Two years into a Maithripala Sirisena presidency, Sri Lankan polity and society are still grappling with dealing with the past, all the while buffeted by new and equally worrying issues. This is reflected in some of the most read articles on Groundviews over 2016, which covered everything from the on-going political and institutional reform and religious unrest to street harassment.
The on-going constitutional reform process is, at best, sporadically covered by mainstream media. Groundviews was one of the few to attempt to demystify the process for its readers. This in turn led to some calls for the reform of personal laws, including the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) from within the community.
At the same time, Sri Lanka continued to contextualise the divide between majority and minority communities, culturally. Human rights violations continued to be a concern, particularly arbitrary arrests and detention.
Globally, the leaked Panama Papers shed light on the murky world of off-shore companies, with several names associated with Sri Lanka in the tranche. Much of mainstream media misreported the number of Sri Lankans involved, as the ICIJ data also included names from an earlier tranche of documents. Groundviews made the files in the public domain (a subset of the entire tranche) easily accessible, and was the only media organisation to do so.
The full tranche of documents is only accessible to partner organisations, of which, in Sri Lanka, there is only one. Groundviews has continually called on both the ICIJ and the partner organization concerned for detailed investigative journalism on the Panama papers, which has not been forthcoming to date.
Groundviews also produced its own reports on a range of issues, from highlighting the plight of those displaced due to telegenic tourist projects, to visually mapping street harassment.
The top 10 most read articles for 2016 are:
- The need for a new Constitution for Sri Lanka
- Shrillness of Nonsensical Cultural Politics and the Social History of a Song
- Mapping street harassment this Women’s Day
- The Saviour
- Panama Papers – list of individuals, intermediaries and addresses connected to Sri Lanka
- White vans and unlawful detention under the PTA
- Everyday heroes: Untold stories of Black July
- The Case Against private universities: a response to a growing conversation
- Paradise Lost: the hidden costs of tourism development in Sri Lanka
- Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe’s resignation: the Fallout
- A Podium to spit venom