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A former Ambassador speaks out: Interview with Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

In his first interview for public television in Sri Lanka upon his return to the country after his stint as Ambassador to France and UNESCO in Paris, Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka talked about a number of issues related to governance, foreign policy, devolution, the growing Islamophobia in the country, his work with youth and the critique […]

Civil Society Organisations Condemn Anti Muslim Rhetoric and Attacks in Sri Lanka

Image taken from Protect the Buddhism – බුදු දහම ආරක්ෂාකරමු Facebook group. In recent months there has been an increased outpouring of virulent anti-Muslim sentiment by persons claiming to speak for all Sinhala Buddhists. Organized groups led by Buddhist monks have held public meetings, distributed pamphlets, and made press statements. Articles in mainstream Sinhala and English newspapers […]

The Significance of Revolving Funds in the Rehabilitation of those Re-settled

Image courtesy World Bank Most  those who have been  resettled or re-located  in the Wanni District of Sri Lanka  after the war  have found that they have to start life from scratch.  The re-settlement allowance of Rs.25,000 paid to each of these families was found to be hardly enough to do anything meaningful to make […]

Feminism bottom-up: Women’s Support Networks in the North and East

Before, during and after the three decade long conflict, women have played a major role in supporting their families, community support systems, and the economy. This video highlights the stories of women groups that set up successful support networks in the north before the war, through which they addressed various community and livelihood issues, as well […]

“Building the base”: An interview with Sunila Abeysekara about post-war Sri Lanka

Sunila, how do you look at Sri Lanka today?  There are different interpretations ranging from a constitutional dictatorship to clan- run ‘deep state’? And you have decades of human rights activism behind you; you have been to the Geneva Human Rights council for nearly a decade to campaign for rights in Sri Lanka, but today […]

A simple experiment to highlight ingrained racism in Sri Lanka

When Etisalat dreams of a Sri Lanka where everyone is connected, it’s clearly thinking only of the Sinhalese. Why else would the company’s website feature, so prominently, a Lion to depict ‘everyone’ in Sri Lanka? In popular media, corporate marketing and government output, there are numerous other examples of a racism so deeply internalised and […]

ANTI-MUSLIM EXTREMISM & DILEMMAS OF DIVERSITY IN SRI LANKA

Opening presentation at 2nd in Discussion series on Constitutional Reform organized by The Liberal Party) Having come out of the war, a war which I for one am glad the Sri Lankan State won, Sri Lanka as a State and a society had one of several directions in which it could go. Whilst being happy […]

The Sri Lankan President’s Twitter archive and Propaganda 2.0: New challenges for online dissent

The President enters Twitter Last month, the President of Sri Lanka began tweeting officially as @PresRajapaksa. The account is already authenticated by Twitter. Though @PresRajapaksa’s profile notes that “tweets from the President are signed MR.” there is, to date, not a single tweet penned by the President himself. The launch of the account was instructive […]

Sri Lanka’s National Plan of Action vis-à-vis Reconciliation

Image courtesy Centre for Human Rights “Reconciliation requires changes of heart and spirit, as well as social and economic change. It requires symbolic as well as practical action” – Malcolm Fraser Once again Sri Lanka is in the thralls of yet another ethnic conundrum.  It would seem that Sri Lankans like to live dangerously, in […]

Interview with Alistair Burt on Sri Lanka

The BBC’s Charles Haviland interviewed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs Minister Alistair Burt on 1st February 2013, during an official visit to Sri Lanka which saw the Minister meet with a range of stakeholders including the government, TNA and civil society as well as travel to the North of the country. […]

Mixed Messages and Bland Oversimplification in President Rajapaksa’s Independence Day Speech

In a significant act of outreach the Independence Day ceremonies were held in Trincomalee, a provincial city with a pronounced ethnic mix; while President Rajapaksa presented one part of his message in Tamil, repeating what he had said earlier (in English?) and then reiterating the same points in Sinhala. In keeping with the occasion and […]

Is the history of Sri Lanka a tale of two civilisations?

[Parakramabahu (1153-1186) holds the yoke of sovereignty which has only been upheld since by military power and force, rather than by the consent of the people] [Today, the easy co-existence of opposites symbolized by the ballot and bullet walking together] The intellectual gaps that reinforce our intellectual poverty appear readily as we scrutinize the grand […]

Alistair Burt: Archive of Twitter interview on Sri Lanka

Photo credit FCO [Editors note: Also listen to Interview with Alistair Burt on Sri Lanka] On 5th February 2013, UK Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt hosted a live interview session via Twitter. Alistair Burt is Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs. At the time of the interview, the Minister had recently returned […]

The Middle Managers of Ethnic Cleansing

Image via Dawn There is a popular saying amongst the Tamils, “even if one grazes chicken (which is really a non existent work), it should be grazed in the government”.  Employment in the government sector is coveted for the respect it commands in society and the social security it provides to the individual in terms […]