Tag Archives: sri lanka

The Monks Who Spew Hate

Why Jailing of Gnanasara Did Not Become News in This Part of Asia

Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, the controversial leader of Bodu Bala Sena

“Ordered disorder, planned caprice, And dehumanised humanity…”

– Bertolt Brecht in The Exception and the Rule (quoted in The Sunday Leader)

“I have done my duty towards the country,” Gnanasara told reporters as he boarded the bus taking him to prison. Why should I regret?”

 

Rarely does Sri Lanka convict Buddhist monks.

But few days back a court in Sri Lanka made history when it convicted Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, the controversial leader of Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force) who is referred to as ‘Thero’, The Venerable, and sent him to jail. Scores of his followers, mainly Buddhist monks, were reciting Buddhist prayers when he was being arrested and packed in to the police vehicle.

Reports tell us that Sri Lanka is still facing mini-turmoil over this conviction.

Marches were organised in different cities of Sri Lanka demanding that President pardons him using his special powers. Protesters have also asked that this revered monk should not be forced to wear jail uniform and be allowed to wear saffron robes only.

For people outside Sri Lanka, it would be rather difficult to understand why a Buddhist monk has suddenly become such a polarising figure in the society there.

( Read the full article here : https://newsclick.in/monks-who-spew-hate)

Ezhuka Tamil – A Conversation about Democracy :Dharsha Jegatheeswaran and Gajen Mahendra

This is a guest post by DHARSHA JEGATHEESWARAN AND GAJEN MAHENDRA

 

On Saturday September 24, 2016, Ezhuka Tamil, organized by the Tamil People’s Council, became the largest rally to happen since the end of the war in the North-East of Sri Lanka. Over 10,000 people took to the streets to demand an end to ongoing human rights violations, particularly militarization and Sinhala-Buddhisization of the North-East,reiterate their demand for genuine accountability and justice and voice their expectations regarding the ongoing political processes. The political elite in Colombo and their supporters elsewhere have however chosen to read Ezhuka Tamil as an expression of ‘Tamil extremism’. This response requires us to critically interrogate the nature of democratic spaces in post-war Sri Lanka available to the numerically smaller communities and more largely what our understanding of democracy is. This is very necessary if we believe in the need for public participation in the constitutional and transitional justice process currently underway. Continue reading Ezhuka Tamil – A Conversation about Democracy :Dharsha Jegatheeswaran and Gajen Mahendra

Seven Years After the End of Sri Lanka’s Civil War: Mahendran Thiruvarangan

Guest post by MAHENDRAN THIRUVARANGAN

When the civil war came to an end in May 2009 I was still a final year undergraduate at the University of Peradeniya. Peradeniya was miles away from the war zone. The only venues that supplied us with details about the happenings in the war theatre were the television channels stationed in the South, self-censoring the civilian casualties incurred and feeding to the Sinhala nationalist jubilation of the times. And on the other side were websites like Tamilnet and Puthinam run by parties sympathetic to the LTTE releasing carefully filtered out reports singularly focusing on the deaths of civilians caused by the military leaving no trace about how the top leadership of the LTTE was recruiting children and adults, despite knowing so well they had already lost the battle or how the civilians who were trying to flee the war zone were shot down by the militants.

One had to work around these competing narratives to get at least a partial sense of the nature of the violence that the people ensnared in the No Fire Zone were exposed to. Some of us had friends whose relatives had been in the LTTE-controlled areas. When the guns breathed their last in Mullivaikal, some of them had already moved to hospitals and camps in Trincomalee and Vavuniya with their loved ones injured during the war. It was from these wounded men and women and their families that the harrowing experiences of the thousands of people inside the narrow battlefield trickled down to us in May 2009. The South erupted into celebrations when the re-unification of the island was announced via the media. As the former president in his televised address from Parliament was busy instructing the people of the country to annul the notions of ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ from their political discourses, fire crackers celebrating the military victory started to deafen the ears of those of us who were seated under the senate building of the University of Peradeniya—Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims and Malays—pondering in groups what was awaiting us and the country in the days and years to come. Continue reading Seven Years After the End of Sri Lanka’s Civil War: Mahendran Thiruvarangan

Debt, Counselling and the Production of Neoliberal Subjects

financialfactsoflifeHousehold debt has plagued the North and East since the war ended in Sri Lanka. Activists and journalists have long highlighted the consequences of predatory credit and the devastating indebtedness faced by the war-torn people; from rural indebtedness, to debt accrued from the Indian Housing grants to the debt trap with lease hire purchasing.

