« Showdown in Sri Lanka: PM’s sacking sparks constitutional crisis » France 24 Debate

Regional players China and India are keeping close tabs on the Sri Lankan president’s decision to sack Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replace him with the country’s longtime strongman, Mahinda Rajapaksa. But Sri Lanka continues to have duelling prime ministers. We look into the cause and the legality of the recall, a test for the nation’s democracy. It was on Rajapaksa’s watch that a civil war ended with the crushing of Tamil Tiger rebels. Could the turmoil in Colombo reopen wounds?

Guest

Mohan WIJEWICKRAMA

Former Governor of the Eastern Province

Bharath GOPALASWAMY

Director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center

Delon MADAVAN

Research Associate, Centre for Studies on India and South Asia

Alan KEENAN

Sri Lanka Project Director, Crisis Group

https://www.france24.com/en/20181102-debate-sri-lanka-constitutional-crisis-india-china-rival-prime-ministers-test-democracy?fbclid=IwAR2p9ORonEMmPe-b0r-dzpsFnduatK-I5w5aRltFbP-LEZ36ImDU4Ty81RM

« The May 18 Disconnect » by Ruki Fernando

« Returning after an emotional day in Mullivaikkal, nine years after the end of the war, I struggle to keep faith that the few exceptional voices and initiatives will prevail and Sri Lanka will overcome the May 18 disconnect. Reconciliation will remain elusive till then. »

via: http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2018/05/20/opinion/may-18-disconnect

Online Museum of Memory and Coexistence

The International Centre for Ethnic Studies is pleased to launch its online Museum of Memory and Coexistence.  The museum will seek to celebrate diversity, coexistence, resilience and solidarity, while archiving social exclusion, loss, and personal trauma. 

​​It​ is part of a larger ICES initiative to explore the use of arts, and physical and digital spaces, to facilitate social healing, archive narratives of the past, and build creative spaces for talking about a shared future and non-recurrence.

« Témoin des violences civiles survenues à Colombo à la fin du mois de juillet 1983 » par Vincent Faugère

Ces photos ont été prises à Colombo à la fin du mois de juillet 1983, dans le secteur de la gare ferroviaire. A cette époque, je voyageais, avec mon père, à Sri Lanka et dans le sud de l’Inde. J’avais 15 ans. Nous étions arrivés dans l’île le 2 juillet, par avion, en provenance de Paris. Au début de ce même mois, nous étions à Weligama quand nous avons été victimes du vol de nos papiers. Nous avons ainsi dû revenir à Colombo, et ce à plusieurs reprises, pour des raisons administratives.
Un journal de bord, tenu durant ce voyage, me permet de retracer en toute petite partie les événements dont nous avons été témoins pendant ces quelques jours. La situation était confuse et il ne m’en reste que de lointains souvenirs. Une chose est sûre : la ville était en proie à des violences. Un couvre-feu était décrété. Des Tamouls étaient tués et des trains bondés fuyaient la capitale.
Lundi 25 juillet. Nous arrivons en train dans la gare de Colombo-Fort envahie par la foule. Dehors, des incendies toujours en cours témoignent des violences commises à l’encontre des Tamouls. Tous les commerces sont fermés. Un couvre-feu est décrété et nous sommes contraints de rester et de dormir dans la gare, ce que nous ferons également les jours suivants.
Mardi 26 juillet. Toute la ville est déserte et silencieuse. On peut voir des échoppes et des bâtiments mis à sac, détruits, brûlés.
Mercredi 27 juillet. La vie reprend partiellement. Des queues se forment devant les quelques magasins ouverts. Il est très difficile de trouver de quoi se nourrir. Vers 15 heures, toutes les boutiques ferment et les rues se vident de nouveau. De même, la gare est presque déserte.
Jeudi 28 juillet. Dans la matinée, la gare est envahie par la foule. Aux alentours de 10 heures, sept Tamouls sont tués à coup de pierre par des civils et leurs corps sont mis à feu devant des milliers de spectateurs impassibles. L’Armée et la Marine interviennent et font évacuer la gare. Vers 15 heures, nous sommes interpellés par la police, ainsi qu’un groupe de touristes de six nationalités qui a, comme nous, trouvé refuge dans la gare. Les forces de l’ordre nous réclament les pellicules de nos appareils photos. Face à notre refus, nous sommes emmenés au poste de police. Nous réussissons à dissimuler une partie de nos pellicules. Nous sommes finalement transportés en camion, avec  quatre personnes tamoules, dans un camp de réfugiés. On nous sert un repas et nous repartons aussitôt. Nous roulons dans la ville déserte. Les quatre Tamouls sont déposés, pour la nuit, dans un collège catholique. Quant à nous, nous sommes conduits jusqu’à une auberge de jeunesse, dans le quartier de Bambalapitiya.
Vendredi 29 juillet. Nous sommes de retour à la gare de Colombo-Fort vers 7 heures. Dans la matinée, on assiste à d’importants mouvements de foule. Les gens courent dans les rues et fuient un danger qui reste invisible. On entend des coups de feu au loin. Des soldats et des policiers patrouillent devant la gare. Il se dit qu’un commando tamoul prépare une attaque. Mais aucun assaut n’a lieu. Nous quittons Colombo en train ce jour-là, en direction de Negombo.
Voilà ce que je peux dire aujourd’hui de ces quelques jours passés à Colombo lors de ce Juillet Noir. Nous avons poursuivi notre voyage dans l’île jusqu’à la fin du mois d’août, sans incident grave, en essayant d’éviter les zones de tension. A plusieurs reprises cependant, nous avons été arrêtés par des militaires et des policiers qui braquaient leurs armes sur nous. Dans les villes, le couvre-feu était souvent de rigueur. Durant ce séjour, nous nous sommes également rendus dans le Tamil Nadu indien, en avion depuis Colombo, les liaisons par mer depuis Talaimannar étant coupées.
Vincent Faugère
Copyright pour toutes les photographies : Vincent Faugère

