« No country for small fishers » by Joeri Scholtens and Ahilan Kadirgamar

On October 20, hundreds of angry fishers from south Sri Lanka protested in front of the Fisheries Ministry in Colombo against a European Union (EU) ban on seafood exports from Sri Lanka and the government’s promotion of joint ventures with East Asian fishing companies. Over the years, there have been numerous protests by Northern fishers against poaching by Indian trawlers. These are a reflection of a larger crisis in Sri Lankan fisheries; the fishers face dispossession and fear the end of their way of life.

via: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/no-country-for-small-fishers/article6561568.ece

« Sinhala Colonization Continues: Namalgama In The North » by Colombo Telegraph

According to MP Herath a land area of one acre has been given to every family that was resettled in the North from Hamabanthota and this village has been named as ‘Namalgama’.

via: https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sinhala-colonization-continues-namalgama-in-the-north/

 » U.N.’s Zeid accuses Sri Lanka of trying to sabotage war crimes probe » by Tom Miles and Shihar Aneez

(Reuters) – The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday accused Sri Lanka of trying to « sabotage » a war crimes inquiry, creating a « wall of fear » to prevent witnesses from giving evidence.

via: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/07/us-sri-lanka-un-idUSKBN0IR0WF20141107

new book by Zoltán Biedermann on Portuguese in Sri Lanka and South India

Zoltán Biedermann’s book explores the Portuguese presence in Sri Lanka and South India with an emphasis on connections, interactions and adaptations. An introduction, six freshly revised case studies and an afterword provide historical insights into the making of Portuguese power in the region and point out new ways forward in the study of the subject. Themes explored include Portuguese diplomacy in Asia, the connected histories of Portugal, Sri Lanka and the Habsburg Empire, the importance of cartography for the development of Iberian ideas of conquest, the political mechanisms that allowed for the incorporation of Sri Lanka into the Catholic Monarchy of Philip II, and the remarkable resilience of elephant hunting and trading activities in Ceylon during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A long chapter delves into the comparative urban histories of Portuguese and Dutch colonial ports in South Asia and reveals intriguing connections between colonialism, local identities and cosmopolitan attitudes. Taken together, the essays in this book question simplistic contrasts between Europe and Asia as well as between the Portuguese and the Dutch empires. The Portuguese in Sri Lanka and South Asia highlights the complex connections between the global and the local in early modern European-Asian interactions.

Biedermann Z., 2014, The Portuguese in Sri Lanka and South India Studies in the History of Diplomacy, Empire and Trade, 1500-1650, Harrassowitz Verlag/Maritime Asia, 205 p.

English translations of the Sinhala reading passages in the Gair/Karunatilaka Literary Sinhala textbook now available on the AISLS website

The English translations of the Sinhala reading passages found in the Gair/Karunatilaka LITERARY SINHALA textbook (1974) are now available in a pdf file on the AISLS Instructional Resources for Sinhala and Tamil webpage.  There is no cost to download the file for personal use.  This should be especially useful for those using the textbook without an instructor.

« Top line survey results: Democracy in post-war Sri Lanka » by CPA

According to the latest ‘Democracy in Post War Sri Lanka’ survey conducted by Social Indicator, the survey research unit of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, divisions between people’s opinions when it comes to reconciliation still persist. The state of the economy and cost of living continue to adversely affect the household with people compromising on food quality and medical care. With Presidential elections due early next year, it is interesting to note that 44.3% of Sri Lankans think that the Constitution should limit a President to serving a maximum of two terms.

On the Sri Lankan economy, 31.9% of Sri Lankans believe that the general economic situation in the country has got a little better while almost 27% say that it has got a little worse and 18.5% say that it has got a lot worse. When it comes to the current economic situation of the country, 36.7% of Sri Lankans believe that it is somewhat good while 30.6% say somewhat bad and 19.5% say that it is very bad.

The financial situation of the household seems to have got worse in the last 2 years – almost 30% of Sri Lankans say that it has got a little worse while 25.6% say that it has got a lot worse. 24.2% of Sri Lankans state that they have gone without medicine or medical treatment in the last year, with the Up Country Tamil community (58.2%) being the most affected. Compromising on food quality, 42.7% of Sri Lankans say that they have cut back on the amount or quality of food they have purchased with again the Up Country Tamil community being the most affected (almost 60%).

When it comes to reconciliation, divisions in opinion between the communities persist. 40.8% of Sri Lankans believe that the Government has done a little, but not enough to address the root causes of the conflict, which resulted in thirty years of war. 39.9% from the Tamil community and 33.3% from the Up Country Tamil community believe that the Government has done nothing to address the root causes of the war while 35% from the Sinhalese community said the Government has done a lot to address the root causes.

