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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 […]

From shanty to home : Myth vs reality of Colombo’s Urban Regeneration Project

Photo by Abdul-Halik Azeez, courtesy The Picture Press The ambitious Urban Regeneration Project (URP) launched by the Ministry of Defense and Urban Development aims to transform Colombo into a world-class destination for tourism and investment. Central to this eliminating “shanties, slums and other dilapidated housing from the city of Colombo by resettlement of the families […]

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 […]

Stop blaming the victims

Photo by Thyagi Ruwanpathirana In the weeks that have passed since 6-15 (15th June) when Sri Lanka witnessed one of the worst outbreaks of anti-Muslim violence, the official narrative has been as chilling as the events. The government initially dismissed the violence that has so far claimed at least four lives directly, displaced over 370 […]

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 […]

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 […]

From Black July ’83 to Dark June ’14: A violent peace in Sri Lanka

AFP PHOTO/ Ishara S. KODIKARA via The Straits Times Mobs on the streets, houses being burnt, people being attacked due to their race or religion, some being killed, the law enforcement and security services unable or unwilling to arrest the situation, that describes the streets of Colombo and the rest of the country in July […]

The Muslims of Sri Lanka: A community under siege?

Photo courtesy CNN June 2014 will go down in the annals of Sri Lankan history as a turning point in ethnic relations, with large scale communal violence being unleashed on a most hapless minority. This month saw the worst acts of violence targeted against the country’s second largest minority, the Muslims, since the infamous anti-Tamil […]