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The Legacy of A New Woman in Our Generation: Sunila Abeysekara (1952-2013)

Photo courtesy New York Times ‘Her discourse, even when ‘theoretical’ or political, is never simple or linear or ‘objectivized’, universalized; she involves her story in history’. – Helene Cixous and Catherine Clement, The Newly Born Woman, 1986. My first meeting with Sunila Abeysekara was unforgettable. It was July 1976 and I was being held at Slave Island […]

Portraits of diversity from Myanmar vital for Sri Lanka

When the British administrator J.S. Furnivall coined the term “plural society” he was talking about colonial Burma to describe the extraordinary diversity of nationalities, ethnicities, races and religions that inhabited its cities. Sixty years ago he wrote, “Bengali Muslims jostled alongside Iraqi Jews and Armenian Christians”. Walking around Yangon’s streets today, you can still experience […]

Urgency of paradigm shift in understanding ‘co-existence’

Image courtesy Gecko Sri Lanka blog Changing socio-political and economic scenarios, post war peace building needs in Sri Lanka and unleashing of anti-Muslim activities by Buddhist extremist groups have prompted discourses on ‘Co-Existence’ an urgent priority for social harmony. The current discourse on Co-Existence as spearheaded by all communities seems ill equipped, un-holistic and inappropriate […]

Healing through humanisation: A reflection on Just Reconciliation

Photo courtesy Sri Lanka Campaign History concealed    An acquaintance returned from a recent visit to Jaffna to announce it as one of the best holidays she had ever had. The hotels were good, the food delicious, there were numerous places to visit and of course the roads were excellent. The oral tradition My recent […]

CBK, Ven. Sobitha, the Uva Polls and the Presidential Stakes

Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images via The Republic Square The Uva provincial council elections campaign in the Badulla and Moneragala districts, are taking on an intensity that was missing even in the recent Western and Southern Provincial Council elections, not least because the UNP’s young firebrand Chief Minister Candidate former MP, Harin Fernando has breathed […]

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 […]

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 […]