March 27, 2013 by The Social Architects
This documentary tells a story of silent agony, trapped screams and repressed mourning. A story of women forced to deny their identity – who are trapped in between a government which sees them as “Tigers,” and a society whose norms they are no longer deemed worthy of.
These women fought bravely alongside men as members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during Sri Lanka’s bloody thirty-year civil war. From protectors and defenders of their families, villages and nation, thousands of female ex-combatants have now returned home to assume more traditional roles as mothers, wives, widows, and teachers – in communities where they are perpetually shunned. Through several powerful voices, “Haunted by Her Yesterdays” allows a few to share their pain and suffering – the wounds that remain unhealed, the scars that are impossible to ignore and the hearts that still burn with pain, passion and grief – for the world to hear. This film is a gripping tale of loss, betrayal and struggle, but –above all else – it is a search for inspiration and a call for action. As the country’s war-torn North and East struggles to rebuild itself, this documentary tells a deeply moving story that has been overlooked for far too long.
February 16, 2013 by The Social Architects
The brutal civil war in Sri Lanka ended nearly four years ago, but people are still hurting. The country’s North and East are plagued by a host of problems that are unlikely to be resolved soon. Misguided policies emanating from the central government in Colombo have directly contributed to these negative trends. Lofty talk about “the defeat of terrorism” and majoritarian triumphalism have further antagonized people.
Resettlement and Land Issues
The politics of land remains controversial. Even though Menik Farm has closed, tens of thousands of IDPs have not been properly resettled. Since the military still occupies large swathes of land, many IDPs have been forced to move in with friends or relatives. In other instances, families that have been “resettled” lack adequate housing, including locks for doors and windows or suitable sanitation facilities.
December 17, 2012 by Gibson Bateman
During the past year, one of the Obama administration’s biggest moves at the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) received relatively little attention inside the Beltway. In March 2012, the United States led a resolution calling on the government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), which examined the breakdown of the truce between the country’s warring factions, and “to take all necessary additional steps” to “ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans.”
It remains unclear what exactly drove the U.S. resolution, but the Sri Lankan government does not appear to have complied with it. The country continues to receive criticism for its human rights record, as disappearances and extrajudicial killings, among other issues, remain problems. Recent developments like a prison riot in Colombo that left 27 inmates dead and the arrest of several University of Jaffna students are also worrisome.
February 24, 2012 by Gibson Bateman
U.S. Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA) recently submitted a bipartisan letter to President Barack Obama. Cosigned by eleven other members of Congress, it effusively praises the Sri Lankan government for all of its accomplishments since end of the country’s twenty-six-year civil war.
The short note is heavy on rhetoric and light on reality. It talks about the enormous potential for a strengthening of US-Sri Lankan relations, going on to use words like “post-conflict,” while congratulating Rajapaksa’s semi-authoritarian regime for doing such a good job of resettling IDPs, among other misperceptions. Perhaps the most absurd part of the letter is the following:
December 17, 2011 by Gibson Bateman
Readers will find no big surprises after reading the final report of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). It is very much what most people were expecting. A document that looks to the future, exonerates the military, does not touch on the question of accountability and includes some touchy-feely language about the country’s need to move forward, celebrate its diversity and be grateful for the defeat of terrorism.
Essentially, all civilian casualties were the result of people caught in the crossfire or were the LTTE’s fault. “The protection of the civilian population was given the highest priority” by the Sri Lankan armed forces, the Commission has determined.
October 22, 2011 by Gibson Bateman
Led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, post-war Sri Lanka is a sad place. In May of 2009, the Sri Lankan government achieved a resounding military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Most of the LTTE’s leadership was killed. For the foreseeable future, it is hard to envision another Tamil nationalist movement taking up arms against the state. Yet, if living in Sri Lanka, one might think that the conflict is still going on.
In post-war Sri Lanka, the militarization of the entire country has continued unabated. This development is less significant in the predominantly Sinhalese south, where military personnel are often viewed as heroes for defeating the LTTE. But in the mostly Tamil north and east, they are viewed as oppressors. Indeed the military’s presence in the north and east (both former LTTE strongholds where much of the fighting took place) is disturbing. State security personnel wield enormous influence over all aspects of people’s lives.
June 1, 2010 by John Lyman
The long war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was finally declared over in May 2009 following the capture of its capital, Kilinochchi by the Sri Lankan government. The Civil War had raged since 1983, and culminated in the battles that killed the Tigers’ leader, Vellupillai Prabhakaran and 250 of his most loyal followers. Many of Mr. Prabhakaran’s surviving followers committed suicide by biting cyanide tablets which they carried around their necks rather than face capture.
The Sri Lankan military forbade international observers, journalists and NGOs from reporting on the battle, which reportedly killed countless Tamils unconnected to the LTTE’s core military elements. According to the United Nations, close to 23,700 civilians were either killed or wounded in fighting between January 20th and May 7th of 2009.