Archive | June, 2010

Moving away from democracy in Sri Lanka

The present Sri Lankan government has proved that though Sri Lanka is a small country, it has been able to achieve many things that other countries, specially in the West have not been able to. Nowhere in the world has terrorism been crushed and destroyed using only force. “Destroying terrorism is not a crime” the […]

Constitutional Reforms in Sri Lanka: What was asked for, What was promised and What is going to be offered?

In Sri Lankan politics, things oftentimes turn topsy-turvy. When people asked for lower prices for basic food items, government lowers prices of luxury cars with absolutely feeble argument that the latter would in turn benefit people. The same thing appears to be unfolding in the sphere of constitutional reforms. In the last Parliamentary Election, one […]

Hand Washing

Murder cannot be hidden, bodies decompose but skeletons remain; certainly they can be washed from beach into sea and stripped clean by carnivorous fish yet the panel requires just a few examples, sufficient to flesh out a theory of mass slaughter; satellite shots will be investigated abroad and conversations conducted with survivors of precarious boats […]

Why does humanitarianism often fail to achieve its goals?

‘International responsibility for the alleviation of suffering is one of the most noble of human goals. Nobility of aim does not however confer immunity from sociological analysis or ethical critique’ (De Waal, 1997: 65) Broadly speaking, humanitarianism refers to an ethic of kindness and sympathy extended universally and impartially to all of humanity. Those who […]

Human rights: Hackneyed or heightened in post-war Sri Lanka?

My conversation with Lakshan Dias, Programme Manager, Centre for Human Rights and Development, was pegged to the issue of human rights in post-war Sri Lanka. Lakshan was in the news recently when he appeared for Sarah Malanie Perera, an author taken in custody over bizarre circumstances. While we touched on this specific case, the interview […]

Hard Talk

Many readers may have seen if not read about Defence Secretary Gothabhaya Rajapaksa’s interview with Stephen Sackur of the BBC HardTalk programme in which he calls Sarath Fonseka a liar and threatens to hang him for his position on a war crimes investigation. Local opinion, not surprisingly, given the current political context, has been divided […]

On Replacing the Sun-God

The Sun God disappeared from the scene in May, 2009 killed by advancing army units, not clear which brave soldier pulled the trigger, for some reason government has kept quiet about circumstances, but other magicians in splendid whites are raising arms to salute on Galle Face Green’s reviewing stand troubling peace-loving citizens. They stand before […]

Should we prosecute crimes against humanity?

It must be acknowledged that international law, both customary and humanitarian, is undergoing significant changes with regard to crimes committed during armed conflicts.  Thus it is difficult to assert that international legal measures for dealing with crimes against humanity should be assessed primarily in terms of successful prosecutions given that there is a paucity of […]

Celebrating war victory and banning commemoration of dead civilians: this is “home grown & indigenous” reconciliation and freedom in Sri Lanka?

Today, 18th June 2010, has been declared a public holiday by the government. Many Sri Lankans, especially Sinhalese from the South are expected to respond enthusiastically to the government’s elaborate plans to celebrating the war victory over the LTTE. For several days, citizens in Colombo had to put up with closed roads in preparation. How […]

Superstitions in the 21st century: Of black pottu, politicians and punools

In the black and white photographs of my childhood, my sisters and I look pretty smart, standing to attention under the spreading mango tree which Rajaratnam Uncle took every year to record our development for future reference. But there was one major flaw. We all had hideous black pottus the size of an Orange Barley […]

Sacred Cows and Orbital Dreams in Sri Lanka

It happened 20 years ago, but I still remember the incident. In early 1990, as a young science journalist working for the Asia Technology magazine of Hong Kong, I was being shown around the Pakistani space agency SUPARCO premises in Karachi. At the time, they were readying the country’s first digital communications satellite, Badr 1 […]