“The Sarong-Man in the Old House, and an Incubus for a Rainy Night” by Michael Mendis

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.

Via http://www.granta.com/New-Writing/The-Sarong-Man-in-the-Old-House-and-an-Incubus-for-a-Rainy-Night

Sources: Granta

“Burnt history, forgotten memories” by Sinthujan Varatharajah


©Sinthujan Varatharajah 2013

(You must request permission from the author before using this photography : sinthujan.varatharajah@gmail.com)


32 years ago we lost part of our memory. Between May 31 -June 1, the history of an entire people came under fire. In organized attempts to wipe out their collective memory as a people, an ethnicity, a linguistic group, a cultural group and nation, their traces of the past were turned by Sri Lankan Sinhalese Police men and Sinhalese MPs from material culture to material ashes. More than 95.000 books, palm leaf manuscripts, pamphlets and other irreplaceable documents, which recorded more than thousand years of Tamil history, turned from highly valued literary material to litter. Within few hours Tamils did not only lose their public library, one of South Asia’s largest libraries, and with it great parts of their recorded history, but also violently learnt to understand their place and condition in the Sinhala majority-led state. Its mission of forcefully rewriting past and present became most evident.

Having lost great parts of our historical records we are today unable to tell our centuries old stories. Not being able to trace much of our past, we struggle to find greater meaning in our histories. As we today struggle to narrate our past, we lack the ability to fully understand our present. By having destabilized our archives of history, the Sri Lankan Sinhala state has successfully unsettled our collective memory as a people with a historic right to land and life. It undermined our physical presence by shaking the pillars of our cultural presence. While Tamil history has been burnt to the grounds 32 years ago, Sinhalese history today continues to be excavated and written in the backyards of Tamil massgraves and cemetries. History-making and archeology function as so often as a tool and weapon to destroy another group’s conciousness as a people.

32 years ago we lost history and parts of our ancestral biographies. Today we mourn for the puzzle pieces of history that have been violently taken away from us.

About the Author

Sinthujan Varatharajah is a recent graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a researcher on Islam and Muslim communities in France, Belgium and Switzerland for Euro-Islam. Follow him ontwitter.com/varathas


“« Droit d’ingérence » et droit humanitaire : les faux amis” par Nathalie Herlemont-Zoritchak (Revue Humanitaire)


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

Article consultable entièrement et gratuitement sur: http://humanitaire.revues.org/index594.html

Source: Revue Humanitaire

“Compter les morts au Sri Lanka : les représentations humanitaires en question ?” par Pierre Salignon (Revue 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.

Texte intégral disponible en accès libre: http://humanitaire.revues.org/index602.html

Source: Revue Humanitaire

“Sri Lanka at a critical crossroad: JHU and the 13th Amendment” by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

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.

Via http://groundviews.org/2013/05/30/sri-lanka-at-a-critical-crossroad-jhu-and-the-13th-amendment/

source: Groundviews

“Under Sri Lanka’s Big Roof” by Martin Filler

“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.”

Via http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/may/29/sri-lanka-bawa-plesner/

Source: Groundviews et nybook

“China to give Sri Lanka $2.2 billion in loans for infrastructure projects” (The Times of India)

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.

Via http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/China-to-give-Sri-Lanka-2-2-billion-in-loans-for-infrastructure-projects/articleshow/20330279.cms

Source: www.TimesofIndia.IndiaTimes.com

““We don’t want aid, just give us back our land” – The displaced at Mallakam Konappulam Camp” by Thiagarajah Nirosh

“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.”

To watch the vidéo: http://vimarsanam-vimansa.org/report/we-dont-want-aid-just-give-us-back-our-land-the-displaced-at-mallakam-konappulam-camp/

Source: Vimarsanam-vimansa.org

“Illicit Emigrants: Criminals or Victims?” by Devanesan Nesiah (Groundviews)

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?

Via http://groundviews.org/2013/05/29/illicit-emigrants-criminals-or-victims/

“Sri Lanka’s Numbers Game” by Padraig Colman

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.

Via http://groundviews.org/2013/05/28/sri-lankas-numbers-game/

“Of Foreign Policy Failures, Geneva Resolutions, Double Standards and other excuses for Non-Reconciliation in Sri Lanka” by Tissa Jayatilaka

“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.”

Read full article here.

source: Groundviews

“‘Long War, Cold Peace’ & the Return of Dayan Jayatilleka” by Kalana Senaratne

“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.”
Read full article here.
Source: Groundviews

“Conviction of Efraín Ríos Montt and the need for accountability” by Savitri Hensman

“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.”
Read full article here
source: Groundviews

“Reconciliation, Rights & Freedom: Four years after the end of war in Sri Lanka” By Ruki

“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.”
Click here for full article.
source: Groundviews