Archive | Issues RSS feed for this section

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, […]

Colombo International Film Festival: Six Days That Would Change Your World

It is possible that one may find my title to be exaggerated: this is not the first time that we are hearing the words ‘international film festival’ in a Sri Lankan context. Over the years, we have had many events of this nature where films made by non-Sri Lankans were shown together. True, those words […]

Stand Up Against Extremism

Image courtesy NBC News “What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”- —Robert F. Kennedy Africa these days has been battling with EBOLA, a severe, infectious, often […]

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 […]

The conflict between Israel and Gaza: Silence of UN and US led world

Photography via Slate On again and off again ceasefires, rocket launches, bombings and killings involving Israel and Gaza dominate television news at this time. When the indirect talks between the two sides fail in Cairo, the military campaigns restart and the destruction caused by Israeli bombings in Gaza is there for all of us to […]

Remembering 1994: Violence interrupted, democracy restored

Photo courtesy Club Madrid May 2014 marked the fifth anniversary of the brutal end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, amidst massive human rights violations by rival armies that killed thousands of civilians. While many Sri Lankans felt relieved to be free of the fear of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, communalism has since been […]

Asylum seekers & refugees in Sri Lanka: rubbish to throw out or persons to take care of?

Photo courtesy The Economist When asylum seekers come to Sri Lanka, I feel proud to be a Sri Lankan. Because they have thought we, Sri Lankans, would show our love, care and concern for them and protect them at the time they needed it most – such as when face death threats and can’t practice […]

Prioritising Truth in Post-War Sri Lanka

Photo courtesy Daily Maverick “How do we keep the past alive without becoming its prisoner? How do we forget it without risking its repetition in the future?” Ariel Dorfman, ‘Death and the Maiden’ The Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman poses these questions in his play Death and the Maiden after witnessing massive human rights violations in […]

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 […]

Is Sri Lanka sinking in to an abyss of racism and apartheid?

Photo by Shilpa Samaratunge Two months since the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) inspired anti Muslim attack in Aluthgama took place causing scores of damage, destruction and death to the livelihood, properties and life of the Muslim community, evidence is emerging that the attack is not spontaneous but a well orchestrated plan to attack Muslims and to […]

When press releases become propaganda

How the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2014 was reported in Sri Lankan media reads as a cautionary tale when dealing with press releases. The report was brought to my attention upon reading an ‘article’ in the Daily FT titled ‘World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2014: Sri Lanka top in South […]

Slums, shanties or stories?

Image courtesy Sharni Jayawardena and Tarika Wickremeratne, Walkabout: Slave Island An article titled A slum and shanties free Colombo by 2020 recently published on the infamous defence.lk site notes that, “Our effort is to see a slums and shanties free Colombo in year 2020″ said Mr. Weerasena Adikari, Senior Consultant of Urban Development Authority speaking […]

Verifying user generated content online: Rough guides in Tamil, Sinhala and English

Photo by Thyagi Ruwanpathirana The poor mainstream media coverage of the anti-Muslim riots in Aluthgama in June 2014 was a vacuum filled, in large-part, by content published in real-time and for weeks after the violence on the web and online social media fora. This volume, variety and velocity of perspectives and content, while in the […]