“Australia: Prime Minister Should Retract Torture Remarks” by Human Rights Watch

“(Sydney) – Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott should retract his November 15, 2013 remarks condoning the use of torture in Sri Lanka, Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights Law Centre, Amnesty International Australia, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, and the Castan Centre for Human Rights said today in a letter to the prime minister.”

via: http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/11/25/australia-prime-minister-should-retract-torture-remarks

source: www.hrw.org

Northern Provincial Council: Finances and Economic Development Jaffna Managers Forum, 12th November 2013

“In light of the opening created by the provincial elections after twenty five years in the North and the urgent need to address the continuing economic problems after the war, the Jaffna Managers Forum held the first in a series of public discussions on 10th November 2013. The discussion titled, ‘Northern Provincial Council: Finances and Economic Development’, was well attended by people from various professions and perspectives. The Jaffna Managers Forum and the participants decided to convey the salient points of the discussion to the Chief Minister and Councillors of the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) and the public at large.The first few months of any new government, including a provincial government is a critical period in gaining momentum towards making broader political, economic and social changes during the entire term in office. Given the strong mandate received by the Chief Minister and the TNA, we call upon them to make their vision public for addressing the grievances and aspirations of the people in the Northern Province. The draft Financial Statement (provincial budget) for the year needs to be made public and explained to the population, which is a basic exercise in transparency and accountability. The input from the public could be accommodated to the extent practically possible before finalising and placing before the Provincial Council for a vote later in the year. However, the development vision needs to go far beyond that and articulate the strategy and roadmap to uplift the people socially and economically over the next few years.

The NPC should engage the Centre and work towards economic policies that can rebuild the North and create employment opportunities. While considerable funds have been spent on large infrastructure projects by the government and the international donors, they have not improved the socio-economic situation of the broader population. Since the end of the war and the opening of the A-9 road, the North has merely seen the influx of consumer goods and the expansion of credit, which have in fact indebted the local population. The agricultural and fishing communities in particular are in a dire situation. The emphasis of future investments should be on employment creation. In this context, the NPC should play a watchdog role with respect to the Centre’s intervention.

Given the limited funds available to the NPC for capital investment, it should lobby and initiate agreements between international donors and the Government of Sri Lanka. The Fifty Thousand Indian Housing project, the most significant grant to the Northern Province, has been important in addressing the housing needs of the war-torn population and created employment for skilled and unskilled labour force. Such projects, particularly to create employment, are the need of the hour. Some donor projects focused on micro credit and other revolving fund initiatives around livelihoods have failed, and the lessons of such failures should be taken into consideration in engaging international actors for support.

Next, given the indebtedness facing the Northern population and the failure of rural incomes, there are increasing reports of food insecurity. Four and a half years after the end of the war, the war-torn population requires food subsidies and other grants to address this crisis even as medium-term measures towards livelihoods and employment creation are considered. The foreign dignitaries attending the Commonwealth Conference should be invited to address the plight of the people and to provide financial assistance to overcome the humanitarian crisis.

The NPC should carry out a needs assessment that considers the immediate, medium and long term development needs of the Northern Province and move on engaging the various actors that can support rebuilding the North. However, finances alone will not determine successful reconstruction. At the heart of the issue is also the model of economic development suitable to the social and economic conditions in the Northern Province.

The citizens of the Northern Province should not leave the issues of governance entirely to the newly elected Chief Minister and to the Board of Ministers. The citizens should be fully awake to their civic responsibilities, be incessantly vigilant and continuously engage with the policy making and the governance processes in order to ensure that the TNA does not deviate or compromise at this historic juncture. The public have an important role in keeping the NPC accountable. The Jaffna Managers Forum calls on the citizenry to be active in engaging the Provincial Councillors and the bureaucracy to ensure this valuable opening created by their own votes is not squandered. The first step in that direction will be the unveiling of a development vision by the Chief Minister and a vibrant public debate on the present situation of the Northern Province and its future.

The Jaffna Managers Forum offers a platform for all those civic conscious citizens of the Northern Province to engage in such an important endeavour. In this context, the next public discussion in this series by the Jaffna Managers Forum is titled ‘The Role of the Cooperative Sector in the Northern Economy’.

Thank You.”

Jaffna Managers Forum

For inquiries and further information, contact:

M. Sooriasegaram
Jaffna Managers Forum
17 Agrarian Services Lane
Telephone: 0772209556

“Correcting Hudson’s Crooked Political Vision” by Nimalka Fernando

“Finally, the word and expression `loving the motherland’ has been used to benefit the Rajapakse clan and people like the Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. It is a ‘Veil of Patriotism’ which hides the nakedness of their corruption. We are not bound to protect the rulers and the stooges who are dragging our motherland into disrespect internationally by their own crooked political vision. We have every right to speak about violent and corrupt practices of rulers that violate international human rights standards and norms every state as a member of United Nations have agreed to uphold.”

