“Northern Sinhalisation: Government To Settle 500 Sinhala Families In Mannar Despite Muslim Anger” by Colombo Telegraph

“The Colombo Telegraph also learns of several moves to entice families in villages in the Hambantota District to move to Vavuniya. Sources on the ground in the District said that several people had been offered land and a Rs. 600,000 housing allowance if they moved to Vavuniya. The offer has come from such high places as UPFA Hambantota MP Namal Rajapaksa. However in order to avail themselves of the offer, the families would have to relinquish their residency status in Hambantota and take up permanent residency in Vavuniya. The villages had been told that a form was available at the Divisional Secretariat which needed to be completed. Once this documentation process was complete they could then travel to Vavuniya and hand the forms over to the military personnel there to be assigned their land. Four persons had already made the journey and it is learnt that at least one such Hambantota resident had been granted a prime piece of land with high quality timber on the property. Most villages in the District have been made aware of this option and that the necessary paperwork could be obtained from the Divisional Secretariats of their respective region.

SLT personnel have also indicated that staff from the institution, specifically those who reside in the deep south have been offered relocation options with housing, relocation allowance and government job opportunities in the north.”


source: Colombotelegraph.com

“Sri Lanka Struggles to Contain a Growing Epidemic of Child Abuse” by Anjani Trivedi

War-scarred Sri Lanka is experiencing an alarming scourge of child abuse and the apparatus for dealing with the problem, UNICEF says, is “grossly inadequate.”

Everyday, three to five children are raped in the island nation. Police statistics show the total number of child rapes in 2011 as 1,463; the figure jumped to 1,759 cases in 2012, according to a parliamentary report. Police records also give a total of just over 2,000 sexual offenses against children, besides rape, in 2011; child molestation cases in 2012 soared to over 5,000 according to parliamentary figures. The total number of all crimes against children — which besides sex crimes include crimes of violence, abduction, trafficking and other offenses — increased by a dramatic 64% between 2011 and 2012.

Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/08/13/sri-lanka-struggles-to-contain-a-growing-epidemic-of-child-abuse/#ixzz2bu3WvO4g

sources: world.time.com (via Groundviews)

“60 years since the Great Hartal ” by Ahilan Kadirgamar (Himal)

“The years since the end of civil war in 2009 have also been years of another wave of global integration for Sri Lanka, much like the earlier waves of liberalisation following independence in 1948 and the Jayawardena regime’s emergence in 1977. The impact of the global economic crisis of 2008 continues to be felt in the country, with decreasing demand for Sri Lankan exports even as the great inflow of speculative global finance capital continues. Historically, the hegemony of British- and then US-backed political regimes in the country allowed for drastic economic reforms. Today, the Rajapaksa regime is throwing its lot in with the emerging hegemonic power of China, using it to buttress development policies of infrastructure development, financialisation and urbanisation. Social welfare measures, particularly health and education programmes, are being cut even as the cost of living is rising. The acceleration of neoliberal accumulation through dispossession is pushing Lankan society towards a social crisis. Society is increasingly polarised as minorities are made scapegoats for prevalent socio-economic problems; the political economy of the hate campaign against the Muslims is deeply worrying. Is this, perhaps, the making of another great uprising, another major political shift, again with unpredictable consequences?”

60 years since the Great Hartal – Ahilan kadirgamar


source: Himalmag.com

“Sri Lanka and a tale of two clashes” by Dinouk Colombage

The two clashes have shown us that the religious groups of Sri Lanka are growing in extremism, able to muster the masses on to the streets and threaten the law and order of society. The government’s see-sawing reaction to these outcries of the populace leaves many questioning their commitment to upholding any semblance of democracy.

With the country having just marked its 30th anniversary of the Black July riots, the communal clashes in Grandpass was a hideous reminder of what we are capable of.

Via http://groundviews.org/2013/08/13/sri-lanka-and-a-tale-of-two-clashes/

source: Groundviews

ICES Research Paper: 08

The International Centre for Ethnic Studies is pleased to announce the launch ofResearch Paper No: 08 on the theme of Post War Reconciliation titled, Is Peace a Hostage of the Military Victory? Dilemmas of Reconciliation, Ethnic Cohesion and Peace-Building by Gamini Keerawella.

