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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 […]

Freedom and bondage: Lankans, then and now

Introduction There is a need to question the adequacy and suitability of current conceptions of both ‘human rights’ and ‘secularism’ to meet the challenges of unbridled majoritarianism, which seems perfectly at home within the institutions and procedures of the modern Sri Lankan state. In the first part of this article I propose an alternative vision […]

“The law, this violent thing”: Dissident memory and democratic futures

Image courtesy Lanka Standard Full text of the address by Dr. Vasuki Nesiah, Associate Professor of Practice, New York University, at the 14th Neelan Tiruchelvam memorial lecture on 28 July 2013 at the BMICH. Excerpts published in Ceylon Today. ### In 1999, the year Neelan was assassinated, I was a graduate student in the United […]

Colonizing Childhood and Zionist Pedagogy: Interview With Prof. Nurit Peled-Elhanan

Nurit Peled-Elhanan is a professor of language and education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, peace educator and activist and co-laureate along with late Prof. Izzat Gazzawi of the 2001 Sakharov Prize for Human Rights and the Freedom of Speech awarded by the European parliament. Peled-Elhanan has translated Albert Memmi‘s Le Racisme (1982) and Marguerite […]

A Missing Person in Sri Lanka: Heartfelt Issues & Ground Realities

Image courtesy Salon / AP Photo by Eranga Jayawardena When I was in Sri Lanka from mid-April to early June 2009 I was on holiday with my wife and not able to pursue investigations in any depth. In contrast my sojourn in May-June 2010 focused on a range of studies and travels. One gem of […]

Mixed Messages and Bland Oversimplification in President Rajapaksa’s Independence Day Speech

In a significant act of outreach the Independence Day ceremonies were held in Trincomalee, a provincial city with a pronounced ethnic mix; while President Rajapaksa presented one part of his message in Tamil, repeating what he had said earlier (in English?) and then reiterating the same points in Sinhala. In keeping with the occasion and […]

Parama Weera: What it takes, and what it means

Image credit Ishara S.Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images via The Baltimore Sun The eyes stared expressionlessly back at me from the fifteen small pictures, some clear, and some blurred; reflections that only hinted at the men behind those eyes. But sharp or soft, they all looked so innocuous, so devoid of any indication of what they had once […]

Operation Liberation: 25 years on

The commanders of “Operation Liberation” commonly known as “Vadamarachchi Operation”. From left to right: Lt Col. Vipul Boteju, Lt Col. Sarath Jayawardane, Col. Wijaya Wimalaratne, Brig. Denzil Kobbekaduwa and Maj Gotabaya Rajapakse [1987, Jaffna] Image courtesy Defence.lk Twenty five years ago, on May 26th 1987, the Sri Lankan military forces launched ‘Operation Liberation’, which, at […]

THE SRI LANKAN REPUBLIC AT FORTY: REFLECTIONS ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL PAST AND PRESENT

Image courtesy Daily News Forty years ago this week, at the auspicious time of 12:34 p.m. at the Navarangahala on 22nd May 1972, a new constitution was signed into law, creating the Republic of Sri Lanka. This was the first time in the history of the island that the republican form of state was established, […]

Women Left Behind: Truth Commissioning in Sri Lanka

A mother displaying the photographs of his sons which are missing during the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) session in Trincomalee, December, 3-5, 2010. Photo courtesy Centre for Human Rights The power and promise of national exercises like the LLRC lie in the way that they can access the voices of those who have not […]

Turning Former LTTE Personnel into Sri Lankan Citizens?

Editors note: Also read a response to this article by Valkryie, titled Response to Michael Roberts’ ‘Turning Former LTTE Personnel into Sri Lankan Citizens?’] Whatever the death toll during the last stages of Eelam War IV in 2009 the official government data in that year acknowledged that 11,696 (9078 male and 2024 female)[i] of those who […]

War Crimes Investigations in Sri Lanka: An Unpopular View

“In trying to do good, we have been living beyond our moral resources and have fallen into hypocrisy and self-righteousness” — William V. Cannon, commenting on the Vietnam War, New York Times, February 6, 1966 “Conquer the angry man by love, Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness. Conquer the miser with generosity. Conquer the liar […]

The absence of Patriotism, Pluralism and Cosmopolitanism: ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ in retrospection

ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOGRAPHS Former Sri Lankan child soldier Warnakulasuriya Anthony Sunil Rexy (right) laughs with other inmates as they play earlier this month at a government rehabilitation center in Ambepussa. Original in The Washington Times. The TV programme entitled Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, produced by Channel 4 of the UK, sparked substantial debate and discussion […]

Identities And Borders In South Asia: A View From The Left

Partition, 1947, courtesy The Hindu Introduction From the partition of British India to the civil war in Sri Lanka, the attempt to impose national borders in accordance with ethnic, linguistic or religious identities in South Asia has spawned civil wars and crimes against humanity, resulting in almost unimaginable suffering and bloodshed. This is all the […]

Notes on Possibilities after the UN Report: Including Nationalism and ‘The Geopolitics of Emotion’

Photo courtesy Deborah Philip It was my sense after May 18, 2009 when the LTTE was defeated that Sri Lanka was missing an opportunity to redefine itself as part of a kinder, gentler, global community. Instead it heightened nationalist discourse, extended emergency rule, surveillance and militarization, and devised new forms of censorship. Sri Lanka missed […]