27 Reports

Accuracy of COVID-19 tests carried out in Jaffna called into question

[TamilNet, Thursday, 30 April 2020, 23:41 GMT]
Director of Jaffna Teaching Hospital Dr T Sathiyamoorthy has been issuing daily reports, including the cases both within and beyond his area of responsibility, covering the entire district of Jaffna. The Jaffna Hospital is unable to carry out tests effectively using its test equipment. The tests were being carried out externally at the medical faculty of the University of Jaffna. There were issues with the test equipment as verification tests with distilled water failed to perform as expected at both the labs in Jaffna. In the meantime, the supplier of the reagents has also questioned the possibility of contamination of the test environment, triggering concerns among the laboratory technicians, informed medical practitioners said on condition on anonymity.
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Fifteenth year of Sivaram's assassination remembered in North-East amidst pandemic

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 29 April 2020, 21:45 GMT]
Tamil journalists and the people engaged in continuous protests in the North and East marked the 15th anniversary of Maamanithar Sivaram Dharmeratnam’s assassination remembering his contribution to the Tamil struggle. Journalist associations in Batticaloa, Vavuniyaa and Jaffna staged remembrance events with social distancing and limited participation due to pandemic mitigation measures. Sivaram, who wrote articles under the nom-de-plume Taraki was abducted and assassinated allegedly by the SL State’s Intelligence agency in Colombo. Taraki, well versed in geopolitical affairs, was a reputed military analyst and a columnist for Colombo-based Daily Mirror. He was a senior editor of TamilNet for almost eight years until his demise at the age of 46.
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SL military seizes up to fifty schools in North for quarantine purposes amidst public objections

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 28 April 2020, 20:05 GMT]
The occupying SL military has seized around fifty schools in the Northern Province in recent days intending to convert these as Quarantine Centres (QCs) sparking protests from the public and educational organisations. People were protesting at Araali in Vadduk-koaddai in Jaffna. General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union Joseph Stalin has condemned the move. However, the SL military continues to relocate the furniture away from the schools and bring people to the seized schools. While there was no identified pattern of COVID-19 spread in Mullaith-theevu, Ki'linochcih and Mannaar districts of the Northern Province as well as the islets off Jaffna, the militarised QCs in large numbers in the midst of densely populated areas have caused fear among the public.
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Occupying Colombo converts 6 Tamil colleges in North as quarantine centres for SL military

[TamilNet, Monday, 27 April 2020, 21:53 GMT]
Occupying Colombo’s military has started to convert a Tamil college of teachers in Jaffna and five other schools in the Northern province as Quarantine Centres for military personnel stationed in the region. Civil sources in the North have condemned it as a high-handed move disregarding the safety of Tamil civilians in the densely populated areas. The top brass of the Sinhala military has not consulted the provincial and local authorities. They have not even asked the provincial health director for advice. Nirosh Thiyagarajah, the Chairman of Valikaamam East Divisional Council, has condemned the conversion of Jaffna National College of Education (JNCOE) at Koappaay into a military QC.
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Gotabaya faces test on balancing foreign powers’ access to Trincomalee

[TamilNet, Sunday, 26 April 2020, 11:50 GMT]
Sinhala nationalist hardliners, who are opposed to the UNP-led alliance have stepped up their campaign against the continued leasing of China Bay Tankfarm in Trincomalee to Lanka IOC PLC, a private subsidiary of Indian Oil Corporation in the island. The pro-China sections also have reservations about SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s US background, informed sources in Colombo said. In the meantime, the oil farm of the World War II vintage has gained attention at various levels as oil prices continue to fall due to the pandemic and there is an increased demand for the storage of crude oil.
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Maha Sangha wants to remember Gotabaya as twice saviour of “Sri Lanka”

