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CBK, Ven. Sobitha, the Uva Polls and the Presidential Stakes

Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images via The Republic Square The Uva provincial council elections campaign in the Badulla and Moneragala districts, are taking on an intensity that was missing even in the recent Western and Southern Provincial Council elections, not least because the UNP’s young firebrand Chief Minister Candidate former MP, Harin Fernando has breathed […]

FAQ on the UN Human Rights Council Resolution (2014) on Sri Lanka

Image courtesy Rights Now A UN investigation into allegations of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka is about to commence. As an aid to public discussion, Friday Forum sets out below information to help the general public understand the legal basis, origin, nature and scope of this inquiry. 1. What is the Human Rights Council? The Human Rights Council (HRC) is the […]

Issues of Truth and Accountability: A Private Sector Perspective

Photo by Udhara de Silva The “Third Narrative” reviewed at the Colloquium presents an alternative narrative, of the events of the last stages of the war, and has been developed as a response to the UNHRC resolution of 2014. This is in the wake of the purported conflicting and contradictory accounts of the last stages […]

Colombo Development: A Highway to… a Very Hot Place?

Photo by the author The causes of global climate change are myriad, and not all of them are within our control, but driving down the brand spanking new airport highway the other day, I began to wonder if we’re really even trying to begin with. So, are we in the middle of the monsoon or […]

Colombo International Film Festival: Six Days That Would Change Your World

It is possible that one may find my title to be exaggerated: this is not the first time that we are hearing the words ‘international film festival’ in a Sri Lankan context. Over the years, we have had many events of this nature where films made by non-Sri Lankans were shown together. True, those words […]

Stand Up Against Extremism

Image courtesy NBC News “What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”- —Robert F. Kennedy Africa these days has been battling with EBOLA, a severe, infectious, often […]

International Human Rights: Dispelling the Myths

Photo courtesy JDS A Talk given at the Colombo Club, August 2014 Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today. I do so with trepidation since speaking to captains of industry is quite outside my zone of comfort. My brother Indrajit Coomaraswamy, with whom you are more familiar, once told me in the […]

UN Investigators for Sri Lanka, Show Your Work!

Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi, AFP/Getty Image via Al Jazeera If the U.N. wants to promote reconciliation in Sri Lanka, it has to show its work.  U.N. investigators should use tools and methods that are transparent, replicable, and open to scrutiny by all.  Every Sri Lankan, both inside and outside the country, deserves the chance to […]

The Spectre of Evictions and Land Grabs in Colombo

Photo by Abdul-Halik Azeez courtesy The Picture Press There is a new energy to the beautification and development of urban areas in Colombo with a surge in construction, reconstruction and opening up of new spaces.  The other side to this is the demolition of private properties and the eviction of thousands of people. In August […]

Remembering 1994: Violence interrupted, democracy restored

Photo courtesy Club Madrid May 2014 marked the fifth anniversary of the brutal end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, amidst massive human rights violations by rival armies that killed thousands of civilians. While many Sri Lankans felt relieved to be free of the fear of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, communalism has since been […]

Asylum seekers & refugees in Sri Lanka: rubbish to throw out or persons to take care of?

Photo courtesy The Economist When asylum seekers come to Sri Lanka, I feel proud to be a Sri Lankan. Because they have thought we, Sri Lankans, would show our love, care and concern for them and protect them at the time they needed it most – such as when face death threats and can’t practice […]

Prioritising Truth in Post-War Sri Lanka

Photo courtesy Daily Maverick “How do we keep the past alive without becoming its prisoner? How do we forget it without risking its repetition in the future?” Ariel Dorfman, ‘Death and the Maiden’ The Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman poses these questions in his play Death and the Maiden after witnessing massive human rights violations in […]

Is Sri Lanka sinking in to an abyss of racism and apartheid?

Photo by Shilpa Samaratunge Two months since the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) inspired anti Muslim attack in Aluthgama took place causing scores of damage, destruction and death to the livelihood, properties and life of the Muslim community, evidence is emerging that the attack is not spontaneous but a well orchestrated plan to attack Muslims and to […]

When press releases become propaganda

How the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2014 was reported in Sri Lankan media reads as a cautionary tale when dealing with press releases. The report was brought to my attention upon reading an ‘article’ in the Daily FT titled ‘World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2014: Sri Lanka top in South […]