Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sri Lanka: Report exposes the government’s violent repression of dissent

APRIL 29, 2013
The Sri Lankan government is intensifying its crackdown on critics through threats, harassment, imprisonment and violent attacks, Amnesty International said in a report released today.
The document, Assault on Dissent reveals how the government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa is promoting an official attitude that equates criticism with “treason” in a bid to tighten its grip on power.
Journalists, the judiciary, human rights activists and opposition politicians are among those who have been targeted in a disturbing pattern of government-sanctioned abuse, often involving the security forces or their proxies.
“Violent repression of dissent and the consolidation of political power go hand in hand in Sri Lanka,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.
“Over the past few years we have seen space for criticism decrease. There is a real climate of fear in Sri Lanka, with those brave enough to speak out against the government often having to suffer badly for it.”
Almost immediately after the end of the armed conflict in May 2009, when the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) were defeated, the government started consolidating its power.
The September 2010 introduction of the 18th constitutional amendment placed key government institutions directly under the president’s control, while the continued use of the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) grants sweeping powers to the security forces.
At the same time, official government discourse has become increasingly hostile towards critics, with terms like “traitor” used regularly by state-run media outlets.
Government critics have been subjected to verbal and physical harassment, attacks and in some cases killings. The report details dozens of such cases, both before and after 2009.
The judiciary has been a key target of repression, with the government  undermining its independence by making threats against judges who rule in favour of victims of human rights violations.
Tension culminated in January 2013 when Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was impeached on charges of misconduct, despite a Supreme Court ruling that the impeachment procedure was unconstitutional.
While much of Sri Lankan media is firmly in the hands of the government, the authorities have targeted outlets that remain independent and criticize official policies, or the government’s conduct during the armed conflict.
Journalists continue to suffer intimidation, threats and attacks for reports that are critical of the government. At least 15 have been killed since 2006 and many others have been forced to flee the country.
In a recent example, Faraz Shauketaly, a journalist with the Sunday Leader was left badly injured after unknown gunmen shot him in the neck in February 2013.
Older high-profile cases, such as the 2009 killing of former Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickramatunge, remain unresolved.
Websites with articles critical of the government face frequent cyber attacks, while their offices have been raided by police or burned down by unknown arsonists. The government has also used amendments to legislation – such as providing for the imposition of exorbitant “registration” fees – to shut down critical online outlets.
“The government’s blatant attempts to restrict and silence the independent media  fly in the face of the press freedom, which is supposed to be guaranteed by both domestic and international law,” said Truscott.
Much of the government’s crackdown is aimed at silencing criticism of its conduct during the armed conflict, in particular during its final months when many thousands of civilians died at the hands of the LTTE and the army.
Pressure on critics tends to intensify around key international events. Examples include recent UN Human Rights Council (HRC) sessions in 2012 and 2013, when the HRC passed resolutions highlighting the need to investigate alleged violations of international law by the Sri Lankan government during the armed conflict.
Participants in UN meetings and Sri Lankan journalists covering the events were repeatedly verbally attacked in Sri Lankan government media outlets, and in some cases physically threatened.
Others who have been targeted by the government include human rights activists, trade union leaders, humanitarian aid workers and opposition politicians, in particular those active in the Tamil-majority north.
In November 2013, the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is set to take place in Colombo. Sri Lanka would then represent the Commonwealth as its Chair for the next two years.
“Before November, Commonwealth governments must pressure the Sri Lankan government to address the alarming human rights situation in the country,” said Truscott.
“The CHOGM meeting must not be allowed to go ahead in Colombo unless the government has demonstrated beforehand that it has stopped systematic violations of human rights. All attacks on individuals must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated and those responsible held to account.”
In addition to these ongoing violations, the Sri Lankan government has failed – despite repeated promises to do so – to effectively investigate allegations of crimes under international law committed by the LTTE and the army during the armed conflict.
“It is abundantly clear that Colombo is unwilling and unable to investigate the credible allegations of crimes under international law, including war crimes, during the conflict. What is needed is an independent, impartial and internationally led investigation,” said Truscott.

