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Ramaphosa and Government’s Policy shift on Reconciliation

Image courtesy Daily Maverick Several weeks after Cyril Ramaphosa, Vice President of South Africa and Special Envoy of President Zuma to Sri Lanka, arrived in Sri Lanka to assist us in our search for durable post war peace and reconciliation, it is possible to observe several tactical moves by the Rajapakse Administration with regard to […]

Where In-fighting generates Fervour & Power: ISIS Today, LTTE yesterday

Image courtesy NBC News “Division and in-fighting will sap and weaken any organisation or ideological current.” This formulation (mine) may seem a common-sense dictum. Let me challenge this notion with another dictum: “fratricidal militant fission sparks dedication, skill and organisational power.” The recent, explosive expansion in Syria and Iraq of Sunni militants under the banner […]

Five years of vanquished journalism: A self critique

Image courtesy Grassrooted For nearly three decades, it remained Sri Lanka’s biggest story. Over the years, the resplendent island became known, not for its human development indicators or as a vibrant democracy, but as the birth place of the deadly Liberation Tigers – and what fuelled its birth, growth and its destructive impact on the […]

Photos around questions I couldn’t answer: Four days after the riots

All photos by the author At journalism school I was taught to get as close as possible without getting involved. Go in, get the story, don’t become the story, don’t interfere with the story. These rules played like a soundtrack on loop in my mind when I visited Aluthgama and Beruwela, four days after the […]

Responding to Aluthgama

Photography by Thyagi Ruwanpathirana Responding to Aluthgama Imagine a country, an island in the Indian Ocean. Let’s call it Serendib (ooh, the irony). Imagine further: several groups, including those named Limat, Milsum and Alahnis, populate the island. A long war ended there some five or so years ago. Nevertheless, peace gives it a pass. Just […]

Proud Inheritors or Petty Contractors? Understanding the BBS phenomenon in Sri Lankan politics

Photo by Thyagi Ruwanpathirana The speech delivered by Ven. Galaboda-atté Gnanasara at a public meeting in the Aluthgama on 14 June 2014 is broadly considered as the primary cause that triggered the subsequent rampage and violence in that area. Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), the organisation of which Ven. Gnanasara is the Secretary General, is squarely accused […]

The Riots of June 2014 and Pogrom of July 1983

Photo by Thyagi Ruwanpathirana It is unlikely that there is anyone living who remembers the anti -Muslim riots of 1915. In any case, apart from the fact that most of the victims were Muslims and most of the perpetrators were Sinhalese, there are few similarities between the riots of 1915 and 2014. In1915 the British […]

The Aluthgama Atrocities: Lessons for Religion-engagement or estrangement

Photo by Thyagi Ruwanpathirana The recent spate of senseless attacks on the Muslim community was brought about by the convergence of a chronic breakdown of law and order, manipulative politics and the sinister provocation of religious intolerance. It is to our collective shame that these trends were allowed to fester into violence and death in […]

A full frontal military assault on Mangala Samaraweera

Image courtesy Sunday Leader Late last week we witnessed the scenario where the Army spokesman, a brigadier in rank, made the unusual claim that current UNP spokesman and former Rajapakse Administration Foreign Minister, MP Mangala Samaraweera had compromised national security by alleging at a press conference, that state intelligence agencies or at least some intelligence […]

Sri Lanka redefines “curfew” in Beruwela

Lest we forget, the Police imposed a curfew in Beruwela and Aluthgama on 15th June in an effort to stop the violence against Muslims in the area. The curfew in Aluthgama was imposed at 6.45pm according to the Government’s official news portal. A news bulletin broadcast at 9pm on TV featured Police Media Spokesperson SSP […]

Ven. Wataraka Thero’s last statement before his arrest (with English subtitles)

Groundviews has already published a detailed record of the violence the BBS has meted out on Ven. Wataraka Thero, the Chief Incumbent of the Rotalawela Mahaweli Maha Viharaya in Mahiyanganaya, in the Uva province. Ven. Wataraka Thero was recently found injured and bound in a ditch near Colombo recently. The Police later claimed the injuries were self-inflicted, and […]

Elusive Economic Peace Dividend in Sri Lanka: ALL that glitters is not gold

Photo courtesy IPS Prof. N.Balakrishnan Memorial Oration delivered in Colombo on 21st June 2014 Introduction It is five years since the decisive end of the civil war in May 2009. The government’s approach to resolving the long festering ethnic conflict in the country has been reconciliation and peace through economic development. Although I do have […]