Remembering Black July

Today marks thirty-seven years since the horrors of the anti-Tamil pogrom of 1983, when thousands of Tamils were killed by Sinhala mobs backed by the then UNP government and state forces. Armed with electoral rolls, Sinhala mobs targeted Tamil homes and businesses, looting and ransacking property. Driven from their homes, particularly in Colombo, over 3000 Tamils were massacred, whilst thousands more were effectively deported by the state to the North-East.

Tributes paid to civil rights legend John Lewis

John Lewis, the venerable congressman of Georgia’s fifth congressional district and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom has died at age 80. Often dubbed “the conscience of the Congress”, Lewis was also a solid component of the Civil Rights Movement. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2019. Former President Barack Obama and Martin Luther King III were amongst those who expressed their condolences and their gratitude for Lewis. Obama on Lewis: “He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promises. And through...

Murali’s true colours

Former Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan has come out and backed the leader of the National Freedom Front and prominent Sinhala Buddhist nationalist Wimal Weerawansa, ahead of Sri Lanka’s general elections next month. Muralitharan - arguably Sri Lanka’s most famous cricket player - is well known for his unwavering alliance with the Rajapaksa regime, and has himself denied that war crimes had occurred.

Sri Lankan police push back mourners at Navaly Church bombing remembrance

Uniformed Sri Lankan police officers pushed back Tamil mourners as they attempted to light candles to mark 25 years since the Navaly Church bombings in Jaffna earlier today. Crowds gathered a memorial constructed for victims of the bombing were met with a heavy security presence, that included several armed and uniformed Sri Lankan army soldiers.

‘Bombs rolling in the air’ - Remembering the Navaly church massacre

On this day 25 years ago, the Sri Lankan air force dropped 13 bombs on St Peter’s Church in Navaly. More than 140 sheltering Tamils, who were encouraged by the military to seek refuge at the church, were killed on the spot. At least 13 children were amongst the dead, with many more succumbing to injuries later as the local hospital was swamped with the wounded.

Sri Lankan police summon Tamil Guardian's Mullaitivu correspondent

Sri Lankan police have summoned Tamil Guardian’s Mullativiu correspondent Shanmugam Thavaseelan for questioning The journalist is being summoned with regards to an incident on June 16, where allegedly intoxicated Forest Department officials assaulted at least three Tamil men.

Queerness + Tamil identity – PEARL speaks with Gowri Koneswaran, Ram Paramanathan and Abhirami Balachandran

Speaking with People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL), Gowri Koneswaran, a lawyer and writer, Ram Paramanathan, a journalist and media critic, and Abhirami Balachandran, researcher and educator, gave enlightening discussions on queer identity in the Tamil community as part of their final discussion in their Tamil Struggle 101 workshop. Rejecting cis-heterosexual normativity Speaking on how we engage with LGBTQ issues, Gowri Koneswaran reminds us to challenge preconceived conceptions and to be inclusive. Her talk not only challenges traditional mainstream narratives of queer identity,...

Chinese Investment and the BRI in Sri Lanka – Chatham House

Following the publication of their report on the impact of Chinese investment and the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) in Sri Lanka, Chatham House held a wide reaching and informative discussion on the economic, political, and geopolitical role of China in Sri Lanka. Whilst questioning conventional narratives such as “China’s debt trap”, the speakers also touched upon key issues such as human rights, corruption, and geopolitical alliances. The report notes that the question is not whether or not Sri Lanka should adopt Chinese investment but rather how best to utilise this investment. A history...

Caste + Resistance – PEARL speaks with Sinthujan Varatharajah and Thanges Paramsothy

Speaking with People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL), both Sinthujan Varatharajah, an expert political geographer, and Thanges Paramsothy, a renowned anthropologist, gave enlightening discussions on the nature and continued presence of caste as well the history of resistance to it. Varatharajah, who is of Dalit origin, spoke on the oft-ignored history of caste discrimination and resistance. He notes that contemporary narratives often attempt to present the Tamil struggles as a casteless one but by denying the existence of caste we “deny the long history of resistance against caste"...

The Art of Survival: Beetroot Sandwiches and Orange Juice

At age seven, I joined the Jaffna Library as a member of its children’s section. Every Saturday my friend and I would take orange juice and beetroot and Kraft cheese sandwiches, and go with her mother, then English teacher at Vembadi Girls School, to the library.