Having militarily defeated the LTTE, Sri Lanka presently stands at a critical historical juncture in its endeavour to attain a sustainable peace. The peace and stability of post-war Sri Lanka depends on the ability of key stakeholders in peace to utilise the new political space opened up at the end of the war to systematically address the root causes that generated and sustained ethnic conflict and violence. The paper proposes to reconfigure the post-war peace-building from a human rather than physical infrastructure-focused approach.The Archimedean screw of the entire post-conflict peacebuilding is the ability of the government to bring the core issues of political reform into the forefront of post-conflict peace-building in order to offer a durable solution to the ethnic problem. The paper argues that the end of the civil war does not conclude an ethno-political conflict; rather it re-defines the conflict in conditions of no-war, thereby necessitating new strategies for post-civil war peace-building and reconciliation. By redefining the conditions of the ethno-political conflict in a no-war context, the military defeat of the LTTE has opened a new historical space to find a durable solution to the ethno-political conflict but simultaneously created many constraints on that path in the context of post-war ‘triumphalism’ and the majoritarian mindset of the ethno-political clientele of the regime.

You can download this paper as a PDF document via the following links:

Box: PDF (Non-Facebook users)
Scribd: PDF
Source: ICES

2014 Tamil Studies Conference Call for Papers: “In Many Worlds: Kudi / Kudiyurimai, Belonging, and Citizenship in the Tamil Imaginary”

The call for papers for the 2014 Tamil Studies Conference, which is sponsored by the University of Toronto and the University of Windsor, is now available.  The conference will take place in Toronto on May 16-17.  The deadline for paper proposals August 31, 2013.  For details, see http://www.tamilstudiesconference.ca/

Source: AISLS

new website for Social Scientists’ Association

The New SSA Website was launched today.

The new website includes details of recent SSA publications, recent policy briefs and free issues as well as the table of contents of the most recent polity journals. Details of the latest news and eventsthat have taken place recently at the SSA are also now available online. You can also find out more about the history and profile of SSA or learn about the various collections and books available at the SSA library. An overview and description of the SSA’s current research projects is also available online.

Online Purchasing of SSA Publications Now Available.

Books published by SSA and sold at the Suriya Bookshop can now be purchased online. Please click on the image above or go to http://ssalanka.org/books/ to browse through our online store.


“Nation, Constitutionalism and Buddhism in Sri Lanka” by Roshan de Silva Wijeyeratne

Focusing on Sri Lanka, this book offers a new perspective on contemporary debates about nationalism in South Asia. It looks at the ‘capture’ of Buddhism by a highly fetishsised form of Sinhalese nationalism in the colonial and postcolonial periods, and the framing of subsequent key constitutional and nation-building moments.

When the author speaks of ‘Sinhalese Buddhism’ in the period prior to its engagement with the British colonial State he has in mind a relatively unbounded (although at times boundary forming) set of practices that facilitated both the inclusion and exclusion of non-‘Buddhist’ concepts and people within a particular cosmological frame. It is the cosmic order of premodern Sinhalese Buddhism that is particularly potent in its capacity to inform the late colonial and postcolonial socio-political order. Juxtaposing the premodern against the backdrop of colonial modernity, when de Silva Wijeyeratne speaks of modern Sinhalese Buddhism/nationalism he has in mind a much more reified and bounded concept imagined through a modern epistemology whose purpose was not so much inclusion, but a much more radical exclusion of non-‘Buddhist’ ideas and people. Modern Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism, then, emerges through the conjunction of discourse, power and knowledge at a distinct moment in the trajectory of the colonial State. An intrinsic feature of this modernist moment is that premodern categories were subject to a re-valuation that generated interesting consequences for State-society relations and the wider constitutional/legal imaginary. The author goes onto explore the dynamics of constitutionalism within the orbit of anthropological and historical scholarship on the cosmology of Sinhalese Buddhism and its relation to Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism.

Presenting a timely analysis given the intensification of Sri Lanka’s civil war since the election in 2005 of President Mahinda Rajapakse on an overtly ultra nationalist Sinhalese Buddhist platform, this book is of interest to scholars of South Asian studies, anthropology, sociology, ethnicity and political science.



Introduction: Sri Lankan Nationalism and the Presence of the Past: Towards a Hermeneutic Perspective

1. The Mahāvamsa as History and The Pre-History of State Formation

2. The Cosmology of Buddhism, the Pāli Chronicles and the Ontology of Evil

3. Textual Practices, Sinhalese Buddhist Consciousness and Dissonance

4. Galactic Polities, Cosmography and the Imaginary of Buddhist Sovereignty

5. The Transformation of Sinhalese Buddhist Consciousness in Its Colonial and Postcolonial Relation

6. Independence, Land, Citizenship and the Cosmic Order

7. Sinhalese Revolutionaries, Linguistic Nationalism and and Buddhism Reimagined

8. Cosmology, Constitutionalism and the Tamil as Other

9. Centralization, Decentralization and the Cosmology of Buddhism

10. Conclusion: Rethinking Community in Sri Lanka


Roshan de Silva Wijeyeratne is Lecturer in Law at Griffith Law School, Griffith University, Australia.

