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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 […]

Issues of Truth and Accountability: A Private Sector Perspective

Photo by Udhara de Silva The “Third Narrative” reviewed at the Colloquium presents an alternative narrative, of the events of the last stages of the war, and has been developed as a response to the UNHRC resolution of 2014. This is in the wake of the purported conflicting and contradictory accounts of the last stages […]

Colombo Development: A Highway to… a Very Hot Place?

Photo by the author The causes of global climate change are myriad, and not all of them are within our control, but driving down the brand spanking new airport highway the other day, I began to wonder if we’re really even trying to begin with. So, are we in the middle of the monsoon or […]

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, […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

Where have all the young men gone?

All photos by the author. See full set of photos here. Snippets from hearings of the Presidential Commission to investigate into complaints regarding missing persons Sathurukondan, 09/09/1990 Q: Who is the missing person? A: Father, mother, brother, grandmother, grandfather, younger sister, older sister and her three children.  An eerie silence followed these words that was […]

“We the People”: Reflections on Governance and Civic Engagement in Sri Lanka

Deshamanya Professor Nandadasa Kodagoda 17th Memorial Oration August 1, 2014, Sri Lanka Foundation It would not be an exaggeration to say that I was deeply humbled by the invitation to deliver the 17th Deshamanya Professor Nandadasa Kodagoda Memorial Oration. At the outset, let me thank the members of the Nandadasa Kodagoda Memorial Trust for the honor […]