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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 […]

Revaluation of Values: Applying the Pullman Principle to Post-War Sri Lanka

Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images via Al Jazeera America This past couple of weeks I’ve been rereading Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. I first picked up ‘Northern Lights’ (Book 1) in 2003 while at University in Scotland. My MPhil Thesis (completed in 2004) starts with a quote from ‘The Amber Spyglass’ (Book 3), and […]

The Search for a Political Solution Five Years after the War

Photo via Ministry of Mass Media and Information “The sovereignty of Sri Lanka is very much intact. And we want it to remain intact. We are Sri Lankans… And we don’t want Sri Lanka’s sovereignty to be impacted upon.” R. Sampanthan (Leader of the TNA), Al-Jazeera, 26 March 2014 Sri Lanka’s post-war politics has come […]

Ideological Cancers within the Sinhala Universe: Roadblocks in the Path of Reconciliation

Photo by REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte via Channel 4 Way back in the 1970s the manner in which Anagārika Dharmapāla conflated the concepts of “Ceylonese” and “Sinhalese” in one of his public exhortations (Guruge 1965) led me to argue that this was a powerful tendency in Sinhalese nationalist thinking and that this unexamined tendency was a major problem […]

The Silly Idealist

Photography courtesy Dev Policy Blog Everyone called her a “Silly Idealist”. Some said it fondly, some with contempt, some with anger, and others even with disgust. But, she didn’t care. She truly believed with all her heart, in a one people – a one country. And nobody could deny her that dream. Change would come. […]

Is reconciliation achievable without separation in Sri Lanka?

Image credit Steve Chao, via Al Jazeera “The general population doesn’t know what is happening and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know” – Noam Chomsky Introduction In the article Post-War Sri Lanka: Way Forward or More of the Same? published in May 2010, I concluded: If peaceful coexistence through power sharing is not achievable, the […]

Launch of Special Edition: The end of war in Sri Lanka, five years on

Photograph by the author In the corner of my room, there’s a large air-tight plastic bag I open once a year, and occasionally glance at with mixed emotions. It contains, carefully folded, all the newspapers I could buy on 19th May 2009. Those who tried to buy a newspaper on this day may recall how difficult it was. Almost all […]

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, […]

Sinhalese and their fear of freedom

Anagarika Dharmapala, A.E. Goonesinha and C.W.W. Kannangara, three of the radical champions of the early 20th century who were ‘managed’ by the conservative leaders who eventually negotiated ‘freedom’ from the British. With the displacement from Rajarata, the heart, soul and body of their ancient culture in the 13th century the Sinhalese settled for safety over […]

A Guide to Colombo for CHOGM 2013

Image courtesy AP, via Gulf News Potemkin City, with a difference: A Guide to Colombo for CHOGM 2013 Your Excellency, Distinguished Delegate, Dear Visitor, Ayubowan! Vanakkam! Welcome to Colombo!  You may have heard of how General Potemkin primed Crimea for the pleasure of Catherine the Great and her foreign ambassadors on their southern trip in […]

Mohammed Irshad’s story and the banality of violence in the Rajapaksa regime

[Editors note: Also read I’m not mad to tie myself to a tree by the author, which appeared in the Ceylon Today newspaper.] Giving up a pensionable government job as a Samurdhi animator, Mohammed Irshad fled Sri Lanka began work as a bakery employee in Saudi Arabia. This is his story. Mohammed Irshad’s name may […]

Forgetting Black July

Photo courtesy BBC I was born ten years after Black July. I am a Singhalese. A week or so ago, as the thirty-year anniversary approached, for curiosity’s sake, I did a small experiment. I asked some of my peers a question: “What do you know about Black July?” Of twenty-two Sinhalese, eighteen did not know what […]

Human Rights and Business in Sri Lanka: In conversation with Priyanga Hettiarachi

Priyanga Hettiarachi is the director and founder of RightsBusiness, founded after Priyanga’s return to Sri Lanka after a number of years working in Australia, The Netherlands and England. Given Priyanga’s award-winning work and experience, we begin our conversation around why he chose to come back to Sri Lanka, post-war. Given how loaded and contested a […]

‘Alles in Wonderland’ and Indo-Lanka relations

Image courtesy First Lanka The Parody The hilarious political satire titled ‘Alles in Wonderland’ was presented by the Ananda College Drama Circle at a public performance recently. It won first place at the 2013 – Inter school Royal Drama Competition held in Colombo. Based on a unique adaption of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the […]