Category Archives: press freedom

Bill Leak etches no more…. Appreciations galore

Bill Leak, the editorial cartoonist for THE AUSTRALIAN, passed away at the age of 61 from a heart attack. The VALE iin appreciation in that newspaper extends to several pages. But perhaps the best epitaph was from the cartoonist Paul Broelman in the Geelong Advertiser–showing a memorial in stone of a hand with the index finger extended as “Up Yours!!”

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Revelations of Afghanistan as A War Zone: Andrew Quilty’s Photo-Journalism

A series of striking images for the Year 2016 in the local Advertiser newspaper include one by Andrew Quilty which had the caption, ”Shock: a dead patient on an operating table at Afghanistan’s MSF Trauma Center after an attack by an American gunship on the hospital.” I am still searching for this particular image but found a veritable treasure trove in the Andrew Quilty site. I present selections for the benefit of those readers who bask in the comforts of relatively peaceful sites and landscapes. For many Sri Lankans of all ethnicities, of course, these pictures will evoke memories of traumatic times, albeit within landscapes that differ from the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan. For bio-data on Quilty, see

quilty-33 DAY 17: Sunday 21 August 2016: “I was up early this morning to meet the friend and fixer that Sune, Danielle and I often work with in Helmand, on the outskirts of Kabul. Although Helmand is his home, Rauf is in self-imposed exile at the moment. As an Afghan that worked for several years as an interpreter for the British army (not to mention foreign journalists), had the province fallen to the Taliban as was recently feared, he’d have been a marked man. (Rauf has been waiting more than 18 months for his UK visa to be finalised.)We were waiting to speak with the local commander at a police checkpoint toward the southern outskirts of Kabul when a taxi pulled to a stop. Its boot was open and a pair of bloodied, lifeless feet hung over the tailgate. Inside, a middle-aged man lay on a stretcher. Several bandages barely hid stab wounds – inflicted during what we were told was a family dispute. A younger man held a clear bag of IV fluid to the roof. His hand was rusty with dried blood.” Continue reading

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Debilitating Political Ignorance in Sri Lanka’s Populace?

Sanjana Hattotuwa,  from The Island, 8 October 2016, where the title is The new constitution that may never be”. .. Emphasis below via highlighting is an imposition by the Editor, Thuppahi.

Gramsci spoke of the pessimism of intellect and the optimism of will. How does this relate to Sri Lanka today? The deafening silence around the process of constitution making, justified by key architects as inevitable in order for progress around tenacious issues to be made, indicates to all but the most delusional the reform process has little to no traction in the public imagination. This is a problem. Basic intelligence suggests a process as vexed as writing a new constitution, without public traction or debate, dumped by government elites for approval just before a referendum risks confusion at best and opposition or rejection at worst. And yet, Sri Lanka really needs a new constitution.

If the constitution expresses the will of the people, it needs to be one that guides us away from the structures of power and identity that led to what we are still hostage to – a violent, racist State, largely unable as a first step to even recognise the degree to which it excludes and discriminates. The optimism of will, when embodied in a constitution, is what can guarantee to the extent possible a better future for all citizens, independent of what government, Executive or Prime Minister are, say and do. Continue reading

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Rathika Pathmanathan Face-to-Face and Woman-to-Woman

Frances Bulathsinghala, courtesy of Daily FT, 5 October 2016, where the title reads Facing the past, bridging the divide” ... with emphasis inblue highlghts added by the Editor, Thuppahi.

The life of 25-year-old Rathika Pathmanathan is a testimony of a post-war nation at the crossroads. She has lived the hideous gore of war, bloodied trenches and is now living the possibilities of peace. She has dared to trust and she has dared to forgive.  In her book ‘There is a Darkness Called Light and I Grope for Myself in the Thick of It,’ published in English, Sinhala and Tamil, recounts her days as a teenaged fighter in the LTTE frontlines of the last phase of the war; the nights and days of starvation in the trenches, the excruciating combat training, the loss of family and the new world of Colombo where she arrived for medical treatment for the leg she almost lost. Seated in the small, sparsely-furnished room she occupies on rent in a remote Sinhala majority suburb in the outer periphery of Colombo, Rathika speaks of wanting to rebuild her life, to study and most of all to actively work towards reconciliation in Sri Lanka, a task she is engaged in at present through her book and as an activist.


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Bedfellows: Kerry, Vikramabahu and Mangala pleased with the Situation in Sri Lanka Today

ONE. Saman Indrajith in New York: “Kerry showers praise on national unity govt,”

US Secretary of State John Kerry told President Maithripala Sirisena that they highly appreciated and admired the direction of the new government of Sri Lanka and would extend every possible assistance thereto. He said so when he called on President Sirisena on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly sessions, being held in UN Headquarters in New York  on Sep. 21.

President Sirisena said that the current government of Sri Lanka continued on the path towards economic progress and reconciliation. He told the US Secretary of State that the government was facing a lot of challenges from the destabilising forces in the North as well as the South, who wanted to deter the reconciliation process. “For example, a small minority of the people in the North refused to go back to their lands due to pressure from extremist groups”, he said.


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The Bad Old Days via Satirical Cartoon — Aubrey Collette’s Touch

Wasantha Siriwardena, courtesy of Sunday Observer, 15 May 2016, where the title is  “Aubrey Collette: Drawing the best out of political caricature”

Born in 1920 as the youngest son of renowned photographer Jos Collette, Aubrey spent his childhood drawing. After completing his education at Royal College, he was appointed as an art master in the same school. Collette joined the ’43 Group, which was Sri Lanka’s (then Ceylon) prominent and internationally recognised Modern Art movement at that time. He exhibited his paintings alongside George Keyt, Justin Deraniyagala, Lionel Wendt, Geoffrey Beling, Harry Pieris, Richard Gabriel, L.T.P. Manjusri and George Classen. Collette was a fine painter like the rest but it was for his incisive satirical cartoons that he became famous.

AUBREY COLLETTEAubrey Collette durig Lake House days

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The Reconciliation Task Force in Sri Lanka

The formal title is ‘Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms”  and its web site is  and the deadline for submissions is drawing to a close.The Personnel constituting the Task Force are an impressive mix, while Mano Tittawella is its “Secretary-General” (c.v. below).manoouri plus Manori, Farzana and  … RANILAT KOVIL Ranil at launch ? Continue reading

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