Sri Lanka: The intentions behind the land grabbing process


In  the so-called ‘post-war’ Sri Lanka context, land grabbing, Sinhalization and military occupation of the Tamil nation have become pivotal points in the political development discourse. The deep concerns that exist amongst the majority of the Tamils, which are directed towards their present and future existence, are these same issues.
The political discourse within the international community is unable to keep pace with the real-time implementation and effects on the ground. The international community continues to talk about reconciliation and the Sri Lankan state seems keener on Sinhala settlements and militarization in the Tamil nation. All three actors have not only different aspects but their own interests as well. For the Tamil people living in the Northeast of the island, the apparent predominant concern is the ability to retain a dignified life; now and into the future. Having said so, this article analyses the real intention behind the land grabbing process being accelerated by the Sri Lankan State, particularly since the end of Eelam War IV in May 2009.
When the brutal war on the island came to end in May 2009, over 146,679 Tamil people, were still unaccounted. Crucial stakeholders of the ethno-political conflict of Sri Lanka thought that it heralded an opportunity for reconciliation between the polarized communities to build durable peace on the island.
In contrast, the Sri Lankan regime began building military bases, Sinhala settlements, Buddhist statues and stupas in the North East of the island. The Government that brought in the disastrous Sinhala Only Act in 1956 seemed to believe that the time for full level implementation and reactivation of the Act had arrived after nearly a four-decade hiatus. Thereby deliberately targeting the Northeast. Out of a total land mass of 65,619 sq km, the Tamils inhabited 18,880 sq km of land in the north and east, but after May 2009, the Sri Lankan Armed Forces have come to occupy more than 7,000 sq km of Tamil land.1 
Latest data reveals that at least 6,069 acres of public and private lands are occupied by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces (SLAF) for the purpose of opening up Sinhala colonies in the Vanni region. It is worth noting that this excludes already occupied lands in Jaffna region and the ‘Eastern province’.2 There is an official process, which indicates that 6,400 acres of civilian land will be seized for military purposes in Jaffna HSZ.3 People also complain that Sinhala Buddhist archaeologists are engaged in nefarious activities of Sinhalization. They are said to be visiting Tamil areas and 'excavating' Buddha statues that they themselves had planted earlier. The purpose of this exercise is allegedly to claim that the territory in question had been a Sinhala Buddhist area. The Sri Lankan regime has proclaimed that they ‘liberated’ the Tamil people through a so-called ‘humanitarian operation’. If indeed that is the case, the question arises as to why they believe there is a need to deploy the notorious military throughout the Northeast in such a large scale and appoint war criminals as governors of the region? 85,000-86,000 soldiers are at present in the North and East.4
This number does not include the separate deployment of a Task Force in the East, and of the Navy and the Air Force. The Sri Lankan Army is comprised entirely of Sinhalese, and the people of the North are almost entirely Tamil.5 The military’s increasing control of administrative decisions in the North and East, including distribution and use of land, has turned the issue of land ownership into a deeply politicized and ethnically-charged one. Administrative and developmental decisions in North-East Sri Lanka are frequently taken by the military in consultation with the Presidential Task Force for Resettlement, Development and Security (PTF) and the military is involved in various committees set up as a result of the September 2011 government policy regarding land in the North East. Furthermore, the military continues to impose restrictions on humanitarian, developmental and psychiatric social work, accentuating existing resentments and impeding quick recovery of the civilian residents. The presence of large numbers of army personnel, particularly in the north, has increased the vulnerability of women to violence and other forms of abuse including rape.6
To counter the increasing international pressure, the regime is building roads and bridges under the banner of reconstruction and developments. Hon. Christine Robichon, the French Ambassador to Sri Lanka said in an interview, “Healing the wounds of the war is not limited to reconstructing roads and bridges.”7 The reconstruction and development process has not focused on the basic human needs such survival, well being, freedom and identity or interests of the Tamils. Rather efforts and priority has been given to the interests of Sinhala businessmen, settlers and the military. Tamil aspirations are being ignored, grievances are being denied and the current expectations regarding reconstruction and development in Tamil areas are not being heard. The State instead continues with its long-term agenda with specific intentions.
