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

« Cooperative System to Rejuvanate Northern Economy » by Azhar Razak

According to plans mooted by the Finance Ministry, the government intends to support community-based co-operative sector by investing in fifty small industries run by over 1,900 regional co-operative movements, in a major bid to spur sustainable and inclusive reconstruction, while generating employment for over 2,500 people.

via: http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2018/04/08/cooperative-system-rejuvenate-northern-economy

« Stories of Resilience: that aims to document and share stories of strength, courage and resilience of Tamil communities before, during and after the armed conflict » by  Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research (ACPR)

‘Stories of Resilience’ is a project by the Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research (ACPR) that aims to document and share stories of strength, courage and resilience of Tamil communities before, during and after the armed conflict. ACPR intends to preserve these stories for current and future generations of Tamils in Sri Lanka and the Diaspora as part of a broader conversation about Mullivaikkaal
This project aims to contribute to efforts around the world to document and share stories of Tamil survival, by documenting stories of those who still live in Sri Lanka and continue to persevere.

This project currently features two series’ of stories:
  • « Stories of Mullivaikkaal »: This series presents alternative narratives from survivors of Mullivaikkaal which does not narrow their lived experiences to helpless victimhood but rather promotes and accepts their agency. We hope that this series will raise awareness about the struggle and resilience of the survivors of the last phase of the war and broaden the conversation about assisting those who suffered mass atrocities during the end of the war.
  • « Stories of Vaharai« : This series presents a variety of narratives from Tamil individuals who have survived the war in and around the Vaharai region in the East. We hope that this series draws attention to the often overlooked ongoing plight faced by Tamil communities in the East, and the significant trauma they have experienced.
If you would like to be notified when new content is added to the website,
you can directly on ‘Stories of Resilience »s website.

Nine stories are alrealdy available there.

Source: http://storiesofresilience.com/

« Caste in the United States: A Survey of Caste among South Asian Americans » by Equality Lab

« This report came out of a community driven survey conducted in 2016 and has now emerged as a crucial document that both presents the first evidence of Caste discrimination in the US and helps to map the internal hegemonies within our communities. It also provides insight into how the South Asian community balances the experiences of living under white supremacy while replicating Caste, anti-Dalitness, and anti-Blackness.

As the South Asian American community, we are uniquely situated to redeem the errors of history as well as set the tone for a progressive conversation around Caste, both here and in countries of origin. »

via: https://www.equalitylabs.org/caste-survey-2018

To download directly the report: https://nofile.io/f/OXRXwaHU0dG/Caste+Survey+2018+Full.pdf

« Survey: employers’ perspectives on domestic workers » by The International Centre for Ethnic Studies

The International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) is conducting some studies on domestic workers in Sri Lanka. This work seeks to advance knowledge on the employment relations and working conditions.
A domestic worker is someone employed by a household to do tasks such as the following: driving, cleaning, cooking, gardening, guarding the house, laundry, childcare, care for the aged or sickly, taking care of pets. They may live with you or in their own home and they may work with you full-time, part-time or only come to your household when needed.
If your household is currently employing the services of a domestic worker, please take part in this survey on « Employers’ perspectives on domestic work« . The survey isanonymous and will take 10-15 minutes to complete.
 
Take the Survey:
 
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ජනවාර්ගික අධ්‍යයනය පිළිබඳ අන්තර්ජාතික කේන්ද්‍රය (ICES) විසින් ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ගෘහස්ත ශ්‍රමිකයින් පිළිබඳව අධ්‍යයනයන් පවත්වනු ලැබේ. මෙම අධ්‍යයනය මඟින් බලාපොරොත්තු වන්නේ සේවා සම්බන්ධතා සහ වැඩ තත්ත්වයන් පිලිබඳ දැනුම වර්ධනය කර ගැනීමයි.
ගෘහස්ත ශ්‍රමිකයකු යනු පහත සඳහන් ආකාරයේ කටයුතු සඳහා නිවසක් තුළ සේවයේ යොදවා ගන්නා තැනැත්තෙකි: එනම්, රිය පැදවීම, පිරිසිදු කිරීම, ආහාර පිසීම, උද්‍යාන අලංකරණය, නිවස බලා ගැනීම, රෙදි සේදීම, ළමයින් බලා ගැනීම, වැඩිහිටියන් හෝ රෝගීන් බලා ගැනීම, සුරතල් සතුන් බලා ගැනීම වැනි දේ ය.  ඔවුන් ඔබ සමඟ හෝ ඔවුන්ගේම නවාතැනක ජීවත් වන අතර, පූර්ණ කාලීනව, අර්ධ කාලීනව හෝ අවශ්‍ය වූ විටක පමණක් පැමිණ සේවය කරනු ලැබිය හැකිය.
මෙබඳු ආකාරයේ ගෘහස්ත ශ්‍රමිකයකු දැනට ඔබේ නිවස තුළ සේවයේ යොදවා ගනු ලැබේ නම්, « ගෘහස්ත ශ්‍රමිකයින් පිළිබඳ සේවාදායකයින්ගේ අදහස් » නමැති මෙම සමීක්ෂණය සඳහා සම්බන්ධ විය හැකිය. මෙම සමීක්ෂණය තුළ ඔබගේ අනන්‍යතාව හෙළි නොවන අතර,  සම්පූර්ණ කිරීම සඳහා දළ වශයෙන් මිනිත්තු 10-15ක් ගත වනු ඇත.
සමීක්ෂණය:
පුරවන්න.
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இனத்துவக் கற்கைகளுக்கான சர்வதேச நிலையம் (ICES)இலங்கையிலுள்ள வீட்டுப்பணியாளர்கள் தொடர்பான ஆய்வொன்றில் ஈடுபட்டுள்ளது. இந்த ஆய்வு வீட்டுப்பணியாளர்கள் – முதலாளிகள் இடையேயான உறவுநிலை மற்றும் பணி நிலைமைகள் தொடர்பான அறிவை மேம்படுத்திக்கொள்ள முனைகின்றது.

