வியாழன், 20 ஆகஸ்ட், 2009

Refugee Issues
[Aug 20, 2009, 02:56], [State Gov.]
QUESTION: Can you talk about the couple of euphemisms, really � the freedom of movement is at play, as you said in Sri Lanka, and then you spoke of the continued confinement. Could you speak a little bit more about your trip? There was some rather confusing reporting that emerged after your trip as to what you had or hadn�t said to the Sri Lankans in terms of people�s confinement. Maybe if you could just -- ASSISTANT SECRETARY SCHWARTZ: Well, I mean, I don�t think � I don�t think there�s anything ambiguous about the word of �confinement against their will.� That phrase � I�m not sure what other meaning you can draw from the phrase �confinement against their will,� and that�s what I said, in Sri Lanka. I spoke about three minutes ago � I used the phrase �release from confinement.� I�m not quite � and I spoke about freedom of movement, and I said that displaced persons everywhere around the world make their own decisions and choices about when they feel they want to go home. So I think all of those sentences and phrases, you know, are pretty unambiguous. You know, so our position is that people who are displaced should be agents of their own destiny. If I could think of another way to say it, I would. QUESTION: So how many people are you talking about? What are the figures that you have? And are people being � I mean, maybe if � did you go to that area, have a look and see the conditions the people who were being confined in? ASSISTANT SECRETARY SCHWARTZ: Yeah, I did. QUESTION: Being held against their will in? ASSISTANT SECRETARY SCHWARTZ: Well, I went to this very large facility in Vavuniya, and it�s a very large displaced person camp and it looks like displaced person camps in many other parts of the world. And conditions were not great. People were getting basic services. The camp administrators and the nongovernmental organization partners and the international organizations that are on the ground were doing, I think, everything within their power to make life as livable for these people as possible. But nobody wants to be in such a place. And there were a number of issues that I identified that I felt, if acted upon, could make the conditions of that situation better. And those included providing more access to information for people. In my limited encounters with people in the camp, I was struck by the fact that they really had no sense of � or little sense of what was going to happen to them, what the plans were for them. And I think people, generally speaking, who are in difficult circumstances, can deal with those circumstances more effectively emotionally and psychologically if they have some sense of what the future brings. Secondly, I felt that while there are some international organizations that are present in these camps and are doing great work, I felt that access to these camps should be easier for international providers of assistance and protection, and the government should make it, as I say, easier for outsiders to get in, both to conduct their assistance and protection activities. And I made those points very clearly in my meetings in Sri Lanka.
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  • Norway diplomat blasts "absent" U.N. chief-report

  • [Aug 20, 2009, 02:32], [Reuters]
    OSLO, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Norway's ambassador to the United Nations has accused Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of weak, ineffective and at times counterproductive leadership during recent crises, the daily Aftenposten reported on Wednesday. Aftenposten published what it said was a letter from Ambassador Mona Juul to Norway's Foreign Ministry, where she said Ban was late in handling challenges and that his abrasive style irked even seasoned diplomats. "At a time when the need for the United Nations and for multilateral solutions to global crises is greater than ever, Ban and the United Nations are conspicuous in their absence," Aftenposten quoted the letter as saying. The Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the letter, referring reporters to Aftenposten quotes from Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, who told the daily that he noted the matter and said South Korean Ban was "hardworking" and "attentive". The report comes just days before Ban visits Norway, an advocate of active multilateral diplomacy which has worked with the United Nations on a number of peace initiatives including the now collapsed Oslo accords between Israel and the Palestinians.
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  • BTF Appeal to the World to end internment camps in Sri Lanka

  • [Aug 20, 2009, 00:14], [TNS]
    London: British Tamils Forum (BTF) in a press statement calls upon international institutions, governments, rights groups and humanitarian organizations to rise to this unprecedented violation of human rights and continuous crimes against humanity and urgently appeal for the release of the imprisoned civilians from these inhumane internment camps in Sri Lanka. New York based Human Rights Watch, have once again appealed for the release of these interned civilians, "The government has detained people in these camps and is threatening their health and even their lives by keeping them there during the rainy season floods� This is illegal, dangerous, and inhumane". Fear of widespread waterborne disease and sanitation problems were further highlighted in their appeal, �The government bears full responsibility for the situation in the camps� Locking families up in squalid conditions and then blaming aid agencies for their plight is downright shameful".