Soon after the war came to an end, Sri Lanka's Buddhist nationalist party the Jathika Hela Urumaya [JHU], which backs the Sri Lankan government, said: “each road in the liberated areas in the North should be named for the war heroes who sacrificed their lives for the nation's liberty”.8 The genocidal war on the Tamil nation has been depicted as the Sri Lankan nation’s liberation and perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity have been extolled as war heroes.
The mindset of the Sinhala chauvinists is that the entire island belongs only to Sinhala Buddhists. This entrenched mentality encourages the destruction of any identity that seems to be a counter or a threat to Sinhala Buddhist domination. This mindset has emerged from a chauvinistic interpretation of the Mahavamsa, which states that Buddhism needs to be preserved for a period of 5000 years in the island until the next arrival/reincarnation of Buddha.9 This idea has led to the Sinhala Buddhists believing they are of racial superiority with the island belonging to them alone as they were the chosen ones.10 The extreme form of this ideology has led to the belief that other communities in the island are invaders or mere visitors with no entitlement to the same privileges as the Sinhala Buddhist.
The Jathika Chintanaya, a concept originated by Dr. Gunadasa Amaresekera in the 1980s, buttresses this Sinhala Buddhist majority mindset. Jathika Chintanaya which transalates loosely to mean ‘National Thought/ National Conciousness’ seeks to create a common national polity, economy and culture irrespective of religious and ethnic divides.11 It seeks to promote Sinhala nationalism to reassert the dominance of the Sinhala community and the protection of Sinhala rights, which it believes diminished during colonial rule.12 The Chintanaya promotes the fact that all communities in Sri Lanka belong to one culture and hence refers to Sri Lanka as ‘one nation’. This alienates other communities because it attempts to subsume their identity within the most dominant Sinhala Buddhist identity.
This mindset supported by the Jathika Chintanaya has led to the adoption of a cruel attitude, which assists their acts of annihilation of the Tamil nation through the process of genocide of the Tamil people. Twelve days [11 July 1983] before the 1983 pogrom, which was considered the first mass level genocidal attempt against the Tamil people, the Sri Lankan President J.R. Jayewardene said in an interview to the UK based Daily Telegraph, “I am not worried about the opinion of the Tamil people..… now we cannot think of them, not about their lives or their opinion ... Really if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy”.
After a quarter century, former Sri Lankan Army Commander and 2010 presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka said; “I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people...We being the majority of the country, 75%, we will never give in and we have the right to protect this country... They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things.”13
The statements of the Sinhala leaders clearly articulate their intention to eliminate the Tamil people from the island. This deliberate process has been executed through either mass level slaughters or the eradication of the ethnic and cultural identity of the Tamil people. The forcing of the Tamil people to assimilate into Sinhala identity is also part of this agenda. The statements and actions across Sinhalese party lines validate the view that a change in leaders or regime will not be a change in policy of the Sri Lankan state, the prime architect of genocide of the Tamil people.
Strong evidence of this notion can be ascertained from statements made as early as the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, D.S.Senanayake in his address to colonists in Padaviya (an area linking the Northern and Eastern provinces): “Today you are brought here and given a plot of land. You have been uprooted from your village. You are like a piece of driftwood in the ocean; but remember that one day the whole country will look up to you. The final battle for the Sinhala people will be fought on the plains of Padaviya. You are men and women who will carry this island’s destiny on your shoulders. Those who are attempting to divide this country will have to reckon with you. The country may forget you for a few years, but one day very soon they will look up to you as the last bastion of the Sinhala.”14
Fundamentally, the Sinhala chauvinist belief is that the entire island belongs to Sinhala Buddhists only and the Tamil existence in the island is to be considered a major threat against them. Therefore, following the Mu'l'livaaykkaal mass atrocities, the present post-war period is deemed to be the ideal stage to grab the Tamil lands through militarization and Sinhalization. The next step will inevitably be an attempt to erase the Tamil ethnic and cultural identity completely. This development will lead to the annihilation of the Tamil nation from the island. Hence, it can be concluded that ethnic cleansing and Sinhalization is thus a vital component of the genocidal agenda of the Sinhala state. 

