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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 […]

Mob disrupts meeting of families of disappeared: Police & Government hound participants

Image courtesy Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai. More photos on her Twitter feed as well as from Marisa de Silva. Families of the disappeared from the Northern Province, gathered in Colombo on 4th August 2014, at 2.30pm, at the Centre for Society&Religion (CSR), which is a Church (Oblates of Mary Immaculate – OMI) run institution situated in the premises […]

SITA MAMI

Photo by La Shawn Pagan via NYC Views and News (A semi fictional account written in 1991 and edited) They had to postpone the funeral by a couple of days. The children wanted to pay their last respects. Flights had to come in from Canada, England, Dubai and Australia. Transport had to be organised. Announcements […]

A TRIUMPH OF HOPE OVER EXPERIENCE? A PRELIMINARY COMMENT ON THE NMSJ’S ROAD MAP

Image by AFP’s Ishara Kodikara courtesy Foreign Correspondents Association Sri Lanka There was a remarkable image in the news recently. It was from the meeting of the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera’s National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) at which a ‘road map’ for the abolition of the executive presidency was launched on 24th July 2014. […]

Relevance of Freedom of Association in 1992 and today: Ratawawi Peramuna and its players

Photo by Pankaj Nangia/Bloomberg News, via The Japan Times Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), are the popular punching bag of the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL), when its actions are challenged by any individual and/or organization. Name-calling, brandishing circulars to warn NGOs and now a draconian law to prevent them from raising public issues has been the […]

The Advisory Council of Experts: A council, a council, my kingdom for a council?

Photo by REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte via Malaysian Insider Some observations are in order on the President’s appointment of an international panel of experts to advise the Commission on Disappearances. The Commission comprising Maxwell Paranagama, Mesdames Ramanathan and Vidyaratne were appointed to look into disappearances. They have held public hearings throughout the north and east and received over […]

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 […]