Sri Lanka marks eight years since end of civil war

Sri Lankan attendees react as they read through names of fallen soldiers on a memorial for those who died in the decades-long conflict against the Tamil Tigers, during a commemorative ceremony in Colombo on Thursday, marking the eight anniversary of the end of the islands Tamil separatist war. (AFP)
Updated 20 May 2017
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Sri Lanka marks eight years since end of civil war

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka is marking the eighth anniversary of the end of its bloody civil war with much of the legacy and divisions created by more than a quarter-century of violence still intact.
Families are still looking for their missing relatives, others demanding their land back from military occupation, fishermen asking for sea access blocked by the navy, widows heading families and handicapped persons are struggling without jobs.
Tamil lawmaker Abraham Sumanthiran says “a sense of uncertainty is hanging over the people.”
Sumanthiran comes from the principle political party representing minority Tamils. Ethnic Tamils on Thursday lit lamps and displayed photos framed in flowers of relatives killed in the war.
A Sri Lankan court barred activists from holding a commemoration near a monument to Tamils killed in the fighting, but other memorials were carried out unhindered in many parts of the country’s north and east.
C.V. Wigneswaran, chief minister of the Tamil-majority northern province, lit a commemorative fire in Mullivaikkal beach where tens of thousands of civilians are believed to have been killed in the last days of the fighting.
It was here that the now-defeated Tamil Tiger rebels mounted their last stand against advancing government troops in May 2009.
Wigneswaran said a disproportionate number of soldiers are still stationed in the former war zone.
“Even after eight years since the war’s end and with no reports of any kind of political violence during this period, some 150,000 soldiers are kept in the northern province,” Wigneswaran said.
He accused the soldiers of taking over residents’ farmlands and homes and starting up businesses that have unfairly competed with Tamil-owned firms and cost people their jobs.
“In truth the army, navy and the air force have no business here,” Wigneswaran said.
The opposition leader of Sri Lanka’s Parliament, Rajavarothayam Sampanthan, said that details of the war largely hidden from the world must be revealed.
The government evicted international aid workers and blocked independent media from the war zone when the war escalated, making it impossible to arrive at a clear death toll.
Ethnic Tamil civilians for five years after the war ended were denied the right to publicly remember those who died. People who defied the prohibition were arrested and harassed by the military and police.
However, the defeat of strongman President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the 2015 election brought some freedoms. The new government has insisted that it will not allow dead Tamil Tiger rebels to be memorialized.
According to a UN report, some 40,000 civilians may have been killed in the final months of the fighting in a war.
In Colombo, President Maithripala Sirisena was planning to lay a wreath at a memorial for fallen soldiers to mark the end of the civil war.


Rao Anwar found ‘responsible’ of Naqeeb Mehsud’s murder

Updated 22 April 2018
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Rao Anwar found ‘responsible’ of Naqeeb Mehsud’s murder

  • Suspended police superintendent responsible for death of Naqeeb Mehsud, an aspiring Pashtun model, in fake police encounter in Karachi
  • The suspended officer has challenged the constitution of JIT sans representatives of intelligence agencies, armed forces

KARACHI: Rao Anwar, who was remanded in custody on Saturday, has been found responsible for the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud, an aspiring Pashtun model from the country’s tribal region.

Mehsud was killed in a fake police encounter on Jan. 12 this year.

“Rao Anwar has been found guilty,” a senior official who is part of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing Anwar, told Arab News.

The apex court on March 24 had formed a JIT headed by Aftab Ahmed Pathan, Additional IG Sindh, to probe the incident. The JIT comprised  Waliullah Dal, Additional IG Special Branch; Azad Ahmed Khan, DIG South; Zulfiqar Larik, DIG East; and Dr. Rizwan Ahmed, SSP Central Karachi.

The official, who requested anonymity, told Arab News that the JIT report will be produced in the court once signed by all of its members.
Anwar was presented today before the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Karachi on Saturday which sent him on judicial remand to prison till May 2, prosecutor Zafar Solangi told Arab News.

When asked for a comment upon his appearance at the ATC, Anwar said: “I have challenged the JIT and I don’t accept its findings.”
He further claimed: “I have not recorded any statement before this JIT.”

On April 5, Anwar filed a petition praying for the inclusion of representatives of “the intelligence agencies, armed forces and civil armed forces.”

Anwar claimed that the inclusion of the members from intelligence agencies and armed forces was required by law.

The police officer was brought to the court amid tight security arrangements, where he was produced along with 11 other accused.

Investigation officer, SSP Dr. Rizwan Ahmed, who is also part of the JIT probing the incident, told the court that investigations are underway and the JIT’s report will be presented before the court once it was finalized. He sought a week for the submission of the report.
Anwar was given into 30-day police custody upon the last court hearing.

Anwar, who is accused of killing Mehsud in a fake police encounter, claims that the slain Pashtun model was an active member of banned terrorist outfits Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Al Qaeda, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). However, the evident subsequently began to pile up against the police team involved in his killing.

Following the incident, a formal inquiry was launched against Anwar. As pressure mounted on him, he decided to go underground and even made a botched attempt to fly out of Pakistan.

He also wrote a few letters to the Supreme Court after the top court began a suo motu hearing of Naqeebullah’s murder, telling the judges that the system was heavily stacked against him and he was not hopeful of getting any justice in the case.

In response, the country’s top court decided to grant him some relief, asking him to surrender himself and let the law take its course.
The court was also willing to reconstitute a joint investigation team to look into Naqeebullah’s killing since the absconding police officer had voiced concern over its composition.

Authorities froze Anwar’s accounts after his repeated non-appearance before the court.

In a surprise move last month, the absconding police officer came to the court in a white car. He was clad in a black dress and wore a medical mask to cover his face.

Anwar’s lawyer told the chief justice that his client had “surrendered” and wanted protective bail. However, the Supreme Court turned down the request and ordered the law enforcement authorities to lock up the former SSP.