Nirmanusan Balasundaram is an exiled journalist and a human rights defender. He holds an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies from the European University Center for Peace Studies in Austria. 

6. Chatham House, Asia Programme Paper ASP PP 2011/05, Sri Lanka: Prospects for Reform and Reconciliation, Charu Lata Hogg, October 2011.
9. See L. Marasinghe, The British colonial contribution to disunity in Sri Lanka, 6 Sri Lanka J. Int'l L. 81 (1994); also see J.L. Devananda, The Mahavamsa mindset: Re-Visiting political Buddhism in Sri Lanka,
10. See Charles R.A. Hoole, A Reassessment of Sinhalese Utopia: Explorative Essay on the Sri Lankan Political Crisis, 33 J. Church & St. 95 (1991)
11. Kanishka Goonewardena, ‘National ideology’ in a Buddhist state, October 2007,‘National-ideology’-in-a-Buddhist-state.html
12. ibd.
14. The excerpt quoted by M.H. Gunaratna was related to him by Davinda Senanayake, D.S’s grandson. (p.201 of ‘For a Sovereign State’, by M.H.Guna¬ratna).

Government Considering Amending The Thirteenth Amendment Before NP Elections

April 30, 2013 |
Colombo TelegraphCaught between its promises to India and the international community to hold elections to theNorthern Provincial Council in September 2013 on the one hand and certain defeat at the hands of the Tamil Nationalist Alliance on the other, the Rajapaksa Government is now mulling an amendment to the Constitution to take away some of the powers of Provincial Councils, theColombo Telegraph understands. According to Government sources, the proposed amendment will make far reaching changes to the Thirteenth Amendment.
Under the Thirteenth Amendment, if a Bill on a subject devolved on Provincial Councils is to be passed by Parliament, the Bill has to be referred to all Provincial Councils for their views. If all Provincial Councils agree, then the Bill can be passed by a simple majority. However, if one or more Provincial Councils do not agree, then the Bill must be passed by a two-thirds majority if it is to apply to the provinces which did not agree. If passed only by a simple majority, the Bill will be law only in the provinces that have agreed.
It may be recalled that several Bills of the Rajapaksa Government on provincial subjects were rejected by Provincial Councils including Councils controlled by the UPFA. The Government is worried that with a TNA-controlled Provincial Council in place, other Councils, especially the Eastern Provincial Council, would follow the Northern Provincial Council and not agree to government Bills. As such, the new amendment would provide that a Bill on a provincial subject will become law applicable to the whole country, if a majority of Provincial Councils agree to the passing of the Bill. The Government is confident that Provincial Councils other than the Northern and Eastern Provincial Councils can be pressurized into supporting any Bill.
Another amendment being considered relates to Police powers. Although Police powers have been devolved to a certain extent by the Thirteenth Amendment, Provincial Councils are unable to exercise those powers as the Police Commission Act, No. 1 of 1990 which provides for the establishment of a National Police Commission and a Provincial Police Commission for each province has still not been brought into operation by successive Governments. Police powers will be completely taken back to the central government or limited to minor offences, Government sources told Colombo Telegraph.
At present, Provincial Councils have certain powers over State land. Under paragraph 1:3 of Appendix II of the Thirteenth Amendment, alienation or disposition of State land within a Province to any citizen or to any organisation shall be by the President but only on the advice of the relevant Provincial Council. It may be recalled that in the case filed against the former President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, for transferring state land to Water’s Edge Golf Company, one of the grounds on which the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Sarath Silva held that the transfer was illegal was that the advice of the Western Provincial Council had not been given. The Government is now considering deleting the requirement of advice and also taking back many other land powers devolved.
However, the Rajapaksa government is worried that the required two-thirds majority will not be forthcoming in the new political climate. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress is already under severe pressure from the Muslim community to withdraw from the Government because of the Government’s reluctance to deal with extremists who are fuelling anti-Muslim hatred. Muslims also believe that the newly formed extremist Buddhist organizations have the covert support of the Government. Further, the SLMC would find it extremely difficult to agree to a dilution of the powers of Provincial Councils. The Government may also find it difficult to get the Left parties to support such an amendment. At the vote on the impeachment of Chief Justice Bandaranayake, the Secretary General of the SLMC and three MPs of the Left parties, all Cabinet Ministers, did not vote with the Government.
However, the Government is exploring the possibility of getting a few more UNP MPs to join the Government “to strengthen the hands of the President”, Government sources stated.
Colombo Telegraph -

