We warmly thank Vincent Faugère for allowing us to upload unpublished photographs he took during the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983.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.
“On 9th July 1995, the Sri Lankan Air Force bombed the St Peter’s Church in Navaly and the nearby Sri Kathirgama Murugan Kovil, which were both sheltering displaced Tamils from army bombardment.
A total of 13 bombs were dropped on the sheltering shrines, killing 147 on the spot with many more succumbing to injuries later.”
We are happy to inform you that the joint photo library of the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) and the French School of Asian Studies (EFEO) is now online. You may access it through the website of the IFP and that of the EFEO.
The site provides access to the 134 600 photographs of the joint collection constituted between 1956 and 1999 by members of both institutions. The photographs of temples, statues and inscriptions that it contains are conserved in the premises of the IFP. This collection constitutes one of the last testimonies to a past whose rapid disappearance is of concern to specialists and aficionados, both Indian and Western. The two institutions have put it online, in order to make it accessible to a wide public.
We hope that it will be extensively consulted and that it will contribute in further highlighting the rich architectural and iconographic heritage of South India.
Editor’s Note: Amrita Chandradas is a documentary photographer currently based in Singapore and working across Southeast Asia. In 2014 she won the prestigious “Top 30 Under 30” award by Magnum Photographs. In this exclusive article for Fox & Hedgehog she recounts the story of a trip to Sri Lanka to document the aftereffects of the civil war. You can view more of Amrita’s work on her website.
Sri Lanka—known for her pristine beaches, lush wild jungles, and exotic food—has successfully concealed a dark past of civil unrest and political instability for the last three decades. She is an island divided by twenty-six years of civil war between the Sri Lankan Military and the Tamil Tigers, one of the largest rebel guerrilla forces in the world. The Tigers, otherwise known as LTTE, are infamous for inventing suicide belts; they used women in suicide attacks and successfully assassinated two international political leaders. Sri Lankan society plunged into segregation during the year 1948 when she achieved her independence from the British.
In four months’ time, Sri Lanka will mark the sixth anniversary of the end of its bloody civil conflict. Ever since government armed forces declared victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on May 19, 2009, the country has savored peace after a generation of war.
Journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge‘s murder on 8th January 2009 was utterly horrible and yet, even more unforgettable was the Rajapaksa government’s reaction to it. Lasantha’s last editorial, published posthumously, didn’t mince words.
It is well known that I was on two occasions brutally assaulted, while on another my house was sprayed with machine-gun fire. Despite the government’s sanctimonious assurances, there was never a serious police inquiry into the perpetrators of these attacks, and the attackers were never apprehended.
In all these cases, I have reason to believe the attacks were inspired by the government. When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.
Six years on, his killers remain at large.
To commemorate Lasantha’s death, Groundviews, in collaboration with The Picture Press and supported by Sri Lankans Without Borders, is pleased to release a set of three compelling investigative photo-essays, looking at Sri Lanka’s religious diversity as well as flagging to what extent it is under threat today.
As noted in the introduction to each photo essay, this content is “a tribute to a journalist whose brutal murder has impoverished us all, irrespective of whether we agreed with him or not… and also a tribute to Sri Lanka as it has always been and must continue to be – a rich, diverse, multi-religious and multi-ethnic society.”
Click on the link to access each essay:
- Religious Intolerance and Islamophobia in Post-war Sri Lanka
- Children, on Religion
- Rituals, Unpacked
The photo essays use Microsoft’s new Sway platform, which is completely responsive and tailors the content to whatever browser you are viewing it from, from desktop to mobile.
The tsunami took a dramatic toll on unsuspecting Sri Lankans – 35,322 were killed, half a million were displaced, and more than 100,000 houses were destroyed. Half of the damage struck areas had been hard-hit by a 21-year armed conflict, making access complex and politically charged. The country was left with a reconstruction bill of over US$3 billion and an unprecedented humanitarian challenge.