More than such writings, the crisis on the ground, with increasing rates of suicide and attempted suicide, half built houses and protests by people have awoken donors and policy makers to the crisis of indebtedness. The Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) was commissioned to study debt accrued with donor-funded housing schemes, and more recently by the Swiss Development Cooperation to evaluate their financial counselling initiative, which aimed to alleviate house-building related debt. Continue reading Debt, Counselling and the Production of Neoliberal Subjects

Two Or Three Things I Know About My Country: Pradeep Jeganathan

As the people of Sri Lanka complete the voting process for the Parliamentary elections of 2015, PRADEEP JEGANATHAN  reflects on his country’s history and politics.

We’ve never really had a father. We like to think we did, of course, be it D.S. Senanayake, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike or S.J.V. Chelvanayagam. But they never had a vision for Lanka that made sense, in the end. Unlike a Mahathir, Nehru or a Mandela, their vision was partisan, and the results plain to see. Senanayake’s great contribution was to disenfranchise the up country Tamils, and ignore the vernacular language question. Bandaranaike and Chelvanayagam were his children, fighting for the house that he never finished building.

We’ve gone along since, fatherless children that we are. So many have been killed, and so many have killed. Maimed. Seen the essence of inhumanity, lived with it, so it has become ordinary. Many of us like to think Rajapakse is our father, since it is said he rescued us from all this, took us over the mountains to the valley of peace. Certainly, he’s proclaimed himself father and king, and his sons princes. And he’s had his moments.

Read the rest of this piece in Colombo Telegraph.

The penultimate paragraph refers to a song by Nanda Malini:

We’ve always had our mother. She is Lanka. That is the third thing I know about my country, and when I say, our mother is Lanka, or Ilankai or Eelam (for that too is a name for Lanka), I do not mean it in the sense of an inanimate goddess that is to be adored, appropriated and used as a cover for racism, violence and inequality. No, I mean it in the sense of Lanka’s lament, in the great songstress’ lyric, “Deddahas Pansiya Vasarak. (For 2,500 years).” In this beautiful song, Nanda Malini sings Lanka’s lament, her almost helpless sadness and deep grief, at the robbers and killers she has given birth to, who have then become big men and women, clinging to power by selling her name.

Here is the song:

Pradeep Jeganathan is currently Professor, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Shiv Nadar University.

My elections days, 2015: Sivamohan Sumathy

Guest Post by SIVAMOHAN SUMATHY

campaigning, exciting, tense, nervous, delirium-invested, holding training sessions on the verendah for the immediate neighbouhood, as nobody but appa had voted in any previous presidential election, strangely agreeing with appa on politics for once, passing on all the wild gossip about the mr family, nightmare riddled pre election nights, sleeplessness, inducing drinking, exhilarating, liberating, cautionary, educating vasuki’s children about the elections ( they are keenly interested), near addiction to fb and quarellling with totally unknown friends on it, while another plethora of unknown persons writing in to befriend me, baila sessions, holding candle lit vigils for assassinated journalists, being connected to the universe on election night through thiru, who was on every tweet, every note, every social bleep, planning, writing, tasking for the future, doubts, setting off crackers, taking to singing, questions, pondering profound political questions on the nature of the state, reforms or revolution, gramsci’s historic bloc, not stopping at paradigm shift as most liberal commentators have done with this over used and abused term, not bothering with muslim bashing in europe over charlie whatever, in fact, just a wee bit short of visionary.

no paradigm shift,
no revolution, it is toward …….

they cut the jak tree down in our backyard,
the day after elections.
the parrots displaced again.

Challenging the West’s Narrative on Sri Lanka’s ‘Victory for Democracy’: Devaka Gunawardena

Guest Post by DEVAKA GUNAWARDENA

Of the many pieties that have been promoted in the Western media in the aftermath of Maithripala Sirisena’s victory over incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa in the recent Sri Lankan presidential election, none has been more cherished than the notion that Sri Lanka is now on board with “democracy.”[1] This claim is counter-posed to Sri Lanka’s recent cozy relationship with China and other authoritarian countries. A new Cold War is supposedly being fought, with Sri Lanka’s election reduced to its strategic relevance to policy makers.