[TamilNet, Saturday, 25 April 2020, 11:07 GMT]
The Sinhala Theravada-Buddhist Maha Sangha has said that SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa “will be remembered as a leader who saved the country twice,” according to a news statement issued by SL Presidential Secretariat on Thursday. The Nayaka Theros of all the three Chapters of the Maha Sangha were approving the conduct of Mr Gotabaya, especially with regards to his position on not reconvening the SL Parliament which was dissolved by him on 02 March.
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India-Pakistan rivalry deprives regional focus on fighting pandemic in South Asia

[TamilNet, Friday, 24 April 2020, 15:32 GMT]
Pakistan broke the almost one month silence of the regional grouping, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as it initiated a virtual conference of health ministers on Thursday. The move comes a month after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the initiative for COVID-19 Emergency Fund through a video conference with his counterparts last month. The meeting on Thursday was attended by all member states and the SAARC Secretary-General, Esala Ruwan Weerakoon. However, most countries had reduced their representation to below ministerial rank, Indian media noted.
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COVID-19 deaths pass 1000 in South Asia, Maldives faces various challenges

[TamilNet, Thursday, 23 April 2020, 11:15 GMT]
More than one thousand people have perished in South Asia due to COVID-19 pandemic as of Tuesday, and the cases of infection stand at 35,000, according to a news report filed by Turkish Anadolu Agency on Wednesday. India is the worst-hit country passing more than 20,000 reported cases of infection, followed by Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund has approved a disbursement of US $28.9 million to the Maldives on Thursday. The Maldivian economy, which is dependent on tourism revenues standing for more than 60 per cent of the country’s GDP, is struggling to cope with the challenge of diversifying its economy.
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Colombo brings 1,100 persons from South to military-operated Quarantine Centres in North

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 22 April 2020, 16:29 GMT]
Civil authorities in the North were not informed in advance about SL authorities in Colombo starting to bring a large number of people, around 1100 persons, to military-operated Quarantine Centres in the Northern Province. Northern Provincial Regional Director of Health Services (RDHS) Dr A Ketheeswaran said he was yet to receive details when contacted by TamilNet on Wednesday. However, he was told by SL Army Commander Lt Gen Shavendra Silva that the office of the RDHS, as well as the Government Agents of the districts in the province, would receive the details. The SL military has started to quarantine ninety-nine persons in Palaali, informed sources said. Earlier, there were reports of cross infections due to “dormitory” type of isolation centres operated by the Palaali-based military at KKS.
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Denying doctors to inspect isolation centres, yet another violation of human rights: Fr Jeyakumar

[TamilNet, Monday, 20 April 2020, 19:13 GMT]
Colombo government has failed to evolve a mechanism involving the doctors in the North in the effort to contain the pandemic, says Rev Fr C.G. Jeyakumar, a former director of Caritas Human Development Centre (HUDEC) of the Catholic Church of Jaffna diocese. The operation of security centres without involving the civil doctors is a fundamental human rights violation, he said. The SL government has also avoided involving stakeholders from the public sector and the civil society in the North. The daily wage earners and the families dependent on their income have been severely affected during the curfew. Particularly affected were those in Vanni with limited access to local organisations or diaspora connections to sustain their families throughout the lockdown, he said.
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Colombo extorts money from administrative officers in North citing pandemic relief work

[TamilNet, Sunday, 19 April 2020, 22:18 GMT]
District and Divisional Secretariat officials, as well as Samurdhi Development officers in Jaffna, say their salaries were cut down under three different categories labelling the extortion as contribution to COVID-19 related relief work in the district. One thousand five hundred rupees have been deducted from the pay sheets of staff-level workers for April month without their concession. Similarly, one thousand rupees were cut off from the salaries of middle-level officers and five-hundred-rupees from minor officers. Apart from the issue of extortion, there was no transparency with regards to how the money was being spent, Divisional Secretariat officials in Jaffna complained. In the meantime, the occupying SL military has been collecting details from Divisional Secretariats on the assistance provided by Community-Based Organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations during the curfew.
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GMOA deploys “genocidal society” attitude against Tamil specialist on epidemics

