The Commonwealth Short Story Prize has announced the five regional winners from Africa, Asia, Canada & Europe, Caribbean, and the Pacific regions. In partnership with Commonwealth Writers, Granta is publishing each of the winning stories online this week. This selection showcases the exciting emerging talents, writers who bring a thrilling and essential glimpse of the world and the worlds that are within Britain. Today we bring you the winning entry from the Asia (Sri Lanka), Michael Mendis’ ‘The Sarong-Man in the Old House, and an Incubus for a Rainy Night’, and an interview with the author.
En droit international, le principe de non-intervention, c’est-à-dire le droit de tout État souverain à conduire ses affaires sans ingérence extérieure, est un principe coutumier universellement applicable. Suivant une contre-interprétation extensive et non juridique de la notion, la scène internationale apparaît souvent aujourd’hui comme un monde d’ingérences multiformes. Si la notion d’ingérence est souvent utilisée bien au-delà de sa dimension juridique dans le domaine de l’action humanitaire, elle a en outre donné lieu à une construction théorique qui s’affirme comme droit, en contradiction avec le principe coutumier de non-intervention.
Nathalie Herlemont-Zoritchak, docteur en sciences politiques (Thèse sur « Illusions et réalités de l’idéologie humanitaire : Les ONG « sans frontières » sont-elles devenues des acteurs de paix ? [1971-2001] »), est responsable du service analyse et positionnement à la direction générale de Handicap International. Elle est membre du comité de rédaction d’Humanitaire
Au Sri Lanka, la guerre est finie. Une fois de plus, les civils se sont retrouvés au cœur du conflit. Combien sont-ils à avoir perdu la vie ? Quelle est la situation des survivants emprisonnés dans des camps fermés et contrôlés par l’armée ? Seule une investigation indépendante permettrait de le savoir, les informations actuelles étant particulièrement contradictoires.
Juriste de formation, Pierre Salignon a été directeur général de l’association Médecins Sans Frontières de 2003 à 2007 après avoir occupé des responsabilités opérationnelles sur le terrain et au siège depuis 1992. Entre 2008 et 2009, il a été directeur du Health and Nutrition Tracking Service (HNTS), une initiative interagences, regroupant notamment experts, ONG et agences des Nations unies, visant à améliorer la collecte et l’analyse des données de mortalité et nutrition en situation de crise. Pierre Salignon s’exprime ici à titre personnel. Cette analyse ne saurait donc engager que son seul auteur.
If the bad guys win, the centre of gravity of Sri Lankan politics and society will shift still further to the right. It may even impact upon the choice of candidacy. If the neo-con project with its totalitarian notion of national security succeeds, the present dispensation will appear in a roseate afterglow as an era of tolerance and democracy.
“Sipping gin-and-tonic sundowners on the terrace of Lunuganga, the Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa’s sprawling country house, he and his principal collaborator during the 1950s and 1960s, the Danish architect Ulrik Plesner, now eighty-two, might impulsively decide to extend the parapet beneath them by a few feet, or to render a distant vista more agreeable by removing hundreds of intervening trees. Within hours these changes would come to pass, thanks to an endless supply of cheap semi-skilled labor and a strong local crafts heritage.”
China has offered Sri Lanka about $2.2 billion in loans for infrastructure projects and a free trade pact, the island nation said on Wednesday, moves that could stoke fresh unease in India about Beijing’s expanding influence in its neighbourhood.
“One of the larger areas of focus in the Report of the “Lesson’s Learnt and Reconciliation Commission” (LLRC) and the subsequent National Plan of Action of the LLRC is land. Though recommendations have been made with regard to land ownership and the “extents of private land” that is being “utilized for security purposes”, there are several civilians who are yet to have access to their land.
The former residents of the villages of Mayilitty, Kangesanthurai and Palali who have been living in temporary shelters since the year 1990 are among the many who await the day their land will be released to them. Mallakam Konappulam camp in Valikaamam North, Jaffna for the displaced is one such camp in which these former residents are residing. Facilities in this particular camp that holds approximately 424 individuals belonging to 127 families are poor, making the people’s demand to go back to their homes even greater. Watch the video for their story.”
