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For nearly a decade, the Rajapaksa oligarchy, led by now-defeated president Mahinda, had burrowed into the very bedrock of Sri Lankan politics. EPA/M.A. Pushpa Kumara

Rajapaksa defeat signals the end of a dynasty in Sri Lanka

On Friday morning, with fewer than half the votes counted in Sri Lanka’s presidential election, incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa unobtrusively moved out of his official residence at Temple Trees in…
Only a community development approach can truly result in ‘build back better’ when it comes to responding to natural disasters such as the Boxing Day tsunami. EPA/Peter Endig

Boxing Day tsunami: balancing social and physical recovery

There have been many natural disasters since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, but none have exceeded it in the combination of scale and scope of its destructive impacts. The scale of devastation for coastal…
People celebrate Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai in her home town Mingora in Pakistan’s Swat valley. But history suggests the prize, shared with Kailash Satyarthi of India, is unlikely to reconcile their nations. EPA/Bilawal Arbab

Admirable Nobel decision unlikely to spur India-Pakistan peace

The awarding of a shared Nobel Peace Prize award to a 17-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai, and a 60-year-old Indian man, Kailash Satyarthi, is historic and aimed at conveying multiple messages…
Australia’s defence of Sri Lanka’s human rights record disregards an ingrained culture of violence as part of that country’s political landscape. EPA/M.A. Pushpa Kumara

War is over, but not Sri Lanka’s climate of violence and threats

The Australian government has become the great defender of Sri Lanka’s post-war human rights credentials, it seems. But Sri Lanka’s (and Australia’s) insistence that the end of the civil war means an end…
Australia may be placing the life of Tamil asylum seekers at risk by directly handing them over to a government they claim to be fleeing without first adequately assessing their safety. AAP/Scott Fisher

Handing over Tamils to the state they fled breaks international law

Australia appears to have reached a new all-time low in its violation of international obligations and its treatment of vulnerable people seeking Australia’s protection. If widespread media reports are…
Righting human rights wrongs has never been high on the Sri Lankan agenda despite international pressures. EPA/M.A. Pushpa Kumara

UN inquiry holds few terrors for a Sri Lanka used to impunity

The Sri Lankan government is on the defensive again over human rights. It is hoping to ride out a diplomatic storm after failing to thwart a UN Human Rights Council vote approving an international investigation…
For fleeing Sri Lankans who literally bear the scars of war that may be enough to attract brutal treatment as LTTE suspects when their boats are intercepted. AAP/CNN

Australia dangerously close to the abuse of fleeing Sri Lankans

I was the only lady in the group that was caught by CID [Criminal Investigation Department]. CID beat the men but to me they just said bad words. CID took us to their office – 16 people – and the men were…
Just wave the flags and don’t mention the torture. EPA/Sri Lankan government

Commonwealth hamstrung to fight abuse in Sri Lanka

The list of crimes alleged to have been perpetrated by brothers Mahinda and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa – respectively the president and defence minister of Sri Lanka – are truly horrifying. During the last few…
Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Alexander Nikiforov

Time for Britain to rethink its place in the Commonwealth

It is difficult to do justice to the mood of despair that has been haunting the corridors of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s headquarters in Marlborough House in recent months. The decision to hold the…
Australia has refused to join Canada and India in boycotting CHOGM in Sri Lanka over human rights abuses. EPA

Australia’s CHOGM dilemma: addressing human rights abuses in Sri Lanka

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott announced earlier this week that he would not join his Canadian, Indian and Mauritian counterparts in boycotting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM…
The defeat of the Tamil Tigers left many thousands dead amid allegations of war crimes. PA

In Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka, repression is a family affair

When delegates assemble in Colombo later this month for the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM), much of the talk at the summit will be of “moving forward” and of “reconciliation”. The government…
We cannot profess to be taking our international protection obligations seriously until enhanced screening of asylum seekers arriving by boat is discontinued. EPA/Stringer

Sri Lankan boat arrivals: enhanced screening, diminished protection

Since October 27 last year, more than 1,070 Sri Lankan boat arrivals have been returned to their home country. In the most recent repatriation last week, 73 of 79 Sri Lankans who arrived in Australia in…
If we want to address the Sri Lankan asylum seeker in Australia, we need to invest in addressing problems at the source. AAP Image/Ron D'Raine

From recrimination to reconciliation: the path to peace in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is at a crossroads. After the end of a long civil war, the country has an historic opportunity to draw on its strengths and riches to create a unified, prosperous and just society. But it is…
Their civil war may have ended, but the number of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka are on the increase. EPA/Wisnu Adi

After the war: why Sri Lankan refugees continue to come to Australia

In the debate about Sri Lankan asylum seekers in Australia, one question seems to come up again and again. Why, when the bloody twenty-six-year conflict that caused so many to leave their homes has ended…
Another High Court challenge to the Gillard government’s indefinite detention of ‘legal black hole’ refugees has experts calling for alternatives. AAP/Jeremy Piper

As a High Court challenge looms, are there alternatives to Australia’s indefinite detention policy?

The Gillard government is facing another High Court challenge to its indefinite detention of the 55 refugees to have received adverse security assessments from ASIO. These continuing legal troubles, along…
Julia Gillard meets with Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa at the 2011 CHOGM meeting: should Australia boycott the 2013 meeting in Sri Lanka over human rights concerns? AAP/Daniel Munoz

Sri Lanka and human rights: Australia’s CHOGM dilemma

Given its long association with the Commonwealth, it is no surprise that Sri Lanka is hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) in November this year. These biannual meetings are normally…
Unauthorised boat arrivals from Sri Lanka continue. Recent reports into widespread human rights abuses in Sri Lanka suggest the arrivals might be genuine refugees. EPA/Stringer

The problems with recognising Sri Lankan boat arrivals as refugees

It is all pretty confusing. Are Sri Lankan boat arrivals – like the 66 who showed up in the port of Geraldton last month – actually refugees? Are they fleeing from a country where the police and the army…

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