[TamilNet, Saturday, 18 April 2020, 15:54 GMT]
The secretary of SL Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) Dr Haritha Aluthge, a Sinhalese, has baselessly attacked Consultant Community Physician (CCP) Dr Murali Vallipuranathan, an outspoken Tamil from North. Without providing any credible evidence, Aluthge was blaming Murali Vallipuranathan for “unacceptable & controversial conduct during the present COVID-19 pandemic situation” and was accusing the UK-trained Tamil specialist on epidemics of “expressing views detrimental to the Health Department & Sri Lanka Army”. The GMOA Secretary was also claiming that Dr Vallipuranathan had a “controversial & racist previous history”. The GMOA letter, dated 17 April, comes after Vallipuranthan’s case studies called into question the “dormitory” type of COVID-19 isolation centres on 06 April and on 15 April.
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COVID curfews hurt livelihood of resettled people of Ira'nai-theevu twin-islet

[TamilNet, Friday, 17 April 2020, 14:06 GMT]
The SL fisheries authorities have neglected marketing arrangements for the fish caught by the recently resettled Tamil fishers of Ira'nai-theevu twin-islets that lie 12 nautical miles from the western coast of Ki'linochchi district. The prices have dropped from 1,000 rupees to 300 rupees for one-kilo crabs and from 800 rupees to 200 rupees for cuttlefish catch. More than sixty families are residing in Ira'nai-theevu without permanent housing. The people of the islets facing the Palk Bay are also deprived of community assistance during the curfew. In the meantime, there were reports of COVID-19 infections at the SL military-operated Quarantine Center at Muzhangkaavil, a coastal hamlet located near their temporary settlement, Ira'nai-maathaa-nakar in the mainland. Those infected were medical personnel brought for quarantine from the South.
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Cross infections escalate in SL-military operated COVID-19 isolation centre in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Thursday, 16 April 2020, 19:06 GMT]
Occupying SL Army isolated twenty persons out of 240 people who had closely interacted with a pastor with alleged COVID-19 infection a month ago in Ariyaalai. Their initial contact with the pastor, who had come from Switzerland, was between 10th and 15th March. The isolation took place on 23 March. Three cases tested positive a week later on 01 April. Another three a day after. The SL military has continued to detain the fourteen negative cases allowing them to interact with each other inside the isolation centre in Kaang-keasan-thu'rai (KKS). Public health officials were not allowed to inspect the conditions of the isolation facility, which is fully managed by the SL military. As a result, eight of the fourteen tested positive on 14 April. There were also unconfirmed reports of two more infections on 15 April, making the total affected to eighteen.
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Occupying SL military instructed to prepare Secret Quarantine Centers in North-East

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 15 April 2020, 22:16 GMT]
SL Army Commander Lt Gen Shavendra Silva has instructed his commanders in the North and East to transform the secret detention camps, which the occupying SL military used in the past to torture and kill former LTTE members as undeclared Quarantine Centers (QC). The undisclosed QCs would be used for “isolation purposes” if the COVID-19 pandemic was to take large proportions in the North-East, informed ex-paramilitary sources in the North said. Already, there are military-operated, publicly-declared QCs in the North-East and the South. The openly declared QCs used to house “Sri Lankans” and foreigners, are maintained as state-of-the-art facilities by the SL military. In contrast, the proposed secret QCs are intended to be used “to keep the situation under control in a worst-case scenario”, an informed source said.
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Colombo issued Gazette banning burials amidst objections raised by UN Rapporteurs

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 14 April 2020, 22:19 GMT]
The SL State seems to have gone ahead with an extraordinary Gazette notification instructing the health authorities to cremate the corpses of all persons who have died of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on 11 April, ignoring a joint letter from four UN Special Rapporteurs dated 08 April. The Special Rapporteurs were urging the SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to reconsider the SL Ministry of Health Guidelines that had been modified on 31 March banning the burial of the corpses of dead COVID-19 suspected and confirmed patients in the island. They were seeking five clarifications from the SL President, including whether the SL authorities had any consultation with health experts, civil society and community members before to make sure that the instruction was non-discriminatory, necessary and proportionate to the objective pursued.
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SL Police detains social media activist for posting against vilification of Muslims