Compared to hundreds of horrendous crimes of which read about daily, illicit emigration is not a serious crime. The harm they cause is mostly to themselves or to those who have funded them. The villains are those who facilitate and profit from the illicit emigration of others. In the case of the illicit emigrants the question arises: what is their motivation?
There is a strong case for accountability and recognition of the loss of life. The current situation does not hold out much hope for genuine reconciliation. Naming and shaming on the basis of exaggerated numbers is not the way to persuade the Sinhalese community to recognise the loss of life amongst the Vanni Tamils. Bludgeoning them with inflated numbers could lead to a backlash.
“A country’s foreign policy and its domestic policies are inextricably bound together. As United States Senator Lindsay Graham has perceptively observed, ‘’investment in foreign policy is a national security insurance’. The crucial element of balance that characterized the foreign policy of Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike is markedly lacking in our foreign policy today. President Jayewardene in his period in office unwisely moved away from the balanced foreign policy of his predecessor and not merely he and his government but Sri Lanka as a whole paid dearly for that significant failure. Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar restored that delicate balance to our foreign policy but those lesser mortals who followed him recklessly abandoned that in favour of a ‘realist’ counter-balance. We are today reaping the harmful consequences arising from our deviation from a balanced and nuanced foreign policy. As in the 1980s, it will be Sri Lanka as a whole that will once more suffer if our present government continues to follow a lop-sided foreign policy. Governments may come and governments may go, but Sri Lanka needs must go on. Hence all of us Sri Lankans have a crucial role to play to help resurrect Sri Lanka from the dangerous depths to which it has sunk in recent times. Our failure to rise to the occasion will only serve to push Sri Lanka deeper into the mire of chaos and dissension. The time to act to transform Sri Lanka into a viable 21st century state is now.”
“Yet, ‘Long War, Cold Peace’ is a useful reminder that one can, while defending the defeat of the LTTE, still adopt realist and pragmatic approaches to problems confronting the country which are different from those adopted by the current regime. Jayatilleka’s critique, in a sense, unmasks the mediocrity that has come to define this regime. But precisely because it does so, the title of the book might also define the very nature of Jayatilleka’s relationship with the current regime. It might not be a long war, but most certainly a cold peace, as always.
For now, however, Jayatilleka is back after a few years of thankless service in the diplomatic arena, back in Sri Lanka where it all began, and perhaps back with the feeling: this is how the ship sinks.”
“Many Sri Lankans remain in denial about the horror of those years and resist calls to unearth (sometimes literally) the evidence. Some, obviously, are fearful that what they – or those close to them – did, or failed to do, will be exposed, while others may prefer to shy away from confronting the scale of suffering. The fact that certain leading figures in the government and opposition may be implicated has added to the pressure to let the past stay buried.
However this refusal to get to grips with what happened is not only unjust to the dead, the bereaved and the traumatised but may be largely to blame for the massive violence that has taken place in twenty-first century Sri Lanka and ongoing ethnic, religious and social divisions. What is more, all civilians are at risk when the state is regarded as unaccountable to anyone, able to torture, burn and kill with impunity.”
“If the government wants to be serious about reconciliation, perhaps the best way to start is to provide credible answers about their family members to Sri Lankans who went to Geneva two months ago – to Dr. Manoharan, Sandya Ekneligoda, Sithi, and brother and sisters of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra. So they don’t have to go to Geneva again. And also respond to those who went before the LLRC. And thousands of others who await answers to their complaints to Police, Human Rights Commission, Courts and previous Commissions of Inquiries. And to all those protesting on variety of grievances – such as political prisoners, families of those disappeared, people whose lands are occupied by the military.
If this will start happening, then maybe we can still dream of reconciliation, rights and freedom in our lifetime. And it will help Sri Lankan citizens and the world to feel that we are a civilized country that cares about all it’s citizens, especially minorities, vulnerable persons and those with dissenting views, and where rule of law prevails.”