SRI LANKA: The absence of political will to eliminate thuggery

AHRC LogoApril 30, 2013
For a law enforcement agency the elimination of thuggery is one of the simplest things to do. For thugs are cowards and they crawl and beg for mercy whenever they find that there is a strong enough will on the part of the law enforcement agencies and the courts to deal with crime. Anybody who has been to a High Court where serious crimes are tried will have plenty of stories to tell as to how so-called 'strong men' who have been involved in crimes begs for mercy. Many of them pay huge sums to their lawyers to ensure that they would be kept out of jail.
If thuggery has gone to the extent of being a scourge or a serious social problem it only means that the thugs have lost their fear of the law. It means that thugs have got the upper hand in the struggle over those who represent the law.
The strength of the thugs does not lie in their muscles, it lies in their connections. The connections matter only when the law enforcers are afraid of those connections. In times when the spirit of defiance and boldness is strong in the law enforcers and when they dare to do their duty without "caring a damn" as they say for anyone who opposes them, no amount of connections can help the thugs.
Thus, the problem of thuggery is essentially a political problem. Where thuggery is widespread it means that the government in power has shackled the law enforcers. The government has taken the side of the thugs and communicated a very strong message to the law enforcement agencies that they if they try to go against thuggery they do so at their peril.
That is, in fact, what has happened in Sri Lanka since 1978 in particular, and by now it has increased in epidemic proportions. When President J.R. Jayewardene immediately after his electoral victory gave a few weeks of 'holiday' to the police, he passed a very strong message to the law enforcement agencies and to the society at large. That simple message was that from that point on the government will resort to lawlessness when it suits its purposes. That simple message is now a political doctrine that is followed by every government that comes into power. Later the same president used one of his ministers, Cyril Matthew, to take the employees of the state transport services to the opposition meetings to attack them. Similarly during the general strike of 1980 the government used thugs to attack the workers. That tale is a very long one and there are graphic records of this patronage of thugs by the government in power over many decades.
It is this same legacy that the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime follows and the influence of thugs has been magnified a thousand-fold. Today it is hard to distinguish an act of the government, which is done lawfully through lawful agencies, and one that is done with the support of the criminal elements.
The problems of the law enforcement agencies are two-fold. If they act independently they get into trouble. There have been reports of death threats even to senior police officers who were involved in investigations into some crimes. And there have been instances when some of them have been killed. On the other hand the law enforcement agencies themselves are so much linked to criminal elements that it is the complainants of the crimes that really get into trouble. Recently, a casino den that enjoyed state patronage was raided by an SSP who is now receiving death threats. In a separate incident it was reported that a DIG warned his officers not to discharge their duties without his express permission. The article stated him as saying, "I am like a snake, even Gota is under my thumb". The DIG, Anura Senanayake, who is in charge of the Colombo police division sent his warning to all police stations in Colombo.
One could go to the extent of saying that thuggery in Sri Lanka is constitutionally protected. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution amply illustrates the constitutional protection enjoyed by those who take to thuggery. Even the limited attempt taken up through 17th Amendment to the Constitution was removed thus empowering the criminal elements that can now go about their business without fear of a law enforcement agency that may be pursuing them. What the 17th Amendment attempted to do to was overcome the overwhelming problem created by the 1978 Constitution which disabled all the public institutions from performing their duties within the framework of the law. However, the 18th Amendment reinforced the position under the 1978 Constitution and opened the floodgates for the entering of thugs into all areas of life with state patronage.
The central problem in Sri Lanka regarding thuggery is the state patronage extended to thuggery. That is the very reversal of a rational government. The most basic and primary duty undertaken by a rational government is to protect the people from all types of criminal activities. That is exactly what has been abandoned in Sri Lanka. When President Jayewardene made his famous comment that, each person should look after his own protection, it was a declaration of the abandonment of the most basic and primary duty of the government to uphold the law and hold itself responsible for the protection of the people. It is the same policy that is continuing now.
Even the more honest intellectuals in Sri Lanka do not want to face the magnitude of the crisis of the rule of law in their country. They complain about this or that aspect which comes to the surface but are unwilling to face the most obvious crisis that entangles them in almost everything they try to do. They often boast of their pessimism. However, they do not look into the root causes that give rise to such pessimism.
As long as the absence of the political will to deal with thuggery remains unchallenged thugs will reign despite of the songs being sung about people being the kings and the queens. The Duminda Silva episode exemplifies the royal place that is given to thugs in Sri Lanka.

