Journalistic Writing

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Thoughts On Decolonising Lanka: From Servility To Dignity

To mark the seventy-first anniversary of Sri Lanka gaining dominion status. 

One of the most insightful pieces of writing one would read this year is scholar-activist Senel Wanniarachchi’s excellent account of encountering Tara, a Buddhist and Hindu mother goddess of mercy and generous compassion at…the British Museum. Several excerpts of Wanniarachchi’s article are worth quoting at some length, and in this ‘independence month’, these words are absolute food for thought to all Sri Lankans: 

Read more here. Published in the Colombo Telegraph, 5 February 2019.

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Shame

Read more here. Published in the Colombo Telegraph, on 19 November 2018.

Advising Mahinda Rajapaksa: A Strategic Perspective?

The publication of an email, sent by Ambassador Dr Dayan Jayatilleka to Prime Minister Rajapaksa via Vasudeva Nanayakkara MP, in the Colombo Telegraph has triggered much interest among many Sri Lankans and foreign observers. In what follows, my objective is to very briefly reflect upon the role of political advisors and strategists in the political camp of a populist and successful national leader. 

Read more here. Published in the Colombo Telegraph, 3 November 2018.

Stand With Ranil: Fight Against Sri Lanka’s Bolsonaro Moment

Read more here. Published in the Colombo Telegraph, 30 October 2018.

White women’s mascot: Dr Savita Halappanavar and the racial politics of abortion rights

Read more here. Published 30 October 2018.

The Rajapaksa Return: Slap On The Face Of Sri Lankan Neoliberalism, Once again?

In a move that left the world shocked, President Maitripala Sirisena ‘appointed’ former President Mahinda Rajapaksa MP as Prime Minister, in the evening of Friday 26th October 2018. 

Read more here.

Published in the Colombo Telegraph, 27 October 2018.

Sri Lanka: British vice-principal bullies LGBT+ pupil

Read more here. Published in Erasing 76 Crimes, on 15 October 2018.

Shame On You: Colombo International School

The Colombo International School and its Acting Principal have been practicing daylight discrimination against a pupil in the most shameless and despicable way. The pupil’s fault? Wanting to include a rainbow flag in a fashion show outfit. When the Acting Principal, a cis white British woman, did not give permission, the child complied, and instead found more creative ways of including the rainbow flag in her routine…

Read more here.

Published in the Colombo Telegraph, 4 October 2018.

Ian Paisley Jr’s Sri Lankan Beach Holiday: On Mediocrity, High Costs & Public Disregard

The best authority for luxury Sri Lankan sun holidays in Northern Ireland, Ian Paisley Jr. caused controversy last July, when he was suspended for 30 sitting days from the British House of Commons, for breaching parliamentary rules, by not disclosing the details of his luxury Sri Lankan escapades, all paid for by Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa administration. 

Read more here.

Published in the Colombo Telegraph, 23 September 2018.

Serena To Tharjini: The Battle For Gender Justice In Sport

Sri Lanka achieved a spectacular victory of 69-50 against Singapore at the 2018 Asian championships. The fantastic performance of the Sri Lankan team’s power women was very much an example of resilience, in a local context in which women in sport face a range of specific challenges, primarily linked to ways in which patriarchy reigns in the sporting sphere. Most often, women in sport do not receive the same visibility, facilities, exposure, pay and recognition as men in sport. This is blatantly apparent, for example, in the sphere of cricket. Systemic forms of discrimination are so entrenched in the sporting sphere that the secondary position women in sport are relegated to, is often taken for granted.

Women in Sport: Challenging Patriarchy and Claiming Space

Read more here.

Published in the Colombo Telegraph, on 16 September 2018.

The Vijayakala Vortex: Standing Up For A Tamil Woman In Sri Lankan Politics

In an article published in the Colombo Telegraph on 6th July 2018, this writer wrote the following:

Read more here.

Originally Published in the Colombo Telegraph, on 10 September 2018.

Ian Paisley Jr’s Luxury Sri Lankan Escapade: On Hypocrisy & Foreign Affairs Mismanagement

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Read more here.