At the same time the dominant narrative promoted by Western media and diplomats has been conveniently ignored in other places where it is considered politically unfeasible to support democracy. The same diplomats and officials that criticized the previous Rajapaksa regime have often argued that equally if not more repressive governments in places such as the Middle East are “on the path to democracy.” This claim temporizes the same political expectations that have been applied to Sri Lanka. Continue reading Challenging the West’s Narrative on Sri Lanka’s ‘Victory for Democracy’: Devaka Gunawardena

Terror, Performance and Anxieties of Our Times – Reading Rustom Bharucha and Reliving Terror: Sasanka Perera

Guest Post by SASANKA PERERA

[ This post by Sasanka Perera is a review of  Terror and Performance by Rustom Bharucha (2014). Tulika Books, New Delhi. Kafila does not ordinarily post book reviews. An exception is being made for this post because we feel that the subject of terrorism, which has interested Kafila readers in the past, is an important one, and needs to be thought through with seriousness. We hope that this post initiates a debate on Kafila regarding terror, the state, performance, and the performances – serious, or otherwise – that typically attend to the discussions of terror, whether undertaken by the agents of the state or by non-state actors, commentators in the media, or by intellectual interlocutors. ]

When I started reading Rustom Bharucha’s latest book, Terror and Performance, it immediately became an intensely personal and gripping engagement. It was difficult to read in a single attempt as the mind kept wandering from one unpleasant moment in our recent annals of terror to another in some of which I had also become an unwitting part – mostly as a spectator. From the beginning, my reading was a conversation with Bharucha’s text through detours of my own experiences and an interrogation to a lesser extent. In 1986, as a young man when I went to the Colombo International Airport to pick up my father who was returning from the Middle East, I was shaken by a tremendously loud sound for which I had no immediate references. I had not heard such a sound before. People started running towards the sound. It was a bomb that had blown up an Air Lanka flight which had come from Gatwick. The Central Telegraph Office in Colombo was bombed in the same year. We learnt that everyone was running towards the sound and not away from it. Dry local political humor very soon informed us that people were trying to get inside the bombed out telegraph office hoping that they could get free phone calls to their relatives in the Middle East as they had heard phones were dangling from the walls with no operators in sight. That was long before mobile phones and call boxes. We were still young in terms of our experiences with terror. However, we soon had very viable references to what all this meant as the political narrative of Lanka unfolded with devastating consequences. But in 1986, when the kind of terror that was to follow in all its fury was still relatively new and quite unknown, we were acutely unaware of the dynamics of the actual act of terror and the structure of feeling it could unleash. This is why many of us in these initial years were naively attracted towards the epicenter of the act rather than being mindful to run away from it. But as the society grew in experience, people soon learned their lessons. Though an academic text in every conceivable way, I was reminded one could always find a few rare books of this kind which might personally and emotionally touch a reader in addition to whatever intellectual stimulation it might also usher in. Terror and Performance is clearly one such book. From the perspective of the writer, Bharucha himself recognizes this personal emotional engagement and investment early in the book. For him, “this writing demands stamina as it faces an onslaught of uncertainties and cruelties at the global level that challenges the basic assumptions of what it means to be human” (xi). It is the same kind of stamina that one also needs to read it as most of us in South Asia would be reading it squarely sitting in the midst of our own worlds of unfolding terror. This is why all those thoughts came gushing into my mind throughout the reading. I was not only reading Bharucha; I was also reading my own past.

Continue reading Terror, Performance and Anxieties of Our Times – Reading Rustom Bharucha and Reliving Terror: Sasanka Perera

Information on Aluthgama – Fact Finding by a Women’s Collective

A Fact Finding Report by a Women’s Collective on the Ethnic Riots in Aluthgama, Sri Lanka.

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On the 15th of June 2014 ethnic riots took place in Aluthgama following a rally organized by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a Buddhist fundamentalist organization. Even though the police and state officials had been informed of the potential of the rally to turn violent, no steps were taken to stop the same, instead a large number of police and Special Task Forces (STF) personnel were deployed in the area. In the aftermath of the violence that shocked the country, a women’s team visited Aluthgama and met with several survivors with the objective of documenting the events that took place. Below is their report. Considering the safety of the survivors their names, location and other identities are not recorded.

