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This week's editor

En Liang Khong

En Liang Khong is openDemocracy’s assistant editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Sri Lanka and the politics of justice

Truth and reconciliation is a project which inevitably needs to balance short term politics against long term justice. There are signs that Sri Lanka's new government understands the challenge

Roadmap to reconciliation: 4 post-election challenges for Sri Lanka

Muscular Sinhalese nationalism was defeated at the polls in Sri Lanka. The dismantling of the security state, started in January, can now continue. And there is hope for progress on the very necessary process of post-war accountability and reconcilliation 

Atrocities in the frame

The film “No Fire Zone” gives voice to the victims of Sri Lanka’s civil war. Here, amateur video footage powerfully documents those caught in the killing fields.

Our bodies as battlegrounds

From Kyrgyzstan to Brazil and Sri Lanka, young feminists are trying to shift the debate over sexual and reproductive rights away from a focus on population control and the family unit, to the right of women to have bodily autonomy.

Domestic violence in Sri Lanka: the power of alternative discourse

The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act has opened up an important and new discursive ‘space of struggle’ to debate patriarchal privilege, the sanctity of the family, and the ‘meaning’ of domestic violence in Sri Lanka

Asia at the crossroads

Aside from China, nearly all the states in Asia make use of the trappings of democracy, such as elections, parliaments, and the separation of powers. A new report examines the future of democracy in Asia in the next 15 years.

State racism and sexism in post-war Sri Lanka

Central to the resurgence of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism in post-war Sri Lanka is a redefinition of gender role and identities. Familial ideology is a key pillar of this discourse with serious adverse implications for women and gender equality

Sri Lanka’s accountability crisis

Five years after the end of the armed conflict between Sri Lankan armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Sri Lanka is in a deeply precarious position. A recent UN Human Rights Council resolution calls for an international investigation into alleged crimes.

Counting the cost of conflict

Casualty recording has redefined efforts to protect civilians in conflict, and provide aid and accountability to victims of violence. But with an absence of political will to respond to conflict, what good are the numbers? 

Sri Lanka inquiry: a Tamil asylum-seeker speaks

As an international inquiry on the bloodshed in Sri Lanka in 2009 looms, one Tamil asylum-seeker explains why it matters to him.

Community policing or counter-terrorism: What was Britain doing in Sri Lanka?

Why were the British delivering a 'community policing' program during and after Sri Lanka's 2009 civil war? And why are 'national security and counter-terrorism' the reasons for refusing disclosure about it?

Still searching for justice: victims in Sri Lanka

Five years on from the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka, the international community’s patience with the government in investigating gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law is exhausted.

Is slavery invincible?

The right not to be enslaved is one of the two absolute human rights that cannot be violated on any ground whatsoever. However, 65 years after its denunciation, slavery continues to resist the corpus of human rights. Why the asymmetry ?

Sri Lanka’s twin challenges

The Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Colombo was the occasion for renewed demands that the state account for the brutal ending of its war with the Tamil Tigers in 2009. But Sri Lanka's appalling human-rights record does not only apply to its violent past: today too civil-society organisations are under heavy authoritarian pressure.

MI5 in Ceylon - the untold story

Britain's collusion in the Sri Lankan state's violent tactics of repression is finally coming to light. But it's only one part of its long history aiding police brutality across many former colonies - and much more remains unknown.

Remembering Sunila, honouring women’s human rights defenders

Charlotte Bunch pays tribute to Sunila Abeysekera (1952-2013), a courageous feminist and human rights advocate within Sri Lanka, and a leader in South Asia and globally.

Forgotten woes: Sri Lanka’s neoliberal politics

In light of Commonwealth support for the upcoming Heads of Government Meeting to be held in Colombo this November,  here we are reminded of the dangers of Sri Lanka becoming a model for other governments in the global South to follow.

Sri Lanka’s Northern Provincial Council elections: reconciliation and reputation

The Northern Provincial Council elections slated for September 2013 hold critical relevance for a transition from post-war Sri Lanka to a post-conflict Sri Lanka. This is an important opportunity for the majoritarian Sinhala state to regain international credibility.