Published in The Colombo Telegraph, on 21st July 2018.

Vijayakala Vilification

 

When writing about ethno-national politics in post-war Sri Lanka, this writer has constantly sought to highlight one point – that there is such a thing called Tamil nationalism. Tamil nationalism is a given, and whether some of us like it or not, it continues to exist and in some quarters thrive. A key component of reasonable steps towards reconciliation involves understanding and acknowledging the existence of stakeholders with colliding and opposed views. 

Sri Lankans who are Tamil nationalists have the right to espouse their Tamil nationalism. However…Read more here.

[Published in The Colombo Telegraph, on 6th July 2018].

AS IRELAND MOVES AHEAD

Read more here. Published in The Last Round, 27 May 2018.

The Brigadier Intervention

The conduct of [now suspended] Brigadier Priyanka Fernando, Defence Attaché of the High Commission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the United Kingdom has already made viral headlines not only in the UK and Sri Lanka, but also across the world. The Brigadier’s throat-slitting’ intervention, intended at Tamil nationalist/secessionist protesters who were protesting on the National Day of Sri Lanka, has resulted in many a debate on social media and beyond. While what happened was unfortunate, this incident sheds light upon crucial issues of relevance to post-war Sri Lanka, which are equally important …[read more here].

[Originally published in The Colombo Telegraph, on 8th February 2018].

The Sirisena Saga: On Yahapālana Misogyny

The National Human Rights Action Plan [hereafter referred to as ‘Action Plan’] is one of the best developments that came out of the otherwise jaundiced SirisenaWickremesinghe joint government. A crucial component of the Action Plan was a call to work towards repealing legislation of… [read more here].

[Originally published in The Colombo Telegraph, 16th January 2018].