“Around 12 midnight on 15/06/2014 the Welipitiya Mosque administration made an announcement that a large group of thugs were coming to destroy the Mosque. Upon the announcement the men from the village brought their families, left the women inside the mosque for their safety, and stood outside the mosque to protect the mosque. Around 2000 persons arrived in a procession at that time chanting slogans saying ‘we will destroy the Dharga Town mosque’, ‘we will change Dharga Town into a Sinhala village’ and started pelting stones from all sides,” said a mother whose son was attacked in this incident. She stated that she has four sons, she has been separated from her husband since the birth of her youngest son, and has brought them up single handedly amidst various challenges. “My two unmarried sons aged 20 and 17 heard the announcement from the mosque and left to guard the mosque. A few minutes after they left home I heard gun shots and ran outside to look for my sons but I could not locate them. I ran back home and prayed for their safety. I could hear the firing of gun shots for about 2 hours. Continue reading Information on Aluthgama – Fact Finding by a Women’s Collective

Aluthgama – Thinking about Co-existence and Resistance in a Time of Crisis: Mahendran Thiruvarangan

Guest post by MAHENDRAN THIRUVARANGAN

I come from a community that was both a victim and a villain in the thirty-year civil war that unsettled all of us. We were victims because the Sri Lankan state killed thousands of us, grabbed our lands and made us homeless; we were villains as we could not question the LTTE strongly when the movement massacred members of the Sinhala and Muslim communities and members of our own community who refused to conform to the movement’s ideology. We witnessed how the narrow nationalist politics that we romanticized, alienated us from the other communities on the island. We witnessed how our failure to criticize the decisions made by our leaders contributed in part to the death of thousands of Tamils in Mullivaikal in May 2009. We witnessed how our obsession with the particular—our language, our culture, our religion and our homeland—incarcerated us within the walls of purism and political decadence. It is true that there was no space for dissent when the LTTE ruled us. But we need to accept as a community that because the LTTE fought against a state that dominated us and persecuted us, many of us often, in our everyday conversations, justified its violence against other communities. Any community that clings to a narrow-minded nationalism has many a lesson to learn from the painful experiences that the Tamils in Sri Lanka went through during the war. When I read about the recent attacks on Muslims in Aluthgama, I remembered the Eviction of Muslims from the Northern Province by the LTTE and the violence that the LTTE directed at the Muslim community in the East in the name of Tamils. Continue reading Aluthgama – Thinking about Co-existence and Resistance in a Time of Crisis: Mahendran Thiruvarangan

Waiting on Biafra and Lanka

As May turns into June the quiet loneliness of war-torn Jaffna lies before me. For how much longer, years or decades into the future, will I look back into the past? And who will help me reflect on that past?

Some, fifty years ago, the tragedy of Biafra unfolded. I grew up hearing about the legacy of Biafra. During the early years of Tamil militancy, my father and a few other Tamil intellectuals of his generation warned that we may end up like Biafra. That many intellectuals perished in the struggle for Biafra I knew, but what they did I did not know back then.

It is over the last year, that I returned to Biafra, through the powerful novel of Chimamanda Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun. A novel sometimes helps us think about questions we find difficult to ask. Adichie made me think about how long it takes for us to grasp the suffering that comes with a devastating war. Indeed, Adichie writes about Biafra some forty years after. From Adichie, I moved to Chinua Achebe’s There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra. What struck me most about Achebe’s memoir, is that almost fifty years later, he is still struggling to come to terms with what Biafra meant to him, shackled by lingering nationalist sentiment. It takes a life time or even more to deal with the past in places like Biafra and Lanka.

Mid-May marked the fifth year since the end of the war in Sri Lanka. Continue reading Waiting on Biafra and Lanka

Will Logarani Be The Last Victim Of Violence Against Women? Cayathri. D

GUEST POST BY CAYATHRI D via Ground Views

All photographs by the author, or sent by the author (in the original post)

Around 5pm on 17 October 2013, within the Jaffna municipality, one of our friends (a male youth resident of Jaffna) came to our home (a few friends were gathered there) looking very disturbed.…

READ MORE HERE

From dynasty to plain nasty: Satya Sagar

  Guest post by SATYA SAGAR

The shocking spectacle of Siddharth Varadarajan, the Editor of The Hindu, being forced out of his post by a cabal of its owners is a brutal reminder to journalists all over the country that however fine a professional you may be you will always remain at the mercy of media proprietors.

Just around two years ago when N. Ram, the then Editor of The Hindu, passed on the mantle to Varadarajan, a highly respected and independent journalist, he had touted the move as a radical shift away from being a family run outfit to one headed by professionals.