[TamilNet, Monday, 13 April 2020, 23:02 GMT]
The Muslims in the island have no other option than utilising pens and keyboards to confront their adversaries, who have unleashed an ideological war upon them, wrote Ramzy Razeek, a social media activist from Central Province on 02 April. He was reacting to the conduct of a section of Sinhala journalists and politicians, who were exploiting the fear of the Covid-19 pandemic to incite anti-Muslim sentiments among the Sinhala people. Only a strategically conceived information struggle could defeat the anti-Muslim tendency in the island, he wrote. Ramzy was referring to the non-violent information struggle as “ideological Jihad”. Seven days later, he was detained by the SL Police, which is now attempting to charge him under the ICCPR Act of 2007 alleging him of inciting religious hatred.
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Colombo's racial prejudice against Tamils stands exposed in prisoners release

[TamilNet, Sunday, 12 April 2020, 23:57 GMT]
The SL State released almost three-thousand prisoners from its prisons to halt the spread of the pandemic in jails. However, none of the eighty-four Tamil Political Prisoners were among those released. Although a massacre convicted Sinhala Army soldier was set free, the SL State was not prepared to release even a single Tamil political prisoner (TPP) who has been indefinitely detained for years without trial. At a time when the entire island is supposed to confront the pandemic jointly, why does the SL State discriminate the TPPs, asked 35-year-old Komahan Murugiah, a former TPP from Jaffna. If the SL State was genuine as it claims of being united in the fight against the pandemic, both the state and the collaborating politicians must prove their credibility by releasing the TPPs who are languishing in the jails, Mr Komahan told TamilNet.
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Homeless Tamil dies of alleged starvation under curfew and SL militarised conditions in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Saturday, 11 April 2020, 21:04 GMT]
A homeless older Tamil man, who was depending on alms in the streets of Jaffna city has passed away, possibly due to starvation on Saturday. The death comes as the occupying SL State has been deploying its military to control every aspect of the civic engagement in the occupied North-East in an unproportionate scale as not witnessed in the South, health workers complained. They didn’t wish to be named due to security reasons. The Tamil-speaking community has been severely restricted from self-mobilising to help the underprivileged. In the meantime, PMS Charles, a close confidante of Rajapaksa establishment, appointed as the SL Governor to North by SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has muzzled the mouth of healthcare workers and public officials as well as punishing her media secretary, journalists in Jaffna said.
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Uncertainty grips war-uprooted coastal village of mainland Mannaar

[TamilNet, Friday, 10 April 2020, 23:45 GMT]
The occupying SL Navy, which is stationed at Mu'l'lik-ku'lam, a coastal village located 45 km south of Mannaar city, continues to keep more than one thousand acres of lands out of bound to the uprooted Tamils. SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa transformed the ancient Tamil village as the command headquarters of North West Naval Area of SL Navy when he was the SL Defence Secretary in 2013. The SLN is using only 35 acres of lands. Private title-lands, LDO permit lands and lands that belong to Catholic Diocese of Mannaar remain out of bounds for the uprooted Tamils. After 2015 regime change, Colombo handed back barely 77 acres of church lands deceiving the protesting people with a promise of freeing their properties in a “step-by-step” manner. The changes taking place within the SL Navy and the pandemic lockdown have further eroded the outlook for resettlement, the uprooted people complain.
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CEPI identifies active development of 78 vaccines, seeks funds for equitable access

