaker Callum Macrae who exposed
Sri Lanka's war crimes and took the famous picture of LTTE supremo
Velupillai Prabhakaran's son eating a snack just before he was
shot dead will release a new Sinhala version of his award winning
documentary "No Fire Zone" in the premises of the House
of Commons (UK). According to report, Britain's relation
with Sri Lanka may soon sour over the film. The launch will be
attended by director Callum Macrae and will have the presence
of British MPs - Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, Conservative MP
Lee Scott and others from Parliament. The documentary was nominated
for the prestigious Emmy award. The meeting will also be addressed
by exiled Sinhalese writer Bashana Abeywardane. The release of
the version will coincide with the visit of the new Sri Lankan
President Maithripala Sirisena to the UK and will take place a
day before he is due to have dinner with the Queen.
A group of pro- LTTE British Tamils
gathered at Westminster Abbey in London to protest the new Sri
Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena's participation in the Commonwealth
Day celebrations held in London. According to the report, upon
seeing the protesters, President Sirisena, who is the current
Chair-In-Office of the Commonwealth, alighted from his official
motorcade and greeted the protesters waving at them. The protest
against the visiting President was organized by the British Tamils
Forum (BTF). The President was attending the Commonwealth Day
service held at Westminster Abbey. The event was attended by the
Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge,
and representatives of Commonwealth Nations.
| March 10
A Sri Lankan court released the
Tamil woman activist, Balendran Jeyakumari who has been held in
detention for nearly a year for allegedly harbouring a LTTE fugitive.
Acting Police Media Spokesperson, ASP Ruwan Gunasekara said Colombo
Magistrate Court released Jeyakumari on conditional bail after
spending nearly a year in the Boossa detention camp. However,
the Additional Magistrate has banned her from leaving the country
as part of the bail conditions given to her by the Court. She
is also required to report to police station closest to her residence
every month, ASP Gunasekara said. The court also released six
other activists along with Jeyakumari. Jeyakumari along with her
13-year-old daughter was arrested on March 13, 2014 in Kilinochchi
for allegedly sheltering an LTTE cadre, named Gopi, who shot a
Police inspector in Kilinochchi during an arrest.
Housing and Samurdhi Minister
Sajith Premadasa said that TNA Parliamentarians do not stand for
a separate state and their purpose is to ensure fair and equal
treatment for Tamils. Minister Premadasa said some politicians
make allegations against the TNA claiming that they supported
President Maithripala Sirisena during the Presidential election
to divide the country. This is a political lie used to mislead
voters, he said. The Minister said that “LTTE activists in London
protest against TNA MPs Sampanthan and Sumanthiran by burning
their effigies. Even TNA MPs have accepted the unitary nature
of the state” "If Sampanthan and Sumanthiran wished to see
a separate State and supported Maithripala Sirisena to fulfill
this purpose, it is a big question for us as to why LTTE supporters
in the UK are protesting against them? The cat is out of the bag
and the truth is revealed. The TNA MPs do not demand for a separate
state. They only want equal treatment for Tamils," said the
TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran
claimed that there are about 300 political prisoners in Sri Lanka.
Sumanthiran was addressing the press following his meeting with
Solicitor General Suhada Gamlath on the issue of LTTE detainees.
However, Solicitor General Gamlath discounted this claim stating
that it is unfair to claim that those who were taken into custody
under the Prevention of Terrorism Act or under the Public Security
Ordinance as political prisoners. He emphasized those arrests
were made within a structured legal frame work and hence there
are no political prisoners in the country.
Sumanthiran said that the law
has taken a different course for those who helped the LTTE by
providing them with food and water, and they are still in detention
though 11,900 detainees have already been rehabilitated. According
to Sumanthiran, the group under custody could be divided as (1)
those against whom no legal action has been instituted (2) those
whose legal battle is completed and (3) those against whom legal
action continues."The Committee to be appointed by the Solicitor
General will conduct its first meeting on March 16," sources
UN Under-Secretary-General for
Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman who visited Sri Lanka from
February 28 to March 3, expressed confidence over Sri Lanka's
efforts towards reconciliation and cooperation. UN Political chief
said that following presidential elections in January, a historic
opportunity has now presented itself for Sri Lanka to set up a
domestic process that is credible, accountable and up to par with
international norms and standards for the benefit of the country's
people, with the help of the wider international community. "The
meetings and talks with the Government of Sri Lanka are so different
than they used to be, so that leads us to greater expectations.
There was suffering across all Sri Lanka, every community suffered
and accountability must address the grievances in the North, but
also allow that all [people] in Sri Lanka feel like all their
concerns are being addressed," he said.
| March 11
The CID of Sri Lankan Police,
as directed by the IGP on the order of the Mount Lavinia Magistrate,
will soon begin investigations into the murder of journalist Lasantha
Wickrematunga. Police Spokesman ASP Ruwan Gunasekara said that
preliminary investigations into the assassination of Wickrematunga
were carried out by the Mirihana Police and later by the TID.
As ordered by the IGP the CID has already sought the extracts
related to their investigations from the Mirihana Police Station
and the TID and CID would start its investigation after analysing
these investigations, the spokesman said. Lasantha Wickrematunga,
the chief editor of Sunday Leader, was assassinated on
January 8, 2009 by four assailants who stopped him on his way
to his office on Attidiya-Mt. Lavinia road, in a suburb of Colombo
and opened fire at him.
| March 12
President Maithripala Sirisena
said that Sri Lanka does not want "any outsiders" in
its domestic inquiry into alleged atrocities committed against
the Tamil Tigers during the last stages of the country's civil
war. "We are ready to get advice and their opinions for the
inquiry, but I don't think we need any outsiders because we have
all the sources for this," Sirisena said. This implies the
UN investigators will not be able to participate in the domestic
inquiry that the new government plans to set up within a month
into the alleged war crimes committed during the nearly three
decade-long military operations that crushed the LTTE in 2009.
