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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 […]

Sari

Photo by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai 2009 When Sidath’s mum wore her wedding sari, she would tell her children, ‘the lotus would fully open.’ The large lotus was noticeable because its bright red sequins, dazzling in the light, added the only colour and texture to her otherwise white sari. In what was for twenty five years a […]

Picking numbers from thin air: The government’s lies around reconciliation

Photo courtesy Colombo Gazette A tweet from the government’s official Twitter account around the LLRC National Action Plan noted the following today, #SriLanka has implemented 30% of #LLRC recommendations, @PresRajapaksa tells UN Sec-Gen Ban Ki-moon. @UN_Spokesperson #LKA — LLRC Action (@LLRCAction) May 22, 2014 In February 2014, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister said the following, External […]

Questions, five years on

Image courtesy Tehelka Five years ago the demise of Velupilai Prabhakaran was a fast-spreading secret-on-the-block several days before it was made official and the war was pronounced to have ended. One felt a sense of relief yet mixed with apprehension. Finally terrorism was ended by Mahinda Rajapakse. Will he be statesman enough to take the […]

Good women and bad women of the post-war nation

Photo by Anushka Wijesinha, 2011, via IPS Since the end of war in May 2009, the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government has sought to forge a new overarching Sri Lanka identity inclusive of all ethnic and religious communities. As articulated by the President himself in his first post-war speech to parliament: “the word minorities […]

Writing on the Wall: A Sinhala Prayer in a Tamil Church

When I was walking near the Mulativu beach by around 5.30 this morning, I came across an abandoned Catholic Church. It was in a dilapidated condition. The Church seems to have been used during the war period, at least in the last stages of the war. A new Church, made in concrete, is under construction […]

A response to the critiques of the victory celebrations

Photography by AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, via South China Morning Post “I would ask them to stop a moment, to take the time to listen to our time (we had no other one)…” – Jacques Derrida: text delivered at Althusser’s funeral “Human rights, dissidence, antiracism, SOS-this, SOS-that: these are soft, easy, post coitum historicum ideologies, ‘after the […]

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 […]

Things Seem Better, No?

Photo by AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena The mind tends to disconnect well tread passages during travel. It’s a wonder the simple things that stay with you, things you only notice once you’ve left. To be fair, it was only interesting to me for a moment when I read of the anger of the monks in Colombo. A […]

A ‘victory day’ sketch

Photograph by the author Sri Lanka celebrated that very first victory day one day later than it has been marked in the four years since. It was the 19th of May, 2009. Vellupillai Prabhakaran had been killed the previous day. News of his death had to filter through before celebrations could begin. Ever since, Sri […]

The Five-Year Tongue Twisters

Photo courtesy ISHARA S.KODIKARA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES, via The Global Mail [five times five things to try to say quickly] 1. The misters assisted in shelling these shells on the seashore war, The shells they shelled were not sea-shells, I’m sure. Some of the people they shelled aren’t there any more. And if they shelled the seashore […]

The Single Story of Sri Lanka

Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images via Al Jazeera America In a well-known TED talk, the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie talks of the dangers of the single story.[1] “The single story creates stereotypes,” Adichie says, “and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become […]

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 […]