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The National Question: All about State Power

Photograph courtesy PACT S.J.V. Chelvanayakam Memorial Oration, 26 April 2014 I am thankful to the S.J.V. Chelvanayakam Commemoration Committee for inviting me to deliver this memorial oration on the occasion of the 37th death anniversary of S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, Q.C., a revered leader of the Sri Lankan Tamils. I am told that I am only the […]

Theocratic fascism in Sri Lanka

Photo courtesy Today I’ve heard of home invasions but this is the first time I’ve watched a Ministry invasion. The country watched while the BBS swarmed into Rishad Bathiudeen’s Ministry in search of missing monk, to wit, Ven Watarekke Vijitha thero. Was the latter a suspect in a case of murder, rape, child molestation or […]

Yet another fleeting opportunity

Photo courtesy Xinhua Anxiety dominates the post-Geneva political climate in Sri Lanka, the result of a heady mixture of different reasons, which sees the ruling regime pursuing short-sighted solutions in order to neutralise. March turned out to be an eventful month for Sri Lanka domestically and internationally, with the passage of the UNHRC resolution, the […]

Right royal battle: The BBS vs. Bathiudeen

Photo courtesy Colombo Gazette The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a recent and chilling phenomena of Sri Lanka’s post war political landscape is locked in a battle with Minister Rishard Bathiudeen, leader of the All Ceylon Muslim Congress (ACMC), a constituent party of the ruling UPFA. The Minister accuses the BBS of desecrating the Holy Koran, […]

The President and his apparatchiks: Loving children most, their toys even more?

Photo by AP, courtesy The Hindu The other day, killing time in the airport lounge, I picked up the Sunday Observer. Not something I do on a regular basis, never having been able to reciprocate the attention the state controlled media has paid to me over the years. On the front page was an article […]

Toy Pistol Local Governance in Hambantota

Image courtesy Nidahasa The country woke up a few days ago to news that a group of opposition UNP MPs on a fact finding visit to the new airport and port in Hambanthota had come under attack from goon squads. Subsequently, photographs showed His Worship (the UPFA) Lord Mayor of Hambantota, Eraj Ravindra Fernando, chasing […]

The ‘Mad Monk’ Phenomenon: BBS as the underside of Sinhala-Buddhism

Photo courtesy Today The marauding Buddhist monks, who appear to be tied to a long political leash, have run out of control. They need to be stopped. But it is equally necessary to take a cold look at the complexity of the phenomenon that groups such as Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) have come to represent. […]

Calling Jayantha Dhanapala a liar, or the tragedy of Lankan public life

Photo courtesy CTBTO On March 16, 2014, Colombo Telegraph, a UK-based online news outlet published an article entitled ‘Jayantha Dhanapala Is A Liar; Caught Lying Over Silence On Colombo Telegraph Blocking’. This article was a follow-up of an earlier article on the failure of Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, a member of the Board of Directors of […]

Women and Children: The Cutting Edge of International Law

Photo by UN/Myriam Asmani, via World Education Blog The Grotius Lecture 2014[1] PREFACE Sometime at the end of 2011, while I was still the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, I met an ambassador from an Asian country just before a United Nations Security Council meeting on children […]

The arrest, detention and torture of Tamils in post-war Sri Lanka

Image from The Anti-Torture Initiative There is an alarming trend in the Sri Lankan security forces operation, of arresting the family members of suspects and keeping them as hostages in detention camps. Irrespective of their age, gender and connection to those suspects, the family members are kept under arrest/ detention most notably in the infamous […]

UNHRC Resolution: To be reviewed with objectivity

Image courtesy Rightsnow “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crises, maintain their neutrality”. John F. Kennedy   The D day in March has passed us by having placed a heavy hand as expected.  The intensely canvassed process for a yes or no to the resolution has ended […]

Remembering Sithie Tiruchelvam

Photo courtesy The Hindu Writing a tribute to Sithie Tiruchelvam is not an easy task. Sithie was an intensely private person who was averse to public, over-the-top displays of emotion and sentimentality. I am aware that a piece that says little about her private persona could sound impersonal, even clinical. I have therefore attempted to […]

Dangerous defeat in Geneva

Image courtesy Wikipedia “The passage of the resolution marks a historic moment…” Having lost the crucial vote in Geneva and opened the door to an international investigation, Sri Lanka is now in new territory. Sri Lankans saw who their real friends were at the UNHRC on Thursday night. Our friends, Pakistan, Cuba, China, Russia — […]

CBK takes on religious intolerance in Sri Lanka

Photo courtesy Dinouk Colombage President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has since her graceful retirement from office more than eight years ago after the completion of a constitutionally mandated two term limit, busied herself with an impressive portfolio of issues internationally, issues which are also crucial to our South Asia region. Her status as an elder stateswoman, […]

Video of Ruki Fernando’s interview with the BBC

Photo by Pat Roque/AP, courtesy The Guardian The recent arrest of human rights activists Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen Mahesan under Sri Lanka’s draconian PTA law resulted in widespread condemnation within Sri Lanka and from the international community. As we noted in a previous article, “this is happening when deliberations at the Human Rights Council […]