The 2004 tsunami keeps coming up as a key turning point in Sri Lanka and TPP was asked to interrogate to what extent it really influenced how the country deals with hazard warning and disaster risk recovery. Echoing more academic writing on ‘building back better’ TPP was also asked to look at how, and to what degree, we had recovered and learnt lessons from the 2004 tsunami, going to the field and speaking with a range of individuals.
The first dozen photos from this project are published today. Another set will follow in the first quarter of 2015.
Click on photos for larger version.
Groundviews was able to obtain from Digital Globe imagery around the aftermath of the Koslanda landslide.
AISLS is very pleased to announce the publication of A Guide to Locating Photographs of Colonial Ceylon, compiled by Benita Stambler, Coordinator of Asian Art at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. This guide documents over 50 collections held by non-profit institutions, businesses and individuals. Links are provided to images that are held online. An appendix gives a detailed account of the collection at Plâté in Colombo.
Cheered by tens of thousands of people, a train decorated with banana trees and colorful flower garlands arrived in Jaffna, the capital of Sri Lanka’s northern Tamil heartland, 24 years after the ‘Queen of Jaffna’ was suspended due to a bloody civil war.
‘Yarl Devi,’ as it is known in Tamil, was once a popular mode of transport between the ethnic Tamil-majority north and the Sinhala-majority south.
It was scaled back in 1990 because of the heightening of the war between the government and the Tamil Tigers, who were fighting to create an independent state for the country’s ethnic minority Tamils.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2790750/the-queen-jaffna-train-rides-24-years-suspended-sri-lankan-civil-war.html#ixzz3G9ZYZfjt
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“Gazing out over the parched earth of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, one might think these farmlands have not seen water in years. In fact, this is not too far from the truth.”
In two days of rioting and looting four people have been killed, including a Tamil security guard, and 80 others injured, the majority being from the Muslim community. Over 60 homes and businesses were set on fire in the two days while several mosques were also damaged.
Despite the deployment of Sri Lanka’s Special Task Force the police were unable to control the mobs who numbered in the thousands according to eyewitness reports. Eventually the military was called in to restore order.
The towns, which were once tourist attractions, are now under the blanket of a military curfew with many Muslim residents fearing to return to their homes. Sinhala Buddhist families in the area have taken to marking their homes with the Buddhist flag in an attempt to ensure they are not caught up in the attacks.
“Like me, you may have assumed Buddhism was such a happy religion. Until I discovered Buddhist Hell, deep in the South of Sri Lanka, I figured that Buddhist temples were full of kind, enlightened, robe-wearing folks, living out their days in this world performing good deeds, and getting a stack of good karma to boot. From a Western perspective, brand-Buddhism is pacifism, tranquility, and paying a hundred bucks to see the Shaolin Monks world tour, and being ripped off by Buddhist monks selling plastic beads. But wait, there’s more.
Unfortunately, visiting Sri Lanka, one of the most stunning island nations on the entire planet, has taught me everything I never wanted to know about Buddhism. Like all religions, Buddhism has a special dark place where people just don’t want to end up in this life, or any other. Buddhists refer to it as “Naraka” or “Niraya”. You may know it as “hell”. One artists vision of this tormented and gruesome place is on display inside the Buddhist temple named Wewurukannala Vihara, in the town named Dikwella. And the Buddhist version of hell, makes your version of hell seem like not such a terrible place.
Buddhists have developed a complex, and rather specific, number of hell’s and punishments. There’s sixteen hells. A small sample includes “Nirarbuda”, a place where miscreant beings roam around a dark, frozen plain surrounded by icy mountains, where bodies blister from the icy cold, and are covered in blood and pus.Or maybe “Samghata”, where the residents are continually crushed by huge rocks until they are nothing but a bloody jelly. The rocks then move apart, the being is restored, and the brutal process is repeated. For precisely 10.0368 trillion years”