BBS US Pictures: Sumptuous Feasts For BBS Monks

April 30, 2013 
Colombo TelegraphThe picture below shows the Bodu Bala Sena Secretary General, a Buddhist monk Galagodaththe GnanasaraThero  having a meal while he was in the US two weeks ago.
“Sumptuous feasts for BBS while bread and dhal for faithful” an ordinary citizen told Colombo Telegraph.

Sri Lanka 'intensifies crackdown on dissent' - Amnesty

BBC30 April 2013 
Amnesty International has accused Sri Lanka of intensifying a crackdown on dissent and urged the Commonwealth not to hold its summit there unless the human rights situation improves.
Bombed shelter in Valayanmadam, Sri Lanka March 2009The final phase of the war, in 2009, left many thousands of people dead
It says the government is responsible for harassing and imprisoning critics.
Sri Lanka has rejected the allegations, saying that a rehabilitation process is under way after years of conflict.

Last week Commonwealth foreign ministers agreed to hold the summit in Colombo despite objections by Canada.
The next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is set to take place in Colombo in November and Sri Lanka would then represent the Commonwealth as its chair for the next two years.
Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird has said he was "appalled" that Sri Lanka had been chosen to host the meeting, arguing it had failed in the fundamental Commonwealth values of "freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and good governance".
Dismissing Canada's objections, Sri Lanka's cabinet spokesman and information minister Keheliya Rambukwella told the BBC: "We have dealt with this human rights issue and we feel they are very biased and very unfair."
But Amnesty International's report, released on Tuesday, echoed some of the criticisms.
It says that journalists, lawyers, human rights activists and opposition politicians are among those who have been targeted in what the report calls "government-sanctioned abuse".
"Violent repression of dissent and the consolidation of political power go hand in hand in Sri Lanka," Polly Truscott, Amnesty International's deputy Asia Pacific director, said in the report.
"Over the past few years we have seen space for criticism decrease. There is a real climate of fear in Sri Lanka, with those brave enough to speak out against the government often having to suffer badly for it."
It said that human rights violations must end before Colombo is allowed to go ahead with hosting the meeting.
The Sri Lankan High Commission in London rejected the group's allegations, saying that a rehabilitation process is under way after years of conflict.
Sri Lanka's army defeated Tamil rebels after a brutal 26-year war in 2009. The entire conflict left at least 100,000 people dead.
Both sides were accused of human rights abuses throughout the conflict, with much focus on what happened in its final stages, when thousands of civilians were trapped in a thin strip of land in the north of Sri Lanka as fighting raged around them.
Estimates of civilian deaths in the final months range widely from 9,000 to 75,000.
Last month the UN's Human Rights Council passed a resolution highly critical of Sri Lanka's record.
The resolution encouraged Sri Lanka to conduct an independent and credible investigation into alleged war crimes.

