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Remembering the riots

Image courtesy Thuppahi’s blog June 2013 saw violent clashes between small groups of Sri Lankans at cricket grounds around the UK. Although barely reported by the mainstream media, for members of Voices for Reconciliation (VfR) – a peace-building network that facilitates dialogue within and between every Sri Lankan community in the UK- these altercations served […]

Forgetting Black July

Photo courtesy BBC I was born ten years after Black July. I am a Singhalese. A week or so ago, as the thirty-year anniversary approached, for curiosity’s sake, I did a small experiment. I asked some of my peers a question: “What do you know about Black July?” Of twenty-two Sinhalese, eighteen did not know what […]

Nationhood and National Parks

Photo from tahira’s shenanigans National parks in Sri Lanka that traverse the lines of nature reserves are held in reverence in the Sri Lankan psyche. Ideas of nature reserves in Sri Lanka are often traced back to King Devanmanpiyatissa, having converted to Buddhism came to the realization that all beings have an equal right to […]

The making of ‘The Brothers Shaikh’

When the journalist Peter Savodnik asked me to collaborate with him on making The Brothers Shaikh, I said no. I was scared. This was my home. I knew that if I crossed some invisible line, there would be repercussions. But then I changed my mind. What convinced me was that The Brothers Shaikh was a […]

The perpetual conflict: Part 3

Photo via blackjuly.info The Politics of Identity It seems all too obvious that the regular cycles of violence that have emerged in our recent history since 1915 are distinctly communal in character. Indeed, every battle of every war in our history has always been characterised as those between communities on either side of cultural or […]

The perpetual conflict: Part 2

Photo via blackjuly.info Fault-lines Perhaps it is a tragic coincidence of our time; or maybe it was inevitable given the passage of generations, that we are marking the thirty year anniversary of Black July at the same time as we are approaching a centenary since the communal riots of 1915. With the escalation of religious […]

The perpetual conflict: Part 1

Photo via blackjuly.info The dark clouds of history When I look back, I do not see the black smoke rising, or the cries of hapless countrymen, women and innocent children – victims turning into victimisers, turning into victims – caught in a cycle of violence that has persisted beyond living memory. Whatever I have seen […]

Silk sarees

As I recall “Black July” 1983 on 23rd July 2013, 30 years have quickly passed by, but my memories of  “Black July” remain fresh and intact in my heart. On a Saturday morning, we heard the news about an ambush (13 army soldiers were killed) in Thirunelvely, Jaffna Peninsula on 23rd July 1983. As a […]

Thirty years ago, today

Mullaitivu, Sri Lanka, May 2013. Seshanka Samarajiva for The Picture Press Thirty years ago today, my parents were heroes. Until yesterday, I didn’t even know this. My mother who worked in Fort back then, saw buildings going up in smoke, tyres burning and the chaos. Her Tamil colleagues were given priority office transport and sent home first. […]