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Sri Lanka Votes for End to Nepotism and Corruption January 12th, 2015
In a surprising electoral upset, Sri Lankans voted in Opposition Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena, a former Health minister. Mahinda Rajapaksa, the man responsible for the crushing defeat of the Tamil Tigers, conceded defeat on Friday. The Tamil and Muslim voting appears to have decided the outcome of the election, as the Sinhalese vote was split.
A new Administration holds out the possibility for some change, although how much remains to be seen. The new President was acting Defense Minister at the end of the civil war in June 2009, and like Rajapaksa, rejects the UN investigation into war crimes allegations, and has pledged that senior commanders accused of such war crimes will not face legal action. He also reportedly has no plans to reduce the large military presence in northern (Tamil) Sri Lanka.
On the other hand, the issue of corruption will be addressed (the Rajapaksa family was in many positions of authority at the national and local levels of government, and controlled both the Defense Ministry and the Development Ministry.). The increasing consolidation of power in the Presidency will also be reversed. President Sirisena pledged, during the campaign, to abolish the executive presidency within 100 days of being elected, repeal the controversial 18th amendment, re-instate the 17th amendment and appoint UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe as prime minister. The constitutional changes will be important. Already, the new President has called for Parliamentary elections to be held in three months.
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Fr Praveen OMI and Ruki Fernando Released! Ms Jayakumari Still Held. March 19th, 2014
Fr. Praveen Mahesan OMI and Ruki Fernando, both staunch human rights defenders, were released from custody of the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Sri Lankan government late Tuesday night. The two had been following up on the arrest of Ms Balendran Jayakumari, an outspoken critic of numerous ‘disappearances’, when they themselves were arrested. Ms Jayakumari, an activist who has vigorously protested the ‘disappearance’ of Tamils (including her son) since the end of the civil war in May 2009, is presently being held under a detention order in Boosa prison. By using a DO, she can be held for up to 18 months without formal charges. The Oblate JPIC Office is deeply concerned for her safety and well-being and joins an international demand for her unconditional release. Torture is alleged to be common in Sri Lanka.
The arrests have taken place in the context of an alarming crackdown on human rights defenders and others protesting various abuses by government military forces, especially in the past five years.
Mannar Bishop and Over Two Hundred Tamil Catholic Priests and Sisters Call For International Investigation of Sri Lanka Human Rights Abuses March 4th, 2014
“…we are concerned about the post war intensification of systematic efforts to destroy the identity of the Tamil community.”
Two hundred and five Tamil Catholic Priests and Sisters from the North and East of Sri Lanka, including the Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph, Bishop of Mannar and many Oblates, have written to the members of the UN Human Rights Council calling for an international investigation into Sri Lanka’s war crimes and human rights violations. The religious have called for the adoption of a strong and action-oriented resolution on Sri Lanka at the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council. That session opened this week in Geneva.
Below is the statement in full:
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Sri Lanka Rally Seeks Unity Among Religious Groups June 29th, 2011
An inter-denominational rally designed to bring the nation’s Christians closer together was held in Colombo recently.
The JHU, a conservative, predominantly Buddhist political group, is shepherding an anti-conversion bill through the Sri Lanka parliament that many Christians fear will seriously interfere with their charity work.
Thousand of believers, including Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, members of the Ceylon Reformed Church and evangelical groups, joined in worship and song at the city’s main Anglican church, the Cathedral of Christ the Living Savior, on June 25.
Sri Lankan Christians Call for Genuine Reconciliation May 2nd, 2011
Twenty-five Sri Lankan Christians, including two Oblate priests, issued a statement that is believed to have prompted the recent release of the report of the UN Secretary General’s panel of experts on the war in Sri Lanka. The group has called for open discussion of what happened in the final months of the war, and the current situation in the north where the majority of Tamils live.
According to their letter:
We believe that it is left to us Sri Lankans to establish and acknowledge the truth, apologize for wrongs done, ensure justice and accountability, and through measures such as reparations, show our care and support towards those who have suffered such as families of those killed and disappeared, those who have been injured during war and due to torture, those who continue to be detained without charges and without due process, those who had been displaced and lost properties etc. It is our contention that truth, justice, accountability together with care and reparation for victims are essential ingredients for progress, development of a post war Sri Lanka, along with a longer term political solution that addresses grievances of Tamil community that led to the birth of the LTTE and full scale war.
But it is our assessment that we have been unable to make significant progress on any of the above fronts within Sri Lanka, particularly in the last two years since the end of the war. The process of LLRC [Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission] had not given us much confidence though we still hope for positive outcomes from the LLRC, particularly the publication of it’s final report, conclusions and recommendations as soon as possible, which would have the potential to serve as a valuable resource for our reconciliation efforts. In this context we believe international assistance can also be crucial in our post war rebuilding and reconciliation efforts. Thus, we find it encouraging that establishment of the truth, apology for wrongs done, justice, accountability and reparation for victims is reflected in the conclusions and recommendations of the panel of experts appointed by the UNSG.