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Did the BBS attack Vijitha Thero again?

Image courtesy BBC Venerable Watareka Vijitha Thero is a Buddhist Monk and the Chief Incumbent of the Rotalawela Mahaweli Maha Viharaya in Mahiyanganaya, in the Uva province. Vijitha Thero is also an elected member of the Mahiyangana Pradeshiya Sabha (a local government council in the Badulla district, in the Uva province), representing the ruling United […]

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 […]

Aluthgama riots and deaths: Vital updates

Photo courtesy BBC Update #3: 7.05am, 176 June 2014 A video with English subtitles of the BBS speech that incited violence in Aluthgama is now on YouTube. Also uploaded to the web photos we received of the scale of violence in Aluthgama. More photos from Sri Lanka’s Foreign Correspondents Association below. Post by Foreign Correspondents' […]

Tiananmen Square, Egg Wash and Tank Man: Reflections after 25 years

AP Photo/Jeff Widener, courtesy The Atlantic‘s terrific photo essay ‘Tiananmen Square, Then and Now‘ In 2009, Canadian author Denise Chong published a book called “Egg on Mao: The Story of an Ordinary Man Who Defaced an Icon and Unmasked a Dictatorship”. The main subject of the book is a friend of mine, exiled Chinese dissident […]

In conversation with Kalana Senaratne: Religiosity, politics and identity in Sri Lanka

Kalana Senaratne is a distinguished columnist and researcher. Readers of Groundviews would be most familiar with his writing on the rise of militant Buddhism in Sri Lanka, though he has written consistently of issues of governance, rights, politics and religiosity since 2009. We caught up on TV recently to talk about at greater depth and […]

Celebrating 5 years of Post-War Conflict

Photography by DushiYanthini Kanagasabapathipillai Kiru is a soft spoken but hard-nosed activist from Jaffna. He and I both attended the opening ceremony of the recently concluded World Conference on Youth (WCY) in Hambantota, and he and I both watched as the President got up on stage and spoke about the eradication of terrorists, and of […]

BRASSED OFF

PTI Photo, via The New Indian Express In 2014, the year when Bollywood’s most popular ‘item’ song featured an Indo-Canadian porn star lip-syncing a song called ‘Baby Doll’, India elected a conservative Hindu chauvinist as its prime minister. Narendra Modi’s extraordinary ascent to power from humble party worker to a national icon of communal violence […]

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 […]

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 […]

The hunt for the missing

Photo by AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, via The New Indian Express In its 2012 report the International Committee of the Red Cross said was is still tracing 16,090 missing people in Sri Lanka. Those are merely the cases where families have requested the ICRC’s help. Very many others are not documented. By no means all the […]

Launch of Special Edition: The end of war in Sri Lanka, five years on

Photograph by the author In the corner of my room, there’s a large air-tight plastic bag I open once a year, and occasionally glance at with mixed emotions. It contains, carefully folded, all the newspapers I could buy on 19th May 2009. Those who tried to buy a newspaper on this day may recall how difficult it was. Almost all […]

Women and Children: The Cutting Edge of International Law

Photo by UN/Myriam Asmani, via World Education Blog The Grotius Lecture 2014[1] PREFACE Sometime at the end of 2011, while I was still the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, I met an ambassador from an Asian country just before a United Nations Security Council meeting on children […]

The arrest, detention and torture of Tamils in post-war Sri Lanka

Image from The Anti-Torture Initiative There is an alarming trend in the Sri Lankan security forces operation, of arresting the family members of suspects and keeping them as hostages in detention camps. Irrespective of their age, gender and connection to those suspects, the family members are kept under arrest/ detention most notably in the infamous […]