Sirisena also said he hopes to
set up a special investigative commission within a month to inquire
into the alleged war crimes committed during the last phase of
the country's civil war. President Sirisena said an investigative
commission will be appointed legally and it will be tasked with
identifying what needs to be done to probe the alleged violations.
If the commission found anyone guilty of committing war crimes
they will be punished according to the country's law, Mr. Sirisena
British writer-filmmaker Callum
Macrae has urged Indian PM Narendra Modi to "show courage
and commitment" in pushing Sri Lanka to address war crimes
ahead of his visit to Colombo. Macrae said "(The Sri Lankan
Government should) allow a genuinely independent international
process of justice - something which can command support and trust
of all communities of Sri Lanka." The filmmaker, who took
the picture showing LTTE 'chief' Velupillai Prabhakaran's son
eating a snack before he was shot dead and helped expose war crimes,
said he wants to persuade Modi to intervene. Macrae recently released
a Sinhala version of his award winning documentary, 'No Fire Zone'
that has been nominated for the Emmy Award. India has refused
visa to Macrae and certification for his film for screening, explaining
in part it might "strain friendly relations with Sri Lanka".
Macrae called New Delhi's attitude a cause of concern. "The
refusing of a certificate on the openly political grounds...was
a shameful episode - as was, quite frankly, the refusal to grant
me visa,'' he said. "Now that both the Government in Sri
Lanka and the Government in India have changed, I hope that the
certification will be granted and that when I re-apply for a visa,
it too will be granted.''
| March 13
A Sri Lankan court released a
former leader of the LTTE Sea Tiger women's wing on conational
bail when she was produced in court. Police spokesman, ASP Ruwan
Gunasekara said Colombo Additional Magistrate Aruni Attigala released
the former LTTE leader Murugesu Jayaganesh Pakeerathy on a personal
bail of LKR 200,000. The suspected LTTE leader was ordered to
hand over her passport to the court and appear before a Police
Station once a week.
Indian PM Narendra Modi, who arrived
in Sri Lanka, urged the Sri Lankan Government to ensure early
and full implementation of the 13th Amendment and to go beyond
that when finding a political solution. "We believe that
early and full implementation of the 13th Amendment and going
beyond it would contribute to this process," the Indian Prime
Minister said at the Presidential Secretariat in the presence
of the heads of the Sri Lankan Government.
Narendra Modi paid homage to the
fallen soldiers of the IPKF in Colombo. He laid a wreath at the
base of the tall column on which was inscribed the names of all
the 1,500 Indian soldiers who were killed in the operations against
the LTTE between 1987 and 1990.
| March 14
Former Sri Lankan President Chandrika
Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in an International Conference on Education
in Dubai said that the whole country does not want an international
probe into the alleged war crimes committed during the 26-year
long war with the LTTE terrorists. Kumaratunga has said that both
the Sri Lankan people and its politicians found the calls for
a UN-led international investigation "insulting" by
implying that the country could not carry out its own. She said
that Sri Lanka is united against an international investigation
into alleged war crimes.
The PCICMP is to hand in an interim
report regarding the missing persons' cases to the President Maithripala
Sirisena on March 18, the Secretary to the Commission, H. W. Gunadasa
has said. According to the official, the report has already been
finalized and it will be handed to the President on March 18.
The Commission has recorded statements from witnesses regarding
303 cases of disappearance during the first week of this month.
The Commission has received 471 complaints. Since the Establishment
of the Commission on August 15, 2013, the Commission up to date
has received in excess of 20,106 complaints inclusive of approximately
5,000 complaints from relatives of missing SFs personnel.
The arrest at the Colombo Airport
last week of a former woman ‘Sea Tiger’, Murugesu Jayaganesh Pakeerathy
has exposed new global LTTE financing networks with continued
links in Sri Lanka. The husband of Murugesu Jayaganesh Pakeerathy
lives in France and is identified as the main financial controller
of the LTTE’s Diaspora-based global finance networks. The husband,
Subramaniam Jayaganesh, is suspected to be still maintaining close
ties with the former Tiger leader and key ‘banker’ Kumaran Pathmanathan
alias ‘KP’ who was the LTTE’s main global funds coordinator.
‘KP’ currently lives in Sri Lanka following his arrest in Malaysia
and controversial ‘rehabilitation’ by the previous regime despite
many serious charges relating to terrorism arraigned against him.
The sources said that the TID, which is currently questioning
Murugesu found these international financial linkages. This has
prompted a fresh probe into possible international LTTE financing
networks that may still be linked with Colombo, Police sources
The court case against former
LTTE leader Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP, arising out
of a petition filed by the JVP, will be taken up by Court of Appeal
this week. At the last hearing, Justice Vijitha Malalagoda,
asked for more information about KP’s global links.
PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said that
livelihood development programs should be implemented for the
rehabilitated cadres of LTTE, in order to secure their economic
environment. Following a special discussion headed by the PM held
at the Temple Trees in Colombo, the PM appointed a committee to
explore and initiate programmes to create employment for the ex
LTTE cadres. The committee comprises the officials of the Bureau
of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation. According to the
Bureau of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation report Sri
Lanka has almost completed the rehabilitation of nearly 12,000
former cadres of LTTE. Currently, 49 hardcore LTTE cadres remain
in detention centers.
Visiting Head of the Federal Department
of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation, Federal Councilor
Didier Burkhalter told the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena
at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo that Switzerland is
willing to open a new chapter in bilateral relations with Sri
Lanka and ready to extend its full support for a national reconciliation
programme. Burkhalter said that the Swiss Government is very happy
with the measures taken by Sri Lankan Government so far to build
up national reconciliation and empower democracy in Sri Lanka.
Burkhalter also met TNA seniors R. Sampathan, and MP M.A. Sumanthiran
and discussed the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka.
