« Témoin des violences civiles survenues à Colombo à la fin du mois de juillet 1983 » par Vincent Faugère

Ces photos ont été prises à Colombo à la fin du mois de juillet 1983, dans le secteur de la gare ferroviaire. A cette époque, je voyageais, avec mon père, à Sri Lanka et dans le sud de l’Inde. J’avais 15 ans. Nous étions arrivés dans l’île le 2 juillet, par avion, en provenance de Paris. Au début de ce même mois, nous étions à Weligama quand nous avons été victimes du vol de nos papiers. Nous avons ainsi dû revenir à Colombo, et ce à plusieurs reprises, pour des raisons administratives.
Un journal de bord, tenu durant ce voyage, me permet de retracer en toute petite partie les événements dont nous avons été témoins pendant ces quelques jours. La situation était confuse et il ne m’en reste que de lointains souvenirs. Une chose est sûre : la ville était en proie à des violences. Un couvre-feu était décrété. Des Tamouls étaient tués et des trains bondés fuyaient la capitale.
Lundi 25 juillet. Nous arrivons en train dans la gare de Colombo-Fort envahie par la foule. Dehors, des incendies toujours en cours témoignent des violences commises à l’encontre des Tamouls. Tous les commerces sont fermés. Un couvre-feu est décrété et nous sommes contraints de rester et de dormir dans la gare, ce que nous ferons également les jours suivants.
Mardi 26 juillet. Toute la ville est déserte et silencieuse. On peut voir des échoppes et des bâtiments mis à sac, détruits, brûlés.
Mercredi 27 juillet. La vie reprend partiellement. Des queues se forment devant les quelques magasins ouverts. Il est très difficile de trouver de quoi se nourrir. Vers 15 heures, toutes les boutiques ferment et les rues se vident de nouveau. De même, la gare est presque déserte.
Jeudi 28 juillet. Dans la matinée, la gare est envahie par la foule. Aux alentours de 10 heures, sept Tamouls sont tués à coup de pierre par des civils et leurs corps sont mis à feu devant des milliers de spectateurs impassibles. L’Armée et la Marine interviennent et font évacuer la gare. Vers 15 heures, nous sommes interpellés par la police, ainsi qu’un groupe de touristes de six nationalités qui a, comme nous, trouvé refuge dans la gare. Les forces de l’ordre nous réclament les pellicules de nos appareils photos. Face à notre refus, nous sommes emmenés au poste de police. Nous réussissons à dissimuler une partie de nos pellicules. Nous sommes finalement transportés en camion, avec  quatre personnes tamoules, dans un camp de réfugiés. On nous sert un repas et nous repartons aussitôt. Nous roulons dans la ville déserte. Les quatre Tamouls sont déposés, pour la nuit, dans un collège catholique. Quant à nous, nous sommes conduits jusqu’à une auberge de jeunesse, dans le quartier de Bambalapitiya.
Vendredi 29 juillet. Nous sommes de retour à la gare de Colombo-Fort vers 7 heures. Dans la matinée, on assiste à d’importants mouvements de foule. Les gens courent dans les rues et fuient un danger qui reste invisible. On entend des coups de feu au loin. Des soldats et des policiers patrouillent devant la gare. Il se dit qu’un commando tamoul prépare une attaque. Mais aucun assaut n’a lieu. Nous quittons Colombo en train ce jour-là, en direction de Negombo.
Voilà ce que je peux dire aujourd’hui de ces quelques jours passés à Colombo lors de ce Juillet Noir. Nous avons poursuivi notre voyage dans l’île jusqu’à la fin du mois d’août, sans incident grave, en essayant d’éviter les zones de tension. A plusieurs reprises cependant, nous avons été arrêtés par des militaires et des policiers qui braquaient leurs armes sur nous. Dans les villes, le couvre-feu était souvent de rigueur. Durant ce séjour, nous nous sommes également rendus dans le Tamil Nadu indien, en avion depuis Colombo, les liaisons par mer depuis Talaimannar étant coupées.
Vincent Faugère
Copyright pour toutes les photographies : Vincent Faugère

« unpublished photographs taken by a French tourist during the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983 » by Vincent Faugère

We warmly thank Vincent Faugère for allowing us to upload unpublished photographs he took during the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983. Vincent Faugère came with his father to visit Sri Lanka in July 1983. He was then 15 years old. It happened that Vincent and his father were in Colombo when Tamil people were killed and chased from the town.

