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SRI LANKA: News Briefs

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Former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to lead task force on reconciliation and national harmony: Prime Minister (PM) Ranil Wickremesinghe announced on March 26 that the former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has been appointed to lead a special Presidential Task Force to identify urgent reconciliation needs of the minority Tamil community. PM Wickremasinghe at a special meeting with the heads of government and private sector media institutes at the Temple Trees said that a Secretariat on National Harmony has been declared open under the leadership of the former president Mrs. Kumaratunga. Colombo Page, March 27, 2015. 

Government has started fresh probe on missing journalist, says Minister of Mass Media and Parliamentary Affairs Gayantha Karunathilaka: Sri Lankan Government has started a fresh probe in to the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda. Minister of Mass Media and Parliamentary Affairs Gayantha Karunathilaka has made this observation in parliament in response to an oral question posed by Kurunegala District in North Western Province Parliamentarian Shantha Bandara. Eknaligoda who supported the common opposition presidential candidate General (Retired) Sarath Fonseka at the 2010 Presidential elections disappeared in the evening of January 24, 2010, just 36 hours before the elections. Colombo Page, March 19, 2015. 

Government to review ban on Tamil Diaspora groups: Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera while presenting amendments to strengthen the laws to combat terrorist financing and money laundering combat in the Parliament on March 18 said that the Government will review the proscription of 16 Tamil Diaspora organizations and over 400 individuals by the previous Government. Minister Samaraweera said that the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa Government banned Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora groups and individuals under the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1373 for their alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Colombo Page, March 19, 2015. 

President Maithripala Sirisena allows singing of National Anthem in Tamil language: In a major reconciliatory move, President Maithripala Sirisena will be sending a circular to all institutions saying that there is no bar on singing the Lankan national anthem in Tamil language. He will thus be lifting an unofficial ban existing since 2010, when President Mahinda Rajapaksa let it be known that Government will frown on singing the anthem in Tamil. Schools and other institutions, which were using the Tamil version of "Sri Lanka Matha, Apa Sri Lanka" since 1951, stopped doing so. Daily Mirror, March 18, 2015. 

PM Narendra Modi visits Jaffna, seeks respect for all citizens in Sri Lanka: Making a historic visit to Jaffna in Northern Province, a region once ravaged by strife, Indian Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi on March 14 called for equitable development and respect for all citizens in Sri Lanka, seen as an oblique reference to Tamils who had suffered during the war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Security Forces (SFs). Winding up his public engagements on his two-day trip to the island with a hugely-symbolic visit to Tamil-dominated Jaffna, the first by an Indian Prime Minister, he said he was glad that it "is one to wipe tears from the eyes of those who suffered". Daily Mirror, March 17, 2015.

Don't need any outsiders in Lanka's war crimes probe, asserts President Maithripala Sirisena: President Maithripala Sirisena on March 12 said that Sri Lanka does not want "any outsiders" in its domestic inquiry into alleged atrocities committed against the Tamil Tigers during the last stages of the country's civil war. "We are ready to get advice and their opinions for the inquiry, but I don't think we need any outsiders because we have all the sources for this," Sirisena said. DNA India, March 13, 2015. 

TNA do not stand for a separate state, says Housing and Samurdhi Minister Sajith Premadasa: Housing and Samurdhi Minister Sajith Premadasa said that Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarians do not stand for a separate state and their purpose is to ensure fair and equal treatment for Tamils. Minister Premadasa said some politicians make allegations against the TNA claiming that they supported President Maithripala Sirisena during the Presidential election to divide the country. This is a political lie used to mislead voters, he said. Daily News, March 11, 2015.

India helped us in war against LTTE, says Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe: In an interview ahead of Indian Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi's visit to Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe said that Indian politicians might have developed "amnesia" over the fact that India had assisted former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) war of 2009. Lankan Prime Minister said "Without the help of India, President Rajapaksa could not have wiped out the LTTE. The Hindu, March 6, 2015.

UN Human Rights Chief urges Sri Lanka not to repeat failures of the past:The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on March 5 urged the Sri Lankan Government to design mechanisms that will work to address the human rights issues and not repeat the failures of the past. Delivering the Opening Statement at the 28th Session of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, the High Commissioner said the Member States were due to consider his report on the implementation of UNHRC resolution 25/1 on accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, including the findings of the comprehensive investigation mandated by the Council at this session. Colombo Page, March 7, 2015.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe denies existence of secret detention camps:Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on March 1 said the accusations that Tamil youth were being held in secret detention camps were baseless. Wickremesinghe emphasised that all those who had been taken into custody were being held in legally run facilities and, therefore, all detainees could be accounted for. He said instructions had been given for preparing a full list of persons in custody in a bid to dispel fears expressed in some quarters as regards secret detention camps. The Island, March 5, 2015.

[Source: SATP]

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