In a major reconciliatory move,
President Maithripala Sirisena will be sending a circular to all
institutions saying that there is no bar on singing the Lankan
national anthem in Tamil language. He will thus be lifting an
unofficial ban existing since 2010, when President Mahinda Rajapaksa
let it be known that Government will frown on singing the anthem
in Tamil. Schools and other institutions, which were using the
Tamil version of "Sri Lanka Matha, Apa Sri Lanka" since 1951,
stopped doing so. Sirisena announced his decision to lift the
language bar when the leader of the DPF, Mano Ganeshan, raised
the issue at the NEC meeting. "The President said that he would
send a circular saying that there is no ban on singing the national
anthem in Tamil. He also said that he would have the matter cleared
by the National Security Council," Ganeshan said.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera
while presenting amendments to strengthen the laws to combat terrorist
financing and money laundering combat in the Parliament said that
the Government will review the proscription of 16 Tamil Diaspora
organizations and over 400 individuals by the previous Government.
Minister Samaraweera said that the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa
Government banned Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora groups and individuals
under the UNSC resolution 1373 for their alleged links to LTTE.
He said the Government took that measure to "build up the hysteria
about the LTTE regrouping" in the run up to the presidential election.
Minister said "However, most of the organisations listed may have
merely been vocal proponents of Tamil rights. There was hardly
any tangible evidence to link them to the LTTE. Some of the individuals
listed had even been dead for some time." "Reviewing this list
of individuals and entities is an important exercise at this juncture
when the Government of President Maithripala Sirisena is seriously
committed to expedite the reconciliation process," the Minister
Government has started a fresh
probe in to the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda.
Minister of Mass Media and Parliamentary Affairs Gayantha Karunathilaka
has made this observation in parliament in response to an oral
question posed by Kurunegala District in North Western Province
Parliamentarian Shantha Bandara. Eknaligoda who supported the
common opposition presidential candidate General (Retired) Sarath
Fonseka at the 2010 Presidential elections disappeared in the
evening of January 24, 2010, just 36 hours before the elections.
Karunathilaka added that the government has also taken steps to
formulate a welfare plan to support Eknaligoda's family and the
education of his two children.
New Government conferred the country's
highest military rank of Field Marshal to former Army Commander
General Sarath Fonseka, who was jailed on alleged treason charges
by the previous Government of Mahinda Rajapaksa, for "achieving
the victory over terrorism". President Maithripala Sirisena promoted
the former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka to the rank of
Field Marshal at a special function held at the Defence Ministry
ground in Colombo. Fonseka, who is credited with leading the Sri
Lankan Army to secure victory against the LTTE and eliminating
the terrorist group, will be the first ever Field Marshal in Sri
Lankan military history. He led the final phase of the war against
terrorist group LTTE culminating in the total elimination of the
terrorist group and three-decade long terrorism.
The PCICMP has decided to indefinitely
postpone the handing in its interim report to the President Maithripala
Sirisena. The report has already been finalized and it was to
be handed to the President on March 18. However, the Chairman
of the Commission Justice Maxwell Paranagama said that the presenting
of the report to the President will be postponed indefinitely.
As the President is busy with enormous amount of duties, the Commission
has decided to postpone its meeting with the President.
The official said that the PCICMP
report will be handed over to President Sirisena before the publication
of the report of UN OHGHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) into
alleged war crimes. It will be up to the President to decide whether
to submit the report to the UNHRC, or to act according to a domestic
legal framework, he added.
The New Government started handing
the thousands of acres of land in the Northern Province taken
by the SFs during the civil war back to the original owners. President
Maithripala Sirisena, at a ceremony held at the Walalai area in
Jaffna, released 425 acres of land previously situated in Jaffna
high security zone to the original owners. At the event, the President
symbolically presented the ownership certificates to the rightful
owners of the land. President said his Government is dedicated
to building peace and co-existence among all communities; eliminating
fear and mistrust and will take every measure to resolve their
A large number of Tamils held
demonstrations in the North and Eastern provinces, demanding an
international probe into the alleged human rights violations during
the last phase of war with the LTTE. Rejecting President Maithripala
Sirisena Government's proposed domestic investigation rather than
an international probe into the human rights violations, Tamils
including activists of TNPF, held protest in eight Northern and
PM Ranil Wickremesinghe announced
that the former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has
been appointed to lead a special Presidential Task Force to identify
urgent reconciliation needs of the minority Tamil community. PM
Wickremasinghe at a special meeting with the heads of government
and private sector media institutes at the Temple Trees said that
a Secretariat on National Harmony has been declared open under
the leadership of the former president Mrs. Kumaratunga. "We are
focused in achieving communal and religious harmony," Wickremesinghe
said. Wickremasinghe added that the major task entrusted to the
PTFR is to preserve the diversity of all ethnic groups. The PTFR
would identify urgent reconciliation needs of the communities
that require immediate solutions and would consider proposals
from the public on the issues.
PM Ranil Wickremesinghe embarked
on a tour in the Tamil dominated Northern Province in a bid to
strengthen Government's efforts to bring about the reconciliation
among the communities. The PM participated in a special meeting
held with the Jaffna District parliamentary members and local
Government representatives at the Jaffna District Secretariat
to review the progress of the government's 100-day program implemented
in the Northern Province. PM, while addressing the meeting, said
the Government will provide long term solutions to address the
problems faced by the people in the District who have been affected
by the war and assured to take measures to uplift their economy
along with the development of infrastructure facilities. Wickremesinghe
also visited Point Pedro and Kilinochchi in the Northern Province,
and talked to former combatants of the LTTE, war widows, civil
society representatives, and parliamentarians.