Amnesty Wants Commonwealth Meeting Moved From Sri Lanka

Ron D’Raine/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Sri Lankan President Mahendra Rajapaksa at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Perth, Oct. 30, 2011.
India Real Time
Amnesty International has joined the calls for Commonwealth nations to relocate a major meeting from Sri Lanka, days after the Indian secretary general of the Commonwealth indicated that such a move would be rejected. 
In a report titled “Assault on Dissent,” Amnesty International said the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November should be moved from Colombo in protest over the country’s human rights record. Human Rights Watch made a similar request in February. 
U.N. panel in 2011 found that 40,000 people, mainly Tamil civilians, died in the final stages of the 27-year civil war in Sri Lanka. A U.S.-sponsored resolution has called on Colombo to investigate crimes allegedly committed by government forces against the minority Tamil community. 
In its report published Tuesday, Amnesty International said the Sri Lankan government was “intensifying their efforts to eradicate dissent, striking out against prominent national institutions, including the judiciary, and public figures who express opposition to government policies and practices.” 
Polly Truscott, Amnesty’s deputy Asia Pacific director, said that all attacks on individuals in Sri Lanka must be investigated promptly and impartially if the country is to host the meeting. Those responsible for the attacks should be held to account, she said. 
Canada publically denounced the decision to hold the meeting in Sri Lanka, but the country has stopped short of a boycott, according to a BBC report 
John Baird, Canada’s foreign secretary, said Saturday his country “finds it appalling that the government in Colombo would be given the honor and the privilege and responsibility of hosting Commonwealth leaders.” 
“The Commonwealth has fundamental values of freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, good governance and the government in Colombo has failed in all of those respects,” he told the BBC.
No other Commonwealth member states, which include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, have expressed concern about holding the meeting in Sri Lanka. 
Friday, the secretary general of the Commonwealth, Kamalesh Sharma, said the organization had been “engaging across a wide front with Sri Lanka.” 
“I am sure it will yield very good results in all the areas of human rights, of rule of law, of governance, and institution building and strengthening,” Mr. Sharma told a press conference following a meeting of the Commonwealth ministerial action group, which deals with serious and persistent violations of Commonwealth values. 
Mr. Sharma said he was “fully persuaded” that all member states were sincere in subscribing to Commonwealth values. 
The CHOGM convenes every two years to discuss global issues including human rights, multilateral trade, democracy and peace.  The host nation then serves as chair of the group of nations for two years.

Australian Labor MP Calls For Sri Lanka CHOGM Boycott

April 30, 2013 
A federal Labor backbencher has broken ranks and called for Australia to boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka later this year.
John Murphy
Colombo TelegraphCanada’s government has already threatened to boycott the November meeting in protest against alleged human rights violations.
Sri Lanka has been accused of sanctioning the torture of Tamil civilians and abuse of the media, judges and opposition politicians.
Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr has said Canada’s boycott would be counter-productive and it would be better to stay engaged with Sri Lanka to directly raise concerns.
But backbencher John Murphy says he thinks it is too late for that.
“All the empirical and other evidence today indicates an arrogant reluctance by the Sri Lankan government to deal properly with these very, very serious allegations and so I’ve reached the conclusion that the best step would be for our country to boycott CHOGM,” he said.
“The Sri Lankan government is not listening to the international community in relation to conducting an independent and credible investigation into the allegations and violations of international human rights.
“I think the time has come to send a powerful message to the Government that international leaders should boycott CHOGM.”
Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser has also backed the need for a boycott.
The Federal Opposition supports the Government’s position, with border protection spokesman Michael Keenan saying it is important to continue to engage with Sri Lanka.
Courtesy Australian Broadcasting Corporation

EU decision on SL fishing sanctions in June
Tamil Guardian 30 April 2013
The EU’s decision on whether to impose sanctions on Sri Lanka in regards to Illegal Unregulated Unreported (IUU) fishing will be made on June 26.
Sri Lanka’s Fisheries Ministry made submissions to Brussels last week, in an attempt to avoid sanctions.
“We have taken a number of measures. The EU is happy about it. We also have a vessel monitoring system in place,” Minister Rajitha Senaratne said.
“My discussion with EU officials was fruitful. We were able to impress upon them about our case. Our fisheries industry is a means of livelihood. Also, it is important for food security. Therefore, it is not practical to impose certain tough rules on vessel monitoring. We explained this to them,” he said.
The EU is a major trading partner for fish and fisheries product exports, which bring in an annual income of Rs.22 billion.
Sri Lanka promises to comply with fishing rules after UK complaint (13 May 2012)