Via http://groundviews.org/2013/11/27/correcting-hudsons-crooked-political-vision/

source: www.groundviews.org

“Priming the Sex Worker: Poverty or Prosperity?” by Riza Yehiya

50,000 sex workers in Sri Lanka is a challenge to the Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Islamic social and cultural value system. The four major religions in this country should rise to the occasion and work in tandem with the state and the society. They should protect the social and cultural values from erosion and help sex workers to transit to dignified life with decent alternative means of earning. A concerted action by the society and sustainable socio-economic planning by the state could auger better life to all citizens to live with dignity and respect. No citizens of mother Lanka need to sell their flesh just because of poverty or any other reason, if the rest of the country, men and women acted with due diligence.

Via http://groundviews.org/2013/11/27/priming-the-sex-worker-poverty-or-prosperity/

source: groundviews.org

“Not quite paradise?” by Nouse

“The real no-go area for the local media is the defence estabilishment. Because of the various attacks on media institutions, they went into self-censorship mode and it hasn’t quite got out of it. So what they won’t touch is any criticism of the Defence Secretary unless it’s by a columnist. They won’t really cover what is actually happening in the North and East. So anything to do with the whole issues of war crimes and the number dead they don’t really cover. They will be critical of governance issues in the South. So largely it’s a self-censorship of the most sensitive areas. Arguably the most powerful man next to the President is the Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. There hasn’t been a single cartoon depicting Gotabye in the last five or six years. They are terribly scared.”

Via http://www.nouse.co.uk/2013/11/26/not-quite-paradise/


The Asia Society has announced a new program, LankaCorps.  Information is below, and attached.  Please forward this to anyone who may be interested.

Call for Applicants, LankaCorps 2014 (Deadline: January 28, 2014):
LankaCorps is a unique opportunity for young leaders of Sri Lankan heritage to professionally engage in social, cultural, and economic development activities in Sri Lanka. The program aims to foster the involvement and understanding of young members of the diaspora who have limited in-depth experience with the country of their heritage. Each year, The Asia Foundation selects an outstanding group of LankaCorps Fellows to live and work for six months in Sri Lanka, granting them the chance to “explore their roots while giving back.” Learn more at: www.lankacorps.org

Dr. Daniel Bass
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Central Connecticut State University
1615 Stanley Street
New Britain CT 06050

source: AISLS

“Transgressing Religious Boundaries: The Power of Aesthetics in Tamil Catholic and Hindu Worship” by Stine Bruland


This article discusses shared material culture and sensorial practices in prayer among Hindu and Catholic Sri Lankan Tamils living in Paris, such as the clockwise circling of incense, the use of flower garlands, and the worship of Mother Mary. Rather than classifying these practices into religious categories, I argue for a need to examine how such practices come to be shared. By employing a material approach to religious aesthetics which recognizes that objects or “things” are active and have agency and affect how we sense and thus experience our world, I suggest that common aesthetic elements are able to produce feelings of religiosity and, particularly for people who share a common aesthetic in everyday life, to bridge the levels between humans and the divine.

Source: Bruland S.,”Transgressing Religious Boundaries: The Power of Aesthetics in Tamil Catholic and Hindu Worship”, in   Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief, Volume 9, Number 4, December 2013 , pp. 418-440(23)

source: www.ingentaconnect.com

“He who convinced the world that Tamil is classical language” (Thehindu.com)

“Rev. Prof. Xavier S. Thaninayagam Adigalar, whose birth centenary is being celebrated in Tiruchi on Sunday, is a renowned Tamil scholar who worked for promoting Tamil language and literature throughout the world. His efforts convinced the international scholars to accept Tamil as a most ancient and classical language of India.”

via: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/he-who-convinced-the-world-that-tamil-is-classical-language/article5385954.ece

source: Thehindu.com

“Sri Lankan Migrants and Identity in Contemporary British Fiction: Roma Tearne’s Art of Memory” by Marianne Godard

We are pleased to share a link to download the Master thesis of Marianne Godard which deals with “Sri Lankan Migrants and Identity in Contemporary British Fiction: Roma Tearne’s Art of Memory”. This work, headed by Professor Ruth Morse, was realized in the framework of the Master in Anglophones studies at the University Diderot Paris 7.