Conférences ayant pour thème “Religion and Performance in South Asia” organisées par le conférences ayant pour thème “Religion and Performance in South Asia”

Le Centre de Recherche sur la Religion (CREOR) de l’Université McGill annonce une série de sept conférences ayant pour thème “Religion and Performance in South Asia”.

Les conférences auront lieu dans la chapelle Birks de l’Université McGill les mercredis d’octobre et de novembre et seront suivies d’une période de questions.

Pour plus de détails, voir le document ci-joint ou le site web suivant:

Ou encore contactez le directeur du CREOR, le Prof. Davesh Soneji : davesh.soneji@mcgill.ca

L’événement est ouvert à tous.

source: CERIAS

“Islanded: Britain, Sri Lanka, and the Bounds of an Indian Ocean Colony” by Sujit Sivasundaram

384 pages | 33 halftones, 2 maps | 6 x 9 | © 2013

How did the British come to conquer South Asia in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries? Answers to this question usually start in northern India, neglecting the dramatic events that marked Britain’s contemporaneous subjugation of the island of Sri Lanka. In Islanded, Sujit Sivasundaram reconsiders the arrival of British rule in South Asia as a dynamic and unfinished process of territorialization and state building, revealing that the British colonial project was framed by the island’s traditions and maritime placement and built in part on the model they provided.

Using palm-leaf manuscripts from Sri Lanka to read the official colonial archive, Sivasundaram tells the story of two sets of islanders in combat and collaboration. He explores how the British organized the process of “islanding”: they aimed to create a separable unit of colonial governance and trade in keeping with conceptions of ethnology, culture, and geography. But rather than serving as a radical rupture, he reveals, islanding recycled traditions the British learned from Kandy, a kingdom in the Sri Lankan highlands whose customs—from strategies of war to views of nature—fascinated the British. Picking up a range of unusual themes, from migration, orientalism, and ethnography to botany, medicine, and education, Islanded is an engaging retelling of the advent of British rule.


Introduction: Paths through Mountains and Seas
1 Peoples
2 Trade
3 Scholars
4 Sites
5 Gardens
6 Land
7 Medicine
8 Publics
Conclusion: Convolutions of Space and Time

Review Quotes

C. A. Bayly, University of Cambridge
Islanded makes a critical contribution to our understanding of South Asian and Indian ocean history and provides a novel lens through which to review both the British taking of and departure from India. Using a wealth of colonial and indigenous documents, Sujit Sivasundaram’s intriguing argument is that during the first phase of their rule, the British undertook an unfinished process of severing or ‘partitioning’ Sri Lanka from the mainland, so emphasizing its Buddhist and Sinhala character.”

Nira Wickramasinghe, Leiden University
Islanded weaves an elegantly crafted, nuanced account of the recycling and appropriations of knowledges, as well as the movement of peoples, in Sri Lanka and beyond in the early nineteenth century. It firmly entrenches Sri Lankan historiography in the transnational moment, inserting it in wider circles while at the same time ‘partitioning’ it from the dominant Indian frame. The writing is engaging and lucid, a rare quality nowadays. A wonderful read that calls into question many assumptions on the nature of colonial domination.”

Gananath Obeyesekere, Princeton University
“Sujit Sivasundaram’s Islanded is one of the most important historical studies on Sri Lanka on the early colonial period. It deals with the British advent to Sri Lanka in the context of the country’s recent past and its strategic location in the Indian Ocean. It is not simply about governors and rulers and their doings but rather, as the Walrus said, about ‘shoes and ships and sealing-wax’—or, to put it differently, about peoples, places, traders, and such things in the island colony. Islanded is an imperative read for those of us interested in the colonial period in Sri Lanka and South Asia in general.”
The announcement of the book by the University of Chicago Press can be found here:


Sujit Sivasundaram is University Lecturer in World and Imperial History since 1500 and fellow of Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge. He is the author of Nature and the Godly Empire: Science and Evangelical Mission in the Pacific, 1795–1850.

source: AISLS

“Constitutionality of bill titled ‘The Twenty First Amendment to the Constitution’” by CPA

6th August 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka: A Bill titled “The Twenty First Amendment to the Constitution”, a Private Member’s Bill presented by the Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero, M.P. of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), was placed on the Order Paper of Parliament on 18th June 2013. The proposed Bill, if passed by Parliament would have the effect of repealing Chapter XVIIA of the Constitution, which was introduced by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) filed a petition in the Supreme Court on 24th June 2013 challenging the constitutionality of this Bill.

