Where is journalist Subramanium Ramachandran 9 years after he disappeared? Photo courtesy Sri Lanka Brief Subramanium Ramachandran, a Jaffna based Tamil journalist disappeared on 15th of February 2007 in Jaffna. Despite eyewitness accounts of being detained at an Army checkpoint and camps, till today his whereabouts are unknown and his elderly parents and family await his arrival every day. His colleagues and family remember him as a courageous journalist ...

Accountability and a Political Solution: A Response to Ram Manikkalingam Photo courtesy Understanding the Age of Transitional Justice In a recent article, Ram Manikkalingam – a member of the Sri Lankan President’s Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) – argues that Sri Lanka must not prioritize accountability for mass atrocity crimes until a new constitution addressing Tamil autonomy is formulated, and that international human rights advocates must stop ...

Sinha Le Politics and Socio-cultural Persecution “Cultural purity is an oxymoron.” Kwame Anthony Appiah (Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers) The Independence Day celebrations commenced with the national anthem sung in Sinhala and concluded with the national anthem sung in Tamil. It was a first and a good first, a gesture of enormous symbolic significance, an unmistakable indication of the new government’s commitment to ...

Holy Cow! Is it cricket? Photo via The Express Tribune Markandey Katju, quondam Justice of the Supreme Court of India, is a man who does not mince his words. A maverick, he has a penchant for courting controversies. Not long ago, he dubbed Mahatma Gandhi ‘a British agent’ (he also called Subhash Chandra Bose ‘a Japanese agent’). Katju accused Gandhi of serving the imperial ...

Book Review: From Shame to Sin by Kyle Harper Featured image courtesy Amazon Alas, alas, that ever sex was thought to be sinful. (Adapted from Chaucer’s ‘The Canterbury Tales’) To use a colloquial phrase, Buddhism has no special “hang-up” about sex; the third of Buddhism’s five moral Precepts carries no more weight than the other four. What Shame investigates with impressive scholarly erudition is the change in attitudes ...

Singing of our National Anthem in the two National languages Image courtesy Narenthiran I read Prof. Carlo Fonseka’s article under the caption ‘Accolades for President and Prime Minister‘ in The Island of 10 Feb. with much interest and appreciation. Listening to the singing of the National Anthem in either or both of languages is indeed a moving experience on account of its melody and its theme that we are ...

An Open Letter to HRH Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images, via Migrant Teachers Rights Your Highness Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, In your capacity as the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, I write to your Highness with much hope and confidence that the office of the United Nations Commission For Human Rights will provide and protect the human rights of Sri Lanka’s multi ethnic, multi ...

Shrillness of Nonsensical Cultural Politics and the Social History of a Song The latest news from Sri Lanka’s often bizarre domains of cultural politics is that Buddhism is under threat along with Sinhala culture. This however, is not due to the corrupt and violent politics that still remain the hallmark of the country’s mainstream politics or because of the unethical and anti-doctrinal work of marauding Buddhist monks who have become storm ...

An Appeal to Democratic Forces Photography courtesy Huffington Post The great electoral victory won by democratic forces on 8th January 2015 against the anti-democratic, corrupt, murderous, and authoritarian family rule is in jeopardy. The Rajapaksa family and cronies have begun to regroup in order to reverse the democratic gains we have made. This appears a real threat at present. If these attempts are not ...

The High Commissioner for Human Rights visit to Sri Lanka raises hopes for victims Photo courtesy Reuters, via CFR This week, the UN’s top human rights official, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein – the High Commissioner for Human Rights – is visiting Sri Lanka. He will see a country that has changed considerably since his predecessor Navi Pillay came to the island in 2013. Since then, the increasingly authoritarian government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa ...

Common Ground: A series of photo essays February 4, 1948 was a historic day for Sri Lanka. Yet, often forgotten is the struggle Sri Lankans faced to ensure independence. It was the concerted effort of people, regardless of class, caste, religion or ethnicity, that culminated in Sri Lanka’s emancipation from colonial rule. Sadly, Sri Lankans soon forgot this spirit of unity. For close upon 30 years ...

Christ, Constitutions and Community: A Freedom Day Reflection The sovereignty of all humans The essence of Jesus’ teaching on the law is the sovereignty of all humans. When confronted with the oppressive nature of the then Jewish (Sabbath) law, He declares that the purpose of the law is not to suppress humans but serve them. In practice this teaching upholds the supremacy of humans and human wellbeing ...

The morning after the political honeymoon: President Sirisena’s future Photo via Bloomberg With days turning into weeks and weeks into months, President Maithripala Sirisena appeared to have realized that power is ultimately the primary concern of politics and political leadership. What necessarily follows from this is also the realization that, to sustain a ‘good government’ in trying times one has to engage in practices which are antithetical to ...

A 2500 year-old Culture that was! Featured image courtesy AFP The current wave of Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism, and attempts to establish a ‘Sinhala-Buddhist Raj’ in Sri Lanka, if left unchecked will eventually lead to fragmentation of Sri Lanka into separate states of minorities. It may not happen in the immediate future, but it’s a reality staring us in the face. With the military defeat of the ...

Legend along Littoral Landscapes: Tales from the Muslim World The island of Sri Lanka, since ancient times, has featured prominently in the navigational and spiritual cartography of the Muslim world. The word of Persian origin ‘Sarandip ’ (سرانديپ) has long captured the attention of historians of the Muslim world. It has also played a significant role in the historical imagination of writers and story tellers through the Perseo-Arab ...

Yahapalanaya at 1: Is Transitional Justice in Crisis? AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, via Asian Correspondent In October 2015, the Sri Lankan government took a giant stride towards reconciliation when it co-sponsored a historic resolution at the Human Rights Council. Despite howls of protest from fringe elements within the Sinhala and Tamil community who opposed it, the Resolution was defended stoutly by mainstream members of both ruling parties, the ...

Independence Not An Accident: Muslim Leaders Put ‘Country Before Self’ Featured image courtesy Reuters  The essence of statesmanship is not a rigid adherence to the past, but a prudent and probing concern for the future. –Hubert H. Humphrey  ‘A Small Island of many people’, wrote  S.J. Thambiah, in his lucidly written book,’ Sri Lanka–Ethnic Fratricide and the Dismantling of Democracy ‘ whose political machinery is running down in an environment ...

Time out on tusk trade Photo courtesy A Voice for Wildlife Over 25 million elephants in Africa have succumbed to the now illegal ivory trade that has spanned across the last 200 years. To put that into perspective, that’s a little over the entire human population of Sri Lanka (21 million), wiped out in less than two centuries. We are today left with only ...

Dismal failure of the judiciary ends up with people’s demand for hybrid justice mechanism     Featured image courtesy AsianTribune In the co-sponsored UN Resolution (A/HRC/RES/30/1) adopted on 01st October 2015, the government conceded that that people of Sri Lanka have no trust and confidence in the justice system and was compelled to agree for a hybrid justice system with an international dimension, to try alleged serious crimes committed against humanity. However at a recent ...

The Leader and the Led: Politics of Ignorance and Ignorance of Politics Featured image courtesy Senaka Senanayake via patrimoniogallery Racial, ethnic and religious disharmony is as inevitable as death in a pluralist state where more than one race, ethnicity or religion shares the same geographical boundaries and its resources among themselves. It is inevitable not because of the rich diversity that is natural in societies but because of blatant ignorance that is ...

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