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Life in the Open-Air Panopticon: Surveillance and the Social Isolation of Ex-LTTE Combatants in Sri Lanka

Image from SL Online News “You have to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinised.” – George Orwell, 1984 Talking to former members of the LTTE in Sri Lanka reveals much about their lives and […]

The Five-Year Tongue Twisters

Photo courtesy ISHARA S.KODIKARA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES, via The Global Mail [five times five things to try to say quickly] 1. The misters assisted in shelling these shells on the seashore war, The shells they shelled were not sea-shells, I’m sure. Some of the people they shelled aren’t there any more. And if they shelled the seashore […]

Quo vadis Sri Lanka?

Photo courtesy Amnesty International May 2009 will always be an exclamation mark in Sri Lanka’s history. Many will celebrate the defeat of the Tamil Tigers as a rupture with a brutal past. For others it will mark a period of remembrance as families mourn relatives lost in crossfire or shelling. It was a time of […]

The slow wheels of justice and change: a Sri Lankan case study?

Image via Rights Now Five years since the end of the war, the state of affairs in Sri Lanka is likely to evoke feelings of frustration and despondency for most readers of this series of essays. The military has entrenched itself in the governance of the North and East and continues to suppress Tamil political […]

Attitudinal change necessary to give momentum to the Provincial councils

Image courtesy Sri Lanka Guardian Sri Lanka on the threshold of change needs an overhaul of the entire democratic process and good governance. The three decade old war is over and expectations have been raised for a more tranquil future. People are looking forward to a life enriched by greater equity in society, guided by […]

The Silly Idealist

Photography courtesy Dev Policy Blog Everyone called her a “Silly Idealist”. Some said it fondly, some with contempt, some with anger, and others even with disgust. But, she didn’t care. She truly believed with all her heart, in a one people – a one country. And nobody could deny her that dream. Change would come. […]

Five years on, where we are now: Reconciliation, the Rule of Law and governance

Photo by AP, via VOA News It is five years now after the defeat of the LTTE. As the Government then claimed it marked the end of terrorism and the beginning of a new era of reconciliation and renewal throughout Sri Lanka. The Government’s specific goals were the restoration of peace, rehabilitation of the ravages […]

The National Question: All about State Power

Photograph courtesy PACT S.J.V. Chelvanayakam Memorial Oration, 26 April 2014 I am thankful to the S.J.V. Chelvanayakam Commemoration Committee for inviting me to deliver this memorial oration on the occasion of the 37th death anniversary of S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, Q.C., a revered leader of the Sri Lankan Tamils. I am told that I am only the […]

Continuing Detention of Tamil Women and a Girl Child under the Prevention of Terrorism Act

Image courtesy Sri Lanka Brief In 2009 the government announced that the LTTE has been wiped out from the country with the end of the armed conflict. However, in the past few weeks there have been a number of arrests, including of women under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) supposedly to investigate and counter […]

Making Provincial Administration Work in the North

Photo courtesy Sri Lanka Guardian These days media often speak of conflicts between the center and provincial administration, especially between the Northern Provincial Council’s (NPC’s) Chief Minister (CM) / Members and the Governor of the Province. The CM had been known to me for some time as a gentle neighbor, Judge and the Governor as […]

From Canada to Colombo, can’t stereotype my thing yo

I need a cigarette. In another impulsive moment, I had made the irresponsible decision a few months ago to become a social smoker. I do not particularly know what that means but I figure it would be a good way to force myself to have conversations with strangers on this trip. I also romanticize that […]

Enforced Disappearances in Sri Lanka: 2006-2013

This is a summary of a longer report. Please download it as a PDF here or read it online here. All photos taken and provided by the author. Introduction According to Article 7, paragraph 2(i) of the Rome Statute[1], an Enforced disappearance is defined as “…the arrest, detention or abduction of persons by, or with the […]

Chief Minister Wigneswaran alleges genocide, calls for plebiscite

Photograph courtesy The Independent Mr Akashi was absolutely right when he urged flexibility and reform on the Sri Lankan government and sounded the alarm of serious consequences in Geneva March 2014 (that’s 75 days away, folks) if it failed to shift in the right direction. He did get one thing wrong though. There is neither a […]

The Virtual Library

I have no image of the vault or shelves, or tables with lamps scholars use to consult books. I am seeing the library from a great distance, pleased that the building stands again, imagining donations of contents, the desire to establish pride in the ancient Tamil culture while its language hides outside, speaking to soldiers, […]