The photographs Vincent shares here were shot between july 26th and 29th, 1983, around Colombo railways station. He knows that from the travel notebook he had been writing  at this time.
Copyright for all photographs : Vincent Faugère

« China’s man-made island takes shape in Sri Lanka » by Channel NewsAsia

« The Ocean seafood restaurant at Colombo’s five-star The Kingsbury was once famous for its magnificent view of the Indian Ocean. Its open-air wooden terrace that runs along the hotel’s western façade used to be so close to the beautiful coastline that waves lapped the rocks, sending sprays of sea foam into the air. Not anymore »

see: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/china-s-man-made-island/2051350.html

« Sri Lanka: New report names torture camps and perpetrators » by Athula Vithanage

« A security force insider has told ITJP researchers that military intelligence officials operating from JOSEF camp ‘were actively looking for any Tamils returning home from abroad in order to interrogate them’, since President Maithripala Sirisena was elected to office in 2015. ITJP has recorded eight accounts of torture and abuse that happened after January 8, 2015, the most recent in July 2015. »

see: http://www.jdslanka.org/index.php/news-features/human-rights/543-sri-lanka-new-report-names-torture-camps-and-perpetrators

« Who rules? » by Ranil Senanayake

The media of the 13th Friday had two very different statements on the fate of the ‘Port City “ project. The Daily Mirror reports The Government of Sri Lanka through its acting cabinet spokesman; Minister Lakshman Kiriella stated, “The Port City Project has been automatically stopped as there were so many shortcomings in the EIA report. We must go through it and rectify those shortcomings before re-start the project,”

Via http://groundviews.org/2015/02/16/who-rules/

The media of the 13th Friday had two very different statements on the fate of the ‘Port City “ project. The Daily Mirror reports The Government of Sri Lanka through its acting cabinet spokesman; Minister Lakshman Kiriella stated, “The Port City Project has been automatically stopped as there were so many shortcomings in the EIA report. We must go through it and rectify those shortcomings before re-start the project,”

Via http://groundviews.org/2015/02/16/who-rules/

« Voting for Lasantha Again, 26 Years Later » by Nalaka Gunawardene

« A quarter century ago, as an eager first time voter, I cast my maiden vote for a young journalist friend who had recently taken to electoral politics. »

via: http://groundviews.org/2015/01/08/voting-for-lasantha-again-26-years-later/

« China, India and the Sri Lanka Elections » by Nitin A. Gokhale

In less than a week, President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka will be facing the toughest political battle of his life as the country votes in the presidential elections on January 8. The Sinhala strongman, credited with ending a 30-year war against the separatist Tamil Tigers in 2009 was expected to have a cakewalk until one of his closest colleagues Maithripala Sirisena walked out of the ruling combine and mounted a credible challenge after the fragmented opposition rallied around him.

via: http://thediplomat.com/2015/01/china-india-and-the-sri-lanka-elections/

« Sri Lanka opposition vows to scrap China port deal if wins election » by Shihar Aneez

A leader of Sri Lanka’s opposition said he would scrap a $1.5 billion deal with China Communications Construction Co Ltd (601800.SS) to build a port city if the challenger to President Mahinda Rajapaksa wins next month’s election.

via: http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/12/17/sri-lanka-china-portcity-idINKBN0JV1QA20141217

« A Newly Cosmopolitan Colombo » by Rupert Mellor

Can Sri Lankans guide their capital to an authentic new future? Or will the ambitions of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to fast-track the city to world-player status create a corporate megalopolis that loses its soul along the way? Your move, Colombo.

via: http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-newly-cosmopolitan-colombo-1418339727

« China Maritime Silk Road Is Sri Lanka’s Boon as Xi Visits » by Anusha Ondaatjie

The Port City will be built by a unit of state-controlled China Communications Construction Co. (1800) on 233 hectares (576 acres) of reclaimed land, an area slightly larger than Monaco. The offices, hotels, apartments and shopping centers will draw as much as $20 billion in investment over about 15 years, according to ports authority chairman Priyath Wickrama.

