Originally written for the forthcoming Human Rights Forum Bulletin
Very often issues related to sri lanka are spoken in a manner that is disjointed from one another. We often do not have a clear holistic picture. Many of the problems in stands vis-à-vis sri lanka come from this lack. We need a holistic picture not just of the present situation but of past histories. The holistic picture needs to be rigorous and honest; based on continuous work on the area and gathering of knowledge. In the case of sri lanka, as in many other things in the world, the significance of this cannot be stressed enough. We barely have any reports that have come out of sri lanka that are either biased or have had to struggle to expose many things and those concerned have often paid a heavy price; sometimes the price has been their life.
A friend from sri lanka, who lives in Colombo, recently commented that, right now, the situation is worse than during the war in some senses. The surveillance and the hidden violence is so intense and widespread that it is hard to escape it and there is never enough warning. The quest to turn sri lanka into a Sinhala Buddhist nation governed by a fascist is well underway. All of this being done under the garb of democracy; a garb that has not been hard to look right through. Continue reading Issues in sri lanka today: A primer for activists in india
The following are my prepared remarks at the Global South Asia conference at New York University on 13 February 2010. My prepared remarks on the Sri Lanka panel in titled, ‘Return of the Displaced and Political Reconciliation’ are below. The remarks in the Sri Lanka panel which I chaired were to complement the presentations by Sharika Thiranagama, New School for Social Research titled, ‘Houses of the Future: Return and Reconciliation amongst Northern Muslims and Tamils’ and V. V. (Sugi) Ganeshananthan, University of Michigan, Lanka Solidarity, journalist and author of Love Marriage titled, ‘Dialogue in the Diaspora’. The February 2010 issue of Himal Southasian magazine is a special issue on Jaffna, Sri Lanka and has a number of articles that address the post-war moment. The Sri Lanka Democracy Forum (SLDF) statement on 18 January 2010 titled, ‘SLDF Calls for National Attention on Demilitarization and a Political Solution’ details many of these issues in depth.
I want to begin with the end of the war, which inevitably leads to a shift in politics. Post-war politics can not be same as war politics.
During the last couple years of the war, President Rajapaksa put together a war coalition comprised of a broad spectrum, from Sinhala nationalists to sections of the Old Left. Despite the end of the war, the President and his government attempted to keep the war mentality alive, as we have seen through the continued suffering of the displaced as they were herded into internment camps with no freedom of movement. It was indeed a lost opportunity for political reconciliation. Continue reading Undermining Political Reconciliation with Post-Election Repression