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Ocean Grabbing continues as MPAs

Green Peace has drafted some guidelines on Marine Protected Areas.
Marine Protected Areas and Green Peace

Fukushima Radiation……….

Following the catastrophic effects of Fukushima, now millions of Salmon are missing from the pacific ocean and are presumed dead. Fears that ocean food chain has been damaged to the point that sea life could die off as a result. New data from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have now found that Salmon numbers have dropped dramatically from the Sacramento River.... Read More:

STOP LAND GRABBING! Day of the Landless

VIVA POSCO People in Odisha Viva!: People's Struggle against POSCO won by People.

Dear Friends,
As you may know from the media about recent the statement by Odisha’s Industry Minister, Devi Prasad Mishra that “POSCO confirmed the withdrawal of its project by requesting the Odisha government to take back the land transferred in its name”. We strongly believe this is not just a victory for our people but also the victory for the all the peasants, fisher folks, forest dwellers who are democratically fighting to protect their land, livelihood and environment. This is a victory against false propaganda, intimidation, false cases and threats of forcible eviction. This is a victory against the invasion by a global capitalist giant like POSCO in partnership with the Central and State Governments. Since this Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project was the largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) investment in this country, it has to be treated as a symbol of struggle against globalization and India’s freedom.
We sincerely convey our thanks to all activists, organizations, people’s movements, progressive intellectuals, like minded Political Parties, media and concerned individuals who have extended support to our struggle.
We strongly condemn the Odisha government’s decision; land acquired and transferred to POSCO will be kept in the Land Bank. The statement of Odisha’s Industry Minister, Devi Prasad Mishra in the Assembly of Odisha was “Steps are being taken for fencing the land by Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO)”. This is illegal, undemocratic, anti-peasants, and unwarranted. The Odisha government must follow the Supreme Court decision on the pattern of Singur where land of farmers acquired by Tata's Nano plant in West Bengal was returned to them.
The government of Odisha must respect the unanimous resolution by Dhinkia Gram Sabha ( Panchayat level assembly of adult members) i.e.
on 18th of October 2012 , where more than 2000 people participated in the meeting and resolved that the land used for beetle vine cultivation is clearly under the rights provided to the Gram Sabha under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. Claims on the forest lands approved and recommended by the Palli Sabhas of villages (Dhinkia, Govindpur…) are still pending for recognition and no step has been taken to recognize their rights. We are strongly determined to reoccupy our farm lands and reconstruct our vineyards for the cultivation of betel leaves.
Over the last 12 years, our villagers have had to pay a heavy price for their peaceful opposition to the project in order to protect our habitat for future generations. The prove to the indiscriminate brutal repression on the citizens of the country lies in the fact that four persons have so far been killed and many injured in clashes.
Several leaders of the movement have been jailed multiple times. Till now more than 2000 warrants have been issued against the people and more than 400 false cases both men and women have been registered at the Kujang police station since 2005. There have been also multiple instances where police and the goons supported by POSCO have unleashed a reign of terror in the area. Till today, many villagers cannot come out of their villages even for their hospitalization, due to the threat of arrests. This approach of false arrest and intimidation by the government only perpetuates injustice and ruins the democratic fabric of our country.
In the year 2012, The district administration of Jagatsinghpur along with the Industrial Development Corporation of Odisha ( IDCO) had
chopped down the over 1,70,000 trees in our nearby villages for the
benefit of a private company like POSCO. The trees like mangroves, cashew nut, betel vines, fruit bearing trees and casuarinas forest. In
1999 Super Cyclone, our villages were not devastated by nature’s fury as the green cover and sand dunes protected us from the surging tidal waves, whereas more than 10,000 persons perished in the nearby Kujang and Earasama blocks of Jagatsinghpur district . After cutting the trees, our villages became perpetually vulnerable to the cyclones.
Though, it’s impossible to substitute the natural forest, we strongly demand that the government must pay compensation to our villagers who are depending on these trees for their livelihoods and start massive plantation of eco friendly trees in our nearby villages.