Ram’s motives were neither clear nor very noble, engaged as he was in a bitter struggle with his siblings over control of the newspaper. Still, for the newspaper to move away from its long tradition of tight family control was a welcome, positive departure in a land where dynasties run everything from politics and religion to cricket and cinema.

Unfortunately, this flowering of corporate democracy was not to last too long. Ultimately the family managed to strike back with a vengeance, ganging up in a Board of Director’s meeting to demote Siddharth from the post of Editor to ‘Contributing Editor and Senior Columnist’ prompting his immediate resignation. Continue reading From dynasty to plain nasty: Satya Sagar

Commonwealth giving Sri Lanka carte blanche for human rights abuses: Amnesty International

This release was put out by AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL on 27 September 2013

Sri Lanka’s disturbing human rights record means it should be barred from hosting a key Commonwealth summit in November or chairing the organization, Amnesty International said ahead of a key meeting of Commonwealth foreign ministers today.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group – made up of foreign ministers and Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, who gather to address violations of the Commonwealth’s fundamental values, including human rights – is meeting in New York today.

“Today’s meeting is an opportunity for the Commonwealth to show some real leadership on human rights. The organization has been shamefully silent so far about Sri Lanka’s human rights crisis– including the persistent lack of justice for past crimes and ongoing attacks on human rights defenders and other activists,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia- Pacific Director. Continue reading Commonwealth giving Sri Lanka carte blanche for human rights abuses: Amnesty International

Goodbye Sunila Abeysekara

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Sri Lanka’s top UN Human Rights award winner Sunila Abeysekara died at a private hospital in Colombo on Monday afternoon after a long battle with cancer.

A founder of Sri Lanka’s feminist movement, Ms. Abeysekara was a leading socialist activist for minority rights, women’s, workers and peasants rights. Recently she was prominent on Lankan human rights issues at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. She was also a noted Sinhala folk and opera singer. Ms. Abeysekera, daughter of the late Charles Abeysekara, a noted human rights and social activist, founded Inform, a rights-based NGO. – Ends-

(Sunday Times ,Sri Lanka,  Monday, 09 September 2013 19:02)

It was late 2002 when Delhi witnessed a public meeting of a different kind at Rajendra Bhavan. Hundreds of people from different walks of life – activists, writers, political workers, young students – had gathered there to witness the unveiling of an interim report prepared by an international panel of feminist activists which had visited Gujarat between 14th and 17th December, investigated the violence – particularly the physical and sexual – inflicted upon women since 27th February 2002.

The interim report prepared by the ‘International Initiative for Justice in Gujarat’ unequivocally stated : “this violence, which reflects a longer and larger genocidal project, in our view constitutes a crime against humanity and satisfies the legal definition of genocide, both of which are crimes of the most serious dimension under international law.” (http://www.onlinevolunteers.org/gujarat/reports/iijg/interimreport.htm)

The panelists included leading feminist scholars and activists from different parts of the world.

It was the first time that one had a chance to listen to Sunila Abeysekara. Continue reading Goodbye Sunila Abeysekara

Fear and the Predicament Facing Muslims in Sri Lanka

A Muslim lecturer friend some time ago described a troubling moment. The incident took place when he pulled into the parking lot of a supermarket with his wife few weeks ago. As they got out of the car, a group of men standing by first stared at his wife, who was wearing a headscarf, and then looked intently at him. In a split second, his day was disturbed; he reflected on this moment for quite some time. Was this a harmless gaze or did it reflect a change in attitude towards Muslims? My friend described his own reaction to that momentary stare as one that brought on fear. What did he fear? And why?

The Muslim community is in a state of fear in Sri Lanka. That is what many Muslim intellectuals, activists and community leaders have been saying in recent months at various forums. Do they fear the fringe groups mobilising Sinhala Buddhist nationalism against the Muslim community? Or is it the reception of anti-Muslim rhetoric by broader sections of the Sinhala community? Or is this fear rooted in the support given to such extreme forces by the ruling regime? Or is it fear of the Sri Lankan state itself, responsible for the security of its Muslim citizenry? Continue reading Fear and the Predicament Facing Muslims in Sri Lanka

Economic Democratisation in Sri Lanka

Even as there are important debates on a political solution to the national question, militarisation, Sinhala Buddhist nationalist mobilisation and authoritarianism, Sri Lanka is also going through a major neoliberal economic transformation. A recently formed Collective for Economic Democratisation has been engaging such matters through a political economic lens. Their recent editorial is on the political economy of devolution even as there is a major debate underway in Sri Lanka on the question of the powers to the provinces and a political solution. Their earlier editorial is on the rising costs of neoliberal policies in Sri Lanka. They have also published commentaries on urbanisation including on Colombo as a world-class city and the World Bank’s urbanisation policies in Sri Lanka. The website of the Collective for Economic Democratisation is also a useful resource of economic news and developments.

