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Where In-fighting generates Fervour & Power: ISIS Today, LTTE yesterday

Image courtesy NBC News “Division and in-fighting will sap and weaken any organisation or ideological current.” This formulation (mine) may seem a common-sense dictum. Let me challenge this notion with another dictum: “fratricidal militant fission sparks dedication, skill and organisational power.” The recent, explosive expansion in Syria and Iraq of Sunni militants under the banner […]

Five years of vanquished journalism: A self critique

Image courtesy Grassrooted For nearly three decades, it remained Sri Lanka’s biggest story. Over the years, the resplendent island became known, not for its human development indicators or as a vibrant democracy, but as the birth place of the deadly Liberation Tigers – and what fuelled its birth, growth and its destructive impact on the […]

The BBS and a catalyst for a Buddhist Muslim conflict

Photo by Shilpa Samaratunge The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), Sri Lanka’s catalyst for opening up a new Buddhist verses Muslim conflict, perhaps due to boredom now that a thirty year civil war has ended, follows more by design than accident a classic military strategy of an escalation or advancement and then a tactical retreat due […]

Photos around questions I couldn’t answer: Four days after the riots

All photos by the author At journalism school I was taught to get as close as possible without getting involved. Go in, get the story, don’t become the story, don’t interfere with the story. These rules played like a soundtrack on loop in my mind when I visited Aluthgama and Beruwela, four days after the […]

From shanty to home : Myth vs reality of Colombo’s Urban Regeneration Project

Photo by Abdul-Halik Azeez, courtesy The Picture Press The ambitious Urban Regeneration Project (URP) launched by the Ministry of Defense and Urban Development aims to transform Colombo into a world-class destination for tourism and investment. Central to this eliminating “shanties, slums and other dilapidated housing from the city of Colombo by resettlement of the families […]

“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 […]

Responding to Aluthgama

Photography by Thyagi Ruwanpathirana Responding to Aluthgama Imagine a country, an island in the Indian Ocean. Let’s call it Serendib (ooh, the irony). Imagine further: several groups, including those named Limat, Milsum and Alahnis, populate the island. A long war ended there some five or so years ago. Nevertheless, peace gives it a pass. Just […]

Stop blaming the victims

Photo by Thyagi Ruwanpathirana In the weeks that have passed since 6-15 (15th June) when Sri Lanka witnessed one of the worst outbreaks of anti-Muslim violence, the official narrative has been as chilling as the events. The government initially dismissed the violence that has so far claimed at least four lives directly, displaced over 370 […]

Proud Inheritors or Petty Contractors? Understanding the BBS phenomenon in Sri Lankan politics

Photo by Thyagi Ruwanpathirana The speech delivered by Ven. Galaboda-atté Gnanasara at a public meeting in the Aluthgama on 14 June 2014 is broadly considered as the primary cause that triggered the subsequent rampage and violence in that area. Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), the organisation of which Ven. Gnanasara is the Secretary General, is squarely accused […]

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 […]

The Aluthgama Atrocities: Lessons for Religion-engagement or estrangement

Photo by Thyagi Ruwanpathirana The recent spate of senseless attacks on the Muslim community was brought about by the convergence of a chronic breakdown of law and order, manipulative politics and the sinister provocation of religious intolerance. It is to our collective shame that these trends were allowed to fester into violence and death in […]

A full frontal military assault on Mangala Samaraweera

Image courtesy Sunday Leader Late last week we witnessed the scenario where the Army spokesman, a brigadier in rank, made the unusual claim that current UNP spokesman and former Rajapakse Administration Foreign Minister, MP Mangala Samaraweera had compromised national security by alleging at a press conference, that state intelligence agencies or at least some intelligence […]