  • British guns 'fired at Sri Lanka civilians'

  • [Aug 19, 2009, 18:52], [Channel 4 (UK)]
    A House of Commons committee claims arms made in Britain may have been fired on civilians during Tamil Tigers battles in Sri Lanka. In their annual report, the cross-party committees on arms export controls recommended the government should review all arms exports to Sri Lanka following the crackdown on rebels. The MPs also questioned the government's commitment to tackling corruption and bribery and called on ministers to investigate what British-supplied military equipment was used in the campaign against the Tamils.
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  • Arms review urged over fears British weapons were used against Tamils

  • [Aug 19, 2009, 18:49], [The Times (UK)]
    Fears that British weapons were used against civilians in Sri Lanka�s war against the Tamil rebels have prompted calls for a review of the arms trade. In its annual report due to be published today, the Commons Committee on Arms Export Controls argues that all existing licences to Sri Lanka should be investigated. MPs specifically want to know which British arms were used by Sri Lankan forces in this year�s final offensive against the Tamil Tigers, in which an estimated 20,000 civilians died. Concerns about arms exports were heightened by the Government�s admission this year that British components were �almost certainly� used by Israeli forces during the Gaza offensive, in which up to 1,400 Palestinians died, many of them civilians.
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  • Top Norwegian diplomat slams 'weak' UN chief

  • [Aug 19, 2009, 18:45], [Asia One]
    OSLO, NORWAY - A senior Norwegian diplomat has slammed Ban Ki-Moon as lacking leadership, ineffectual and prone to angry outbursts, a daily reported Wednesday, just two weeks ahead of the UN chief's visit to Oslo. Mona Juul, the Norwegian ambassador to the United Nations, sent a damning confidential letter to her ministry half-way through Ban's mandate, in which she said he had "struggled to show leadership," Aftenposten reported. In the letter which the newspaper published on its website, Juul also described Ban as "lacking charisma" and "passive", especially in hotspots such as Sri Lanka, where a decades-long rebel insurgency was brought to an end by a bloody government offensive. "At a time when the UN and multilateral solutions are more necessary than ever to resolve global crises, Ban and the UN are notable by their absence," she wrote. When contacted by AFP, the Norwegian foreign ministry did not deny the letter's existence but declined to comment on its contents, describing it as "an internal memo."
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  • Sri Lanka IDPs Are Waiting

  • [Aug 19, 2009, 18:41], [VOA]
    Nearly 3 months have passed since fighting ended in Sri Lanka between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam insurgents. After 26 years of conflict, hopes were high that violence and hatred would at last give way to reconciliation, justice, and economic development for all to share. But for some 300,000 ethnic Tamils displaced by the fighting, hope is giving way to frustration. Many internally displaced persons, or IDPs, continue to be held in government-run camps in northern Sri Lanka. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake says that some progress has been made. About 10,000 have been allowed to leave the camps and approximately 75,000 others are to be released this month. "But most are not allowed to leave," he said, "and it's important for them to have this freedom of movement." Assistant Secretary Blake and U.S. Charg� d'Affaires in Sri Lanka James Moore recently met with 16 representatives of U.S.-based organizations representing members of the Tamil diaspora to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka and prospects for political reconciliation.
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  • Canada missed opportunity to right Sri Lanka's wrongs