The Kilinochchi Magistrate's Court
in Kilinochchi District in Northern Province ordered the immediate
release of Balendran Vibushika, the daughter of Tamil activist
Balendran Jeyakumari, who was transferred to probationary custody
in a children's home in Kilinochchi after her mother was arrested
in March 2014, from probation. Balendran Jeyakumari, along with
her then 13-year-old daughter, Vibushika, was arrested on March
13, 2014 in Kilinochchi for allegedly sheltering a LTTE cadre,
named Gopi, who shot a Police Inspector in Kilinochchi during
an arrest. Her daughter was handed over to Child Protection Services
while the mother was sent to Boossa detention camp in Galle in
Southern Province. Jeyakumari, who was detained for nearly a year
without being charged, was released on conditional bail on March
10. Following Jeyakumari's release on bail, the Kilinochchi Magistrate's
Court ordered the authorities to hand over Vibushika to her mother's
PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said that
the EU has responded positively to the quest made by him to extend
the ban on, LTTE. The PM made this announcement when he met with
the members of the three Armed Forces and Police at the Defence
Headquarters at Palaly at Jaffna in Northern Province. Accordingly,
the EU will further extend the ban on LTTE, the PM said. Wickremesinghe
assured the SFs that his Government will not leave any room to
sacrifice lives of armed forces and general public due to wrong
decisions taken by the politicians.
Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Affairs
Minister, Ajith P Perera said that the EU had re-imposed the ban
on the LTTE due to the positive diplomatic intervention of the
Government. However, the EU has not officially announced the decision
to extend the ban.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith
P Perera warned that there is a real danger that the LTTE could
regroup and wage another war for an independent Tamil homeland,
six years after they were militarily defeated. Perera said that
"Their front organisations operate businesses abroad, they run
petrol stations, supermarkets and have shipping companies." "Even
though they have been defeated on the ground, there is a real
danger of their trying to regroup," he said. His comments came
after the Sri Lankan Government pushed the EU to again blacklist
Sri Lankan Government said that
a final decision has not yet been taken on lifting the ban on
some diaspora groups or individuals listed by the former Government.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith P Perera said that the issue is
sensitive and needs to be dealt with carefully and will also need
the support of Parliament.
The CID of Sri Lanka has arrested
three former Navy personnel and detained them in connection with
the killing of TNA MP Nadarajah Raviraj and a Policeman providing
security to him in 2006. The parliamentarian was shot dead by
gunmen riding a motorbike in Colombo in Western Province on November
10, 2006. His bodyguard, Police Constable Lakshman Lokuwella attached
to the Jaffna Police Station, was also killed in the shooting.
The Spokesman ASP Ruwan Gunasekara said the three security personnel
including two officers are being interrogated under the Prevention
of Terrorism Act (PTA) and they will also be questioned over several
disappearances during that time. The new government of President
Maithripala Sirisena has promised accountability for wartime abuses.
Raviraj was outspoken on greater self-rule for minority ethnic
Tamils and explained the Tamil perspective of the conflict in
Sinhala, the language of the majority. A former mayor of Jaffna
and a lawyer by profession, Raviraj openly spoke out against the
conflict between the military and LTTE in the country's north
Dismissing much-touted allegations
that thousands had been still held on terrorism charges, Justice
Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that there were only 210 persons
in custody. The Minister stressed that nine held on terrorism
charges had been given bail. According to the minister, 134 persons
had been remanded had 60 were under investigation and 25 held
under Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Of the total number,
nine have been released on bail.
The newly-appointed Commander
of the Army, Lieutenant General Krishantha de Silva said that
Sri Lanka Army has not withdrawn the troops or camps in the North.
The Army Commander has stressed that safeguarding territorial
sovereignty was of paramount importance and assured to take all
measures to prevent the resurgence of militancy in the North.
The Commander added that the President, who is Commander-In-Chief,
and he, himself are committed to achieving national security.
He assured that no military camps have been withdrawn to release
land to the original owners in the North and East. Speaking of
the reports that the LTTE is trying to make a comeback, the Army
Commander said the SFs are extremely alert and watching the situation
"very carefully". "There will be zero tolerance of any acts of
terror," he emphasized.
Three Sri Lankan Navy personnel,
including two officers, have been arrested by the Police under
the anti-terrorism Act for the alleged murder of a popular Tamil
lawmaker in 2006 that had been blamed on the LTTE. Police spokesman
ASP Ruwan Gunasekara said that the three men are suspected in
the killing of Nadaraja Raviraj, who was shot dead in his car
in November 2006 during the country's civil war. A former mayor
of Jaffna and a lawyer by profession, Raviraj openly spoke out
against the conflict between the military and LTTE in the country's
North and East. The Government of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa
blamed the killing on the now-defeated LTTE, but Raviraj's supporters
suspected a Government hand.
The visiting UN Special Rapporteur
on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees
of non-recurrence, Pablo de Greiff met with the Chief Minister
of the Northern Province C. V. Wigneswaran. Reports said that
Mr. de Greiff, who arrived in Sri Lanka on March 29, for a six-day
visit on the invitation of the Sri Lankan Government, has held
closed-door discussions with the Chief Minister on the current
situation in the region. The UN official has reportedly requested
not to disclose the discussions to the media. However, Tamil media
reports said the Chief Minister has handed over the recently adopted
NPC resolution on Tamil genocide to the Special Rapporteur. The
resolution adopted by the NPC in February 2015 calls for an international
investigation into alleged acts of genocide committed against
the Tamils during the war.
Sri Lanka did not seize the opportunities
that existed in 2009 after ending the war to bring the country
together and has a chance now to achieve reconciliation, justice
and true peace, said the US official Tom Malinowski. However,
the process will require, in part, "looking backward, to acknowledge
the suffering of the innocent and account for the wrongdoing of
the guilty, on every side," Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary,
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor said assuring the
support of the US for the process. "The US will continue to encourage
that process, because experience has taught us that no society
can move forward by burying the past. But our greatest hope is
that you will keep moving forward," he remarked.
President Maithripala Sirisena
chaired a special discussion on the identification and allocation
of lands to resettle the IDPs of Mannar in Mannar District of
Northern Province. The discussion, held at the President's Secretariat,
especially centered on identifying suitable land to distribute
to the displaced families in the Mannar District. The President
advised to use the lands that are under the District Secretary's
purview, while emphasizing to pay special attention to protect
the thick forest cover in the area. The President pointed out
the need to distributing lands without causing any discrimination
to any ethnic group. According to the latest figures, 1,734 families
in the Mannar District have requested for land, where 902 of them
have been recommended as suitable to receive land.
