What’s wrong with the TNA?

A few weeks ago, Tamil news cycles were dominated by coverage of an interview given by the Tamil National Alliance Spokesperson M.A. Sumanthiran to a Sinhala media site. During the course of the interview, he made several comments which created controversy and outrage amongst Tamils. The resulting conversation in Sri Lanka’s English-language spaces however failed to discern the actual issues. Instead, commentators opposed to the idea of Tamil nationalism, both Tamil and Sinhala, focused on the “traitorisation” phenomenon in Tamil politics, which predates the war and resulted in the killing of Tamil “moderates” by the LTTE and others. One writer, a relative of Sumanthiran, even spuriously claimed “traitorisation is running amok again,” comparing the current verbal attacks to a time when so-called “traitors” were hung from lamp-posts and assassinated. The trivialisation of this “traitorisation” issue by many throws doubt on whether they were made due to a genuine desire for Tamil introspection about these issues. Rather the intention appeared to be to use it to attack Tamil nationalism and to paint Sumanthiran as a victim of these “Tamil extremists”.

Sri Lanka needs Market Economics – Ranil Wickremasinghe

Former Sri Lankan Prime Minister, and leader of the UNP, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has called for an embrace of market economics as Sri Lanka continues to struggle with the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. Sri Lanka’s debt problem During his webinar, Wickremesinghe stressed the difficulties Sri Lanka would face as the country would likely need to obtain commercial loans at higher rates to fund the recovery of their economies. Wickremesinghe notes that emerging markets have debt in excess of 3.2 trillion USD awaiting repayment this year. Sri Lanka, in particular, is facing a debt...

British High Commissioner ‘pleased’ that Rajapaksa shared Sri Lanka’s coronavirus strategy

Britain’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Sarah Hulton said she was “pleased that President Rajapaksa is able to share Sri Lanka’s experiences” on tackling the coronavirus at the UK-hosted virtual Global Vaccine Summit, as Colombo continued to face criticism for its highly militarised approach. Sri Lanka’s coronavirus task force is headed by credibly accused war criminal Shavendra Silva, with the state adopting a tactic which has seen thousands of people sent to ‘coronavirus quarantine centres’ which have been largely set up in the island’s Tamil North-East. Tens of thousands of people have also been arrested for violating strict curfews, which the military has been enforcing in recent weeks. During the same period, there has been a spike in state violence in the North-East and a proliferation of checkpoints in the already heavily militarised region.

“They think they can just do anything” – TNA MP condemns Theravil Thuyilum Illam military occupation

The Sri Lankan government are “intending to incite tension and violence by using the stated armed forces to occupy Maaverar remembrance sites and obstruct us from commemorating our children ,” said former parliamentarian and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP Sivagnanam Sritharan. Sritharan commented on this following his visit yesterday to the Theravil Maaverar Thuyillum Illum (resting place); “Despite being cordoned off by the Forest Department, the Thuyillum Illum area is being used to harvest vegetables by the army. The seeds of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the Tamil liberation...

Sri Lanka voices support for China over Hong Kong

The Sri Lankan government and several other organisations have come out in support of China, as Beijing cracked down on protesters who opposed a new national security law which threatens dissidents and Hong Kong independence activists. "Sri Lanka has expressed continuity of its support for sovereignty of China (over) its territory and national security in relation to Hong Kong," said Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Twitter. "All Sri Lankans will continue to enjoy usual work and business in Hong Kong," Gunawardena added. Five Sri Lanka friendship organisations linked to China...

Sri Lankan Presidential Task Forces are “grounded in Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist ethos” and signal deepening militarisation – PEARL

People for Equality and Relief in Sri Lanka (PEARL) have strongly condemned the formation of the two presidential task forces in Sri Lanka this week, stating that it is a “serious escalation (by the president) to militarise the activities of the state in the name of national security and as a response to the pandemic”, in a statement released today. PEARL highlighted the task forces “appear exclusively Sinhala and include suspected war criminals” while emphasising this move further reinforces Sri Lanka’s ethnocracy with the backing of the president “accused of mass atrocities”. Heading...

'We continue to underline the importance of accountability, justice and reconciliation' in Sri Lanka says UK minister

UK Minister said that the British government continues "to underline the importance of accountability, justice and reconciliation in its engagement with the government of Sri Lanka." FCO Minister of State Nigel Adams answered a written question posed by Jim Shannon, Shadow DUP Spokesperson for Human Rights. When asked "what diplomatic steps he is taking to help ensure accountability for victims of (a) war crimes and (b) crimes against humanity (i) in Sri Lanka and (ii) overseas," the Minister responded: The British government regularly engages with international partners on the importance of...

'Self-Quarantine: Ponnaveli Village, Population One'

Sellaiah Rashanayagam has "been the sole resident of his village since Sri Lanka's civil war ended in 2009- and he doesn't plan to leave anytime soon," writes Vijayatharsiny Vijayakumar for Global Press Journal. "When the Sri Lankan civil war ended in 2009, the nearly 200 residents who called this village home chose to leave. They relocated to cities and towns where they would have better access to hospitals, shopping centres and jobs. But Sellaiah Rashanayagam, 67, chose to stay." "Now, more than a decade later, he's still the lone resident of Ponnaveli, a village in Sri Lanka's northern province. The coastal village was destroyed during the war. Still, Rashanayagam says he refuses to leave and he doesn't want to open up the village to others either. He wants to preserve the village's Tamil name and farming traditions." "His solitary lifestyle is a political statement. And it's evidence that tensions between Sri Lanka's Sinhalese, and mostly Buddhist majority, and the Tamil, mostly Muslim minority, still run deep."

All Sinhala task force for Sri Lanka’s ‘archaeology’ in East

Sri Lanka’s president Gotabaya Rajapakasa, has announced an all Sinhala task force, which includes Buddhist monks and the head of the Derana media network, to “preserve the historical heritage of Sri Lanka” in the island’s Eastern province. The announcement, made through a gazette release this morning, comes after the president met with the Buddhist Maha Sanga last week to discuss Buddhist sites in the East.

No option but to enter free trade deal with India- Ranil Wickremesinghe

Former Prime Minister and leader of the UNP, Ranil Wickremesinghe has urged Sri Lanka to enter into a free trade agreement with India, stating that there was “no option” and that it was necessary to recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus. Sri Lanka’s economy is expected to decline by 1.5 per cent in 2020 and has witnessed a steep decline of 82 per cent in exports in April 2020 compared to the same month last year. Similarly, Sri Lanka’s apparel exports drop by 81.78 in April when compared to April of last year. This is due to the pandemic which has forced not only a decline in...