Learn Tamil, don’t employ Tamils

The Sri Lankan government is to apparently pay incentives to state employees to learn ‘local languages’, such as Tamil, to “reduce the communication gap with people of Tamil origin,” the Indian Express reported. The move "aims to reduce the communication gap between those in the Tamil-dominated northern and eastern parts and the rest of the Sinhalese-majority country.” Sounds like a good idea, moving towards bringing together the peoples of the island. That is until you read another piece of news – one that did not make it into any of the English language publications. The Sri Lankan...

Al Jazeera reveals photos of Sri Lankan military atrocities

Al Jazeera has obtained photographs that appear to show Sri Lankan army atrocities against Tamil civilians and captured or surrendered Tamil fighters in the final days of the Sri Lankan civil war in early 2009. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say that the new photographic evidence warrants an independent, international, investigation. Sri Lanka rejects outright any probe of its military's conduct. Along with the International Crisis Group, the two groups Wednesday again rejected the Sri Lankan government's own inquiry as "warcrimes whitewashed". Earlier this year, the ICG...

Shining case in point

Sri Lanka’s government denounces those fleeing its repression to the West as nothing but economic migrants. Consider then the case of the wealthy gem merchant who has sought asylum in Canada with his family.

India-US partnership on 'creating order' in Sri Lanka

Amid the newly enhanced ties between the United States and India, the contours of a shared approach to Sri Lanka’s ethnic crisis by the two states appeared in little reported comments last month by Indian National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon. Speaking in Washington, he outlined a twin track Indian strategy, which he said was supported by the US: first, restoring normalcy in the war-shattered Tamil areas, and, second, “creating an order [in Sri Lanka] within which, not just the restoration of democracy, but … an order within which all the communities feel that they can determine their own futures.”

LLRC extension is no surprise

News that Sri Lanka's Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) has had it mandate extended by another six months was always expected, but there is an assumed logic behind Colombo's actions. The commission is the Sri Lankan state's attempt to fend off critics, buy time and forestall an independent, international inquiry.

Food for thought

The IMF recently praised Sri Lanka for bringing inflation under control. But on the streets, the price of food has been rising relentlessly. Increases are seen in the price of wheat flour, bread, rice, vegetables, coconut, coconut oil, big onions and red onions. The cause? A combination exposure to global prices in the wake of IMF reforms, and the Sri Lankan state's ham-fisted efforts to fix prices in favour Sinhala producers and consumers at the same time.

FDI slow despite war end

While Sri Lanka makes much of a ‘post-conflict economy’ foreign direct investment actually fell in the first six months of 2010 compared with the same period last year, the Central Bank reported in August. FDI dropped to $208 million, compared to $250 million in the first half of 2009, logged amid the final stages of the war, Reuters reported. And the reason? Uncertainty and government policies.

Tears and tractors: delivering aid in Sri Lanka

Just the other day, this newspaper raised doubts as to who India’s aid intended for the Tamil areas will actually go . As if on cue, the point was made. In Sri Lanka it seems not even the International Committee of the Red Cross can guarantee aid will be delivered to the right beneficiaries.

Swearing in to be ‘beautiful’

As the date for President Mahinda Rajapaksa to be sworn in for his second term approaches, the public service has been called upon to undertake a new task – making the country beautiful. Thus the police are instructing residents in their areas to keep the streets clean, to prune branches and to put flower beds outside their homes, reported the Sunday Times . The paper added that soldiers are engaging in development projects and the military is also doing the work of the Health Department to warn against infectious diseases. Maybe Sri Lanka can convince the IMF that a large military is...

Where will India's aid go?

A 65 acre industrial estate in Atchuvely is to be developed bilaterally through a partnership between the Sri Lankan government and the Indian government, the Daily Mirror reported . This is part of a range of activities Delhi is initiating to develop the war-shattered Tamil areas of the island. India is supplying 500 four-wheel tractors to promote agriculture in the Northern Province, Sri Lankan state media reported . Indian High Commissioner Ashok K Kantha said Delhi also plans to assist in setting up an Agriculture Research Training Centre and Agriculture Faculty in the Northern Province...