MonitorsPublished on Nov 15, 2009
Sri Lankan Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samrasinghe claimed that 143,672 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have been resettled. There were 280,000 IDPs when the fighting ended in May 2009.
South Asia Weekly 98
Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia" >Half of IDPs resettled, claims Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samrasinghe claimed that 143,672 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have been resettled. There were 280,000 IDPs when the fighting ended in May 2009. As per official records, only 136,328 refugees are left in the camps. In October, 41,000 people were allowed to leave the camps, making it the single biggest release of war displaced people. In response to the criticism leveled against the Sri Lankan government by the UN Under-Secretary General of Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, regarding the restrictions on free access for the IDPs, the Government of Sri Lanka announced that from December 1, 2009 the refugees in camps will be allowed to go out for a “short duration”. The minister also made it clear that they can’t settle people in areas, especially in the North, which have not yet been cleared of land mines. But he reiterated the government’s commitment to settle all IDPs by the end of January 2010.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia" >A landmark judgment

The Bangladesh Supreme Court upheld the death sentences given to the killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of the country’s freedom struggle, this week. This puts an end to the long running case of Mujib’s assassination and clears way for execution of the sentence. It will, however, take some time for the government to execute all the convicts. Out of 12 convicted killers, five are in police custody, six are absconding and one is dead. The absconding convicts are believed to be hiding outside Bangladesh. The government is planning to request concerned countries, where the convicts have taken refuge, for their extradition. Mujibur Rahman, along with the majority of his family members, was assassinated by a group of army officers in 1975.  The High Court in 2001 convicted 12 army officers and imposed the death penalty on them. The sentence could not be executed as the army officers moved the Supreme Court challenging the decision.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia" >Maldives frames stricter laws for ‘non-believers’

The Maldivian Majlis introduced a bill restricting the religious freedom of the minorities inhabiting the island. Members of Parliament called for hefty fines and lengthy prison sentences in a bill to outlaw places of worship for non-Muslims in the Maldives. A bill, proposed by the MP Ibrahim Muttalib suggesting making it illegal to either build places of worship for “false religions” or practice other faiths in public, was sent to committee for further review with unanimous consent. The motive behind introducing the bill is to provide additional dimension to the constitutional provision prohibiting the freedom of religion as the article is silent on building religious places by the non-Muslim Maldivians. Maldivian Minister of State for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali has said that it is not necessary to give permission to non-Muslims to build their places of worship in the 100 per cent Sunni Muslim country. However, the President has decided to study the alternatives available to the foreigners/expatriates for worshipping in the Islamic countries like Maldives before signing the bill.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia" >Another sugar crisis looming over Pakistan

Pakistan is on the brink of yet another sugar crisis. With consumption set to rise in the days leading up to the festival of Eid, sugarcane farmers and sugar mill owners have failed to resolve their differences. While the farmers have refused to sell sugarcane on credit, the mill owners insist that prices can be determined once the processing begins after Eid. The deadlock is likely to exacerbate the prevailing food crisis. Pakistan already faces a shortage of 1.4 million tonnes of sugar. In response, the government has issued countermeasures to create strategic reserves. More than 500,000 million tonnes of white crystal sugar is expected to be imported beginning December. Furthermore, the government has taken measures to sell sugar at discounted prices during the festival season.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia" >Contributors

Anjali Sharma - Sri Lanka, Maldives
Joyeeta Bhattacharjee - Bangladesh
Kaustav Dhar Chakraborti - Pakistan

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.