According to Article 154(G)(2) of the Constitution, no Bill for the amendment or repeal of the provisions of Chapter XVIIA becomes law, unless it has been referred by the President, after its publication in the Gazette and before it is placed to the Order Paper of Parliament, to every Provincial Council. Since no Provincial Council had been consulted in respect of this Bill, CPA contended that it cannot be enacted into law unless there was due compliance with the mandatory provisions of Article 154(G) (2). CPA believes this is an important procedure designed and included in the Constitution to encourage consultation and co-operation between Provincial Councils and the central government, and as a crucial safeguard for provincial autonomy under the scheme of devolution introduced by the Thirteenth Amendment.

During the course of argument before the Supreme Court, the judges hearing the case raised the concern – shared by Counsel representing the Attorney General’s Department as well as the Intervenient-Petitioners – that the Court’s jurisdiction is limited to Article 120 proviso (a) in the case of a Bill for the amendment of the Constitution. In response to this suggestion, CPA in its “further written submissions” contended that Article 154(G)(2) was a specific provision brought about by the Thirteenth Amendment for safeguarding devolution, which was not contemplated at the time of the enactment of Article 120 in 1978. Since Article 154(G) (2) creates a specific requirement of consultation in relation to a specified and limited category of constitutional amendments (i.e., those affecting the provisions of Chapter XVIIA), it seemed clear to us that the specific provisions of Article 154(G) (2) must be given effect to in this case, where the impugned Bill sought to abolish Chapter XVIIA as a whole. This contention was based on the need to give provisions of the Constitution a purposive and workable interpretation, as opposed to an interpretation, which would make certain provisions meaningless and irrelevant. Therefore it was CPA’s position that after the enactment of the Thirteenth Amendment, the restrictive interpretation suggested in relation to Article 120 was no longer reasonably possible.

There was a further objection that Section 3 of the Parliament (Powers and Privileges) Act precludes the Supreme Court from inquiring into the validity of the process by which Bills are placed on the Order Paper of Parliament. In response, CPA contended that the identical objection had been taken up in a previous case in which the Court had dealt exhaustively with the reasons as to why this objection was not correct. CPA also drew the attention of the Court to several of its own judgments, which inquired and pronounced upon the question of as to whether a Bill was properly placed on the Order Paper of Parliament.

In its Special Determination on the Twenty First Amendment to the Constitution Bill, which was placed before Parliament on 12th July 2013, the Supreme Court stated that:

  • In terms of Section 3 of Parliament (Powers and Privileges) Act incorporated into Article 67 of the Constitution, the placement of the Bill on the Order Paper was part of parliamentary proceedings that took place on 18th June 2013, and that the Supreme Court is denuded of jurisdiction to impeach proceedings in Parliament.
  • The petition filed by the petitioner is misconceived in law and premised on a footing in contravention of the jurisdiction conferred on the Supreme Court by proviso (a) to Article 120 read with Article 124 of the Constitution.

Beyond this, the Supreme Court did not address any of the arguments addressed to it by CPA (specifically in its further written submissions) and held that it cannot grant the determinations that CPA had prayed for in its petition. Finally, it may also be added that in a curious break from past practice the petitioner’s name does not appear on the face of the record of the Supreme Court’s determination published in the Official Report of the Parliamentary Debates on 12th July 2013, although the names of the Intervenient-Petitioners are as usual mentioned.

source: Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)

“Statement on the violence in Weliweriya” by CPA

6th August 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) notes with the greatest alarm and anxiety the distressing events that transpired at Weliweriya in the Gampaha District of the Western Province last Thursday, 1st August 2013. It is not the first instance in post-war Sri Lanka of unarmed citizens exercising their democratic right to protest being tear-gassed, fired upon and killed by the security forces: in the export processing zone at Katunayaka in 2011 and in Chilaw in 2012, respectively, 01 innocent citizen was killed. Likewise, media personnel covering the event were manhandled and their equipment confiscated, damaged or destroyed. The number of fatalities recorded in Weliweriya currently stands at 03, with many more injured.

