The British monarch and the colonial legacy of Sri Lanka

Today Britain’s longest-ruling monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, passed away peacefully at her Scottish estate. Across the globe, messages of condolence have poured in to mourn the passage of the British head of state whose reign spanned over 15 Prime Ministers. Elizabeth came to the throne in 1952 amidst a period of rapid decolonisation and bore witness to the demise of the British empire. Yet the process of decolonisation was not seamless. Instead, Britain’s colonial elite refashioned entire countries with the stroke of a pen. For the English liberal imperialists, this project of nation-building...

The growing demand to arrest Gotabaya Rajapksa

In Jaffna, walls are papered with posters calling for the arrest of exiled Sri Lankan president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, for the crime of genocide. Men and women line up to sign petitions calling on Singapore to deliver justice for the atrocities they suffered and in remembrance of those they lost. Across the globe, they are joined in unison by a diaspora who refuse to forget the thousands of Tamils slaughtered under the command of the former president. Outside Singapore’s embassies Tamils cry out to Singapore to deliver them justice. For as long as Rajapaksa remains on the island without...

‘To Solve Its Economic Crisis, Sri Lanka Must Demilitarize’

Sri Lanka’s violence will not end until “the country ends its war on Tamils and Muslims and drastically scales back its military budget,” writes Tamil Guardian staff writer Ben Andak in Jacobin Magazine this week, as the economic and political crisis on the island continues. “Many are increasingly alarmed by the authoritarian nature of their government and blame President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, taking to the streets and demanding that “Gota Go Home”,” writes Andak. “But the crisis in Sri Lanka cannot be placed solely on one family. Nor will the IMF rescue the island from the root cause of the crisis: the country’s militarized and ethnocratic state.”

Sri Lanka’s crisis is of its own making

People are starving in Sri Lanka. The economy is in freefall as the cash-strapped government struggles to pay off its debts. The country has been forced to sell over half of its gold reserves and the prices of basic foods have skyrocketed. The pandemic has undeniably devastated Sri Lanka, but this is a crisis of the government’s own making. Instead of pursuing a “people-centric economy”, Sri Lanka’s insular policies have been military-driven, unaccountable, and detached from the struggle of citizens.

Mounting Pressure - Newsletter, 14 June 2021

Last week, European Parliament passed a ground-breaking resolution on Sri Lanka decrying the deterioration of human rights and calling on the European Council to consider repeal of the GSP+ trading agreement and for targeted sanctions on Sri Lankan officials accused of war crimes. This follows a court ruling in Britain which maintained that peaceful Tamil activists faced the threat of ill-treatment in Sri Lanka, which the court described as an “authoritarian regime”. That same month, marking 12 years since the Mullaivaikkal massacre, US Congresswoman Deborah Ross introduced a bipartisan...

Reaffirming Génocidaires – Myanmar’s elections

The victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) at Myanmar’s elections has been heralded as evidence of support for the country’s “nascent democracy” in defiance of the half-century military dictatorship. However, Suu Kyi’s tainted status as an apologist for the military dictatorship and on-going denial of genocidal violence highlights the illusory choice present in Myanmar. The international community’s continued fawning over the former Nobel Peace Prize winner illustrates a collective and self-serving amnesia over the Rohingya genocide. Though Suu Kyi’s backing of the...

What does a Biden-Harris victory mean for Sri Lanka?

The election of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States, as well as Kamala Harris as the first Black and Tamil female Vice President, has been touted as a victory for international multilateralism and the “restoration of America’s moral leadership” in the world. In Biden’s manifesto , he announces that within his first year in office he will host a “Global Summit for Democracy” a key aim of which will be “advancing human rights” and “defending against authoritarianism”. In an era in which the international community is backsliding on its commitments to Eelam Tamils and to human rights in Sri Lanka more generally, “moral leadership” is in dire need. However, the question remains will a Biden-Harris administration follow through?

Democracy or Security – Sri Lanka’s false binary

Political commentators have attempted to depict Sri Lanka’s debates over the 20 th Amendment as a conflict between “democracy” and “security”. Proponents claim the need for “strong government” to ensure national security and a prosperous economy during an exceptional period; whereas, opponents of the measure claim that this is an unprecedented break from Sri Lanka’s proud tradition of inclusive democracy. What these discussions often fail to highlight is the racial dimensions behind these proposals as well as the deeper historic context in which they arise. Sri Lanka’s imagined history of...

The Great Storm of 1987

On 15 October of 1987, the UK, France, and the Channel Islands were hit by the Great Storm of 1987. Roads and railways were strewn with fallen trees; rooftops and windows were shattered; and Britain’s national grid was so devastated that many areas were left without electricity. However, perhaps most importantly, the storm enabled over thirty refugees to escape detention of the ship, "Earl William". Those who escaped were able to avoid being recaptured, forcing then Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, to grant them "temporary admission". However, the refugees who were still on board were deported, subjected to further torture, and after a protracted legal battle, won asylum in the UK two years later.

Honouring the sacrifices of the Black Tigers

On July 5, Eelam Tamils across the world remember and mourn the sacrifices made by the LTTE's elite women and men, the Black Tigers. “Karumpuli Naal” marks the sacrifice made by the first Black Tiger, Captain Miller, or Vallipuram Vasanthan, 33 years ago.