via: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-15/china-maritime-silk-road-proves-boon-for-sri-lanka-as-xi-arrives.html

« Colombo’s Urban Regeneration Could Rewrite the ‘Socio-economic DNA’ of Entire Communities » by The Curionomist

These are all critical issues that need to have been thought out because urban regeneration is not just about resettlement and freeing up land for development. There is a rewriting of the socio-economic DNA of these communities and there needs to be help to negate the shock to the body that comes from it this rewriting.

via: http://thecurionomist.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/colombos-urban-regeneration-could-rewrite-the-socio-economic-dna-of-entire-communities/

« The Spectre of Evictions and Land Grabs in Colombo » by Bhavani Fonseka

The speed with which evictions are underway in a post war setting with scant regard for rights and obligations should come as no surprise. Nor should we be surprised by the lack of regard shown towards affected communities, by the State, its agents, developers and the larger public. National security and development continue to be good reasons that justify the grabbing of lands in the North and East. Now with Colombo under siege, why would it change?

via: http://groundviews.org/2014/08/26/the-spectre-of-evictions-and-land-grabs-in-colombo/

« I said pray for us to be saved » by Mr. Doole (Moving Images)

“There’s no place quite like Slave Island,” Nizar Doole announced to us within minutes of meeting us for the first time. As an example, he urged us to look to his own community, the Malays, who speak most if not all of the country’s languages: English, Sinhala, Tamil along with their own dialect, Ja. A gentleman in his late 60s, Doole himself spoke all four; conversing easily with us in English, hailing his neighbours in Tamil, addressing his children in Ja but preferring to be interviewed in Sinhala.

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These are the stories, homes, neighborhoods and lives of people the Ministry of Defence lumps together as slum and shanty dwellers.

See http://groundviews.org/2014/08/08/slums-shanties-or-stories/ for more.

“If they relocated me, I’d be dead against it”, Produced by Sharni Jayawardena and Tarika Wickremeratne

Our effort is to see a slums and shanties free Colombo in year 2020 says the Ministry of Defence.

To be clear about the terms used, a slum is a squalid and overcrowded urban street or district inhabited by very poor people or a house or building unfit for human habitation. A shanty is a small, crudely built shack.

A search on defence.lk for ‘slum’ yields 59 results to date, whereas ‘shanty’ brings up 39 results. Not a single of the nearly 100 stories on the site looks at the enforced relocation of those in areas like Slave Island and Java Lane, an inherently violent and traumatic process, from the perspectives of actual inhabitants.

Here’s one.

At 27 years old, Sugeeth Kumar is part of a generation of Slave Island’s young entrepreneurs. Tiring of the long hours his previous job at Pizza Hut required, he decided that if he must work so hard, he would do it on his own time and for his own business: vending prawn vadai – a popular Tamil fried food – out of a cart at the Galle Face Green Promenade.

See his story at http://www.movingimages.asia/2011/04/“if-they-relocated-me-i’d-be-dead-against-it”/

Produced by Sharni Jayawardena and Tarika Wickremeratne, as part of Walkabout: Slave Island. Watch the trailer to this series below, and visit the Moving Images website for more stunning content on Sri Lanka.

“People like us will somehow make a living”, Produced by Sharni Jayawardena and Tarika Wickremeratne

Our effort is to see a slums and shanties free Colombo in year 2020 says the Ministry of Defence. In doing so, the MoD violently erases those like Nazaruddin.

Nazaruddin speaks with pride about all he has achieved today but assures us that is difficult work, driven forward only by an instinct for survival. “You can’t survive in this place if you can’t make a living” he tells us with all the conviction of first-hand experience. Yet, he is prouder still of his community and his generation – the ones who didn’t have the good fortune of a good education and the opportunities that came with it. Cut from the same tough cloth, they are a people, he says, who will do whatever it takes to ensure their families never have to miss a single meal.

See http://www.movingimages.asia/2011/04/“people-like-us-will-somehow-make-a-living”/
Produced by Sharni Jayawardena and Tarika Wickremeratne, as part of Walkabout: Slave Island. Watch the trailer to this series below, and visit the Moving Images website for more stunning content on Sri Lanka.


Also read http://groundviews.org/2014/08/08/slums-shanties-or-stories/