Category Archives: working class conditions

Alleged ‘Land Grabbing’ by the Security Forces in Sri Lanka

Gerald Peiris, … an essay that is part of  Chapter 11 in a forthcoming monograph titled Sri Lanka: Land Policy for Sustainable Development, by G. H. Peiris, currently in the press (as a Visidunu Publication, 471 Lake Road, Boralesgamuwa, Sri Lanka) [1]

In view of the significance accorded in recent public debate and discussion on the subject of ‘land grabbing’ in several conflict-ridden countries of the Third World it is necessary to devote attention to a series of facts that are of crucial relevance to a balanced understanding of the related  situation in Sri Lanka.

Gerald Peiris Bhavani Fonseka  Mirak Raheem

Land Grabbing: Concept and Empirical Application  

The phenomenon referred to as ‘land grabbing’ lacks definitional clarity. In many writings of recent times (Keely, 2009; Borras, et.al., 2011; Deininger & Byerlee 2011; Rulli, et. al., 2013; Brimayer & Moon, 2014; to name only a few), especially those sponsored by civil society organisations, this phrase has been used exclusively in the specific connotation of large-scale acquisition of land in the poorer countries by foreign governments and private firms that are based in the politically and economically powerful countries. Estimates of the extent of grabbed land worldwide vary. The prestigious journal, The Economist (21 May 2009) placed it at 15-20 million ha. According to the World Bank, it is as high as 45 million ha, with an overwhelmingly large proportion of it in the less densely populated areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central America and Southeast Asia. In a major World Bank sponsored study (Deininger & Byerlee, op. cit.) ‘land grabbing’ has been portrayed as a phenomenon of both positive as well as negative impacts which nevertheless requires effective regulation. But more generally, this process is perceived as an exemplification of neo-colonial economic exploitation that has adverse consequences on the local people in the form of violation of fundamental rights, incitement of inter-group conflict, mass impoverishment and environmental degradation. What should be noted here is that in none of the research writings on the subject of ‘land grabbing’ as a global phenomenon do we come across a specific reference to Sri Lanka as a country that has been seriously affected by this phenomenon.[2] Continue reading

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The Ambalama: Blending Serenity and Beauty … amidst Poson Activities

Danya Udukumbure, in The Island, 23 June 2017, where the title runs 

It was the Poson weekend, actually a long one if one skipped work on Friday. Just perfect for an impromptu adventure! A quick call to my friends in Wariyapola and I was behind the wheel. It was still dark outside, but the road was dotted with white clad folk hurrying to the temples to observe sil. I revelled in the peaceful Poson spirit in the air. It seemed that the spirituality was weighing heavy as we were dealing with the aftermath of the catastrophic monsoon floods which left death and destruction in its wake in several districts. ‘Anichchai, Dukkai, Anaththai’. The whole country was in a lacklustre mood, or so I thought.

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From Mountain Village to Neurologist in Melbourne

Tissa Wijeratne, … https://worldneurologyonline.com/article/the-journey-of-one-neurologist-from-sri-lanka-to-melbourne/#disqus_thread … where the title is “The Journey of One Neurologist from Sri Lanka to Melbourne”

Born and raised in what I describe as “the jungle,” my life started in one of the remotest parts of Sri Lanka: a village called Kirioruwa-Bandarawela in the central mountainous area. Electricity, hot water, television, and telephone were all miles away from us at the time. I fondly recall days spent reading in the shade of a tree in the rice fields that surrounded my family home — the place where sky and earth met, almost kissing each other daily. The mountains were covered with a layer of lush tea bushes. Our home sat on the top of one of these mountains.

 Tissa Wijeratne, MD (right), with one of his mentors from his time as a student in Sri Lanka. Continue reading

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A Historical ‘Cuppa’ of Ceylon Tea

Ceylon Tea: The Trade That Made a Nation

The Colombo Tea Traders’ Association will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Ceylon tea on July 20th with the launch of an illustrated history entitled Ceylon Tea: The Trade That Made a Nation. This art-quality large-format illustrated book has been authored by Richard Simon with Dominic Sansoni as Illustrations Editor, while the design has been fashioned by Sebastian Posingis. Continue reading

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Flood Disaster in Sri Lanka: A Line of Aid for Pregnant Women

Michael Roberts

ONE: “Age shall not weary them” is an evocative phrase for Australians.[1] Myrna Setunga is from my generation of Peradeniya undergraduates and now lives in retirement in Battaramulla. A veritable dynamo she threw herself into relief aid in the aftermath of the 26th December 2004 tsunami. She identified a special arena of need and developed a scheme supplying a basket of essential supplies for pregnant women.[2] She pursued the same avenue in the IDP camps with aid from friends abroad.[3] She is now embarking on this line of relief aid in selected localities. I endorse the venture wholeheartedly and place this “Set of Notes” in the public realm so that others, not just feminists but one and all, may be encouraged to support this line of aid. Myrna’s desire for anonymity is transcended by the good that is in progress.

 Myrna preparing her basket of essential items for mothers and/or pregnant women, 2009

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Empowered Women rise from the Ashes of Sri Lanka’s War

Avani Dias,  courtesy of ABC Net, May 14 May 2017, where the title runs  Border Girls: Women in Sri Lanka take on male roles to help recovery from brutal civil war,” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-07/border-girls-help-sri-lanka-recover-from-civil-war/8499728

Women and girls whose male relatives were killed in Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war are now helping the country recover, taking on roles formerly reserved for men and heading to schools and universities to complete their education. The so-called “Border Girls” mostly come from towns and villages which formed a human buffer zone between the opposing sides during the 27-year conflict, which ended in 2009 and left tens of thousands of civilians dead, many of them killed in the war’s bloody final phase. The majority of border girls, who are from the Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslim ethnic groups, lost their partners, fathers, and brothers in the war, which pitted government troops against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) guerrillas, also known as the Tamil Tigers. Now these resilient women want to independently lead a change in Sri Lanka by pursuing their education and altering community attitudes so women have a leadership role in the traditionally male-led society.

Saroja Dilrukshi, 16, lost most of her family during the Sri Lankan civil war

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A Christian Miracle-Worker or Kattadiya Down South

C. A .Chandraprema, introducing “God’s Secret Agent” by Herman Gunaratne, … courtesy of The Island

 The launch of Malinga Herman Gunaratne’s latest book ‘God’s Secret Agent’ at Misissa Hills a boutique hotel in Mirissa on 16 April was well attended. Among the guests were the former editor of The Island Gamini Weerakoon, the editor of The Sunday Times Sinha Ratnatunga, and the head of the Derana media network Dilith Jayaweera. There were as many foreigners as locals in the audience. Ashok Ferry who discussed the book with Herman G asked him whether it was a work of fiction to which the latter answered in the negative stating that this was a book which was based on his own experiences with a Christian ‘holy man’ by the name of Nissanka Wimalasuriya. This ‘holy man’ who according to Herman G, worked with the Holy Spirit had performed virtual miracles for him as well as many of his friends, curing physical or mental ailments, solving career problems and the like. This book was Herman G’s way of paying homage to this ‘holy man’ whom he had known for decades and also the unseen force that helped him to do what he did

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