Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned Sri Lanka’s proposed Anti-Terrorism Act, charging that it would allow authorities to systematically violate fundamental rights. The current text of the bill, intended to replace the 1979 Prevention of Terrorism Act, includes crimes such as property damage, theft or robbery under “terrorism” offenses, and would restrict the rights to freedom of assembly and speech. The bill further grants the police and military broad powers to detain people without evidence. The bill also creates a new capital offense, for murder in an act of “terrorism,” despite the fact that Sri Lanka placed a moratorium on executions in 1976. The legislation comes amid a deep political crisis in the country which has already seen the suspension of parliament this year. Stated HRW: “The government’s crackdown on dissent and misuse of existing counterterrorism laws to arbitrarily detain protesters highlights the obvious risk of abuse.” (Photo: AntanO via Wikimedia Commons)
Sri Lanka’s newly appointed acting president Ranil Wickremesinghe unleashed police and army troops against remnant protesters at an encampment site in the capital, Colombo. More than 50 were injured in the raid and several arrested. Military personnel also reportedly detained a group of protesters for several hours and severely beat them before they were released. Just hours earlier, protest leaders had agreed to disband the encampment the following day, in response to a court order. The site had been occupied by protesters since March, when an uprising began in response to near-total economic collapse in the country. Wickremesinghe, implicated in past atrocities during a counterinsurgency campaign against leftist rebels, has repeatedly derided the protesters as “fascists.” (Photo via Twitter)
Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a nationwide state of emergency as angry protests over fuel shortages and power cuts erupted in the capital Colombo. When police repression failed to quell the protests, Rajapaksa sought to appease demands for his resignation with a purge of his cabinet. Peru’s President Pedro Castillo meanwhile imposed a curfew in Lima and its port of Callao in response to an eruption of protests over dramatic fuel price hikes. As street clashes broke out in the cities, farmers outraged at a jump in fertilizer costs blocked highways at several points around the country—including Ica, where a toll-booth was set on fire. The world has seen an oil price surge to $100 a barrel in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Photo: Twitter via La Tercera)
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa announced that his government will withdraw from co-sponsorship of a 2015 UN Human Rights Council resolution calling for an investigation into war crimes committed on the island during the internal conflict with Tamil rebels. UNHRC Resolution 30/1 was actually a compromise measure, after the Sri Lanka government rejected calls for creation an international tribunal. The move comes weeks after the government acknowledged for the first time that more than 20,000 people who disappeared during the civil war are dead. Security forces and intelligence agencies have meanwhile intensified surveillance and threats against families of victims of enforced disappearance and activists supporting them. (Photo: UK Tamil News)
As Sri Lanka marks the 10-year anniversary of the end of its long internal war, a new wave of communal violence has erupted following the Easter Sunday terror attacks. In days of anti-Muslim riots, mobs have ransacked mosques and attacked shops with petrol bombs. The Buddhist militant group Bodu Bala Sena, which has been repeatedly linked to such pogroms since its founding in 2012, is named as having instigated much of the violence. But just as many Sri Lankan Muslims have held peace vigils to repudiate the Easter attacks and declare their solidarity with Christians, some Sinhalese Buddhists have repudiated the pogroms and declared their solidarity with Muslims. (Photo via SriLankaTweet)
ISIS claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka that left over 300 dead, and released a video purporting to show the militants behind the attacks pledging allegiance to the terror network’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But Sri Lankan authorities had named a little-known militant group called National Thowheeth Jama’ath as behind the attacks. Leaders of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka said they had warned military intelligence officials about National Thowheeth Jama’ath three years ago, saying the group was planning attacks on non-Muslims. (Photo: Sahad Shady via Twitter)
In addition to stationing troops on the disputed islands it claims in the South China Sea, Beijing is rapidly expanding its network of commercial ports across the Indian Ocean. This comes as China is sending warships into the Ocean with growing frequency, leading to fears that the commercial ports could presage military bases, The latest addition is the port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka, acquired in a debt swap deal—the Colombo government was forgiven $1 billion in debt to Beijing in exchange for the Hambantota facility. China has also gained access to facilities in Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Maldives, Seychelles and Oman as part of the maritime component of its Silk Road trade and infrastructure initiative. While the Silk Road is an ostensibly civilian project, China has also established its first foreign military base at Djibouti, leading Western wonks to warn that Beijing is seeking a "string of pearls" network of bases across the Indian Ocean. (Map via CIMSEC)
Sri Lanka's government rejected a call for UN involvement in its investigation into alleged war crimes during the country's civil war—but Tamils have little faith in the government.
Police declared a curfew in Sri Lanka's coastal town of Aluthgama after simmering tensions between Buddhist militants and local Muslims escalated into deadly clashes.
Sri Lanka's foreign ministry announced that it will not cooperate with a UN investigation into alleged war crimes committed during the country's civil war.
Sri Lankan authorities arrested two prominent human rights activists who were seeking information on the "disappeared" for alleged violations of anti-terror laws.
The main opposition party in Sri Lanka is demanding the government conduct an investigation into alleged crimes carried out in the long war against the Tamil Tigers.