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Sri Lankan contingent busy in quake-hit Nepal

The first rescue and relief contingent from Sri Lanka with 44 service personnel and four civil medical consultants, dispatched to Nepal Sunday (26) early morning  in less than 45 minutes of their arrival in Nepal, began their rescue and relief operations in Dolalghad, a remote area about 60 km away from its capital Kathmandu.

The contingent, stationed in Dolalghad area on the advice of the Nepalese Army, has by Tuesday (28) noon, treated more than 300 badly injured victims of the devastating earthquake including a woman whose spinal cord had suffered injury due to being buried for hours under rubble.


Ranil runs into brick wall in Ranawaka

General Secretary of Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) Patali Champika Ranawaka yesterday vowed never to allow the 19th Amendment to the Constitution to be enacted in its present form. He said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremessinghe was trying to arrogate executive powers to himself by abolishing the executive presidency.

Addressing the media at a news conference at their party headquarters at Battaramulla Ranawaka declared that the JHU would not allow Wickremesinghe to launch a constitutional coup which would plunge the country into a state of instability and anarchy.

Certain elements wanted to make Sri Lanka another Nepal, the JHU heavyweight who helped to topple the previous regime charged.

What the UNP had presented to Parliament was exactly what was in the 1972 constitution and Wickremesinghe wanted to have a figurehead like President William Gopallawa, he said.


New war crimes campaign backed by some British MPs gets underway

Sinhala version of No Fire Zone to be launched today at UK Parliament

A new campaign meant to pressure Sri Lanka over accountability issues will get underway today (March 10) with the launch of a new Sinhala version of feature documentary No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, at the House of Commons. The launch will take place at 10.00 am.

Among those scheduled to attend the launch are Director Callum Macrae, Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, Conservative MP Lee Scott. The meeting will also be addressed by a Sri Lankan in exile, Bashana Abeywardana.

The House of Commons event will coincide with British Prime Minister David Cameron meeting visiting Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena at No 10, Downing Street.

The organisers said that the new Sinhala version of the documentary would be a challenge to the new administration in Sri Lanka.

Macrae launched the original documentary in June 2011, over two years after the conclusion of the war on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon.


‘WAR CRIMES’ IN SRI LANKA - What the international experts say

Professor Michael Newton on civilians, hostages and artillery fire

This opinion focuses on the intentional use of artillery fire directed to respond to LTTE artillery fire emanating from within civilian areas. The LTTE refused to permit some 330,000 fellow Tamils to flee towards safer areas away from the zone of conflict, and used them as human shields to deter offensive operations by the Sri Lanka Army. The Government of Sri Lanka declared a no fire zone (NFZ) in order to protect the civilians. Aside from refusing to agree to the creation of such a safe zone, which itself constitutes prima facie evidence of its intent to use civilians as an extension of its military campaign, the LTTE embedded its heavy artillery within the NFZ and intentionally shelled Sri Lankan positions from the midst of the civilian population.

The use of the civilian population in that manner is roughly comparable to the war crime of perfidy because the LTTE sought to use the government's compliance with the laws and customs of warfare in order to gain an unwarranted military advantage. Civilians who would otherwise have spread out and sought shelter in other regions were prevented from doing so in order to dissuade the government from attacking lawful targets. Intentional efforts to use the presence of such civilians to shield military operations constitute a war crime in its own right. This opinion therefore also addresses the law regarding the use of force against military targets when one party to the conflict has attempted to ‘insulate’ those targets through manipulation of the laws and customs of warfare.


Port City Confusion and Uma Oya Cockup: Challenges to good governance

The latest news on the Port City and Uma Oya projects is that the government has "automatically stopped" the former, but only after some dithering, and "suspended" the latter until further review. While Port City has been all over the news, the Uma Oya project is another screw-up from the Old Regime that deserves no less scrutiny. The new government is still finding its way in clearing the old Rajapaksa decks and setting up its own stage for good governance. Or, is it? Ministers running around like headless chickens, and cackling at cross-purposes, is not an encouraging sign of good governance. The corruption of the Old Regime must be exposed and dealt with, but the new government must also demonstrate competence not only in dealing with the misdeeds of the Old Regime, but also in replacing them with good deeds of its own. People’s patience can end abruptly and their frustrations can flare up alarmingly, now that they have tasted the power to bring down what, until two months ago, was considered to be an irremovable government.

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