Interview: Both sides of the Sri Lankan conflict + Sri Lankan army hits hospital

Dandelion Salad


What is happening in Sri Lanka’s war zone is practically impossible to verify because independent observers and journalists have little or no access to the area.

In an attempt to gain some clarity, Al Jazeera’s Imran Garda spoke to Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, a spokesman for the Sri Lankan military, and Thileepan Parthipan, a representative from the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

h/t: Suren Surendiran


‘Sri Lankan army hits hospital’

By Nick Paton Walsh
02 May 2009

Doctors say Sri Lankan army shells a hospital in the safe zone killing scores of civilian patients. Nick Paton Walsh reports.

The Sri Lankan army knows exactly where the no-fire safe zone is, and it knows exactly where the hospital is in that zone.

And yet doctors say the Sri Lankan army shelled that hospital killing nearly a hundred civilians and patients. Their report is confirmed by a diplomatic source.


via ‘Sri Lankan army hits hospital’ – Channel 4 News (video)

h/t: Suren Surendiran


The world must respond to Sri Lanka

The lack of an international response has emboldened Sri Lanka to continue killing Tamil civilians. Britain must act to change this

by Suren Surendiran
Tuesday 28 April 2009 19.30 BST

Despite repeated international entreaties, the Sri Lankan state is continuing to kill Tamil civilians with artillery and airstrikes. More than three thousand shells were fired on Tuesday alone, at the tiny enclave where hundreds of thousands of starving Tamils are cowering, surrounded by the army.

This slaughter is taking place in plain sight of the international community. Yet the international response, especially those of the UN and western liberal states, has been pathetic.

What is shocking is not only that Sri Lanka can casually kill hundreds of people on account of their ethnicity, but that it is, at the same time, allowed to thumb its nose at those powerful liberal states which have long espoused human rights, the Geneva conventions and, most recently, the responsibility to protect.

Sri Lanka allowed a tiny amount of food and medicine into the warzone on 2 April – 27 long days ago. The UN asked Colombo for humanitarian access to the suffering people in the northern warzone and the hundreds of thousands who escaped the shelling only to be penned behind razor wire in government camps. It was bluntly refused. Yet senior UN official, Sir John Holmes, who rushed to Sri Lanka on Monday, nonetheless handed over $10m before leaving. Holmes, interestingly, was last year denounced by Colombo as a “terrorist sympathiser” for criticising the impact of the government’s war on civilians. His protest was a murmur.


via Suren Surendiran: The world must respond to Sri Lanka | Comment is free |

h/t: Suren Surendiran


UK Parliament Debate on Sri Lanka

Hansard – Commons | Houses of Parliament
18:45 on 30 April 2009

Dr. Tony Wright (Cannock Chase) (Lab): It is a rather large understatement to say that we are in a bit of a mess, but most of us who care about our politics and the reputation of the House think that we need to sort this mess out. Certain people—well represented in certain newspapers—do not want us to sort this mess out at all, because it provides such wonderful daily copy. The last thing that they want is to see us get hold of the issue and resolve it. Some of them would no doubt be content for us to sleep on benches in St. James’s park—and if they were, they would still say that we were taking somebody else’s bench. We know that all that is true, but it should give us an added incentive to ensure that we take steps to clear this mess up. We know, too, that things will get a lot worse before they get any better, and that conditions our approach to the issue. We saw it coming, however, and in a sense we have only ourselves to blame. This issue has not come out of a clear blue sky; it has been around for a very long time.

I gave evidence to another inquiry by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, back in June 2002—that is, seven years ago. I looked up the evidence, because I could vaguely remember it, and I said:

“My guess is that any future difficulties with Members of Parliament are far more likely to occur around issues to do with the allowances that they now get…. If you have lax rules, I am afraid you will have lax use of money and I can see this on a number of fronts going to happen. I can see, for example, not long before newspapers start running stories talking about the huge capital gains that MPs have made on their London houses… Unless you get hold of these issues now and think about them, they will come and hit us later on”.

Even then, for those of us who were in this place using and observing the system, it was not difficult to see that issues would come along and do us an awful lot of damage if we did not attend to them. So I told the Committee to get on with it, but of course it did not.

When we had our biggest recent scandal at the beginning of last year—in February 2008—I wrote to Sir Christopher Kelly to say:

“I write because I am concerned that you have not already announced that the Committee on Standards in Public Life will be conducting an immediate inquiry into the whole system of MPs’ allowances…If this is not something for your Committee to respond to, in view of the reasons for its existence, I do not know what is”.


via Hansard – Commons | Houses of Parliament.

h/t: Suren Surendiran


Roots of Sri Lankan conflict

Mass protest calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Sri Lanka