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[Press] Sri Lanka stunned? Sri Lanka’s 2015 presidential poll and [un]warranted exclamations

On 9 January 2015, Dr Oliver Walton, a lecturer at the University of Bath, published an article entitled ‘Sri Lanka stunned as Rajapaksa gamble fails to pay off’ (emphasis mine). Walton notes that ‘Sri Lankans are shocked at the scale and manner of Rajapaksa’s defeat, which has brought his tenure to an abrupt halt after nine highly controversial years’. In a similar vein, The Independent (UK) published….Read more on Groundviews.

[Press] The Chandrika Bandaranaike factor in Sri Lankan politics

A Gaullist executive presidency for Sri Lanka was an idea that J.R. Jayewardene cherished since the early years of the Dominion state. Having won a spectacular majority against Sirima Bandaranaike’s United Front in 1977 (by then disunited and disintegrating), Jayewardene was finally in a position to give expression to his ultimate wish, an all-powerful, overarching Gaullist executive presidency. Since its establishment, the executive presidency of Sri Lanka has been the topic of much political debate and controversy. On the run up to the 1994 general and presidential elections, for example, the abolition of the powerful office through constitutional reform was a key tenet of the People’s Alliance (PA) manifesto. The JVP as well as…READ MORE ON GROUNDVIEWS

[Press – research-based long read] Proud Inheritors or Petty Contractors? Understanding the BBS phenomenon in Sri Lankan politics


This article was an effort to outline what the Bodu Bala Sena organisation really represents in present-day Sri Lankan politics. I also wrote to the press about BBS last year. Since then, BBS has grown into a prominent (if not the most prominent) ‘frontline player’ in Sri Lankan politics. Gaining a nuanced understanding of BBS, however, is no easy ballgame, because the organisation has developed a web of influence in the corridors of power, the business sector and the disapora lobbies in a way no other Sinhala-Buddhist outfit has done in the past. However, it is important to keep in mind that BBS operates in Rajapaksa-led Sri Lanka, where the ruling family is unlikely to allow any other outfit to grab the Sinhala-Buddhist power base from their grip.

Ven. Galaboda-atté Gnanasara, Bodu Bala Sena's most vocal personality (left), meeting Ven. Ashin Virathu, head of Myanmar's 969 Movement.

Ven. Galaboda-atté Gnanasara, Bodu Bala Sena’s most vocal personality (left), meeting Ven. Ashin Virathu, head of Myanmar’s 969 Movement.

My article, entitled Proud Inheritors or Petty Contractors? Understanding the BBS Phenomenon in Sri Lankan Politics, was published on Groundviews on Saturday 5 July 2014, and is available here.

[Press] Problems of success? Post-war Sri Lanka’s international challenges

Since the end of Sri Lanka’s thirty year-long war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the island is often evoked internationally in relation to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva. The UNHRC remains the only supranational body where the case of Sri Lanka has been evoked on a regular basis since the 1980s. Right from the outset of Eelam War IV, Sri Lanka attracted much criticism from policy research lobbies and senior personalities such as the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and present ICG chief Dr Louise Arbour. The UNHRC’s scrutiny of Sri Lanka was intensified in the aftermath of the final military offensive of May 2009. This was a justifiable move, given the substantive civilian casualties and the humanitarian catastrophe resulting in the displacement of some 300,000 civilians. Colombo’s treatment of displaced Tamil civilians caused considerable international alarm, as civilians were held in temporary shelters (which the government emphatically termed ‘welfare centres’ and critics categorically described as ‘concentration camps’), with accusations and considerable evidence over acts of violence and human rights violations.

Read more here. This article was originally published in the Groundviews special issue on the 5th anniversary of the end of the war in Sri Lanka.