“Sri Lanka: No investigations and no accountability in attacks on refugees and asylum-seekers” Amnesty International

Six months after they were violently forced out of their homes, there has been no police investigations into and no accountability for the threats and violence faced by refugees and asylum-seekers in Sri Lanka, Amnesty International and Minority Rights Group International said in a new report published today.

via: amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/11/sri-lanka-refugees-no-investigation-six-months/?fbclid=IwAR24k8lpCp-b-mv5Wo4FvFI2x8m6Gm_aeCOPj0Pk1Yhy0UZSs5ZrHcNQFPE

“Rootless and homeless: Tragedy of Northern IDPs” Sunday Observer

This October marks the 29th anniversary of the exodus of Northern Muslims forcibly driven from their traditional homeland by the LTTE.

via: http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2019/10/27/news-features/rootless-and-homeless-tragedy-northern-idps?fbclid=IwAR0MgUlfyoXDPkqP4CVfeLqVYHkyTx1H392neqFfBT6GsqbQ1l8QTLPx-Gc

“Flights soon from Sri Lanka’s Jaffna to 4 Indian cities but not Chennai. Here’s why” Hindustan Times

Since the end of its three-decade long civil war in 2009 and with the help of India, Sri Lanka has been upgrading the Jaffna peninsula’s Kankesanthurai harbour and the adjacent air field Palali, which played a crucial role for the Sri Lankan air force to air-drop relief supplies during the brutal conflict, when supply lines to Jaffna were often cut off by the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

via: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/flights-soon-from-srilanka-s-jaffna-to-4-indian-cities-but-not-chennai-here-s-why/story-Ad5cSDmUzDvnIHVTRvtwrL.html?fbclid=IwAR0hdWvNpBj3x2BoOPV-HtvMuC-T40rO_Yl6tQCBT34SQwN44vPBSv-iXww

“In War’s Aftermath, Tamils Are Haunted By Hope For Relatives’ Return” Amrita Chandradas

In the past 30 years, some 60,000 to 100,000 Sri Lankans have disappeared, Amnesty International reports. Ethnic and religious tensions have always been a part of Sri Lanka’s history, which includes a decades-long war between government security forces and Tamil Tiger separatists that ended in 2009.

Photographer Amrita Chandradas, an Indian Tamil who was born and raised in Singapore, traveled to Jaffna, Sri Lanka, and nearby Neduntheevu island (also called Delft Island) to document disappearances among Sri Lankan Tamils.

via: https://www.npr.org/sections/pictureshow/2019/06/02/651883770/in-wars-aftermath-tamils-are-haunted-by-hope-for-relatives-return?fbclid=IwAR0l3HmdxNgxSRDtYoj2YyJBGfaD1RIy6vD-GT1bPW8ecGshGUqh5Ua5X7E&t=1572904622930

“Sri Lanka: awaiting justice for a decade” The Hindu

Given a choice between living in a camp for displaced persons and in a home of his own, Dinesh Kumar would have chosen the latter any day. But nothing prepared him for the daily battle at his new house.

“I go to the sea to fish, but the catch has fallen drastically in the years we were displaced. I do some home gardening with my wife, we barely manage,” said the 30-year-old, standing in front of his small, Army-built house in Tellippalai, in Jaffna peninsula. Authorities have named the colony ‘Nallinakkapuram’ (colony of reconciliation). But for residents here, concerns over finding livelihood and drinking water have trumped the relief of being back on their land.

via: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/sri-lanka-awaiting-justice-for-a-decade/article27165855.ece?fbclid=IwAR1fWR9I23DqWcJtvJz3-W8hm3w1oAT6ugs6zTR5S-4EY4P4hhBxJYJDQPQ

“Ten years after war ended, Sri Lankan Tamils may never get back land” Reuters

BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Sri Lankan government forces may never return swathes of land taken from ethnic Tamils during a decades-long civil war, land and human rights experts said on Friday, further impoverishing tens of thousands uprooted in the bloody conflict.

link: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sri-lanka-landrights/ten-years-after-war-ended-sri-lankan-tamils-may-never-get-back-land-idUSKCN1SN0JC?fbclid=IwAR0YrdH3loZW4xAicp4zIQYlzyKhwgA3yY4_B60Fj0SFYea0xwdyQTAcf9Q

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

“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

“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

“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)

“Why South Asia’s majorities act like persecuted minorities” by The Economist

When it is pointed out that Sri Lanka has, in fact, never experienced an act of violence attributable to Islamists, and that at this rate of conversion it will take the island’s Muslims about 10,000 years to convert the rest of its 21m inhabitants, Mr Gnanasara simply shrugs. His hoard of evidence does not really need to add up. In Sri Lanka, as across most of South Asia, surprisingly large numbers of people among groups that enjoy overwhelming numerical superiority seem eager to convince themselves that their identity is somehow in mortal danger.

via:https://www.economist.com/news/asia/21740416-no-conspiracy-theory-about-minorities-too-implausible-cause-outrage-why-south-asias-majorities