The new Government has started
a comprehensive investigation to determine whether arms and ammunition
recovered from the LTTE were provided to terrorist organizations
by the previous Government. The Cabinet Spokesperson and the Minister
of Health and Indigenous Medicine Rajitha Senaratne said that
the Government will probe whether the recovered LTTE arms have
been provided to the Ukrainian rebels and the Islamic terrorist
organization Boko Haram in Nigeria. He said the previous Government
has provided arms to a security institution which was allegedly
involved in arms deals with a number of countries including Nigeria
and the Government has received reports that the organization
had exchanged arms in mid sea. The Minister said that the Government
has suspicions as to whether they sold the LTTE weapons since
the relevant officials in the Government have denied ever selling
any state weapons. "The Government does not have a complete report
about the weapons found from the LTTE during the last few day
of war on terrorism," he said.
Three Army personnel including
a Captain received injuries when they attempted to diffuse a landmine
buried by the LTTE during war time in Wilasikulam forest area
in Madhu Police Division in Mannar District of Northern Province.
According to the Police, a Captain of the Engineering Corps, a
Corporal and a Soldier who received injuries have been admitted
to Vavuniya Hospital. It has been revealed that the landmine exploded
due to a delay which occurred during bomb disposal.
Sri Lankan Army Headquarters said
that the troops on their search and clear operations in the general
areas of Kombavil, Puthukkudiyrippu, Ampakamam, Piramanthalaru
and Kalkudah in Northern Province recovered six hand grenades,
one 81 mm mortar bomb, one Arul bomb, one RPG bomb, one 40 mm
grenade launcher bomb and one IED. The Army also said that the
de-mining groups had recovered one hundred anti-personnel mines
from Mahamailankulam, Kaddiadampan, 14th Mile Post and Pumalanathan
in Northern Province. The arms that had been buried there by the
LTTE during war time were detected by employees of a NGO and they
alerted the SFs.
The Government will setup a national
welfare centre in the country's war-ravaged North to uplift Tamil
families headed by women or the victims of the nearly three decades-long
civil war in the country, said PM Ranil Wickremesinghe's office.
The national centre will be located in Kilinochchi in Northern
Province, the former LTTE administrative centre, PM's office said
in a statement. The decision was taken following a request made
by the Northern people to set up the centre in Kilinochchi where
most women had lost their husbands in the conflict. "It is a well
known fact that most suffered persons due to a war are women and
children. In the north alone there are nearly 50,000 families
that are headed by women. They are made destitute due to their
inability to provide food, accommodation and educational needs
to their children," the statement said.
Based on a UN report on women-headed
households, Wickremesinghe has appointed a committee to look at
ways to uplift social and economic conditions of women-headed
households. Since coming into power, the new Government has taken
significant steps to bring normalcy in the North. The Government
has returned some military-acquired land to original Tamil owners.
A travel restriction for foreigners travelling to the North imposed
by the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa regime has also been lifted.
According to UN estimates, up to 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed
by SFs during former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's regime that
brought an end to the nearly three decades-long war in the country
with the defeat of the LTTE in 2009.
The Army released 570 acres of
land from High Security Zones in Jaffna District to the District
Secretary for Jaffna for distribution among rightful owners. The
Army in a statement said "Under today's phase, 397 acres from
Kankasanthurai South and 173 acres from Valali in the Valikamam
sector of Jaffna District have now been released to the District
Secretariat, thus completing the extent of 1000 acres assured
by the Government."
The IFJ along with the FMM condemned
the arrest of a Tamil journalist in the Northern Province by the
Sri Lankan Police on April 8 in Jaffna. IFJ in a statement accused
the Sri Lankan Police in Jaffna of intimidating Tamil journalists.
The UNHRC listed certain urgent
tasks for the Sri Lankan Government to do, so that charges of
human rights abuses and war crimes are meaningfully addressed.
Pablo de Greiff, UNHRC Special Rapporteur for Truth, Justice,
Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence has said in his report
that Sri Lanka should take "immediate action" to clarify the fate
of the disappeared; refrain from arbitrary detentions; address
land issues; and put an immediate end to continuing forms of harassment,
violence and unjustified surveillance of civil society and war
victims, in particular women in the Eastern and Northern Provinces.
"These cast a serious doubt on current efforts," he said.
India's Central intelligence agencies
have launched a major investigation into a "specific tip-off"
that Naxals were now getting sophisticated weapons through
the sea route from Sri Lanka. Top Indian intelligence sources
claimed that they had received information some time back that
Naxals were routing arms and ammunition through the sea route
through an arms cartel which was suspected to be earlier providing
weapons to the LTTE as well. It is suspected that the weapons
are coming through Sri Lanka using the sea route, sources added.
Report said that the intelligence officials are worried about
this new "supply route" being used by the Naxals to procure sophisticated
weapons, including the AK-series rifles, landmines, grenade launchers,
communication equipment and even NVDs.
TNA has called on the Government
to immediately intervene and halt disruptions to journalists in
the Northern Province. TNA MP S. Shritharan has written a letter
to President Maithripala Sirisena calling on him to intervene
and probe the alleged intimidation faced by journalists in the
North by groups claiming to be from the military. In one instance,
three journalists were threatened by persons reportedly from the
military after they had covered a public protest in Nallur in
Jaffna District to demand clean drinking water.
The wife of missing Sri Lankan
journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, Sandya Eknaligoda said that she
is not satisfied with the fresh probe that was launched by the
new Government in to her husband's disappearance that took place
in 2010. Sandya has said that though the Government had previously
promised to hand over the investigations to the CID, she has so
far not been informed of any progress regarding the ongoing investigations.