We demand the government of Odisha to
1. Compensation on humanitarian grounds to the families of
the deceased and widow who were killed in the bomb blast and proper medical help for the injured person.
2. Return the land taken from our villagers immediately to
their owners without taking any pretext.
3. Recognize our claims on rights over forest land as per FRA 2006.
4. Withdrawal of all fabricated and false cases against our
villagers and activists.
5. Compensation to the persons whose beetle vines were
destroyed by the government.

Hoping for Support and Solidarity,
Prashant Paikray  Spokesperson,
POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
E-Mail -

Sri Lankan Women Collective Present the Case Of Sri Lankan Women: CEDAW report presented at Geneva

Presented at 66th Session, Geneva

Presented by: ThiyagiPiyadasa, Hyshyama Hamin, Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, Shyamala Gomez AnushaniAlagarajahand Kumudini Samuel, on behalf activists and organizations (listed in page 4) working on women’s civil, political, socio-cultural and economic rights in rural and urban parts of Sri Lanka.

Madam Chair,

This is a joint statement of activists and 8 women’s rights organisations. We would like to begin by drawing attention to the fact that Sri Lanka is engaging in a process of transitional justice and constitution making as we speak. We urge the committee to keep this context in mind in your deliberations.

We would now like to highlight the following:

Judicial Review of Legislation
Article 16 of the present Constitution prohibits judicial review of legislation and supersedes the guarantees of equality and non-discrimination, and we call for its repeal.

Fundamental Rights Chapter of the Constitution
The Fundamental Rights Chapter of the Constitution must include an explicit section on Women’s Rights.

Discriminatory Laws, Policies and Practices
Despite Sri Lanka’s international treaty obligations and commitments, including to CEDAW, discriminatory provisions in the Penal Code relating to consensual same sex relations; statutory rape (exemptions for married girls between the ages of 12- 16); impersonation; provisions in the Land Development Ordinance and State Lands Ordinance that grant state land in single ownership, instead of joint or co ownership; personal laws including the Muslim Personal Law and Thesawalamai; Vagrants Ordinance and Brothels ordinance continue to be enforced, and must be repealed. 

Economic Participation
Female labour force participation is half that of men (34%). Women comprise 54% of the informal economy. The majority includes rural, fisher, agricultural and domestic sectors. They are denied protections afforded to the formal sector. Equal pay for work of equal value is denied to women in all sectors.

Discriminatory Practices
Discriminatory concepts such as ‘head of the household’; nuclear ‘happy families’ inform a number of policies. For example - Women with children under the age of 5 are prohibited from migrating for overseas employment. Furthermore all women expecting to migrate for work have to provide a Family Background Report, this does not apply to men. 

Muslim Personal Law
The Muslim Personal Law continues to render Sri Lankan Muslim women and girls as second-class citizens. The law permits child marriage. It requires adult women to obtain guardian’s consent, prohibits women from being Quazi judges or registrars, which are state-salaried positions, allows polygamy without conditions or consent of wives. There are also procedural and practical issues faced by women in the Quazi (Muslim) courts, which inhibit their equal access to justice and due process.

The State has abdicated its responsibility to reform Muslim Personal Law, on the ground that it is a matter for the Muslim community. We strongly object to this stance.

Despite multiple government committees, with predominantly Muslim men, appointed to review the Muslim personal law since 1990, none of these efforts have been yet fruitful. In 2011, recommendations by the CEDAW Committee called for an inclusive process of engagement, in particular women’s groups in the reforms process. However recent backlash from conservative Muslim groups has created a hostile environment where women activists, advocates and affected women who gave testimonies, have been intimidated.

The State must muster its political will to ensure that Muslim women are treated as equals under the law. Over 66 years of state-sanctioned systemic discrimination against Muslim women and girls must end!

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Despite CEDAW Concluding Observations and activism for the repeal of Sections 365 and 365A of the Penal code, and recommendations by the Committee for Constitutional Reform (PRCCR) and the Consultative Task Force for Reconciliation, adult consensual same sex relationships continue to be criminalised in Sri Lanka.

Though there have been no prosecutions under the Penal Code, the misapplication and abuse of these Sections by State officials have been widely documented. Criminalisation also prevents LBT persons from accessing protection and justice for violence and discrimination perpetrated by public and private actors.  And they continue to be excluded from State policies.

