Category Archives: press freedom & censorship

Thomas Meaney, A Review Article, courtesy of the Author and the London Review of Books,… with emphasis by highlights added by The Editor, Thuppahi … SEE

prabha-with-pistol-2   prabha-tiger

Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World by Steven Kemper, Chicago, 480 pp, £31.50, January 2015, ISBN 978 0 226 19907

Tamil: A Biography by David Shulman, Harvard, 416 pp, £25.00, September 2016, ISBN 978 0 674 05992 4

The Seasons of Trouble: Life amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka’s Civil War by Rohini Mohan, Verso, 368 pp, £16.99, October 2015, ISBN 978 1 78168 883 0

Independence was handed to Ceylon’s elite on a platter. ‘Think of Ceylon as a little bit of England,’ Oliver Ernest Goonetilleke, the first native governor-general, said. This was a point of pride. Don Stephen Senanayake, the country’s first prime minister, remarked: ‘There has been no rebellion in Ceylon, no non-cooperation movement and no fifth column. We were among the peoples who gave full collaboration while Britain was hard-pressed.’ After independence in 1948, Ceylon alone among the former colonies not only retained but promoted the monarchy: the Union Jack flew alongside the Ceylon flag; a new constitution was drafted by a former LSE professor, Ivor Jennings; Colombo debutantes were presented at Buckingham Palace; and, thanks to some genealogical ingenuity, George VI was recognised as the latest monarch in the ancient line of Kandyan kings. While the rest of the empire in Asia smouldered – in India there was Partition, in Malaya the Emergency, in Burma the civil war – Ceylon became Whitehall’s model for the transfer of colonial power. ‘There was no fight for that freedom which involved a fight for principles, policies and programmes,’ Solomon Ridgeway Bandaranaike, the anti-colonial head of state who took power in 1956, said when he reviewed the transition a decade later. ‘It just came overnight. We just woke up one day and were told: “You are a dominion now.”[1] Continue reading

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February 10, 2017 · 1:03 pm

Revamping Lanka’s Government Structures? CTF Proposals In. Prospects Dim.

Sanjana Hattoruwa,  in The Sunday Island, 7 January 2017, where the title is “A Report on Reconciliation“… with the highlighting below being the work of The Editor, Thuppahi

chandrika manouri-muttetuwegama


Last week, the Consultations Task Force (CTF) handed over its final report to former President Chandrika Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga. It was supposed to be handed over to the President. However, he wasn’t present at the ceremony, on a date and time his office had negotiated after many delays spreading over months. As widely noted, the CTF comprised of eleven members drawn from civil society and was appointed by the Prime Minister in late January 2016, to seek the views and comments of the public on the proposed mechanisms for transitional justice and reconciliation, as per the October 2015 UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka, co-sponsored by the Government of Sri Lanka. Accordingly, you would expect the PM, whose brainchild the CTF was, to be present at the handover ceremony. He wasn’t either. Continue reading

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Reason for Anxiety: Present YPL Government’s Threats against Reporters

Lasanda Kurukulasuriya, courtesy of DBS Jeyaraj, 2 August 2016, in, where the title is Ranil’s outbursts against journalists: A case of controlling the narrative?”

 ranil 22The recent outburst against journalists by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has caused raised eyebrows, not least because it flies in the face of the yahapalana government’s pledges to create a freer environment for the media. The PM’s remarks at an event in Kandy on the 23rd were unabashedly threatening. He did not merely take a passing swipe at a media organization or journalist who wrote something critical about him or his government but, having named the Daily Mirror and referred to its editor (Kesara Abeywardena), went on at some length about how ‘these journalists need to be taught a good lesson.’ Here’s part of what he said:

“The Daily Mirror newspaper reported that the foreign minister must be removed. This Daily Mirror editor has also told me to go as well. Now if he doesn’t go himself, we’ll have to see what we can do about it. He was constantly entertained at Mahinda Rajapaksa’s table, going ‘shopping’ for him. This newspaper attacked Muslims and Tamils. If these people are calling for the removal of our people, let’s teach them a good lesson before that. We shall last the full term of five years. If we get the people’s mandate we can go even further. We cannot allow these people to fool around like this.”……. (The PM also threatened to soon reveal the names of print journalists who ‘wined and dined and made money with the rogues’ in the previous regime.)

