Still rebuilding, still resisting

Today tens of thousands of Tamils, from all ages and backgrounds, will gather across the homeland to pay tribute to those who laid down their lives in the armed struggle. The lighting of candles and silent bowing of heads comes despite another year of repeated intimidation and harassment from the Sri Lankan state. Regardless, the nation continues to gather en masse to honour the men and women who fought for it. In paying tribute to the sacrifice of their heroes, the resilience of the nation and its unbowed resistance to destruction is reaffirmed. It cannot be broken.

Cameron’s second shot

The former British prime minister has been given another chance to rectify his legacy - this time as foreign minister. Following through on his previous pledges on accountability and justice in Sri Lanka would be the best place to start.

Reflections on Genocide

This year marks four decades since the genocidal violence of Black July. With the backing of the Sinhala Buddhist State, Sinhala mobs, armed with electoral rolls and transported by government-owned vehicles, unleashed a torrent of bloodshed killing over 3,000 Tamils, burning down thousands of Tamil homes and businesses, and displacing an estimated 150,000.

Maaveerar Naal - a nation's uprising

Last week, thousands of Tamils, from the political strongholds in Jaffna, the militarised heartlands of the Vanni, to the allegedly contested territories of Amparai, lit up destroyed LTTE cemeteries to pay tribute to those who laid down their lives in the armed struggle. Since 2016, when Tamils reclaimed the Kanagapuram Thuyilum Illam in Kilinochchi to hold Maaveerar Naal publicly for the first time since 2012, when Tamil students were beaten by the Sri Lankan army for attempting to mark the day, the commemorations have been growing in scale each year, disrupted only by the lockdowns of the global pandemic. This year was the largest yet, with events reported in at least thirty locations across the eight districts of the North-East.

'Inclusivity' at the barrel of a gun – Europe’s failing Sri Lanka policy

Illustration by Keera Ratnam / waves of colour This month in the northern city of Kopay and the eastern city of Mullaitivu, plain-clothed Sri Lankan officers photograph Tamil civilians clearing their desecrated memorials for the LTTE. This surveillance has become routine. It is often followed in rapid succession with threats, intimidation, arbitrary detention, and abuse – a pattern all too familiar for Eelam Tamils. In the most militarised regions of the island, Tamils are prohibited from remembering the sacrifices of their loved ones for a free homeland. Under the threat of Sri Lanka’s...

At a critical moment in Sri Lanka’s history, the UN fails

The latest draft United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on accountability for massacres in Sri Lanka shows yet again the ineptitude of the international system to deliver justice for crimes committed more than 13 years ago. Following years of growing militarisation, crackdowns on civil society actors, and ongoing human rights violations, the latest resolution asks victims and survivors to place their faith in the Sri Lankan state. This is the same Sri Lankan state that the former UN High Commissioner acknowledges has actively reversed progress on accountability by appointing war criminals to head government ministries. The latest draft falls far short of what has been needed for years.

A desperate smokescreen

As the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council nears, Sri Lanka’s Sinhala leaders scramble to present the country as on the verge of a democratic breakthrough. Plans to reform Sri Lanka’s draconian counter-terrorism legislation, decriminalise same-sex relations, and delist select Tamil diaspora organisations have been met with broad scepticism across the island. An illusion of a liberal bastion is impossible to maintain amidst a brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrators. Such gestures are nothing but a desperate smokescreen. In the past, Sri Lanka managed to stave off international...

A revolutionary moment?

On July 9, thousands of protestors stormed the residence of Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in what appeared to be the climax of months of protest over the economic crisis on the island. Photos and videos that quickly made headlines around the world showed demonstrators rummaging through his wardrobe, working out in his personal gym, and splashing around in his private pool. Less than three years after Rajapaksa won a commanding majority among the island’s Sinhalese, the unimaginable had happened - the Sinhala Buddhist strongman, whose war crimes aided rather than impeded his rise to power, was being forced out of office.

Recognition overdue

Yesterday was Tamil Genocide Day, a day of solemn remembrance and collective mourning. Across the Tamil homeland and around the world, millions commemorated their kith and kin who were deliberately and systematically massacred by the Sri Lankan state. This year, as flames were lit and flowers laid across the North-East, political turmoil continues to rage across the South. Whilst Colombo’s politicians tussle for power, international focus remains on whether Sri Lanka will be able to climb out of the crisis in which it has landed. May 18, more than any other day, served as a reminder that unless deep-rooted structural changes are enacted and the Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism confronted, it never will.

Seizing the moment in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is in crisis. Protests have spread across the South, demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. It marks a remarkable turnaround in popularity, with demonstrations from the same electorate that less than two years ago delivered Rajapaksa a two-thirds majority in parliament. The speed in which protests have spread and the fury in which they arose, have led the South to believe this is a moment of revolution that offers an opportunity for a definitive break from the island’s turbulent past. Tamils, however, are sceptical.