  • [Aug 19, 2009, 18:39], [Toronto Star]
    In voting last month to approve a $2.6 billion (U.S.) IMF loan to Sri Lanka, the government of Canada squandered an opportunity to press the government of Sri Lanka on its treatment of war-affected civilians following its military victory over the rebel Tamil Tigers in May. The United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Argentina � holding more than 30 per cent of the IMF's shares � made the highly unusual move of abstaining from the vote, largely because of human rights concerns. It's too bad that Canada, with 3 per cent of IMF shares, didn't join them. During the final months of fighting between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), both sides were responsible for grave violations of the laws of war that resulted in thousands of civilian deaths. As their territory shrank, the Tamil Tigers used the civilians under their control as human shields, shooting and killing people who tried to flee the war zone. The government urged civilians to congregate in so-called "no-fire" zones, but then fired artillery indiscriminately into these densely populated areas. Both sides refused to take adequate steps to allow a humanitarian evacuation, despite public UN concerns regarding the unfolding bloodbath.
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  • UK dealers 'sold ex-Soviet arms'

  • [Aug 19, 2009, 18:38], [BBC]
    UK-based arms dealers may have been selling former Soviet weapons from Ukraine to blacklisted countries, a cross-party group of MPs has warned. The MPs said they were "extremely concerned" the UK government had not been aware of a list of arms dealers licensed by the Ukrainian authorities. Foreign Secretary David Miliband has ordered an investigation into the alleged transactions. The MPs are calling for tougher restrictions on arms exports. The MPs - known as the Committees on Arms Export Controls - describe how they alerted Mr Miliband to a list of UK dealers granted licences to export small arms from the Soviet weapons stockpile. They say this information was handed to them by Ukraine's deputy foreign minister on a fact-finding trip to Kiev. "We were alarmed to see that the end users on the list included countries for which there are Foreign and Commonwealth Office restrictions on the export of strategic goods," the MPs write.
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  • MPs urge review of Sri Lanka arms exports

  • [Aug 19, 2009, 18:37], [AFP]
    LONDON � The government should review all arms export licences to Sri Lanka in the wake of the recently-ended war with Tamil Tiger rebels, MPs said on Wednesday. Ministers should also provide full details of what British arms were used by Sri Lankan forces during the conflict, the Committees on Arms Export Controls said in its annual report. "We recommend that the government should review all existing licences to Sri Lanka," the report said. It also called on ministers to provide "an assessment of what UK-supplied weapons, ammunition, parts and components were used by the Sri Lankan armed forces in the recent military actions against the Tamil Tigers." But the MPs said it was "impossible" to be sure how many such weapons had been used against civilians since hostilities flared up again in 2006. Sri Lankan security forces ended the LTTE's bloody, four-decade struggle for an independent Tamil homeland in May, as long-time Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed. "Sri Lanka highlights the need for the UK government to monitor closely the situation in countries recently engaged in armed conflict," the committees' chairman, lawmaker Roger Berry, said.

  • UN's Ban Slammed by Norway's Juul, on Burma and Sri Lanka Trips, Should Oslo Be Canceled?

  • [Aug 19, 2009, 18:32], [Inner City Press]
    UNITED NATIONS, August 19 -- As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon returned to New York after ten days in South Korea, soon to turn around and visit Norway by the end of the month, he was confronted by an embarrassing leak in the Norwegian foreign ministry of Deputy Permanent Representative Mona Juul's unflattering assessment of his "failed" trips to Myanmar and Sri Lanka, his flying into rages and ineffective leadership. That Ms. Juul is also the spouse of Ban's Under Secretary General Terje Roed Larsen makes the criticism all the more telling. What will Ban Ki-moon do? While Ban was in South Korea, a month after Myanmar's Senior General Than Shwe refused to allow him a meeting or photo op with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, precisely such a visit was allowed to U.S. Senator Jim Webb. When Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe was asked by Inner City Press and others if Ban had any comment on Webb's more successful visit -- he also left the country with another Suu Kyi visitor, John Yettaw, freeing him from seven years of hard labor -- Ms. Okabe tersely said no, no comment. Later her Office issued a "response to questions at the noon briefing" begrudgingly acknowledging the Webb visit.
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  • HRW Urges Sri Lankan Government to release civilians from the euphemistically called welfare centers

