Why should borders be sacrosanct?

“It is clearly unreasonable to expect all disputing couples to behave like the Czechs and the Slovaks [who peacefully separated in 1993]. But is it reasonable in this day and age to set treat secession as somehow worse than unwilling union? “Countries and territories change. For one reason or another, the ethnic or religious mix shifts; technological advances may dictate a sharp rise or fall in economic fortunes. Why should state borders not be subject to pragmatic fluctuation, too? “Is it not ... where demographic change has been acute, and where many colonial-era borders already rode...

Boycott campaign continues in London

Groups of protestors outside retailers and business in Britain are not unusual. Most recently UK-Uncut activists launched a wave of sit-ins in and around corporations associated with tax dodging. That campaign turn on consumers not wishing to put money into pockets of those they believe are behaving unethically or exploitatively. Amidst other campaigns-through-consumer, Tamil activists are also continuing to push for a boycott of Sri Lankan products.

Future Tense

" There is no reason to believe that Sri Lanka will return to a rights-respecting government any time in the near future . “Until wartime abuses are prosecuted, minority grievances are addressed, and repression against the press and civil society ends, only the president and his family members in power have reason to feel secure in Sri Lanka." - Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. See HRW's summary of Sri Lanka's section in it annual Human Rights report.

Sri Lanka to export war crimes

“For now impunity is ruling the day. So much so, that Sri Lanka is apparently seeking to export its brand of counter-insurgency to other countries. “Will the Sri Lankan method of dealing with rebellion and insurgency catch on elsewhere? Or will the long arm of international justice give pause to would-be war criminals? “ This is pretty much the defining question of international justice these days .” - Mark Leon Goldberg. See his comment for UN Despatch here . See here Sri Lanka's announcement of the international seminar in June by its military.

Why the world needs a radically new approach to secession

Prof. Timothy William Waters, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, writes: “ The real danger to peace is not peoples’ desire to form new states . It is the willingness of the present world powers to resist that desire with violence. We have stumbled onto that truth in Sudan. “Since WW2 territorial integrity has been a pillar of our international order. ... Preventing inter -state wars of conquest is clearly positive, but the belief that fixed frontiers reduce internal violence is more assumed than proven . “Fixed borders create permanent minorities and majorities. Democracy doesn’t...

Bank lending and ethnicity

Figures released recently by Sri Lanka’s Central Bank reveal an increase in bank lending to the private sector (see p6 here ). But an industry body said this week major exporters were not borrowing as they are gloomy about economic prospects. What could this contradiction mean?

America and Jaffna

This is what US Ambassador to Colombo, Ms. Patricia Butenis, said Monday at the opening of the American Corner in Jaffna: “Not everyone may realize that Americans have a long relationship with the people of Jaffna . “ American missionaries arrived here in 1813, almost two hundred years ago. They taught English and learned Tamil, founded the first printing press in Jaffna, started the first Tamil language newspaper anywhere , and established Sri Lanka’s first medical school . “The opening of the American Corner today is a symbol of our sustained commitment to the people of Jaffna. “The...

Why Sri Lanka’s exporters are gloomy

Despite credit being readily available, Sri Lanka’s exporters say they don’t want to borrow because they can’t expand their businesses in the present economic conditions - despite the end of the war. “Exporters are not borrowing because they are not expanding,” National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) President Sarath de Silva said last week. High electricity tariffs, the loss of trade concessions from the EU and US, and a stronger rupee made it difficult to survive in the global export market, he said. (See reports in The Island and the Sunday Times )

Hawaii temple joins Thai Poosam celebration

The Kadavul Temple in Hawaii was amongst the thousands of Saivite temples celebrating the festival of Thai Poosam this month. The Kadavul temple is attached to the Kauai Aadheenam or monastery, which traces its guru lineage directly from Jaffna’s well known sage Yogaswami . The guru lineage is named Kailasa Parampara, after the Kailasa mountain range in the Himalayas where the earliest of these yogis is said to have meditated. Kauai is the oldest of Hawaii’s main islands. The Kauai Aadheenam was established in 1973, by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, an American priest initiated by Yogaswami in Jaffna in 1949. In 1986, the World Religious Parliament in New Delhi honored Sivaya Subramuniyaswami as one of the five Hindu spiritual leaders outside India who had most dynamically promoted Hinduism in the previous 25 years. He passed away in 2001 .

Batticaloa children face food crisis

After the worst floods in almost a century, “The average ten-year-old in eastern Sri Lanka has lived through conflict, the tsunami and now risks facing a food crisis in the coming weeks. “Many families in affected areas are facing a nightmare scenario in which both their food source and their livelihoods have been washed away. They need help to survive until the next harvest. It may not have been possible to prevent the floods, but we can avoid a food crisis if help is given to families now. “ It is absolutely essential that the world does not wait until these children are starving to act...