Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 response is proof that demonisation of minorities has been normalised

Writing in The Wire India, Harini Amarasuriya, highlights how Sri Lanka’s response to the coronavirus demonises minority communities and imposes a demand to submit to “the benevolent control of the majority community”. Rising Islamophobia Amarasuriya writes that since 2009, there has been rising Islamophobia in Sri Lanka which has resulted in pogroms against Muslims. These acts of ethnic and religious violence could not have “taken place without the complicity of the political party in power – at the very least, by turning a blind eye or delaying taking action”. Sri Lankan officials have...

‘Jaffna burns again’ - snippets from the burning of Jaffna Library

May 31, 1981 marked not only the burning of the Jaffna Public Library, but the beginning of a week-long rampage of violence by Sri Lankan security forces and Sinhala mobs which devastated the peninsula. The violence and devastation was largely ignored by the island’s mainstream press, and even in Tamil Nadu reports did not reach the media for many days, as a result of the shutdown of press throughout the North and general censorship imposed by the Sri Lankan government. Notably, the office and presses of Eelanadu, a prolific Tamil daily coming out of Jaffna since 1959, were burnt to the...

CID investigates NGOs registered without due process

Sri Lanka's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has launched investigations into Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) which were reportedly registered without due procedure under the previous government. Speaking to the Daily Mirror , Raja Gunaratne, Director of the National NGO Secretariat, said that NGOs had been registered without checking their funding sources and projects. The NGO Secretariat, which monitors the registration and operation of NGOs, is under the purview of Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence. Since Gotabaya Rajapaksa's inauguration as President, the role of the defence...

1,200 days of protest and still no answers

Tamil families of the disappeared in Vavuniya marked a milestone 1,200 days of protest today, as they continue their demands for information regarding their forcibly disappeared loved ones. The families, made mostly of Tamil women, have staged demonstrations across the roadsides of the North-East for years. They have yet to receive any information for the forcible disappearances of their families members, nor have those responsible been held accountable. Relatives donned masks and adhered to social distancing guidelines, as well as holding a banner criticising senior leaders of the Tamil...

Mahinda Rajapaksa sworn in as Social Empowerment and Estate Infrastructure Development Cabinet Minister

Following the death of Ceylon Workers’ Congress leader Arumugan Thondaman , Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, and war criminal, Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as the Social Empowerment and Estate Infrastructure Development Cabinet Minister. Thondaman died last week due to a sudden illness and left the position available. This news follows a worrying consolidation of power into the military and the establishment of a Presidential Task Force to protect Buddhist monuments. Read more from the President’s Media Division .

Sri Lankan intelligence officer who forced false testimony from Tamil doctor promoted

The Sri Lankan president has promoted a former military intelligence director to the rank of Major General, despite his role in a number of abuses including the reported forced confession and denial of medical treatment of a Tamil doctor who served during the massacres at Mullivaikkal in 2009. The International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) have documented how Tuan Suresh Sallay reportedly forced Dr Thurairajah Varatharajah into giving false testimony, just days after the armed conflict had ended with tens of thousands of Tamils massacred. Dr Varatharajah was detained for approximately 100...

Mask off

Even before they returned to power in Sri Lanka last year, the Rajapaksas never sought to cloak their brash espousal of Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism. As defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa ran a ruthless offensive that massacred tens of thousands of Tamils, which his brother Mahinda oversaw as president, with what he called “a sense of quiet joy”. Now, more than six months have passed with the Rajapaksa siblings back in power and occupying the island’s highest offices. And whilst global attention has been focussed on controlling the coronavirus pandemic, the regime has used the crisis to unleash Sinhala supremacy with an even greater ferocity.

History in flames: remembering the burning of Jaffna Library

At midnight on May 31, 1981, the Jaffna Public Library, the crucible of Tamil literature and heritage, was set ablaze by Sri Lankan security forces and state-sponsored mobs. The burning has since been marked by Eelam Tamils as an act of genocide.

Assassinated Tamil journalist remembered in Batticaloa

Aiyathurai Nadesan was remembered by journalists and media workers at a memorial event in Batticaloa, marking 16 years since his assassination.

Sri Lankan President appeals for international economic support

Sri Lankan President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, appealed to the international community for economic support following the devastating impact caused by the COVID-19 virus. This plea for international support came during a virtual ‘High – Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID – 19 and beyond’ organized by the Prime Ministers of Canada, Jamaica and the UN Secretary-General. During this virtual conference, Rajapaksa stressed the harm that the virus has caused on “labour income, export-related income, tourism and connected services”. Without unconditional budget support and...