  • [Aug 19, 2009, 01:45], [TNS]
    New York: The US Based Human Rights Watch (HRW) says, in violation of international law, the government has since March 2008 confined virtually all civilians displaced by the fighting between government forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in detention camps, euphemistically called "welfare centers" by the government. Only a few thousand camp residents have been released and allowed to return home or to stay elsewhere. HRW urges the government of Sri Lanka to release innocent civilians from these camps. Permitting displaced families to move in with friends and host families would quickly address the deteriorating conditions in the camps with the onset of the rainy season, Human Rights Watch said.

  • Colombians living in the USA could launch FARC attacks within the homeland!

  • [Aug 18, 2009, 01:50], [vheadline]
    The second country to get itself involved in a civil war thousands of miles away from its own borders is Canada. What was Canada thinking when it began to suppress the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that were fighting on the island of Sri Lanka against the Sinhala Buddhist government there? ...the reasons for that war were very much the same as the reasons why the FARC is fighting the rightist government in Colombia. On both counts there was murder, torture and persecution carried out in secret by the government in power. And in both cases, the people were fighting back because they had nowhere to turn to ... they had already been hanged, drawn and quartered by countries like the US and Canada. In the US and Canada. the federal police started investigating how the liberation movements were collecting funds and sending it on to these groups ... but, on the other hand, the federal police did not investigate the parties that were murdering, torturing and persecuting people in Colombia and Sri Lanka. Of course, the reason for this may well be that corporate sponsors of the Colombian and Sri Lankan governments were putting pressure on federal governments in the US and Canada to turn a blind eye to their friends in power in both those countries...
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  • Northern Sri Lanka Elections’ reflect the mood of the battered, bruised and the mowed (Opinion)

  • [Aug 17, 2009, 08:49], [TNS]
    The murderous Sri Lankan regime with its usual whims and whistles to attain nirvana under the illusionary governance platform, held elections in the handpicked local Councils of Jaffna and Vavunia. The parenthesis for this thinking is that besides the blessed ballot and identity riggings, the thugs and armed paramilitaries could regulate the voter turnout into a massive victory party for the Rajapakse rogue brothers. For all the invigorated venom of anti-Tamil rhetoric, the intended target was the well creamed hands of the foreign donors – the ultimate but eluding lifeline for the bounty-hunter. The high noon drama of staging a fictious election in Tamil areas to suit the Sinhala oppressors’ skin is not so unfamiliar to the historians and to the public alike. Many Sinhala tyrants and hooligans have tried this in the past. The destruction of the Tamil history and heritage through the burning of the Jaffna library, one of the oldest archive in South Asia, was a direct result of the Colombo Government’s attempt to intimidate and suppress the Tamil voters and their aspirations. If holding elections in Tamil homeland is the ultimate cruelty, after massacring and mowing nearly 20,000 in cold blood, by the very murderous regime, the methods adopted were even more horrendous.

  • Creeping Talibanization in Sri Lanka - Prof. David

  • [Aug 16, 2009, 18:13], [Tamil Net]
    Noting several trends in Sri Lanka point to "early steps in [reaching for] totality of power," Prof Kumar David in a column in the weekend edition of "The Island" asserts that the cultural control exercised by the current Rajapakse regime are no different to those of "the Mullahs of Teheran and the iconoclastic Taliban fundamentalists." Prof. David summarizes the views of six lawyers expressed at a Lawyers� Press Conference organised by the Platform for Freedom (PfF) early August where one notes that the scene is set for ever expanding authoritarianism as Sri Lanka's President flagrantly violates the "supreme law, the public [is] apathetic and the judiciary [is] powerless," and another points to the holding of 300,000 people "against their will, in defiance of local and international law" as "obscene infringement of the constitution."

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