Evicted under the World Bank’s Watch Forcible demolition of 34 Watta homes when court case was ongoing, September 2014. Photograph by Selvaraj Rajasegar. “We were removed from our homes by force. The Army officers told us that they will bulldoze our houses whether we move out or not. They told us that we can either take these apartments or live on the street”.  As part ...

Power mapping Image by Maatram, via Groundviews I was asked to contribute an article to an up-coming issue of The Architect, the journal of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects. The issue will be anchored to the idea of space. After the guest editor accepted my article without any reservations or edits, he was informed by the Editor in Chief a few ...

Photo by EPA/M.A.PUSHPA KUMARA, via Sky News I start with a quote from Shang Yang (390-338 BC), an insightful statesman in the Chinese state of Qin: “A country where the virtuous govern the wicked will suffer from disorder, so that it will be dismembered; but a country where the wicked govern the virtuous will be orderly, so that it will become strong.” Although ...

A Panopticon state: We must not wait until they come for us On Tuesday last week (12th) I watched, at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute the screening of ‘Citizen Four’: A documentary film concerning systems analyst Edward Snowden and the information he leaked on the nature and scale of the NSA’s spying activities. In that documentary, director Laura Poitras records the manner in which she was first contacted by Snowdon via encrypted ...

Post-war Sri Lanka: 6 years and still an open wound On May 19 six years had passed since the war ended. Six years ago former president Mahinda Rajapaksa spoke to the people of Sri Lanka commenting the final battle of the war: “Our troops went to this operation carrying a gun in one hand, the Human Rights Charter in the other, hostages on their shoulders, and the love of ...

NO to Animal Cruelty. YES to Animal Welfare Bill Image courtesy Embark Recently a video which was shared by a Sri Lankan on his Facebook managed to grab a lot of attention. Why? Many reasons. One probably being that some people liked watching cruelty to animals, the other due toa petition which was launched against the video, requesting that the man be punished for cruelty he inflicted on ...

A tale of two Presidents, six years after the war May 19th 2015, marked six years since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, which at that time had been the world’s second longest running civil conflict, after Lebanon. The end of the war was commemorated in two very different ways from two very different leaders, one present and forward looking, the other defeated and backward looking, who lead a ...

Tamils in North & East Sri Lanka remember those killed despite intimidation and surveillance Several remembrances events were held across the North and East in Sri Lanka on 18th May 2015 (the day the war ended in Sri Lanka in 2009) by Tamils to remember those killed during the war[1]. They were organized by Tamil politicians, religious clergy, civil society and women’s groups. Many were religious events. Most appear to commemorate civilians killed ...

6 Reasons Why Accountability in Sri Lanka Matters Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war ended six years ago amidst allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious abuses by both government and rebel forces. In 2011, a U.N. panel concluded that “the conduct of the war by [both sides] represented a grave assault on the entire regime of international law designed to protect individual dignity.” A ...

An open letter to Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva Photo courtesy WHO Hon. Nimal Siripala de Silva MP Leader of the Opposition Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha Colombo 7. My dear Honorable Sir, I thought of writing to you, due to the upcoming general election and the choices that face the SLFP in that context. My interest stems from my own personal association with the Party and is also ...

Can the United Kingdom Survive the General Election Result? Image courtesy fivethirtyeight Editor’s Note: The UK general election last week threw up an interesting configuration of parliamentary representation, with the Conservatives winning an unexpected UK-wide majority in House of Commons, and the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) winning a landslide of all bar two parliamentary seats in Scotland. The future of the United Kingdom has been central to political ...

Five years ago, today: Evicted and homeless Photo courtesy JDS On 8th May 2010, the Urban Development Authority (UDA) demolished 20 homes that were occupied by 33 families on Mews Street in Kompannyaveediya, Colombo 2. Families were informed verbally a month prior to the demolition that they will have to vacate their homes and served the same in writing only 3 days prior to the demolition. ...

The Right To Information Act: Finally a reality? Image: Amnesty Access to information is a universal human right; despite that it has never been a part of the constitution in Sri Lanka although attempts have been made throughout the last decade. When President Maithripala Sirisena came to power in January he included the introduction of the Right to Information (RTI) Act in his 100 days programme and ...

Boradiya Pokuna: Gender Serotyping and Patriarchal Connotations Public screening of Satyajit Maitipe’s film Boradiya Pokuna was launched on 14th February 2015 seven years after its production. This was the first time I watched this film. I think it presents some aspects which one can build a discussion towards the contribution to the remaining narratives of reading cinema. A film can certainly be read differently depending on ...

Defeating the Saboteurs: The 19th Amendment Image courtesy President’s Office Introducing the 19 Amendment Bill          The 19A Bill was gazetted in March, after having obtained the approval of Cabinet. The Gazetted version did not go as far as the previous changes envisaged, due to disagreement from some quarters. Subsequently, post-gazetting, Cabinet agreed to the inclusion of the further clauses. The usual way of doing this, ...

World Press Freedom day 2015 and Freedom of Expression in Sri Lanka Image courtesy DBS Jeyaraj “All must be free to express their concerns, their needs, their aspirations and their fears” Pope Francis, at the Katunayake International airport, on arrival to Sri Lanka on 13th January 2015. Amidst killings, disappearances, assaults, threats, intimidations, harassments and restrictions on journalists, widespread self-censorship and exile of journalists critical of the government, surveillance and blocking ...

After 100 days the stark contrast between the Rajapakse and Sirisena Administrations Image courtesy Salon The conclusion of the one hundred (100) days is a good time to compare and indeed contrast the Maithripala Sirisena Administration from the Rajapakse rule that it replaced. This is particularly relevant in the context that Brother number two (no pun intended), Gotabhaya Rajapakse, has suggested that Mahinda Rajapakse should be prime minister, under President Sirisena. ...

Sri Lanka’s emergency assistance to Nepal and return of exiled journalists Photo courtesy Asianews.it Sri Lankan government has announced that it had dispatched emergency supplies and support personnel to Nepal a day after the devastating earthquake and that there would be further materials and personnel in the coming days[1]. The government also announced that Sri Lankans who had been in Nepal, can come back in the same flight. The solidarity ...

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