These incidents of the killing of unarmed citizens – and in the Weliweriya incident, two young students reportedly not directly involved in the protest – are tragic and shameful reminders of the collapse of the rule of law in our country, and most importantly, of the mind-set of the government in respect of the exercise of democratic rights by its citizens. Serious and fundamental questions come to the fore with regard to the rule of law and the maintenance of law and order by the government, in the context of the complete disregard of the constitutional and legal framework governing the circumstances in which the armed forces may legitimately be called out in aid of the civil power. In this extra-legal sphere, is it now a standard operating procedure for the police to abdicate its responsibilities for law and order, on account of incapacity or otherwise, and call in special forces and the army?  What are the orders given to the latter in such a situation? Use live ammunition? Shoot and shoot to kill? Indeed, who gives such orders? Who takes responsibility for them? What is the operational chain of command and who answers to Parliament? What are the prospects for an unhindered judicial process?

An internal inquiry has been ordered by the new Commander of the Army, on whose first day of office, this reprehensible event occurred. There is also, apparently, an on-going police investigation. The Human Rights Commission too, has commenced an investigation. Adding insult to injury, government spokespersons are also quoted as alleging foreign involvement in the event, political party sponsorship of the violence, and ascribing responsibility to the media for the events.  Not only does it seem that the Sri Lankan state is fast becoming a predator rather than a protector of the people, but also that it holds the credulity and goodwill of its citizens in utter contempt.

Nothing short of a credible, independent and impartial investigation, the findings of which should be made public, can allay the concerns of the citizens of Sri Lanka as to the alarming extent of the collapse of the rule of law and law and order in the country. The failure to conduct such an investigation, and the necessary judicial punishment of the perpetrators, would be a major miscarriage of justice, a fundamental failure of the primary duty of protection that the state owes its people, and an invitation to continued adverse international attention to Sri Lanka’s human rights record. The government and its political allies including sections of the clergy would do well to heed these considerations in their response to the Weliweriya incident.

The fullest demonstration of the government’s genuine commitment to the rule of law and law and order with regard to this incident should be seen in turn as a measure of its willingness and ability to ensure democratic governance in Sri Lanka.  Its failure to do so will only further increase the burgeoning democratic deficit and retard our prospects for reconciliation, unity and prosperity.

source: CPA

workshop on ‘The Short Story’ at ICES Auditorium on 24th August 2013


The English Writer’s Cooperative of Sri Lanka


The International Centre for Ethnic Studies


 present a half-day workshop on


The Short Story’


Resource Person


Madhubashini Ratnayake


Head of the English Language Teaching Unit (ELTU), University of Sri Jayewardenepura
Winner of the 2011 Gratiaen Prize


Saturday 24th August 2013,9.30 a.m. to 1 p.m.


ICES Auditorium


No. 2 Kynsey Terrace, Colombo 8


The workshop is open to all



Participants can register by emailing or calling Lakmali  Alwis on lakmalice@gmail.com Tel- 011-2685085 (Ext- 103)


“Human Rights Commissions of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) complaint against the Independent Television Network of Sri Lanka (ITN)” by CPA

12 August 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and its Executive Director filed a complaint (Complaint No: HRC/3083/13) before the Human Rights Commissions of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) this afternoon against the Independent Television Network of Sri Lanka (ITN) and its Chairmen. The complaint was on the basis that a news item appearing on the 7:00pm Sinhala language news broadcast of ITN on Sunday 14th July 2013 violates several fundamental rights of both CPA and its Executive Director which are guaranteed under the Constitution to all citizens of Sri Lanka.

CPA had previously written to the Chairman of ITN on the 16th July 2013 requesting that the erroneous news report be corrected and a formal apology be tendered to both CPA and its Executive Director within one week. However neither of these two requests was acceded to.

Against the backdrop of the Ministry of Mass Media and Information attempting to introduce “a code of media ethics” for Private sector media institutions CPA finds it abhorrent that a state owned and publicly funded media institution would be allowed to engage in irresponsible, unprofessional and deceitful reporting of this nature.  Even more troubling is the unwillingness of the said media institution to accept that a mistake has been made and take remedial action once the error has been brought to its attention.

The only possible explanation to this callous disregard of the most basic media ethics is that it is part of a larger scheme to systematically undermine civil society organizations perceived to be critical of the government. It is clear that the state media apparatus is being used as one of several instruments to intimidate civil society organizations.

The erroneous and fabricated news report of 14th July 2013 is only one of several instances in which CPA and other civil society actors have been intimidated using the state media apparatus.  CPA hopes that the relief sought in its complaint –if granted- would result in the formulation of processes within state owned and publicly funded media institutions that would result in more accurate, fair and balance reporting and also act as a deterrent against malicious and fabricated reporting.

CPA is hopeful that the HRCSL will conduct a full and independent investigation into its complaint and grant reliefs prayed for therein.

A copy of the complaint can be downloaded from here or viewed online here.

source: Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)