Around 54% of Sri Lankans say that they approve of the increase in the role of the forces in civilian tasks, with 17% saying that they strongly approve. 41.6% from the Sinhalese community said that they somewhat approve of this role while 30.2% from the Tamil community said that they strongly disapproved.

With Presidential elections due next year, it is worth highlighting that 44.3% of Sri Lankans think that the Constitution should limit a President to serving a maximum of two terms while 27.6% say that there should be no limit. From the four communities, it is mainly the Muslim community (69.7%) who believe that there should be limit of two terms while 59.5% from the Up Country Tamil community, 57.3% from Tamil and 38.4% of Sinhalese say the same.

Commenting on the media in Sri Lanka, 30% of Sri Lankans said that they somewhat agree that the media in Sri Lanka is completely free to criticise the government as they wish. 40.5% of Sri Lankans believe that the media should have a right to publish any views and ideas without Government control while another 34% of Sri Lankans believe that the Government should have the right to prevent the media from publishing things it considers harmful to society.

On the role of religion and ethnicity in politics, 37.9% of Sri Lankans said that the role of Buddhism in Sri Lankan politics is the right amount while 37.8% of Sri Lankans said that the role is too much. The view that the role of Buddhism in Sri Lankan politics is too much is felt by majority of the Tamil (79.3%), Up Country Tamil (91.1%) and Muslim (83.4%) communities while only 23.1% from the Sinhalese community felt the same. Close to 50% of Sinhalese believe that it is the right amount.

‘Democracy in post-war Sri Lanka’ sought to record public perspectives on democracy in Sri Lanka today and the findings are presented under five key sections – Economy and Development, Post War Sri Lanka, The Government, Media and Role of Religion and Ethnicity in Politics. The first wave was conducted in 2011 and the second wave in 2013.

Conducted in the 25 districts of the country, the 2014 survey captured the opinion of 1900 Sri Lankans from the four main ethnic groups. The selection of respondents was random across the country except in a few areas in the Northern Province where access was difficult. Fieldwork was conducted from June – July 2014.

Access the full report from here.

###

Social Indicator (SI) is the survey research unit of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and was established in September 1999, filling a longstanding vacuum for a permanent, professional and independent polling facility in Sri Lanka on social and political issues. Driven by the strong belief that polling is an instrument that empowers democracy, SI has been conducting polls on a large range of socio-economic and political issues since its inception.

Please contact Iromi Perera at iromi@cpasocialindicator.org for further information.

« Statement in Response to the Supreme Court Reference No 1/2014 » by CPA

7 November 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is alarmed at recent developments related to Supreme Court Reference No 1/2014 and the processes sought to be used to legitimize a potential third term for President Mahinda Rajapaksa. On 5 November the media reported President Mahinda Rajapaksa as having referred the following questions to the Supreme Court to seek its opinion under Article 129(1) of the Constitution:

a. Whether in terms of Article 31 (3A)(a)(i) of the Constitution, as amended by the 18th Amendment, I, as the incumbent President, serving my second term of office as President, have any impediment, after the expiration of four years from the date of commencement of my second term of office as President on 19th November 2010, to declare by Proclamation my intention of appealing to the People for a mandate to hold office as President by election, for a further term? 

And

b. Whether in terms of the provisions of the Constitution, as amended by the 18th Amendment, I, as the incumbent President, serving my second term of office as President, and was functioning as such on the date the 18th Amendment was enacted, have any impediment to be elected for a further term of office?

These questions were sent by the Registrar of the Supreme Court to the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) requesting its membership to submit written submissions by 3pm, 7 November.

CPA, has subsequently learnt of an in camera sitting by the Supreme Court on 5 November, the same date on which the letter was sent to the BASL. In light of the public and constitutional importance of the issues at stake, Dr. P. Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of CPA filed a motion in the Supreme Court today 07 November requesting that an oral hearing be granted, and followed with his written submissions, in the firm belief that an oral hearing will be provided, as has been the practice in the past.

CPA’s concerns on this matter were articulated in a statement issued on 23 October and warrant reiteration here. With the incumbent President having more than two years remaining of his present term, CPA sees no urgency for the Supreme Court to have a hearing that is shrouded in secrecy and one which, deprives citizens of their right to be heard on a significant national question that will define the future of Sri Lanka.

See this press release on our website here and download it as a PDF here.

« Koslanda landslide: Before and after images now on Google Earth » by Groundviews

Groundviews was able to obtain from Digital Globe imagery around the aftermath of the Koslanda landslide.

To download the KML file for Google Earth and see the imagery, click here.

For compelling on the ground photography around the landslide’s aftermath, clickhere.

« A Guide to Locating Photographs of Colonial Ceylon » by AISLS

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.

via: http://www.aisls.org/aisls-publishes-guide-to-locating-photographs-of-colonial-ceylon/