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My latest article, co-authored with Rapi Siriwardane, was recently published in the German-language journal Südasien (35.Jahrgang, Nr. 1/2015). The article, entitled “Reis-Mafia in Colombo: Wahlkampf um das Präsidentenamt’, explored the significance of the rice processing business to the Maitripala Sirisena election campaign of late 2014/early 2015. A summary of the article and the very colourful journal cover appear below (credits: Südasien). The journal cover:
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.
[Press] The absence of Patriotism, Pluralism and Cosmopolitanism: ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ in retrospection
The TV programme entitled Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, produced by Channel 4 of the UK, sparked substantial debate and discussion in every strata of interest on Sri Lanka, including the realms of high politics and diplomacy, national an international journalism, the non-governmental sector and the programme carried sufficient weight to trigger a renewed interest on Sri Lankan affairs in the West – which – due to the absence of key strategic interests in Sri Lanka, does not generally have a place in Western foreign policy agendas.
Read more on Groundviews.
This article was originally published on Groundviews on 7 October 2011.
Sri Lanka’s thirty-year war, which ended in May 2009, is fast being forgotten. In the post-2009 context, pressing fundamental rights issues in the island nation have been considerably sidelined. Key players in the international community do not perceive Sri Lanka as a strategic priority. In the most recent development, Colombo interprets its decision to hold a Northern Provincial Council Election on 21 September 2013, after a lapse of some twenty-fiveyears, as a means of demonstrating its apparent respect for democratic best practice. The campaign, however, has been fraught with violence, especially against candidates of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main exponent of constitutional Tamil nationalism, polemical concerns over the TNA manifesto, and anti-TNA smear campaigns emanating from governmental sources.
Read more here.
This article was originally published in Open Democracy, on 27 September 2013.
The latest, and perhaps most disturbing development in post-war Sri Lanka’s ethnic relations is the recent rise of a Buddhist activist group, Bodu Bala Sena (BBS-Buddhist power force), driven against Sri Lankan Muslims, the island’s third ethnic minority. BBS explains its mission as strengthening the Buddhist faith in the island, providing spiritual leadership and saving Sinhala Buddhism from external threats. A more vicious strategy has emerged however with Muslims as the prime target, a perceived threat to the Sinhala Buddhist community’s ethno-religious majority.
Read more at Open Democracy
PS: This article was originally published on Open Democracy on 21 May 2013.