To remember Black July, Groundviews brought together leading documentary filmmakers, photographers, activists, theorists and designers, in Sri Lanka and abroad, to focus on just how deeply the anti-Tamil pogrom in 1983 shaped our imagination, lives, society and polity.
The project is called 30 Years Ago and details of it can be read here.
Sharni Jayawardene was commissioned by Groundviews to look at the pogrom from the perspectives of the Muslim community across Sri Lanka. Sharni and Groundviews had previously collaborated on ‘Moving Images‘, where her compelling portraits of individuals and their lives hidden in the heart of Colombo were among the most viewed and loved. Just a few of the photos taken by Sharni are embedded here. Higher resolution photos along with detailed descriptions will be included in the dedicated project site for ’30 Years Ago’.
As Sharni notes,
July 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of Black July – the anti-Tamil riots of 1983 that killed thousands. Today, four years after the Sri Lankan government’s military victory over the LTTE in 2009, little progress has been made in the direction of minority rights and ethnic reconciliation. In fact, the situation appears to have worsened – with minority communities experiencing a sense of heightened insecurity and diminished dignity.
In 1915, what is considered modern Ceylon’s first ethno-religious riot targeted Muslims, not Tamils. Since the late nineteen seventies, Sinhala-Muslim ‘disturbances’ have been taking place in various localities in different parts of the country. In more recent years, a provocative hate campaign has been launched by groups identifying themselves as Sinhala Buddhists and the saviours of Buddhism, fanning animosity against the Muslim community among the wider Sinhalese public. The government’s reaction to the situation has been dangerously slow and inadequate.
An exhibition of some of the content from 30 Years Ago will be held from 24 – 25 August at the Park Street Mews, Warehouse D in Colombo, Sri Lanka. More details will be posted shortly, along with the launch of a dedicated website for the project on the 21st of August.
For the moment, visit the event’s Facebook page for daily updates.