Sri Lanka News Update 2 June 2019

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Reflections from Mullivaikkal: From the Ashes
“Secretary Clinton called Rajapaksa in March and told him to stop firing on civilians. President Obama […] called on the Sri Lankan government to stop shelling civilians. But it wasn’t enough. It was too little, too late.” – Tasha Manoranjan, Executive Director of PEARL, Tamil Guardian.

NEWS

Mannar Tamil civil society org raided and threatened by Sri Lankan army
The Mannar Social and Economic Development Organisation (MSEDO), a group that has supported land rights campaigns around Mannar was subjected to a sudden search operation involving dozens of army personnel, in addition to harassment and orders to switch off the office’s CCTV camera by a senior army official – Tamil Guardian.

Sri Lanka denounces UN statement calling it an ‘oversimplified narrative’
In a letter to the UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide and the UN Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protest, Sri Lanka’s permanent representative to the UN Rohan Perera, wrote “It is quite insensitive and ill-conceived that you did not consider […] to share your concerns with the Sri Lankan government first, before going public with your statement. By stating that ‘the recent violence in Sri Lanka has highlighted a growing influence of nationalists and extremist views of identity […], putting religious minorities at risk’, your statement generalizes events and mischaracterizes facts, which is irresponsible as it is dangerous, and does not conform with the independent nature and credibility of your offices” – Tamil Guardian.

Tamil journalist reporting police inaction intimidated by senior officer
Tamil journalist K. Kumanan who was covering a dispute between two Hindu and Buddhist temples, had been physically assaulted and verbally abused by the officer in charge of the Kokkilai police station in Mullaitivu after he went to Neeraviyadi Pillaiyar temple to report on the lack of progress in fulfilling a court order to remove CCTV cameras. The journalist was taking photographs while workers were repainting the customary Tamil name at the Hindu temple entrance which was earlier changed to the Sinhala name by a Buddhist monk who had recently constructed a Buddhist temple in the same plot of land – JDS Lanka.

Sri Lanka Tourism Suffers After Deadly Bombings
Sri Lanka’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate for the first time in more than a year to support the economy after the Easter Sunday terror attacks clouded the growth outlook – Finance Yahoo. Hotel occupancy rates across the island have fallen by at least 85 percent and the falls come despite efforts by Colombo to help revive the tourist industry. The tourism industry makes up about 4.9 percent of Sri Lanka’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – Voice of America and Financial Times.

2009 Vanni based Air Commodore appointed as new Commander
The previous Air Marshall, Sumangala Dias coordinated air operations over the Vanni from December 2008, when a number of targeted attacks on hospitals, government designated no-fire zones and civilian areas are well documented. The UN’s OISL report noted “Between 8 and 12 May the facility was shelled on several occasions as the [No Fire Zone 3] came under intense daily bombardment by SLA artillery, the air force and the navy.” A leaked US embassy cable noted: “The Embassy has credible information that the Sri Lankan Air Force conducted an air strike south of the civilian safe zone [on] May 10” – Tamil Guardian.

Men now patrolling Sri Lanka ‘an enormous risk to rule of law’ – ITJP & JDS
A joint dossier by the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) and Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS), focuses on eight military officers who are in charge of deployments and played a pivotal role as commanders in the final phase of the civil war. “Under UN Resolution 30/1, Sri Lanka promised to vet and also hold accountable security officials involved in the 2009 war. This never happened. Now the officers profiled in this dossier are entrusted with enormous power over civilians once again […]” – Tamil Guardian.

Sri Lankan president denies knowing of bombings in advance
Questions have also been raised over NTJ links with government security forces and intelligence, with reports that the intelligence authorities funded NTJ. Kurunegala District UNP MP Thushara Indunil claims the Sri Lankan government was warned “as early as 2014” about the emergence of the NTJ and Islamic extremists on the island. “If the former Defence Secretary was privy to this information, we ask of what he did then, knowing the threats it posed,” said Indunil. Furthermore, Sri Lanka’s police chief, who was suspended after the Easter Sunday bombings, submitted a 20 page complaint to the Supreme Court pointing to Sirisena’s failure to prevent the attacks – Tamil Guardian and here.

Mullikulam still without basic facilities two years on
The people of Mullikulam who resettled in their land after months of protest continue to suffer without basic facilities, two years after resettling. Mullikulam residents expressed anger at their complete neglect by the Sri Lankan government, stating they did not have proper shelter, electricity or drinking water. Meanwhile the residents noted that Sri Lankan navy personnel stationed in Mullikulam were living in luxury houses built on civilian’s properties – Tamil Guardian.

Militarization and Sinhalization
Sri Lankan army holds ‘victory’ parade in Mullaitivu, days after Mullivaikkal remembrance
Archaeology Dept dumping temple ruins in well say Trinco residents
Tamil politicians object to Sinhalese housing scheme in Kokkilai
Sri Lanka military erects Sinhala welcome arch in Vavuniya

Ranil establishes ‘Palmyra Fund’ for North-East
At a ceremony, attended by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader, R Sampanthan and the Minister of Finance, Mangala Samaraweera, Ranil said the fund would start with a capital of Rs 2.5 billion and would aim to improve economic and social development in the area. “The government will be giving employment to 22,000 graduates […] and other schemes under which employment opportunities will be founded. Funds that are being pumped into the northern and eastern economies will also create employment opportunities there,” he added – Tamil Guardian.

Comments and Features

38 years on – Remembering the burning of the Jaffna Public Library
On May 31, 1981 the Jaffna Public Library, famous for being the crucible of Tamil literature and heritage, was set ablaze by Sri Lankan security forces and state-sponsored mobs. The burning has since been marked by Eelam Tamils as an act of genocide. – Tamil Guardian.

Sri Lanka ten years after the war: the Tamil struggle for justice continues
The Sri Lankan state knows that memory is dangerous, that it challenges the official story, and that it strengthens struggles for justice. Despite being denigrated, threatened and intimidated, people come together to light candles for the dead – Rachel Seoighe, The Conversation.

Sri Lanka civil war: Victim’s father vows to fight for justice
The father of a student, who was executed in the 2006 Trinco 5 killings by Sri Lanka’s Special Task Force, wants to seek justice from a hybrid court or the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands. “I am not asking for any rupees, or a single penny from Sri Lanka. I want justice only” – Al Jazeera.

Alvai temple massacre by Sri Lankan army remembered 32 years on
The Sri Lankan army, based at the Palaly military camp, dropped pamphlets from the air warning Tamils of an upcoming attack and instructing them to take refuge at the temple. At 11pm on May 29, 1987 as hundreds of families from across Vadamarachchi huddled inside the temple, the Sri Lankan launched its attack directly at the site of refuge, which resulted in the massacre of at least 63 people – Tamil Guardian.

Assassinated Tamil journalist remembered in North-East on 15th anniversary
Aiyathurai Nadesan, a senior journalist with the Virakesari for over 20 years, was shot dead in Batticaloa on May 31, 2004. In the months leading up to his killing, Nadesan had been threatened and harassed by military personnel. Vigils were held in his memory in Batticaloa and Jaffna – Tamil Guardian.

Reflections from Mullivaikkal: Kilinochchi
As part of a series marking the atrocities of Mullivaikkal, families of the disappeared protesting in Kilinochchi shared their reflections on their experiences and the struggles they continue to face a decade on. See more reflections on the website www.RememberMay2009.com – Tamil Guardian.

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