Sri Lanka military defends arresting mother of missing rebel

Updated 15 March 2014
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Sri Lanka military defends arresting mother of missing rebel

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's military has rejected allegations that the arrest of a woman and her daughter who were searching for their kin missing from the country's civil war was an act of retribution.
Human rights activists said Thursday's arrest of Balendran Jeyakumari and her 13-year-old daughter Vibhooshika is part of the government's continuing efforts to intimidate families of the missing from the civil war.
Government forces defeated separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, but Tamil civilians complain the whereabouts of many of their relatives who heeded a call to surrender and those who were arrested are not known.
Jeyakumari was prominent during protests calling for the release of her 15-year-old son, a child conscript of the Tamil Tiger rebels. Her daughter also joined her in protests.
A court ordered Jeyakumari to be detained for 16 days under the country's tough anti-terrorism law. Her daughter was kept in the care of probation officials.
Military spokesman Ruwan Wanigasooriya said in a statement that the two were arrested for harboring a former rebel who shot at police and fled when they tried to catch him.
He said one policeman was wounded.
He said that the actions by authorities were carried out to "ensure peace, territorial integrity and national unity."
Jeyakumari's son had surrendered to the military at the end of the fighting in 2009, but his family had not been told of his whereabouts.
She has a strong case against the government because it published a photograph of her son in a government book depicting rehabilitation of rebel fighters, rights activists say.
The arrests came as the UN Human Rights Council reviews Sri Lanka's record, including the issue of missing persons and its failure to investigate war crimes allegations against both government and Tamil Tiger rebels.
The United States has sponsored a third resolution on Sri Lanka at the rights council calling for an international probe on alleged war crimes if the island nation fails to conduct one of its own.

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Probe war crimes against Tamils

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Probe war crimes against Tamils

IT’S now over a week since I returned from Jaffna and the images still both haunt and inspire me. The visit I made to the north of Sri Lanka was fascinating — you can get all the briefings you like but nothing can replace seeing the situation for yourself.
There were those who said I should stay away from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka. They said that by going I was giving legitimacy to what has happened in the north of the country. I couldn’t disagree more. By going we were able to shine a light on what more needs to be done.
The end of the civil war in Sri Lanka is a massive opportunity but the issues now need to be grasped. This isn’t about imposing a Westminster view of the world. It’s about standing up for the values that all Commonwealth countries have signed up to. In turn, the rest of the world should recognize political leaders when they get things right.
So what needs to happen? First of all, there should be a transparent, credible investigation into alleged war crimes. No one wants to go back to the days of the Tamil Tigers, a brutal terrorist organization. But equally, the Sri Lankan government cannot look the other way. When I met President Rajapaska I pressed for an investigation to take place — and I made clear that if those investigations were not begun properly by next March, we would call for an international inquiry through the United Nations.
Second, there needs to be greater progress on human rights across the board in Sri Lanka: Genuine freedom of expression and a free media, an end to the intimidation of journalists and human rights defenders and action to stamp out torture.
Finally, there needs to a genuine reconciliation between communities. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with enormous potential in the years ahead. But for too long it has been blighted by conflict. If Sri Lanka takes the opportunity to heal these old wounds then there is the prospect of a much brighter future for all its people.
I know that for many readers the situation in Sri Lanka is deeply personal. It’s not about faceless diplomacy — it’s about your families, friends and their future. So believe me when I say it that we will do everything in our power to help. I’m determined that we play our part in building a brighter future for the people of Sri Lanka and laying the ghosts of the past to rest.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view

Consultations underway to choose new TTP chief

Updated 18 June 2018
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Consultations underway to choose new TTP chief

  • Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan lost its chief Mullah Fazlullah along with four guards last week when a US drone fired on his vehicle after he attended an 'iftar' party
  • Members of the TTP "shoura" have been involved in consultations since the death of Fazlullah to name a new commander

ISLAMABAD: Senior Pakistani Taliban leaders have been in hectic consultations over the past few days to appoint their new chief after a US spy aircraft killed the group’s chief, Mullah Fazlullah, in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, locals and journalists told Arab News.
Fazlullah was killed along with his four guards on June 13 when a drone fired missiles on his vehicle shortly after he attended an “iftar” party at the center of the Taliban militants from Swat valley based in Kunar’s Marora district.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani intelligence officials confirmed the death of Fazlullah, who had led a violent campaign against security forces in Swat until 2009, and later appeared in Afghanistan, where he had regrouped his fighters. The outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, however, has not yet confirmed the leader’s death.
A senior journalist from Waziristan, who extensively reports on the Pakistani Taliban, has confirmed that the Taliban are involved in consultations to appoint a new leader.
Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud, an expert on Taliban affairs who writes for international media, said on Monday the Taliban leaders are delaying the announcement of Fazlullah’s death before the appointment of his successor to avoid any internal rift.
“Huge divisions surfaced following the death of previous TTP leader Ameer Hakimulllah Mehsud in a US drone strike. The rift resulted in the killing of dozens of Taliban from the Sajna and Sheharyar Mehsud factions,” Tipu told Arab News.
Hakimullah was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan on Nov. 1, 2013. Taliban militants from the Mehsud factions involved in fighting after Hakimullah’s death and infighting had reportedly claimed lives of nearly 200 people from both sides.
Members of the TTP "shoura" have been involved in consultations since the death of Fazlullah to name a new commander but have not yet reached a consensus on who should lead the group.
“Discussions have been held about three candidates — Omar Rehman, known as Ustad Fateh (Swat), Sheikh Khalid Haqqani (Swabi) and Zahid Qari (Bajaur),” another source close to the Taliban told Arab News.
Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, alias Abu Asim, the TTP deputy chief and Mohammed Azeem, alias Maulvi Khatir, who heads the Mehsud faction of the Taliban, are also among the possible candidates. Both are from South Waziristan.
Earlier it was reported that the TTP’s "shoura" elected Fateh, a close confidant of Fazlullah, as their new chief.
A senior journalist in South Waziristan, Ishtiaq Mehsud, disagreed with the reports about the appointment of Ustad Fateh as the TTP new leader and insisted that consultations were still underway.
Ishtiaq said that the delay to name the new chief was not because of TTP’s differences but because the commanders faced difficulties in contacting each other as they live in different areas.
“There are no differences in the TTP’s ranks and according to my information the majority of the commanders are in favor of Mufti Noor Wali to lead the group,” Ishtiaq told Arab News.
Wali, author of “Inquilab Mehsud,” was appointed deputy TTP chief after a US drone killed Khan Said Sajna in February this year. He previously headed the powerful Mehsud Taliban.
Mohammed Khorasani, the TTP spokesman, did not reply to several emails from Arab News about the death and the consultation process to name the new chief.