Master Thesis Marianne Godard

Référence: Godard M., 2011, “Sri Lankan Migrants and Identity in Contemporary British Fiction: Roma Tearne’s Art of Memory”, Master’s thesis in Anglophones studies, Paris, University Diderot Paris 7, p.57

Research and Writing Workshop in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics,18-22 January 2014, Kerala Agricultural University

SANDEE and the Centre of Excellence in Environmental Economics, Kerala Agricultural University -A Research and Writing Workshop in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
18-22 January 2014 | Centre of Excellence in Environmental Economics, College of Horticulture, Kerala Agricultural University, Kerala, India

Concept Note Submission Deadline is 10th Dec 2013
The Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) and the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) are jointly organizing a Research and Writing Workshop in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics during January 18 – 22, 2014 at the Centre of Excellence in Environmental Economics in Vellanikkara, Thrissur District. The aim of this workshop is to build research capacity in the area of environment and resource economics in South India and Sri Lanka. The objectives of the workshop are to develop research proposal writing skills among researchers beginning to work on the economics of environmental problems; to introduce researchers to current policy concerns and research themes related to environment and development across South Asia. The workshop will provide an opportunity for South Indian and Sri Lankan researchers, interested in the field of environmental and natural resource economics to become more familiar with research concepts and techniques. International and local experts will conduct the workshop.

The workshop will provide practical training where participants first identify research issues and then develop research concepts into research proposals under the guidance and assistance of resource persons. It will enable participants to strengthen skills related to logically developing research ideas, examining and drawing from known literature, assessing data availability and adequacy for answering research questions, and improving presentation skills. Resource persons will provide technical inputs on individual research concepts identified by participants.

A total of 12-14 participants will be invited to participate in the Workshop based on Concept Notes submitted by the participants. Participants will initially present their research concepts to peers and receive comments. Reading some new research papers and informal consultation with experts will follow. The candidates will have to present a modified version of the research concept again based on these discussions, which will help them shape a complete proposal for submitting to SANDEE or other funding/training agencies.

PhD or Master’s Degree in Economics or any field of Applied Economics with minimum two years of research or teaching experience is essential. Candidates with a PhD or working towards or with future plans for a Ph.D. degree are encouraged.
Interest in research and teaching related to Environmental and Natural Resource Economics.
Women, mid-career applicants are encouraged to apply.
Quantitative skills and previous research experience would be helpful.
Researchers from institutions in South India and Sri Lankan are eligible to apply.
Multi-disciplinary teams of two are eligible and encouraged.
Requirements for Application
Apply with a short CV [no more than 2 pages] and a cover letter (no more than 250 words) expressing research interest
A three page concept note [as per the attached guidelines] should be submitted

Key research topics for the concept note include: a) Climate change mitigation and adaptation, b) management of ecosystem services and c) Policy instruments for greener growth and the economics of, green technology adoption.


Apply directly to Dr P. Indira Devi at ce.eecon.kau@gmail.comindiradevi.p@kau.in with a copy to application@sandeeonline.org by 10th Dec 2013.
The quality of the concept


““If I Contested I Could have Brougt More Votes”-Douglas Devananda” by Kelum Bandara (dbsjeyaraj.com)

“Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Minister Douglas Devananda remains disillusioned about the electoral defeat at the Northern Provincial Council Poll on September 21. Mr. Devananda, the leader of EPDP, is a strong advocate of the Provincial Council (PC) system. Also, EPDP is a militant group that laid down arms soon after the introduction of the system in 1987 under the Indo-Lanka Accord. During a recent interview with Daily Mirror, he speaks out his sentiments on the elections and the way forward for his party.”

via: http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/26680

source: dbsjeyaraj.com

“Sri Lanka: The time for an international investigation is now” by JS Tissainayagam

An international investigation into Sri Lanka’s war crimes is long overdue. It is time for the rest of the Commonwealth and the international community to stop treating Sri Lanka with kid gloves and follow the lead of Mauritius whose prime minister said world leaders must act because Sri Lanka’s total lack of accountability was unacceptable. Waiting till March to find out whether a TRC or national inquiry succeeds will be a waste of time. The time for action on an international investigation is now.

Via http://asiancorrespondent.com/116154/sri-lanka-the-time-for-an-international-investigation-is-now/

Report on “Exploitation in Qatar of workers from Sri Lanka and other Asian countries” by Amnesty International

Amnesty International has issued a new report entitled:  “The Dark Side of Migration:  Spotlight on Qatar’s construction sector ahead of the World Cup.”  The report reveals routine and widespread abuse of migrant labor in Qatar’s construction industry, in some cases amounting to forced labor.  Workers in Qatar’s construction industry come from Sri Lanka and other Asian countries.  For more information, please see http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/qatar-end-corporate-exploitation-migrant-construction-workers-2013-11-17

If anyone has information on any diaspora organizations working on behalf of Sri Lankan migrant workers in the Middle East, I’d appreciate hearing about them.
For more information on Amnesty’s concerns in Sri Lanka, please visit amnestyusa.org/srilanka.
Jim McDonald
Sri Lanka Country Specialist
Amnesty International USA

“From Sri Lanka, questions about wars” by Praveen Swami (The Hindu)

The real question in the debate over India’s Sri Lanka policy isn’t whether it is pragmatic or ethical. It goes, instead, to the heart of the ethics of the wars our country fights, and will fight in years to come”

via: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/from-sri-lanka-questions-about-wars/article5368610.ece

source: www.thehindu.com