Weliweriya: crushing protest, polluting democracy, Sri Lankan style

They demanded clean water and got bullets instead. The blood- bath in Weliweriya last week is a clear signal of what lies in store for those who may dare to publicly assert themselves. Militarisation has left one more indelible and bloody stain on the rapidly discolouring fabric that is Sri Lankan democracy

The Commonwealth and Sri Lanka’s disintegrating democracy

While the nation is all set to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) later this year, Sri Lankan democracy is disintegrating, with systematic torture and arbitrary detention increasingly becoming a ‘way of life’.

Las nuevas potencias no jugarán con las viejas reglas

Esperar que las nuevas potencias globales promuevan los derechos humanos fuera de sus países a través de las Naciones Unidas supone que jugarán con las reglas viejas y, para que esa presión sea efectiva, que los factores de derechos humanos condicionarán sus relaciones bilaterales; ninguno de esos supuestos es probable.

The far right in Burma, India and Sri Lanka

Far right religious nationalism is growing in South Asia. Fuelled by the experience of colonialism, the resulting internal tensions since independence, and powerful civil society movements.

New powers won’t play by old rules

Expecting new global powers to promote human rights abroad via the United Nations assumes that they will play by the old rules and - if such pressure is to be effective - that human rights factors will condition their bilateral relationships; neither is likely. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on Emerging Powers and Human RightsEspañol.

Sri Lanka remembers to forget

Celebrations to mark the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war perform the function of collective forgetting. If the country looked back at recommendations made in the past, Sri Lankans might understand better how to go forward.

Sri Lanka's BBS: an old spectre in new garb?

Though interreligious violence in Sri Lanka is not new, the emergence of the well-organized, well-connected Buddhist radical group reflects a broader problem today - the alarming shortage of critical and constructive public debate.

Four years on, genocide continues off the battlefield

On the anniversary of the 26-year civil war, the Sri Lankan state celebrates its 2009 victory while Tamils mark the bloody nadir of the campaign to systematically dismantle the Tamil nation - one which continues today.

Militarisation as panacea: development and reconciliation in post-war Sri Lanka

Is it possible to secure the dignity, rights and well-being of a conflict-affected population by incorporating them into a military juggernaut that has quickly grown to dominate all spheres of life?

'A slap on the wrist': Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council

An inteview with Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, President of the Tamil National People's Front, who warns that the Tamil genocide has not been curtailed in post-conflict Sri Lanka.

Student remembrance triggers Tamil rebirth

Strong geostrategic interests in the Indian Ocean may tacitly have condemned the Tamils of Sri Lanka to death on a massive scale in the 2009 aerial bombing of civilans, and ensuing post-war government repression. Recent social movement action in Jaffna shows a groundswell of resistance, but will the world take notice?

'Sending people back to be killed': Today's London to Colombo flight of failed refugees

Mass expulsions from Britain to Sri Lanka of 'failed' asylum seekers are increasing in frequency despite public controversy.

International engagement in post-conflict Sri Lanka: lessons from the supposedly “powerless” women of the north

With a recent internal UN report criticizing its operations in the Sri Lankan civil war, international aid groups and donors are grappling with a new way forward. But any reformed policies may be fundamentally flawed if they fail to understand shifting social roles in this 'post-conflict' state.

Sri Lanka, many shades of accountability

A long-awaited review on the conduct of United Nations agencies during the last stages of the war in Sri Lanka is still unpublished, and its terms of reference are shrouded in secrecy. There are further doubts over its authorship and process. All this raises questions over how seriously Ban Ki-moon and his colleagues take the issue, says a Sri Lankan observer who writes under the pen-name Vidura.

For South Asians on the “We are all Malala” bandwagon

Given such levels of violence against girls and women, it is a wonder that so many Indians can feel superior while talking about the Taliban assault in neighbouring Pakistan. It will take more to defeat the Taliban, be they of the Islamic, Hindu or any other variety.

Sri Lanka's policy towards witnesses is revenge, not reconciliation

Dr Niron knows the Sri Lankan army targeted hospitals in 2009. Every time he passed their location on to the International Red Cross so they could share the information with the Sri Lankan military, the site was bombed within days, if not hours.

Remembering July 1983: 'The holocaust started for me with the death of my father'

Amongst memories of the cataclysmic violence that spread across Sri Lanka and which still marks this time of year as Black July, instances of incredible individual bravery and compassion stand out. But can the government match the honour of its people?

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