The Virtual Library

I have no image of the vault or shelves, or tables with lamps scholars use to consult books. I am seeing the library from a great distance, pleased that the building stands again, imagining donations of contents, the desire to establish pride in the ancient Tamil culture while its language hides outside, speaking to soldiers, […]

Sovereignty vs. the Right to Life

Photo courtesy Vikalpa The most fundamental and important right a human being has is her right to life. This cannot be justified through first principles because this is itself a first principle. In common sense morality, it is granted that a human being has a fundamental right to life, and that this right trumps all […]

CHOGM 2013: A lie well told

Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi, AFP/Getty Images via FT Photo Diary I imagine that beneath the cordial smiles and exchange of pleasantries there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth taking place at Temple Trees these days. The façade that was CHOGM 2013 seems to have crumbled, at least in the eyes of the world, although certainly […]

British Prime Minister and TNA leaders shun families of disappeared in Jaffna

Photo courtesy Marisa de Silva Tamil families of the disappeared, primarily from the North, gathered in front of the area between the Public Library and Duriappa Stadium by 2pm, on 15th Nov., as they thought the visiting British Prime Minister would land at the Duriappa Stadium. They were accompanied by some Christian clergy and activists […]

Commonwealth & human rights principles in Sri Lanka, in the weeks before CHOGM

Photo by REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte, via Channel 4 News The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is due to start tomorrow. The last few weeks has seen series of violations of Human Rights and Commonwealth principles in Sri Lanka, which is the host country and expected to lead the Commonwealth in the next two years. Victims of human […]

An economy that unites, reconciliation that divides in Sri Lanka

Photo courtesy Vikalpa There are some issues that divide Sri Lankans and there are some issues that unite Sri Lankans. While the cost of living, unemployment and education bring the opinions of the four main communities together, topics such as reconciliation and identity continue to divide. On the economy, the cost of living is what […]

Gamani Corea: Champion of the Global South

Robert S McNamara, who was US Secretary of Defence under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, then served as President of the World Bank from 1968 to 1981. Despite his contentious legacy in the US government, he is credited to have shifted the Bank’s focus to population and poverty issues. McNamara, whom I once interviewed when in […]

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 […]

Message to Commonwealth leaders: Stand up for Sri Lanka’s media

Photo courtesy Vikalpa Editors note: Earlier this year, I was asked to give a presentation on the post-war media landscape in Sri Lanka at the 20th World Editors Forum in Bangkok, Thailand. When subsequently put online, the presentation was viewed by thousands. Sri Lanka’s media continues to be at risk. As The Economist on 9th […]

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 […]

Commonwealth must honour its own commitments

Photo courtesy Contribute Magazine The choice of Sri Lanka as a venue for CHOGM 2013 has always remained controversial. But now that most member countries have agreed to go ahead and participate in the high-profile summit happening in Colombo, the moment has arrived for the Commonwealth to reassess its commitment towards its own values. ### […]

Innovating Under Duress: Implications of the Global Innovation Index for Sri Lanka

Science writer Nalaka Gunawardene in conversation with Dr Ajith de Alwis, engineer and public intellectual Sri Lanka was ranked at No 98 among 142 countries worldwide in the Global Innovation Index 2013 (GII 2013) released in July. The ranking in 2012 was 94. GII 2013 looks at 142 economies around the world, using 84 indicators […]

Women and children in the North: Sexual harassment, grievances and challenges

In September 2013, Watchdog travelled to the Vanni[1] and met with survivors of sexual violence, women’s rights activists and representatives of women’s groups. This report is based on information provided during interviews conducted with them, Human Rights organisations based in the North and Colombo and Government sources. During our interactions with these groups, we learnt […]

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