"However I still have hope that the Government would find out
what happened to Prageeth before the end of this year," Sandya
has further said.
Refugees including Sri Lankan
Tamils, rejected by Australia will soon fly from the Pacific atoll
of Nauru to be resettled in Cambodia, the ABC said quoting the
TNA MP M A Sumanthiran said that
the TNA has no allegiance to the LTTE as it is not in favour of
terrorism. He said that "We do not have any allegiance to the
LTTE nor are we committed to their ideology. We stand up for the
rights of the Tamil people but we are not in favour of terrorism
nor do we encourage it and everyone knows this." He also dismissed
concerns over resurgence of the LTTE, saying it is an effort by
political parties to create fear among the people.
The Governor of the Eastern Province
Austin Fernando vehemently rejected the allegations that the lands
in Sampur in Trincomalee District have been given to the LTTE
terrorists. The Governor pointed out that handing over the lands
to their original owners will never harm the security of the naval
bases or naval jetty in Trincomalee. He said there is no truth
in the speculation spread by some social media that the naval
base in Sampur has been removed. The Government has taken measures
to develop the Sampur navy training camp as a fully fledged navy
President Maithripala Sirisena
defended the new Government's policy of returning private land,
once used by the SFs, to legitimate owners, especially in the
Northern and Eastern Provinces, where Tamils and Muslims are present
substantially. Sirisena, while addressing the nation through the
electronic media, said "the 30 year conflict" (with the LTTE)
should not raise its head again. "We have to ensure amity among
all communities." He said that a section of the media has been
spreading falsehoods such as: the military has been removed from
the North; their numbers have been reduced; that lands in Sampur
had been given to LTTE terrorists; and that the Tamil and Muslim
minorities have been given more rights than the Sinhalese. "These
stories are being spread by extreme communalists. Please do not
spread these false messages to the world," he urged.
Sixty percent of the people who
had appeared before the PCICMP, blamed the LTTE for the disappearance
of their kith and kin, PCICMP Chairman, Retired Justice Maxwell
Paranagama, said. He said that "Thirty percent of the complaints
were against the Sri Lankan SFs, 10 percent against the other
(non-LTTE) Tamil militant groups, and 5 percent were against unidentified
elements." A total of 2500 people from the Northern and Eastern
Provinces had appeared before the commission. There were 16,000
complaints from civilians and 5600 from the SFs. Paranagama added
that "However, the blame figures varied from district to district.
In Kilinochchi, 85 percent of those who deposed blamed the LTTE.
In Mullaitivu, 80 percent blamed the LTTE. In Jaffna, people blamed
the LTTE and the SFs equally (50:50). In the Eastern Province
most of the complaints were against the SFs. The Karuna group
(a breakaway group of the LTTE), was also blamed to an extent
in the East." Some of the cases have been referred for action
and some for further investigations, he said.
The Commission has submitted its
interim report to President Maithripala Sirisena. The Government
has asked the panel to continue its work as it is also investigating
allegations of war crimes.
Five Dutch nationals of Sri Lankan
origin have been jailed for between nineteen months and six years
three months for raising money for LTTE. The appeal court ruled
the five, who range in age from 43 to 60, were members of the
LTTE and had raised money for the terror group between 2003 and
2010. The charges involved threatening people who refused to make
donations and organizing illegal lotteries, the court said.
TNA called for a special arrangement
to ensure that Tamil speaking people would retain the same number
of seats regardless of drastic drop in the number of electors
over the years due to them fleeing the country or moving to Districts
outside the Northern Province. TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran said that
their support for the proposed 20 Amendment to the Constitution
would entirely depend on guarantee that the existing 160 electorates
would remain intact. The MP insisted that the electoral reforms
couldn't be finalized at the expense of Tamil speaking people.
The MP insisted that the SLFP's push for an agreement on electoral
reforms wasn't realistic therefore those spearheading talks on
the 20 Amendment should be mindful of their concerns.
Chairman of the PCICMP, retired High Court Judge
Maxwell Paranagama said that four teams will be appointed to the
PCICMP to conduct investigations into future deliberations. He
said the appointments were in accordance with the recommendations
made in the interim report that was submitted to the President
Maithripala Sirisena. These four teams will investigate about
16,000 complaints, according to the Chairman.
Sri Lanka's new Government said that a domestic
mechanism will be in place by September to probe into the alleged
human rights violations during the final stages of decades-long
war with the LTTE. Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera
said that the domestic mechanism with foreign technical expertise
to probe into the allegations of war crimes will be in place when
next UNHRC session will meet in Geneva in September.
The Governor of Eastern Province, Austin Fernando
has strongly refuted criticism made in certain quarters about
the Colombo's decision to resettle IDPs, mostly Tamils, in Sampur
town in Trincomalee District. According to the Governor, critics
of the Government sought to portray the move as one being carried
out at the behest of Indian Government or as "sell out to the
LTTE" or "politically motivated."
State Minister of Defence Dinendra Ruwan Wijewardene
said that the language barrier between the Sinhala and Tamil communities
was one of the reasons for the prolonged ethnic conflict that
had plagued the nation for three decades and some extremist forces
within these communities took it to their advantage and as a result
the nation lost many invaluable lives and resources.
Two pro-LTTE Conservative candidates, MPS in
the last Parliament, Lee Scott and Nick De Bois, were routed in
May 7 British elections. According to the political observers,
their failure to win their constituencies is considered a big
blow to LTTE propaganda in the UK. Amal Abeyawardene of the CFSL
said that the outcome of the British election is good news for
The IFJ in its latest report said that Sri Lanka
along with India, Pakistan and Afghanistan is among the 'worst
offenders' in the region in protecting journalists in 2014-15.
The report also advocated a strong need for a campaign to end
impunity to ensure that those who abduct, attack or kill journalists
were brought to justice. "While Sri Lanka did not experience any
journalist deaths in the past year, several had close shaves.