Same Difference? The Politics of Development in Rajapakse’s Sri Lanka and Modi’s Gujarat: Anonymous

This is a  guest post by ANONYMOUS

President Mahinda Rajapakse in Sri Lanka and Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi in India have positioned themselves as champions of development and good governance. Hardly a day passes without a media comment in the two countries on their respective development achievements. By and large, claims and counter-claims regarding development in Gujarat and Sri Lanka have tended to focus on mobilising data and ‘facts’ pertaining to a range of vital indicators—economic growth, levels of foreign investment, per capita income, employment, industrial or agricultural output, housing, rural infrastructure, roads, electrification, social welfare allocations, etc.

While working with development data is useful and necessary, an approach that relies too heavily on them tells us little about why development matters to the two regimes and how and to what ends it is actually deployed and leveraged by them at this point in time—the focus of this commentary. The question is not just what Modi and Rajapakse are doing for development but also what development is doing for them. Notwithstanding the significant differences between Gujarat and Sri Lanka, as argued herein, there are many striking similarities with respect to how and why Modi and Rajapakse are constructing, invoking and championing the cause of development. Continue reading Same Difference? The Politics of Development in Rajapakse’s Sri Lanka and Modi’s Gujarat: Anonymous

India, International Law and an Act of Hypocrisy: JKCCS

Press release put out 24 March by the JAMMU AND KASHMIR COALITION OF CIVIL SOCIETY

Srinagar: The 21 March 2013, United Nations Human Rights Council [UNHRC] resolution is a welcome initial step in the ongoing struggle to hold countries responsible for human rights violations, ranging from Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes to Enforced Disappearance, Torture, Rape and Extra-judicial executions. The watered down resolution, moved by the United States, and India’s support for the resolution, requires both commendation and severe criticism at the same time.

There can be no selective morality when it comes to standing against the commission of human rights violations by State’s. Every country must be held to the same standards, as Sri Lanka has been in the instant case, regardless of economic or geo-political concerns. In this regard, the United States and India stand accused of hypocrisy in their dealings with human rights violations in their regions or across the world. Similarly, Pakistan’s vote against the resolution raises serious questions on its own approach to human rights violations in the region or elsewhere. Continue reading India, International Law and an Act of Hypocrisy: JKCCS

Appeal from Tamil Civil Society to the International Community on Sri Lanka

This appeal was published in groundviews.org and has been sent to us by V. Geetha. We are publishing it here to give a different view from the kind of view that dominates now. Even though the appeal was made before the voting took place in the UN Human Rights Council, it is nevertheless an important view.

This appeal, signed by civil society activists who live and work in the North and East of Sri Lanka, seeks to state our position with regard to the resolution on Sri Lanka to be tabled at the 22nd sessions of the UN Human Rights Council. We understand that the resolution will seek to provide more time to the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations contained in the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and that it will fall short of calling for an international independent investigation to hold to account those responsible for the Crime of Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. If this resolution would contain only the above and no further, in our opinion, it would be truly unfortunate. Read the full statement here.

The Political Economy of Anti-Muslim Attacks in Sri Lanka

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The Muslim community is under attack. There have been increasing reports of attacks on mosques and shops owned by Muslims as part of a broader hate campaign against Muslims. The attack on the Dambulla Khairya Jummah mosque in April 2012 saw a decisive shift in the scale of these attacks. This act of violence was built on anti-Muslim rhetoric and a nascent campaign that had been simmering for years. More recently, the anti-Halal campaign and the boycott of No Limit stores has mobilised much larger sections of society. The mobilisations, together with chauvinistic public discourse, have alerted a few critical journalists, public intellectuals and activists to rightly draw parallels between these developments and the events that led up to the July 1983 pogrom against the Tamil community. Indeed, there needs to be stronger mobilisations and statements of condemnations to arrest this wave of anti-Muslim attacks. In this article, I ask a question that has not received as much attention: Why are these attacks on the Muslim community taking place now?

Published in Sunday Island, Colombo