Sri Lanka's monoethnic military

“Not all Sinhalese are evil. Neither is every Tamil a saint. But the fact remains that every soldier in the Sri Lankan army who fought the war against the LTTE during 2008-2009 was a Sinhalese. “This background information is essential for any non-Tamil to understand how the Sri Lankan army can be so brutal against its own civilians.” - P C Vinoj Kumar , Editor of the Weekend Leader. See his comment here . So, how did Sri Lanka’s armed forces became mono-ethnic? Prof. Brian Blodgett , Director of the History and Military Studies Programs for the American Public University, published a study...

Taking the stand

At the screening last week in New York of the Channel 4’s documentary ‘ Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields ’ to UN diplomats and US media, representatives of Sri Lanka’s government insisted on responding to it. One of those who challenged the documentary, which examined the mass killings by government forces of over 40,000 Tamil civilians, was Sri Lanka’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Maj Gen (retd) Shavendra Silva. Gen. Silva is one of the military leaders who had command responsibility during the final months of the war in 2009. The Island newspaper reported his delivery as a '...

Sri Lanka’s defence ministry and tourism investment

On Friday Sri Lanka hailed $1.2bn of investment in its tourist industry so far in 2011. But $1bn of this is for a hotel and a shopping mall, both in Colombo, on prime land purchased from Sri Lanka’s Defence Ministry. And both investments have been attracted with major tax concessions. See reports by Reuters , Daily Mirror and The Island A Chinese aviation firm will invest $500m in a hotel and shopping complex in the capital’s main beachfront at Galle Face Green. The core business of China National Aero Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) is aviation defense. The Hong Kong based...

Impossible to ignore

“ Only a fool thinks that sport and politics do not mix. But I can understand the desire to try and keep the two things separate, to stick your fingers in your ears and insist that the worries of the real world should not intrude of the field of play. “[But] this Saturday England’s cricketers will be expected to play against a man who is a direct representative of a government accused of war crimes on a horrific scale by the United Nations. The politics of the matter is not outside the ground or behind a metal fence any more. It is right there in the middle of the pitch and it cannot be...

Ruling party MP rejoins Sri Lanka cricket team

The argument that cricket and politics are separate was always dubious – not least given what a ‘national’ team represents. (See this , and also this and this ). It is exemplified by the return of Sanath Jayasuriya to the Sri Lanka’s cricket team. Jayasuriya, a star Sri Lankan cricketer, is also a member of parliament representing the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He was elected in Jan 2010 to represent his hometown, Matara. Until then, he’d been in the national team for eleven years, captain for four. Jayasuriya returns to the Sri Lankan team this...

The link between Sport and Politics

President Mahinda Rajapaksa welcoming Sri Lanka's cricketers back from the World Cup in India (April 2011). This is the abstract of a forthcoming book on the close relationship between sport and politics by Alan Bairner , Professor of Sport and Social Theory at Loughborough University, UK (see a list of his other publications here ): “ Sport and politics have become inseparably entwined. From the volatile nationalism of international soccer to human rights controversies surrounding the Beijing Olympics, sport is both an important factor in political discourse and shaped by the wider political...

Arbitrary and deadly

In April, Sri Lanka’s cash-strapped government suddenly raised taxes on imported cars – from 95% to 120%. The overnight raise drew this comment from ‘fp’, a reader of Lanka Business Online: “No warning will be given. An arbitrary state essentially operates by making the lives of citizens uncertain and making it difficult to plan long term. “No public consultation, no warning nothing. Midnight gazette. You wake up find find out that the state has pulled the rug out from under you. “Remember you are viewed as an object for taxation by the state. The ruling classes themselves get tax free cars...

The first step should be international investigation

"The video showing summary executions during the final days of Sri Lanka's war in May 2009 provides clear-cut evidence of war crimes. " Beyond what is evident in the video, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has gathered information on the likely time and place of the executions, the identity of one of the victims, and the specific army unit likely to have been involved . “ The need for a criminal investigation is obvious, yet the Sri Lankan government has refused to conduct one, even when confronted by such disturbing footage. "In fact, the Sri Lankan government has increasingly made it clear that it...

The ‘normalcy’ in Tamil areas

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s militarized rule of Sri Lanka’s Tamil areas is so severe, even Sinhala nationalist parties opposed to the government are finding it difficult. The JVP (Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna) said Friday that what the military’s photographing and registering of the residents was similar to what Israel was doing to the Palestinian residents of Gaza and West Bank. See the Daily Mirror’s report here . The government, JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva told a news conference, was creating a fear psychosis. This is what the island’s main Tamil party, the TNA (Tamil Nationalist...

‘Why save me to send me to die?’

" I tried to die. That was better for me. But then I found that I was being revived so that I can be killed by torture in Sri Lanka. I don't feel any animosity towards anyone but I cannot understand why the British authorities saved my life only to send me back to where I would be killed. " - Nagendrarajah Suthakaran , an asylum seeker who attempted suicide to avoid being deported to Sri Lanka by Britain. His temporary reprieve came literally at the very last minute – he was taken off the flight for Colombo before it left. See his interview with Channel 4 here . Another 42, however, were not...

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