Sri Lanka 'criminalising dissent', says Amnesty

Jonathan MillerChannel 4 News

JONATHAN MILLERForeign Affairs Correspondent
Jonathan MillerAmnesty International says Sri Lanka should not host November's Commonwealth heads of government meeting unless it stops "systematic violation of human rights".30 APRIL 2013

Amnesty International brands Sri Lanka's government a regime
There has been a surge of indignation among human rights groups over the staging of the summit in Colombo. On Friday, the Canadian Foreign Minister broke ranks with fellow members of a Commonwealth steering committee, saying he was "appalled" that the CHOGM would be taking place in Sri Lanka.
Channel 4 News has meanwhile learned from a Commonwealth insider that had any other member state unconstitutionally impeached its chief justice - as Sri Lanka did in January - it would probably have triggered immediate action by the organisation. The feeling among some members of the group's ministerial steering committee, which met in London last Friday, is that Sri Lanka got away with it simply because it is hosting CHOGM.
Ten days ago, the Commonwealth Lawyers Association passed a resolution calling for Sri Lanka's suspension from the Commonwealth altogether. But discussion of even moving the location of CHOGM did not make it onto the formal agenda of last Friday's foreign ministers' meeting. "It would have been a logistical nightmare to change the venue," said a Commonwealth source.
Another senior insider told Channel 4 News that Sri Lanka's minister of external affairs, Professor GL Peiris, informed the Commonwealth secretary general, Kamalesh Sharma, that placing discussion of Sri Lanka on the meeting's formal agenda would set a dangerous precedent, enabling Commonwealth countries to interfere in each others' internal affairs. This, he reportedly said, could lead to the disintegration of Commonwealth values.

'Undermining shared values'

But Sri Lanka's critics say that Colombo's hosting of CHOGM and its subsequent two-year chairmanship of the Commonwealth will undermine these "shared values", as set out in the new Commonwealth Charter - signed by the Queen six weeks ago.
Hugh Segal, a Conservative Canadian senator recently dispatched by his country's prime minister on a fact-finding tour of Sri Lanka, was excoriating in his criticism of the regime in Colombo, when interviewed by Channel 4 News (see video above).
My assessment is that the space for democracy and dissent (in Sri Lanka) is being radically reduced.Hugh Segal, Canadian senator
"My assessment, frankly, is that the space for democracy and dissent is being radically reduced," he said. "Ensuring that there is no broad democratic expression - and that of course is a complete violation of Commonwealth values - freedom of the press, freedom of expression, freedom of assocation... we come away with a sense that the situation was getting worse and not better.
"And that," he added, "is without even addressing the issue of the impeachment of the chief justice by non-constitutional means."

'Equating dissent with treason'

In Assault on Dissent, a report released on Tuesday, Amnesty International accuses the administration of President Mahinda Rajapakse of intensifying its effort to eradicate dissent and promoting an official attitude that "equates dissent with treason".
"Sri Lankan officials and state-owned media employ the term 'traitor' with alarming frequency against detractors," the report says, "often threatening death or injury to the person accused." It says that there have been no prosecutions of suspected perpetrators of these threats and attacks - which it alleges include arrest, repeated interrogations and enforced disappearance.
Sri Lankan officials and state-owned media employ the term 'traitor' with alarming frequency against detractors.Amnesty International report
The report goes on to list groups of those whom it says have been verbally or physically abused or intimidated. They include human rights advocates, women's and workers' rights advocates, student leaders, university lecturers, clergy, trades unionists, party activists, judges, lawyers and journalists.
It is now four years since the Sri Lankan military ended the 30-year-long Tamil insurgency - at the cost of more than 40,000 civilian lives, according to the United Nations - but allegations of persistent human rights abuse have continued. "A volatile situation has built up," the Amnesty report says, "as popular demands for reform are met with continued repression..."
Last Friday, in a news conference at Marlborough House, Commonwealth Secretary Geneneral Kamalesh Sharma said he was fully persuaded that Sri Lanka was sincere in subscribing to and following Commonwealth values.
Channel 4 News sought a response directly from the Sri Lankan high commissioner in London to concerns raised by these groups, but has received no response.