« unpublished photographs taken by a French tourist during the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983 » by Vincent Faugère

We warmly thank Vincent Faugère for allowing us to upload unpublished photographs he took during the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983. Vincent Faugère came with his father to visit Sri Lanka in July 1983. He was then 15 years old. It happened that Vincent and his father were in Colombo when Tamil people were killed and chased from the town.

The photographs Vincent shares here were shot between july 26th and 29th, 1983, around Colombo railways station. He knows that from the travel notebook he had been writing  at this time.
Copyright for all photographs : Vincent Faugère

« Untold Stories from Kandy » by Groundviews

 

Featured image courtesy Vikalpa/Ishara Danasekara 

Featured image courtesy Vikalpa/Ishara Danasekara 

“This is the money that my daughter and I collected every day in a till. It used to be on the cabinet. The notes can no longer be found. The coins were caught in the flames and were burned.”

He took the coins one by one and held them in his hands. His breath caught in his chest.

To him, the value in these coins was clearly more than the rupee or two that they were worth.

“We’re not angry with the Sinhalese”, were his last words to me.

Vikalpa traveled to Digana and surrounding areas in the aftermath of riots targeting the Muslim community in March. The following story is a translation of Vikalpa’s coverage.

Read the full article here.

source: Groundviews

« Mired by Multiple Loan Sharks » by Amra Ismail

After a nearly three-decade civil war those devastated by it had to rebuild their lives and finding employment was a challenge. The strategy adopted by the Government was to expand credit and promote self-employment. But then things took a turn for the worse when their livelihoods did not flourish. People could not repay the mounting debts. The once war-torn areas of the country are now mired by multiple loans which include ‘predatory’ microfinance loans and loans provided by informal lenders at exorbitant interest rates.Failed attempts at self-employment coupled with accumulating high interest loans have now driven families to the brink of poverty.

via: www.dailymirror.lk/article/Mired-by-Multiple-Loan-Sharks-149365.html

source: dailymirror.lk

« CBK demands suspension of multimillion dollar Chinese water project » by Namini Wijedasa

A multimillion dollar Chinese-funded water supply project has run into controversy with former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga openly demanding its suspension and an inquiry on the grounds that it is overpriced. In August 2016, the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) awarded a contract to China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) for the Gampaha, Attanagalla and Minuwangoda Integrated Water Supply Scheme. The project cost is US$ 229.5mn (Rs 35.8bn). It is 85 percent funded by a China Development Bank (CDB) loan while the Bank of Ceylon will lend the Government 15 percent of the contract price or US$ 34mn (Rs 5.3bn) as local funding.

via: http://www.sundaytimes.lk/180325/news/cbk-demands-suspension-of-multimillion-dollar-chinese-water-project-287633.html

« Reviving education in North will take years: PM » by DailyMirror.lk

It would take at least another ten years to revive the fallen education system in the North, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said today.

via: http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Reviving-education-in-North-will-take-years-PM-147952.html

« Police, politicians accused of joining Sri Lanka’s anti-Muslim riots » by Reuters

Police and politicians backed by the country’s former strongman President Mahinda Rajapaksa joined anti-Muslim riots that rocked Sri Lanka’s Kandy district this month, according to witnesses, officials and CCTV footage reviewed by Reuters.

via: https://www.reuters.com/article/sri-lanka-clashes/rpt-insight-police-politicians-accused-of-joining-sri-lankas-anti-muslim-riots-idUSL3N1R70A8

« Sri Lankan corporals arrested on Sri Lankan corporals arrested on anti-Muslim riot charges Reuters charges » by Reuters

Sri Lankan police have arrested two army corporals for their suspected involvement in anti-Muslim riots in the central highlands district of Kandy last month, police said on Tuesday.

via: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sri-lanka-clashes-arrests/sri-lankan-corporals-arrested-on-anti-muslim-riot-charges-idUSKBN1HH1SB

« US rights report notes Sri Lanka’s slowness in transitional justice » by The Hindu

Torture remained endemic throughout Sri Lanka in 2017, the US has said, highlighting limited progress made by the government in establishing additional transitional justice mechanisms.

via: http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-rights-report-notes-sri-lankas-slowness-in-transitional-justice/article23635493.ece

« How to Celebrate Buddha in Sri Lanka? Stop Partying, Some Say » by Maria Abi-Habib

It was time to reclaim the holiday. To put the Buddha back into Vesak, so to speak.

