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SRI LANKA: Attempting to impose payment for higher education on poorly paid wage earners

Basil Fernando The attacks on the students and rhetoric against them appear in many of the reports covering Sri Lanka today. The Minister, S.B. Dissanayake is heard over television channels talking in the crudest language against the students using such words as “haraka” (bulls and buffalos) which is rather unbecoming of a minister dealing with […]

INDIA: A War Criminal concluding the Commonwealth Games is the best it could go!

Article | India | 17-10-2010

*Avinash Pandey  Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka was the guest of honour at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games 2010, New Delhi. He presided over the extravagant ceremony that would declare the arrival of India on the big stage, conclusively. Presiding over something is nothing new for the President. He has presided over […]

SRI LANKA: How does the constitutional question affect the question of Sri Lankan identity?

SRI LANKA: How does the constitutional question affect the question of Sri Lankan identity? Basil Fernando  The question of ‘identity’ means who is a Sri Lankan? It could be spoken of purely in sentimental terms and by that sense it might work in a particular territory. We can all call ourselves Sri Lankans and that […]

SRI LANKA: Authoritarian Versus Democratic Government and the Case of Sri Lanka

Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza Endemic over-simplification by internal and external actors and purposeful attempts to reframe political debates have ensured the conversation concerning Sri Lanka’s government continues to be conducted in democratic terms. Yet that categorization is presumptive. Using the lexicon of democracy to discuss Sri Lanka presupposes that the state is fundamentally democratic or accepts that […]

INDIA: What better place than the grave of a mosque could a ‘secular democracy’ find to bury justice?

Article | India | 14-10-2010

Numbness was the first response to the verdict on Ayodhya dispute. Everything and everyone went numb. And then, an eerie silence settled in the room where we were anxiously watching the live streaming of Indian news channels, 5000 miles away from India. We were 6, four Sri Lankans and 2 Indians. It is like one […]

SRI LANKA: Reflections on the Constitution — Part 5

Basil Fernando Robberies- Police and 18th Amendment October 11 Anuradhapura – Rs. 1,100,000 — Rs. 1.1 million October 8 Nugegoda – Rs.1,400,000 — Rs. 1.4 million October 5 Rawathwaththa – Rs.100,000 — One Hundred Thousand October 3 Paliyagoda Wanawasala – Rs.70,000,000 — Rs. 70 million   Above mentioned incidents are just a few of the robberies […]

SRI LANKA: Reflections on the Constitution — Part 4

Basil Fernando   Making a person disappear over a land dispute A place where there is no room for justice is not a nation but a madhouse. That is what Sri Lanka has become today. Ask anyone who has sought justice for any problem they have faced. Among the hundreds of thousands of such stories […]

SRI LANKA: Reflections on the Constitution — Part 3

Basil Fernando The Constitution Places the Executive President above the Courts This picture shows the executive president sitting above the Supreme Court Complex. The Supreme Court is the highest court but the post of the executive president is above it. Article 35 of the Constitution specifically places him outside the jurisdiction of the courts. The […]

BURMA: The WISE women of Burma

Link to the film ‘Looking for the Light’ by the WISE participants in Mae Sot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqrjDS1c8qE WISE travelled to Mae Sot, on the Thai border with Burma and worked with ten women from 4th September — 17th. Mae Sot is a small town, which holds around 200,000 people. 50,000 of those people are Thai and the […]

SRI LANKA: The right without remedy — views and reflections on the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act

Sofie Rordam   In Sri Lanka as globally, the most prevalent form of violence against women is domestic violence. According to a survey from 2006 by the Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Empowerment more than 60 percent of women across Sri Lanka are victims of domestic violence while 44 per cent of pregnant women […]

SRI LANKA: Reflections on Sri Lanka’s constitution – part 2

Basil Fernando   The Degeneration of police into “licensed thugs”   This is a photo of Mr Ganegoda Sinhage Haritha Lakmal (30) of No. 590/2A, Middle Gate Upper Road, Addunkelle Watte, Ahangama, who became an unfortunate victim of an assault by Sub Inspector (SI) Nelumdeniya and several other officers of the Ahangama Police Station, for […]

SRI LANKA: Street protests against the denial of fair trial

Basil Fernando Perhaps for the first time in Sri Lankan history, many people have taken to the streets in the last few days to protest against the abuse of the judicial process and to demand fairness. Some lawyers were quoted by the media as saying, “Now, we have to demand justice from the gods, unseeing […]

SRI LANKA: Reflections on Sri Lanka’s Constitution

Basil Fernando The picture above speaks for itself. It depicts what happened to a young man who went to get police assistance to stop illegal gambling happening near his house. When the man went to police station to find about what action had been taken on his complaint the police sergeant who had earlier taken […]

PAKISTAN: The troubled history of domestic violence legislation in the country

Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza For more than a year, Pakistan’s Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill has languished in legislative limbo, awaiting political resuscitation. The National Assembly passed the bill on August 4, 2009, but the Senate failed to do so within three months mandated by the Constitution, opting to let the bill lapse. Mere consideration of a […]

WORLD: Sarath Fonseka of Sri Lanka and Sam Rainsy of Cambodia

Basil Fernando What Sarath Fonseka and Sam Rainsy have in common is that they are the most popular opposition leaders in their countries and that they have been jailed for that very reason. Political popularity is treated as a serious crime in both countries, where the ruling parties are aspiring to create one party rule. […]

SRI LANKA: What upsets Colombo’s middle class?

Basil Fernando  “We in Colombo also now have to become like people living in the North and East in our outlook. We no longer know what is what, which is which, whether we are coming or going”, a lawyer friend of mine living in Colombo, a told me today. He was trying to reflect the […]

SRI LANKA: The banality of evil, a rejoinder to Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

FOR PUBLICATION AHRC-ART-097-2010 September 16, 2010 An Article by the Asian Human Rights Commission SRI LANKA: The banality of evil, a rejoinder to Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka A strong ruler and weak institutions as the current formula for national progress and the phantom limb complex Basil Fernando That the nation needs a strong ruler is the […]

INDIA: Enlightenment that took thousands of Kashmiris lives to dawn upon the Indian government!

*Avinash Pandey Enlightenment, it seems, has finally dawned upon the Indian government. The words of wisdom that came out of yesterday’s all-party meeting on Kashmir, convened by the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh point to that “Constitution of India provides ample scope to accommodate any legitimate political demand through dialogue, civil discourse and peaceful negotiations”. […]

PAKISTAN: Cause for optimism as national assembly prepares to pass Acid Control and Burn Crime Prevention Bill

By Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza Last week, the government of Pakistan announced it would push the National Assembly to pass the long-awaited Acid Control and Burn Crime Prevention Bill this month. The bill, first introduced in January 2010, emerged from collaboration among the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), National Commission on Status of Women, United Nations Development Fund for Women, and […]

SRI LANKA: The mindset of denial is the “It is not that bad” attitude

Basil Fernando   For all Sri Lankan’s but particularly for those of the educated classes the problems that have come by way of political and constitutional change has created many emotional and psychological problems. Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s remark, “Nations are too strong a reality to be killed off by constitutional amendments” reflects this same mentality. […]