Violence / Access to justice
On the issue of violence against women, we wish to highlight impunity as a continuum from war related sexual violence to all forms of sexual and gender based violence. E.g. Approximately 1,400 rape complaints result in 0 to 7 convictions per year (2009-2014).

Rape attrition must be addressed including through reform of the prevailing two-tier system of non-summary inquiries at Magistrates Courts and summary inquiries at High Court. No measures have been taken to address suspended sentencing for rape, criminalizing of marital rape and backlog of rape cases. Protections available under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act are being undermined by conservative judicial interpretations.

Tamil speaking women face discriminatory practices including language barriers and stereotyping when they access justice, due to lack of Tamil speaking officers in courts, police stations and hospitals.   

Female Heads of Households
One in four households are female headed, a significant proportion of which are war affected. The Government of Sri Lanka has no official definition for this category, which results in their exclusion from welfare, resettlement and other policies and programmes.

War Affected Women
Despite various structures and policies by the State, war affected women continue to be marginalized, neglected and vulnerable, particularly female heads of households (approximately 90,000) in the North and East.

Militarization:Militarization and the breakdown of the rule of law has impacted women’s security, impeded access to livelihoods, land, including traditional use of common land, housing, and other resettlement assistance in the post-war context. The military continues to be engaged in civil administration, agriculture and tourism. Military run farms impedes women’s livelihoods.

Displacement: A significant proportion of the displaced include women. Military occupied land must be returnedto original owners, including to female heads of households.  Landless women must be allocated state land.  

Livelihoods: State policies on livelihoods emphasise small and medium enterprise and micro credit and have not considered the creation of formal secure employment.

Violence: Evidence indicates that the armed forces, police and other armed actors perpetrate sexual violence against women. Women are also subjected to sexual exploitation and sexual bribery by government officials when accessing services. These cases are invisible, not investigated, prosecuted and punished. There is inadequate state provision of professional counseling, medical, psychosocial and rehabilitation services to women.

Transitional Justice: Transitional justice mechanisms, reconciliation and peacebuilding initiatives must be inclusive processes, gender-sensitive, and responsive to women’s wartime experiences.

There must be clear guidelines to provide gender sensitive reparations to women survivors of war including for economic losses, loss of livelihoods, and sexual violence.

Female Ex-combatants:Female ex-combatants face difficulties reintegrating into their communities. They continue to be under surveillance by the army; they are labeled as “rehabilitated” and marginalized from employment and access to services. There is no recognition of their skills and capabilities gained during the war.

Health vulnerabilities exist for women, including those affected by conflict, plantation workers, sex workers and LBT women who are denied access to adequate services.  Comprehensive sexuality education is required to prevent early pregnancies, and abortion needs to be decriminalised.

Gender Machinery
We end with the issue of gender machinery, which remains weak and marginal in national policy formulation. This must be strengthened with rights based legislation to appoint a well-resourced, independent National Commission on Women, unfettered by State institutions and partisan politics. The Commission must be appointed by the Constitutional Council as have other Independent Commissions such as those for Human Rights and Police.  All Independent Commissions must be gender inclusive.

The current strategy is to adopt a plethora of National Action Plans, which remain in the main unimplemented. Therefore, to achieve policy coherence, adequate financing and implementation we require a single comprehensive National Action Plan for women that is rights-based and fully protected. For example the current National Action Plan on Human Rights was amended to remove a provision to decriminalise homosexuality. 

Thank you Madam for your attention to this joint submission.



WOMEN’S ACTION FOR CEDAW: (SRI LANKA REVIEW 2017) EQUAL GROUND, FOKUS WOMEN, Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR), Muslim Personal Law Reforms Action Group (MPLRAG), National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO), Viluthu Centre for Human Resource Development, Women’s Action Network (WAN) and Women and Media Collective (WMC).

Contributing activists: AnushaniAlagarajah, ChandrakanthiAbeykoon, Shyamala Gomez, Hyshyama Hamin, InthumathyHariharathamotharan, Chulani Kodikara, ThilinaMadiwela, ThiagiPiyadasa, NadeeraPriyadarshani, Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, ShreenSaroor and Kumudini Samuel.

Fisghiting against Injustices to Beach Seine Fishery in Ahungalle

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