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To be or not to be gay – Frangipani and the travails of homosexuals in Sri Lanka

Photo courtesy Galaxy Mag Years ago, when only heterosexuality was legal in Australia men or women having sex with members of their own gender was a serious offence. Underpinning the law was a gamut of attitudes that cast homosexuals in the guise of abnormal, unnatural and depraved predators who deserved contempt at best and death […]

#icanChangeSL & #wecanChangeSL: Shaping a new Sri Lanka

Engage with this campaign in Tamil (புதிய இலங்கையை வடிவமைப்போம்…) or Sinhala (ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ අනාගතය හැඩගැස්වීම සදහා…) too! ### The Presidential poll of 8 January 2015 inspired the largest number of voters in Sri Lanka’s history to turn out to elect a new president. The #IVotedSL campaign, which went viral in the lead up to and on the day […]

Remembering Lasantha six years on: Launch of photo-essays on Sri Lanka

Photo by Abdul-Halik Azeez Journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge‘s murder on 8th January 2009 was utterly horrible and yet, even more unforgettable was the Rajapaksa government’s reaction to it. Lasantha’s last editorial, published posthumously, didn’t mince words. It is well known that I was on two occasions brutally assaulted, while on another my house was sprayed with machine-gun fire. […]

Vulnerable Guests: A Reflection on social hospitality

The Government’s decision to arbitrarily deport Pakistani refugee-asylum seekers is unacceptable and wrong. Local stress Asylum seekers usually leave their home countries due to fear or deprivation, or both. The Pakistanis on our soil are mostly from religious minorities (Christians and Islamic sects) who face immense hardship and discrimination under the harsh “Blasphemy Law”; questioned […]

Liking violence: A study of hate speech on Facebook in Sri Lanka

Photo courtesy Sri Lanka Brief The Centre for Policy Alternatives, the institutional anchor of Groundviews, released today a report co-authored by Shilpa Samaratunge and I on hate speech online, looking at Facebook in particular. The report is the first in Sri Lanka to focus on hate and dangerous speech in online fora, contextualising the growth […]

The Legacy of A New Woman in Our Generation: Sunila Abeysekara (1952-2013)

Photo courtesy New York Times ‘Her discourse, even when ‘theoretical’ or political, is never simple or linear or ‘objectivized’, universalized; she involves her story in history’. – Helene Cixous and Catherine Clement, The Newly Born Woman, 1986. My first meeting with Sunila Abeysekara was unforgettable. It was July 1976 and I was being held at Slave Island […]

SITA MAMI

Photo by La Shawn Pagan via NYC Views and News (A semi fictional account written in 1991 and edited) They had to postpone the funeral by a couple of days. The children wanted to pay their last respects. Flights had to come in from Canada, England, Dubai and Australia. Transport had to be organised. Announcements […]

“Where are the Sri Lankan Female Scientists?” A Case of Democratizing Science

Photo by Reuters, courtesy International Business Times In recent decades, many researchers, education specialists and policy advocates have paid increasing attention to the issue of gender bias in science. While several successful attempts have been made to increase female participation in science, a dearth of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields still […]

The Riots of June 2014 and Pogrom of July 1983

Photo by Thyagi Ruwanpathirana It is unlikely that there is anyone living who remembers the anti -Muslim riots of 1915. In any case, apart from the fact that most of the victims were Muslims and most of the perpetrators were Sinhalese, there are few similarities between the riots of 1915 and 2014. In1915 the British […]

IS THE BBS THE BOSS?

Photo courtesy Today There are scarier things, worse things, than Black July ’83. Aluthgama signaled the possibility of such things. The sequence of events, the lethal violence, the horror of Aluthgama were reminiscent of July ’83 –and to go by Tarzie Vittachchi’s Emergency ’58, the anti-Tamil riots of that year. That is the element of dark […]

The Limits of Tolerance

Photo courtesy Today There is a limit to tolerance, and this is it. In its short history as an independent republic, Sri Lanka has seen more bloodshed than seems fair. Many of our citizens have been active participants in the bombing, burning, shooting, hacking and torturing of each other, and many more have supported this both […]