Even six years after the end of the war, the media in the Northern
and Eastern Province of the island continue to face attacks and
harassment," the IFJ report said.
Smaller political parties in Sri Lanka, which
represents minority communities, have expressed their opposition
to the proposed 20th amendment to the constitution which incorporates
reforms to the electoral system. "We are opposed to the move of
bringing electoral reforms as an urgent bill. We are for reforming
the system but we want the next election to be held under the
existing system of proportional representation," said Mano Ganesan,
a leader of a Tamil political party.
TNA Leader R. Sampanthan said that the Tamil people
should be given a suitable political solution soon. Sampanthan
further said that “They (Tamils) should also be given equal rights
and Tamil people had complete confidence in present President
Maithripala Sirisena.” Sampanthan said "President Sirisena
should convince his electorate that Tamils in the North should
be given their lands. We have never asked to divide the country.
We have very clearly said that a political solution should be
formulated through a local process”.
Some TNA members of the NPC announced that the
period May 13 to 19 would be marked as ‘Tamil Genocide Week’ and
began commemorating the dead with a function in Mullavaikkal in
Mullaitivu District where the final battle was fought in 2009.
The military defeated the LTTE on May 19 (2009) - which is marked
and celebrated as Victory Day in the country.
TNA NPC member M.K. Sivajilingam said “We lit
lamps and offered floral tributes at a small function in Mullavaikkal
in Mullaitivu District. This week we will have commemorations
throughout the North. We requested the party hierarchy to hold
the main function on May 19.” He also said that he was backed
by a few other members of the TNA in this exercise. However, it
is learnt that the TNA, as a party, has not organised any such
Government warned that any attempt to commemorate
LTTE on the sixth anniversary of the end of the three-decade long
civil war will not be condoned. Senior Minister Karu Jayasuriya
said that "Anyone trying to commemorate the LTTE which was
a terror group will not be approved by the government. There are
elements who want to misuse the new democratic freedom in the
country to show that terrorism could rise its head again."
According to the authorities, over 40 Sri Lankan
Tamil refugees from various camps in Tamil Nadu, India voluntarily
left for Sri Lanka from Chennai and Tiruchirappalli with the assistance
Minister for Resettlement, Reconstruction and
Hindu Religious Affairs, D.M. Swaminathan said that only 35 percent
of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in Tamil Nadu (India) are
willing to return to Sri Lanka. Swaminathan, who received 65 Tamil
refugees on their arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport
in Colombo, said that of most of about 100,000 refugees in Tamil
Nadu had got jobs there, married had children. "Not all of
them will come here. It is all rubbish", he said.
Emphasizing that his Government would welcome
all those refugees who were willing to return, Minister Swaminathan
noted that some of the returnees had Indian passports and they
can come back to Sri Lanka under the dual citizenship system.
Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne announced
that the day, May 19 which was celebrated as “Victory Day” by
the Government of Mahinda Rajapaksa to mark the LTTE’s defeat,
will from this year onwards be observed as “Remembrance Day” to
recall the sacrifices of all those who had fought in the Eelam
War-IV to maintain the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka irrespective
of their ethnicity. He also added that it would be a day that
culminated the end of separatism.
In a bid to take this message of unity to the
interior of the island, the function this year will be held, not
in Colombo, but at Matara in the Southern Province. However,
as in the past, there will be a military parade at which President
Maithripala Sirisena will take the salute.
The TNA leader M.A. Sumanthiran said that “TNA,
even in 2010, a year after the end of the War, had called upon
people to remember the dead without any reference to the LTTE
or religion. Its point was there should be “no sense of triumphalism”
but a “feeling of regret and sadness”.
Member of the NPC and former MP M.K. Shivajilingam
said that as part of the “genocidal week,” beginning on May 12,
he took part in functions in Mullivaikkal, Trincomalee and Point
Pedro in the last three days to pay homage to all those who died
in the War” “The dead included those who belonged to the LTTE,”
said Shivajilingam, who is the national organiser of the TELO,
now a political party.
Sri Lankan Government reiterated that Sri Lanka
has not faced pressure from the Tamil diaspora after the January
8, 2015 Presidential elections. Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne
said that earlier there were reports of the diaspora staging protests
in foreign countries against Sri Lanka. However, as the country
prepares to commemorate six years since the end of the war, Senaratne
noted that the diaspora has gone silent since the Government is
addressing the concerns of the Tamils.
Minister also invited NPC to attend the “Remembrance
Day” functions which will be held next week in Southern Province.
“We are inviting all. We’ll see whether they are coming,” Rajitha
According to PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Government
is planning to set up a commission to probe the killing and disappearances
of media persons in the past. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe,
during a recent discussion he had with media personnel and other
stakeholders, said that it was decided that such a commission
should be established in consultation and concurrence with media
groups, civil society organizations and other relevant partners.
The PM noted that the harassment and intimidation on media institutions
and journalists which prevailed in the past have stopped under
the 'good governance' established since President Maithripala
Sirisena assumed office.
On the request of Mullaitivu Police, the Mullaitivu
Magistrate Court issued an order banning people from holding any
LTTE commemoration events or remembrance events in the Mullaitivu
Police Division in Mullaitivu District of Northern Province for
14 days starting from May 18. Police have sought the court order
after learning that TNPF was planning to hold an LTTE-remembrance
event at Mullivaikal in Mullaitivu District on May 18.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who hopes
to romp back to power in the coming parliamentary elections on
a Sinhalese-nationalist wave, decided to celebrate May 18, the
day on which LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed, as
“War Heroes’ Day”. Rajapaksa’s rally to be held at Viharamahadevi
Park in Colombo is significant in the context of President Maithripala
Sirisena’s decision to observe May 19 as “Remembrance Day” to
honor all Lankans, soldiers and civilians, irrespective of ethnicity,
who had sacrificed their life or limb for the sake of the unity
and integrity of the country.