Instagram

Submerged in the final draft of my second single-author monograph (on decolonial perpectives on reproductive politics) this is ‘the’ one and only thing I’ll share for #pride this year. So beautiful and hats off to the people at @lionpartyfilms for producing this lovely lovely lovely cutest of the cute video. Javid Akthar Ji’s beautiful words will fill your ears watching this. My take is that in our part of the world (meaning, South Asia) we are currently going through a neoliberal queer moment, which naturally paves the way for the development of critical trans and queer feminist perspectives, as a means of challenging neoliberal queer politics and advocacy. However, we do have a long and tedious way ahead. There’s lots of work to be done, esp. in challenging #cisnormative & #heteronormative stereotypes, toxically high levels of internalised phobias, transmisogyny, #savarna casteist & classist readings of queerness, and much more. However, we have well and truly entered a path - of challenging these toxicities one a day, one step at a time, breaking neocolonial hangovers and finding our multiple and multi-faceted queernesses, and that path only has one lane, invariably headed forwards. So we are good. Much love and happy pride to my #queerfam worldwide, esp. to queer women working hard and fighting multiple challenges at many intersections. Reposting from @browngirlmag #queerfeminist #transfeminist #afrofeminist #indigenousfeminist #lka #bharat #lesbian #love #queer #desi #desiqueer #ekladkikodekhatohaisalaga #ekladkikodekha #javidakhtar
The day after. It was very hard to sit down to write anything this morning. But I managed to pen this down - the entire tragedy has been caused by national security négligences, weak governance and bad management of foreign policy. Link to the article: https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-day-after/ #lka #srilankaattacks #eastersundayattackslk #foreignpolicy #nationalsecurity #governance #srilanka #terrorism #ProudSriLankan
Love, love, lots and lots of love to my people. It’s time to hold each other close, and embrace our ethnic, religious, linguistic and all other diversities. We are strongest in our diversity. These attacks are nothing but a concerted effort to destabilise #SriLanka, and adversely affect our hard-earned peace, and make us another failed state in the global South, so that big powers can have a field day in using our beautiful island for their strategic advantages. We need to resist, stand tall, and stand proudly together in our Sri Lankan identity. We must NOT let any external interests sabotage our democratic tradition, our national security, our path towards peace and coexistence. My heart weeps for each and every one of the precious lives lost. #resist #lka #srilanka #democracy #NoCoupsInSriLanka #ProudPeople 🇱🇰✊🏾🌹
You are invited! #decoloniality #decolonialpolitics #lka #ireland #globalsouth #unlearning #knowledgeproduction #decoloniseCurricula #genderjustice #socialjustice #queerpolitics #intersectionalfeminism #transpolitics #internationalrelations #baileathacliath
Our collaborative event ‘Decolonial Dialogues’ took place this morning at Te-Whanganui-a-Tara. This was a combined event, with two panels proposals being squeezed into a single panel. Myself and my dear colleague Thiagaraja Waradas submitted a panel proposal entitled ‘Decolonial School: Bringing the ‘Decolonial’ to mainstream LGBT+ activism’. Two other colleagues, Ainan and Daisey, had submitted another proposal entitled ‘Decolonising Higher Education, Institutional Cultures and Programmes to Advocate for SOGIESC Indigenous Students’. Initially, when we received the news of these two absolutely vital panels being merged, we had our concerns re space and logistics. In the event, not many of us could come, due to immigration and funding-related constraints. The man who was to coordinate the session on our end and collaborate with our colleagues from Turtle Island, Thiagaraja Waradas, had his much-deserved ILGA scholarship snatched from him the morning of the day before his planned trip to Aotearoa. This really botched a lot of our plans and advocacy initiatives, and it is with a heavy heart that I am leaving the shores of this beautiful land – with a feeling of not having achieved the full extent of what we had originally planned. However, on the positive side of things, we have achieved quite a bit, close friendships between our colleagues from Turtle Island being one. In this panel, we followed a template of a circle and group activities, making it as informal as possible, and enabling people to delve into complex issues in relation to decolonial approaches and praxes, through basic questions and ensuing dialogues. Despite acute time constraints, we did succeed in bringing together a multitude of perspectives on decolonial work from Indigenous advocacy in white-settler contexts, to decolonial insights on SOGIESC advocacy in the global South/s. A big thank you to our colleagues from many countries who attended this panel, and helped us make it a success. A big thank you also to Kassie and Teina for ensuring that we were able to have the Tino rangatiratanga National Flag during this event. The end of the event included a visit by Daisy, myself, Teina and Kassie to
Our event ‘Decolonising SOGIESC advocacy in South and Southeast Asia: An Activist Conversation’ took place this morning in Te-Whanganui-a-Tara. Months of painstaking work went into the organising of this event, involving one of the senior-most community leaders of the region, Bubli Malik Sahiba, and it was a beautiful collaboration between #Venasa and #Wajood. Venasa is a grassroots trans rights advocacy group founded by the excellent Thenu Ranketh, a leader and role model to us all. Wajood is a leading trans rights body based in Islamabad, which has broken new ground in claiming space in governmental and judicial circles. The workings of neoliberal NGO-industrial LGBT+ rights work is such that Thenu could not join us, and yet another major resource person, Nada Chiayajit, also could not join us. To our greatest regret, our dearly beloved colleague and decolonial queer trailblazer Thiagaraja Waradas @waradas could not join us, as a result of an extremely questionable act of censure and erasure by ILGA World on the day before his planned trip to Aotearoa. However, and despite all those challenges, we managed to host this event. We had clearly outlined the necessity of a one-and-half-hour session, to do the minimum justice possible to the absolutely vital issues being discussed. However, we were only given a mere 45 minutes, which was barely sufficient for our excellent panellists to make their opening statements. This in itself is a reminder of the importance of looking beyond the NGO-industrial complex when working for SOGIESC advocacy, within our respective countries as well as internationally. It was our greatest pleasure to display the Tino rangatiratanga flag, and pay respects to the rightful owners of the land we are standing on. My heartfelt thanks go to my sister Kassie who opened the session with traditional Māori greetings and welcomed us to Aotearoa. #DecolonialAdvocacy #DecoloniseSOGIESC #SOGIESC #GINSOGI #ILGANZ2019 #TeWhanganuiaTara #GenderJustice #Lka #SriLanka #Pakistan #Venasa #VTN #Wajood #TransPolitics #SouthAsia #ClaimingSpace #DecolonialPolitics #DecoloniseILGA

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