But as Sri Lankans prepared to celebrate Vesak, the holiday this week commemorating the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death, the government shook a stern finger. The celebrations had become too indulgent, a directive warned.

via: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/02/world/asia/sri-lanka-vesak-buddhas-birthday.html

🎥 Lester James Peries (1919-2018) ‒ ලෙස්ටර් ජෙම්ස් පීරිස් ‒ லெஸ்டர் ஜேம்ஸ் பீரிஸ்

ලෙස්ටර් ජෙම්ස් පීරිස්

Lester James Peries
(1919-2018)

லெஸ்டர் ஜேம்ஸ் பீரிஸ்

Figure majeure du cinéma srilankais, Lester James Peries vient de s’éteindre à l’âge de 99 ans. Il est né en 1919 sur l’île de Ceylan, alors colonie britannique. Il a commencé sa carrière cinématographique au Royaume-Uni, tout en exerçant le métier de journaliste. En 1952, il a regagné son pays devenu indépendant pour travailler au développement de la création cinématographique locale. Il a connu son premier grand succès en 1963 avec Changement au village et a réalisé une vingtaine de longs métrages au cours de sa carrière. [En savoir plus sur suravi.fr]

Considered the father of Sri Lankan cinema, Lester James Peries just died at 99 years of age. He was born in 1919 in the then British colony of Ceylon, and began his film career in Britain while working as a journalist. He returned in his newly independent country in 1952 to help with the growth of the local film industry. His first big success came in 1963 with the film Changing Village and since then he has made about 20 feature films. [more on suravi.fr]

source: Suravi

« Weaponising 280 characters: What 200,000 tweets and 4,000 bots tell us about state of Twitter in Sri Lanka » by Sanjana Hattotuwa, Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and Raymond Serrato

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) has released a report on social media, « Weaponising 280 characters: What 200,000 tweets and 4,000 bots tell us about state of Twitter in Sri Lanka ». The report is available for immediate download here.
The report is a collaboration between Sanjana Hattotuwa, a Senior Researcher at CPA and the head of the Civic Media Team and two leading data scientists – Yudhanjaya Wijeratne, based in Sri Lanka and Raymond Serrato, based in Germany. It is a response to an unprecedented social media phenomenon in Sri Lanka, with disturbing as well as potentially deeply disruptive implications for the health of the country’s democratic dialogue and electoral processes.
The recent violence in Kandy brought social media under renewed scrutiny for its role, reach and relevance in contributing to the production and spread of violent, hateful content. Starting late March, weeks after the cessation of the violent attacks, Twitter users began noticing a tsunami of accounts with no bios, no tweets and the default profile picture following them. Several fake Twitter accounts were identified to be promoting false or misleading content during the violence in Kandy. This, coupled with the heightened production of suspicious Twitter accounts raised red flags amongst Twitter users.
Given the scale and scope of the infestation, CPA’s English language civic media platform Groundviews, for the first time in the Sri Lankan Twittersphere, took the step of making public its block list, which other users could import. Even this measure though was not enough to address the high frequency with which new, fake accounts were being created, attaching themselves to prominent Twitter users in Sri Lanka. A preliminary analysis of 1,262 accounts, a subset of the larger dataset used for this report, indicated that the majority of suspicious accounts following Twitter users were bots.
A visualisation of the number of accounts targeted by the bots revealed that leading diplomats, Ambassadors based in Sri Lanka, the official accounts of diplomatic missions, leading local politicians, the former President of the Maldives, media institutions, civil society organisations and initiatives, leading journalists, cricketers and other individuals were amongst those who had large numbers of bot followers.
Considering bots are now a permanent feature of Sri Lanka’s Twitter landscape and will likely grow in scope and scale leading up to elections or a referendum, it is important to ask how to address the issue at scale, given the number of citizens – directly connected as well as influenced by those connected – involved.
Even with its limited scope and data, this report is a clear snapshot of the political landscape we now inhabit, and projects in the future real dangers that result from just the visible investments made around key social media platforms, which are today the key information and news vectors for a demographic between 18-34.
This report by CPA follows the path-breaking data driven study into the bots and trolls associated with a prominent politician in Sri Lanka, published in January 2018, which was also a collaborative research exercise with Yudhanjaya Wijeratne. Download Namal Rajapaksa, bots and trolls: New contours of digital propaganda and online discourse in Sri Lanka here.
For further information and media inquiries, please contact Sanjana Hattotuwa on sanjanah@cpalanka.org.
Source:The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)