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In conversation with Nimalka Fernando: Life as an activist in Sri Lanka

Nimalka Fernando is one of Sri Lanka’s best known human rights activists and the President of the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR). Nimalka’s activism has in recent years generated violent pushback from the Government – prime time radio programmes on State owned channels have openly and with impunity discussed ways […]

Dr. Rajani Thiranagama Commemoration on 20th and 21st September 2014

I was a public servant when Rajani was assassinated by an LTTE agent 25 years ago. I took private leave, travelled to Jaffna at my own expense and participated in the 31st day Commemoration. She was a leading member of the UTHR (Jaffna branch) and coauthored, with Dr.Rajan Hoole, Dr. Daya Somasundaram and Dr. K.Sritharan, […]

William Blake, Buddhism and Human Rights – value of praxis over ideology

[William Blake 1757-1827 demonstrated through his art and poetry how opposite views were actually relative and dependent on each other and that they were reconcilable once we overcame the mental trap of ‘abstraction’ and solidification, the act of removing something out of its context and turning it into an absolute] [The Asokan pillar is a […]

New evidence of torture by Sri Lanka’s security forces

An ethnic Tamil survivor of alleged torture at the hands of Sri Lankan security forces poses for a photograph in London, October 2012. Photo by Will Baxter. New evidence has emerged that Sri Lanka’s security forces have perpetrated acts of torture and sexual violence against ethnic Tamils as recently as last year, according to a UK-based […]

INFOGRAPHIC: Religious Violence in Post-War Sri Lanka

Religious tensions have been exacerbated in post-war Sri Lanka, contrary to claims by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) that attacks against places of religious worship are isolated incidents. In Mach 2013, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) published a report highlighting concerns about violence and intolerance against all religious communities in the country. The […]

Engaging with Civil Society

Photo courtesy Business Today Recently, the media reported that the Defence Secretary held a meeting in the Defence Ministry with a number of NGOs who had worked with the GOSL and the Commonwealth Foundation on the People’s Forum which was part of the activities of the 2013 Colombo CHOGM.  These NGOs included representatives from the […]

INFOGRAPHIC: Presidential Commission on Missing Persons

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons (the Commission), was established over a year ago on 15th August 2013 by Gazette 1823/42. The sole purpose of the Commission was to investigate and inquire into cases of disappearances in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. In March 2014, the […]

Sunila Abeysekera Commemoration: Speech by Nimalka Fernando

State Responsibility to Protect Human Rights Defenders Sunila Abeysekera Commemoration, September 9th 2014 We as individual human rights activists, as well as  the human rights community as a whole greatly miss Sunila today.   As we struggle to grapple with myriads of contemporary challenges we miss her indomitable character, and  energy.  As we gather today to […]

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 […]

Disappearances and the struggle for truth and justice

Photo courtesy Human Rights Solidarity 30th August is the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Tens of thousands have disappeared in Sri Lanka in last few decades[1]. On this day, families of disappearances in Sri Lanka will gather in Vavuniya in the North, to once again publicly appeal to find their loved ones, […]

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 […]

Bishop of Mannar’s letter to Presidential Commission on Missing Persons

Photo courtesy Tamilnet. Download this letter from here. It can also be viewed online – Page 1 and Page 2. ### The Chairman and Commissioners, Presidential Commission on Missing Persons Dear Commissioners, Submission Regarding My position with regard to appearing before the above Commission in Mannar I am thankful for your very kind visit to […]

A blow-by-blow commentary of the mob attack on families of disappeared

Image courtesy Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai. More photos on her Twitter feed as well as from Marisa de Silva. 3.15pm: On the 4th of August a private sharing of experiences session organized by civil society inside the Centre for Society and Religion [CSR] is disrupted by an organized gang led by what appeared to be a group of Buddhist monks. […]