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Nation Building Today? Intelligentsia Address the Issues

Edmond Jayasinghe,  from The Sunday Times, 24 July 2016, where the tile reads: “Much needs to be done to achieve lasting peace and reconciliation”

There should be a conscious and concerted effort to achieve reconciliation among ethnic groups to establish lasting peace in the country. This was emphasised at a seminar titled Peace and Reconciliation and Nation Building held at the auditorium of the Organization of Professional Associations on July 10, 2016. The seminar was organized by the Association for Social Development, a social service organization implementing projects and programmes aimed at enhancing social stability.

It was addressed by several eminent persons like Lal Wijenayake, Attorney at Law and Chairman of the Public Representation Committee on Constitutional Reforms (PRCCR), N. Selvakumaran, former Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Colombo, Member of PRCCR and Member of the Panel of Experts assisting the Parliament Steering Committee on the drafting of a new constitution, Professor Jayadeva Uyangoda, former Professor of Political Science and Public Policy of the University of Colombo, Professor Sarath Wijesooriya of the Department of Sinhala of the University of Colombo, Victor Ivan, Senior journalist, Editor of the Ravaya Newspaper and Ambassador Javid Yusuf, former Head of the Muslim Peace Secretariat. At the panel discussion that followed were Dr. Fahmy Ismail, former Chief Veterinary Surgeon and Deputy Commissioner of Colombo Municipal Council and Consultant UN-HABITAT, Ambassador Laksiri Mendis, Former UN and Commonwealth legal expert and Salma Yusuf, Deputy Director, Policy and Law and Human Rights Office for National Unity and Reconciliation functioning under the auspices of the Presidential Secretariat. Continue reading

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Lanka’s Immediate Prospects and Samaraweera

Jehan Perera, in The Island,  28 June 2015, where the title is  Sri Lanka’s Brexit hour still to come”

The Sri Lankan government goes into the current session of the UN Human Rights Council with several accomplishments to show. These are primarily at the level of change of spirit and less as concrete changes that can be quantified. It is difficult to quantify the impact of the lifting of fear of agents of the state and their associates acting with impunity, of white vans into which people disappear and the attitude of confrontation. But these have transformed life in the country. The passage of the Right to Information law in Parliament unanimously, without a vote and therefore without division, is an indication that there is broad acceptance in the polity, to which the government gives leadership, that good governance is good for all. In addition, the government has been able to showcase the draft law setting up the Office of Missing Persons, which is one of the four transitional justice mechanisms that it promised to establish at the October 2015 session of the UNHRC. brexit SL Continue reading

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Issues of Governance and Economic Management in Recent Years

Verite Researach courtesy of Daily Mirror, May 2016, where the title is “Economic mismanagement is a governance problem – It needs governance solutions”

Elected officials and selected bureaucrats are given a huge amount of power to act on behalf of the public – modern democracies function on this basis: that citizens hand over their power to elected representatives. But how can the citizens then protect themselves against those individuals misusing that power? This is the perennial problem of governance. The simple answer that is given to this question of governance is “elections” – that elections ensure the displacement of politicians who violate the public trust and thus create political incentives for better behaviour. This Insight provides an example, which explains why the answer cannot be that simple – the behaviour of officials during elections can both abuse public trust, as well as benefit these officials politically. As such, other governance solutions are needed.


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Ben Bavinck’s Testimony within the Crucible of War, 1994-2004

Michael Roberts

As a young teenager in the Netherlands Benjamin Bavinck (1924-2011) lived through the occupation of his country by the Nazi Germans. As he traversed the various war zones in Sri Lanka between 1988 and 2004, therefore, and recorded his experiences (in Dutch) in his diaries, he brought an experiential background that few other foreigners would have possessed. This pillar of experience was girded by two other sturdy characteristics: (1) what one can present as “Dutch phlegm” and (2) a commitment to the service of mankind that is a trait of those devoted to the helping professions.

Rajasinghamsin1990parentsofDrRajani Mr and Mrs Rajasingham Ben Bavinck pix

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