ஒரு வீட்டுப்பணியாளர் என்பவர் வீட்டில் வசிப்பவர்களினால் பின்வரும் பணிகள் உட்பட்ட வீட்டு வேலைகளை செய்வதற்காக பணிக்கு அமர்த்தப்பட்டவர் ஆவார்: வாகனம் ஓட்டுதல், துப்பரவு செய்தல், சமையல், தோட்டப்பராமரிப்பு, வீட்டை பாதுகாத்தல், சலவை செய்தல், குழந்தைப்பராமரிப்பு, வயதானவர்களை / நோயுற்றவர்களை பராமரித்தல்,செல்லப்பிராணிகளை பராமரித்தல். அவர்கள் உங்களுடன் வசிப்பவர்களாக அல்லது அவர்களது சொந்த வீட்டில் வசிப்பவர்களாக இருக்கலாம். மேலும் அவர்கள் முழு நேரம் அல்லது பகுதி நேரம் அல்லது வேலை தேவைப்படும்போது மட்டும் வேலைசெய்பவர்களாக இருக்கலாம்.

நீங்கள் தற்போது வீட்டுப்பணியாளர் ஒருவரை வேலைக்கு அமர்த்தியிருப்பவராக இருப்பின் தயவுசெய்து வீட்டுப்பணியாளர்கள் பற்றிய முதலாளிகளின் பார்வைஎன்ற இந்தக் கருத்துக்கணிப்பில் பங்கெடுக்கவும். அநாமதேயமான இந்தக் கருத்துக்கணிப்பை பூர்த்திசெய்ய 10 – 15 நிமிடங்கள் வரை எடுக்கும்.

கருத்துக்கணிப்பில் பங்கெடுக்க:

தமிழில்

ஆங்கிலத்தில்

சிங்களத்தில்

« 150 Years Later: the story of tea » by The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)

In 2017, we celebrate 150 years of tea production in Sri Lanka. To mark this anniversary, several events and activities have been planned throughout the year in Sri Lanka and internationally, including a Global Tea Party, International Tea Convention and a charity auction organised by a variety of stakeholders such as the Ceylon Tea Traders Association, Sri Lanka Tea Board, Tourist Board and tea companies.

While there is much reported in the media around these events, the anniversary celebrations and the future of Ceylon tea, there is little to no mention whatsoever of the tea plantation workers without whose contribution the industry would not exist.

There has been a lot of research and advocacy for decades on the rights of tea plantation workers, life conditions, wages and hardships faced by the workers and their families. In comparison to other parts of Sri Lanka, poverty, nutrition, maternal and children’s health statistics of plantation communities are poorer and further exacerbated by issues related to inadequate housing, alcoholism, gender based violence and unemployment especially among youth. Opinion polls conducted by the Centre for Policy Alternatives show that the community is badly impacted by the economy, have made serious cut backs in the household expenditure and feel little sense of empowerment as citizens of the country.

GroundviewsVikalpa and Maatram have previously created new media stories, in all three languages across their respective platforms, that highlight the hardships faced by the tea plantation workers.

With the objective of creating more visibility and awareness and to ensure that key narratives do not remain invisible during this significant anniversary, CPA’s civic media output over four weeks will be anchored to key issues facing the tea plantation workers to coincide with the 150-year anniversary celebrations in order to take advantage of the momentum gathered by the celebrations. As Sri Lanka strategises the future of the tea industry, it is critical that the official discussions and reflections seriously consider issues faced by the workers who sustain the industry. The output will focus on the change (or lack thereof) in the lives of the workers 150 years since the start the industry, including a plethora of issues faced by them and their families, challenges for the future, areas for reform and strengthening rights. Content will be in all three languages, through short-form video, photography, long-form journalism and other interactive media.

Download this statement here.

source: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)

New articles on religiosity among Tamil Hindu youths in Norway by Valen Kleive

Hildegunn Valen Kleive has recently published two articles (one in English and another in Norwegian) looking at religiosity among young Tamil Hindus in rural Norway.

The first (in English), ‘Belonging and Discomfort: Young Hindu Religiosity in Rural Norway’ is published in the Nordic Journal of Religion and Society and may be accessed here.

The second ‘Mestring og balanse. Trekk ved ung hindureligiøsitet’ is published in Prismet and may be accessed here. An English translation will follow at a later date.