[TamilNet, Thursday, 09 April 2020, 23:12 GMT]
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has identified 115 COVID-19 vaccine efforts at varying stages of development as of 08 April. Out of these, 78 bids were confirmed as active, and five moved into the clinical development phase. “Given the imperative for speed, there is an indication that vaccine could be available under emergency use or similar protocols by early 2021,” the CEPI says. The Oslo-based foundation launched in 2017 as a platform for the governments, charities and the private sector to finance and coordinate vaccines efforts, recently issued an urgent worldwide call for USD 2 billion. The funding was intended to streamline COVID-19 vaccine efforts guided by three imperatives: speed, manufacture and deployment at scale, and global access. The nonprofit move faces challenges from populist “country first” world leaders and major healthcare corporations.
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English version not available

[TamilNet, Thursday, 09 April 2020, 05:44 GMT]

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SL military claims village-level sweeping powers over civil officers in Vanni

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 08 April 2020, 22:09 GMT]
The occupying SL Army, a predominantly Sinhala force, has brought more than two hundred Village (GS/GN) Officers and village-level Samurdhi Development officers, most of them Tamils, under its control citing instructions from SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to monitor the delivery of relief measures caused by the COVID-19 lockdown. The SL Army, which convened a meeting on Wednesday, instructed the village-level civil officials to accompany the soldiers on a house-to-house control operation. The public officials are severely disrupted from carrying out their work according to their priorities as they are being forced to accompany the soldiers in their surveillance-style control of civil affairs in Vanni, a group of GS officers told TamilNet.
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Colombo uses COVID-19 situation to militarise civil administration in North

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 07 April 2020, 20:19 GMT]
The Community Based Organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations involved in assisting the people, who have lost their livelihood due to the long-lasting curfew imposed to control the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, are complaining about military restrictions hampering their work in Jaffna. The occupying SL military has beefed up its checkpoints on the main highways that connect peninsular Jaffna with the Vanni mainland and the rest of the island. The SL soldiers operating the Elephant Pass (EPS) and Poonakari (Pooneryn) checkpoints are refusing to accept the documents provided to the organisations even though the SL Police has sanctioned such permits at the request of Village (GS) and Divisional Secretaries in the public sector.
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84,000 families face livelihood hardships due to curfew restrictions in Jaffna district

[TamilNet, Monday, 06 April 2020, 22:46 GMT]
Although the SL President announced that Samurdhi beneficiaries and Samurdhi cardholders would receive an interest-free advance of Rs 10,000 ($50) per family, the progress is at snail's pace in Jaffna and the Northern province, officials at the District Secretariat in Jaffna said. People below the island-wide poverty line are entitled to the Samurdhi beneficiary programmes. Currently, there are 72,000 families registered under the Samurdhi programme in Jaffna district. Around 12,000 more applications are pending for approval, sources at the District Secretariat said.
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GMOA criticises Colombo’s Health Ministry for inadequate COVID-19 testing capacity

[TamilNet, Saturday, 04 April 2020, 22:08 GMT]
The SL Health Ministry of the unitary state system of Colombo, which is primarily responsible for the provision of comprehensive health services in the public sector has claimed that it was possible to conduct COVID-19 testing for 750 to 1,000 persons daily. However, the examination is underperformed in the population, according to the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA). The public sector medical institutions are conducting 250 tests or even less than that, according to Dr Samantha Ananda, the spokesperson of the GMOA.
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Prospects for South Asia crises management look dim: US expert on China

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 01 April 2020, 22:11 GMT]
China and India, with regional hegemonic ambitions, are increasingly at loggerheads with each other and the distrust and hostility between them run deep, especially after the Trump Administration streamlined its US Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS). On the surface, the diplomatic relationship between the two countries may look like as if they were seeking formal rapprochement with each other. However, the trajectory of the bilateral relationship is full of “distrust and hedging,” observes Yun Sun, who is China Program Director of Stimson Center, a prominent US think-tank based in Washington DC. “In light of the prevailing great-power competition between Beijing and Washington, however, crisis management in South Asia is probably another case of collateral damage,” she observes in a recent commentary piece, titled “China’s Strategic Assessment of India”.
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Latest 15 Reports
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