Jaffna Teaching Hospital Authorities Turn to Army for Blood

More than 200 officers and other ranks as well as members of the civil staff serving the 55 Division Headquarters atVettalaikerny, Jaffna, in response to a request gave away their blood for the use of Tamil civilians under treatment at Jaffna Teaching Hospital during a mobile project on account of Poson Full Moon Day (23).

The Army was compelled to organize this campaign after medical officers at Jaffna Teaching Hospital turned to the Army for blood since an acute shortage exists in the Jaffna Blood Bank. The matter was brought to the notice of the 55 Division Headquarters by medical authorities.

Continue reading

Two contrasting petitions, and an attempt to stimulate consensus

I have received recently two very different petitions, one from a body that calls itself the World Alliance for Peace in Sri Lanka, the other from a body that calls itself the Friday Forum. They present two very different points of view, the one asking that the 13th Amendment be abolished, the other that no changes be made to it.

I think we need to understand the fears of both sides, and in both cases reasons have been given for the positions presented. My own view is that we need to look at the problem from three different angles, all of which are equally important.

The first is the moral position. From that perspective, it would be wrong for the present Sri Lankan government to abolish Provincial Councils, given that it clearly pledged to implement the provisions of the 13th amendment. However, in also committing itself to go further, it could propose further devolution of power, which indeed is what WAPS suggests.

They believe that too great an accretion of power to the Provincial Councils could lead to disruption of the unitary character of the country. I believe that this fear is unfounded, though I could understand it at the time of an enforced merger which was pushed through contrary to the provisions in the Bill that permitted this. It is for this reason that I see nothing wrong with getting rid of the Constitutional provision that permits merger. To reimpose the merger was not part of the pledge made by the current government, and it would be wrong to insist that it abides by a previous measure that has been ruled unconstitutional and was achieved through sleight of hand.

Continue reading

From recrimination to reconciliation: the path to peace in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is at a crossroads. After the end of a long civil war, the country has an historic opportunity to draw on its strengths and riches to create a unified, prosperous and just society.

But it is also faced with complex problems, mostly arising from its recent history. In Australia, we only see the influx of Sri Lankan refugees. But this is merely a symptom, hinting at the larger problem of post-war reconciliation at home.

Sri Lanka is beginning to exorcise its ghosts, but Australia and the international community need to help it on its path to peace.

What is needed now

Reconstruction and reconciliation in post-conflict settings have to occur together. The top-down provision of resources by governments or international agencies needs to be combined with the process of bringing communities together to heal old wounds and where appropriate, to find ways to resume communication with old enemies.

This process of reconciliation is painstaking and can be difficult. Without reconciliation, facts can take on lives of their own, acquiring perverse meanings. The building of roads can be seen as an act of colonisation. The construction of schools and the provision of learning materials can be seen as brainwashing. Even the provision of food and medical care can be interpreted as tools for enforcing and entrenching dependence.

In Sri Lanka, reconciliation and healing has to be undertaken at the level of civil society and encompass all ethnicities, religions and communities. The role of the government is not unimportant but should not be overestimated: in fact, there are things here that governments simply cannot do. Continue reading

‘Mirrored Images – An Anthology of Sri Lankan Poetry’ launched in Canada

A recently published book “Mirrored Images  – An Anthology of Sri Lankan Poetry” Edited by Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha was launched in Toronto at  an event organized by the Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa and, the Consulate General’s Office in Toronto. The Anthology brings together the poetry of 89 poets including translations from Sinhala and Tamil together with poems written  in English.

Prof. Chelva Kanaganayakam of the English Department of the University of Toronto who gave the Keynote address on the topic “Translations and the idea of Meditative Thinking” said that “In a world dominated by the discourses of globalization a book of translations forces us to reflect and meditate, and it alerts us not only to differences but also connections and intersections among communities, religions and ethnicities”. He further  stated “that there are similarities and there are differences.  Both are in fact important. Context shapes the way one lives.  The subject matter too could be different. But the meditative dimension, the concern with belonging, and with identity and rootedness are similar”.

Referring to Rajiva Wijesinha he said that the Editor has been fair, balanced objective and thorough.  As a writer and as a critic he is aware of the need to let  literature speak for itself and construct worlds that readers must decode for themselves.  “Mirrored Images” is a significant contribution to Sri Lanka’s multiple literary histories. Continue reading

Tamils & Muslims Join Buddhists to Mark Vesak

A record 2000 civilians of Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic faiths joined hands together as one community to mark the Vesak festival at Kalawanchikudi, Vakarai, Pottuvil and Akkaraipattu areas.

Troops of 18 Battalion Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment (SLSR) under 233 Brigade, 23 Battalion SLSR under 632 Brigade, 15 Battalion Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI) on the directions given by Security Force Headquarters – East (SFHQ-E), organized ‘Sil’ programmes, Vesak Perahera (procession), exhibition of Vesak lanterns, conduct of Dansel, donation of school items to poor students and preparation of Vesak decorations.

Similarly, a new Dharmashala (sermon hall) and a Bodhiprakaraya (wall around Bo tree), erected with labour support of 15 Battalion SLLI troops of 224 Brigade at Agbopura temple, Tissapura was opened on the Vesak Full Moon Day (24). Continue reading