Despite the ban on pro-LTTE commemorations in
Mullaitivu District, the TNA - controlled NPC intends to have
a function in the North on May 18 to pay to tribute to those who
lost their lives, party officials said. TNA MP Suresh Premachandran
said that the NCP organized event was originally to be conducted
in Mullivaikkal, the area where the last battle was fought between
the LTTE and the SFs on May 18, 2009 ending three decades of war.
The venue had to be changed following the court order that banned
any form of LTTE commemoration in the area, he added. He also
criticised the Government for not allowing such functions.
The Council of Tamil Civil Society Organisations
has made an open request to Tamils to attend Remembrance Day functions
in their respective areas without keeping away and to perform
poojas in all Hindu temples for the souls of their departed
loved ones. It also requested to pay floral tributes and light
lamps in schools, government departments and offices in the North
and East and to get the permission of their respective Provincial
Council administrations to hold remembrance in a similar manner.
A London-based Tamil diaspora group, GTF hailed
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena as an "emerging
patriot and statesman" by "word and example". GTF
President Father S.J. Emmanuel in his message to mark May 18,
the day Sri Lankan SFs ended the LTTE terrorism six years ago
said that President Maithripala Sirisena, by word and example,
is appealing to all to put the country and the people before political
parties and seek a peaceful coexistence of all peoples.
Despite the court order banning pro-LTTE commemorations,
Tamils including some of the TNA leaders and civilians, for the
first time since the end of the Eelam War-IV six years ago, openly
paid tribute to the thousands of dead in the final stages of the
war in Mullaitivu District. TNA members of the NPC and local leaders,
under heavy surveillance, lit oil lamps and offered flowers at
a makeshift memorial in Mullivaikkal village.
In a function organized at the Mullivaikkal beach
in Mullaitivu District, Chief Minister of the Northern Province
C.V. Wigneswaran urged that the Sri Lankan Government and international
community to take a decision on the Tamil question. He said, "This
in turn could usher in peace and dignity among various communities
in Sri Lanka.". "The environment is now much more positive. Without
delay, we must work towards the all important goal of maximum
devolution for the Tamil speaking people," he added.
The IFJ and its several affiliates have called
for more dialogue and discussion on improving working conditions
for journalists in Sri Lanka if the country is to rebuild a strong,
robust and professional media industry in the country. In a statement,
the media organizations highlighting some of the obstacles preventing
journalists from joining and being active in unions said further
support was needed for journalists in exile trying to return.
The media group also asked the Government to create an independent
Commission of Inquiry with a mandate and adequate powers to investigate
past killings and disappearances of media workers, threats and
attacks on journalists and media outlets and to ensure prosecution
of those responsible and pay compensation to the victims and their
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, while attending
a commemoration accused the Sirisena Government of forgetting
the troops who were responsible for the crushing the LTTE's 30-year
campaign. "Please take revenge from me, put me in jail, but do
not forget the heroic forces," Rajapaksa told the gathering.
The ITJP Sri Lanka, headed by South African human
rights activist Yasmin Sooka, asked the Sri Lankan Government
to give information about the whereabouts of 110 LTTE leaders
who had surrendered to the Sri Lankan military in full public
view on May 18, 2009. "The failure on the part of the authorities
to carry out a proper investigation into their subsequent disappearance
is a further injustice as well as a personal tragedy", an ITJP
press release said.
President Maithripala Sirisena, while addressing
the 'War Hero's Day' celebrations at the coastal town of Matara
in Southern Province said that achieving national reconciliation
with the minority Tamil community is a priority for the new Sri
Lankan Government and winning hearts and minds is more important
than reconstructing war-devastated buildings. Attending the celebrations
as the country marked the 6th anniversary of the end of the conflict
with the LTTE that killed over 40,000 persons, Sirisena said that
"National reconciliation build on mutual trust, confidence and
respect of all communities is my government's policy."
Sirisena pledged the Government's support for
the military. "I have the fullest confidence in you (the troops)
to safeguard the security of our motherland," he said, accusing
his rivals of spreading "false propaganda" against the Government.
He also assured that he would not allow the LTTE to raise its
PM Ranil Wickremesinghe praised the efforts of
the country's soldiers for defeating the armed movement, the LTTE,
stating that "war heroes who eliminated terrorism that engulfed
our country for a longtime laid the basic foundation to build
national unity and harmony". While speaking at a commemoration
function, recently renamed as 'Armed Forces Day' in Matara in
Southern Province, the PM said "We should remember with gratitude
and respect our men and women who laid their lives in combating
terrorism, peace keeping and humanitarian operations across the
world and the ones who became disabled while doing their duty
State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardena strongly
rejected the allegation made by the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa
and opposition MPs who had stated that the LTTE flag was hoisted
in parts of the Northern Province on May 18 when Sri Lanka commemorated
the sixth year of defeating LTTE terrorism. The Minister said
that "Report received from intelligence agencies state no such
incident being staged in the Northern or Eastern Provinces. These
rumors are spread by certain persons with vested interests, media
sources and social web sites to achieve their own political agendas."
Sri Lanka's Supreme Court has lifted the stay
on the transfer of 818 acres of land in Sampur area in Eastern
Province to the displaced Tamils after the displaced appealed
to the court to return the land. Earlier, TNA parliamentarian
MA Sumanthiran submitted an intervention to the Supreme Court
demanding return of appropriated lands to listed individuals from
Sampur. The bench, headed by Chief Justice S Sripavan accepted
the plea of the counsel for the displaced families that the Government
had consistently held that the lands seized by the military in
2006-07 during the height of war in the Eastern Province would
be returned to the displaced Tamils of the area.
President Maithripala Sirisena said that Sri Lankan
Government plans to devise a comprehensive national security plan
covering all aspects of necessary areas of security in the country.
During an observation visit to the SFHQ-E in Welikanda in Polonnaruwa
District in North Central Province, the President said that national
security plan has already been taken up in the National Security
Council and will be finalized shortly with the support of tri-services
Source:Compiled from news reports and