Illusion of women’s empowerment

Nirupama Subramanian

Much after it met its end at the hands of the Sri Lankan military, the LTTE continues to hold fascination not just for a gaggle of believers scattered across the globe who believe it is still alive and ready to avenge its battlefield humiliation, but also researchers, writers and scholars, so much so that even research conducted nearly a decade ago in the LTTE’s heyday is providing fresh grist for the mill. And why not? Much before the era of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, here was a group that was dispatching suicide bombers on their macabre missions, and driving explosives-laden trucks into hotels and military camps. Of course there was a crucial difference. Unlike Al Qaeda, whose ambitions are global, the Tigers had the much smaller aim of a separate state for Tamils in Sri Lanka, and their terrorist activities were accordingly restricted to Sri Lanka and southern India. Continue reading

N-Peace Radio Campaign ‘Women in Solidarity for Peace’ aired in Sri Lanka

“Peace in the family is very important, because it can be shared with the community by the children and relatives of that family. This is an act spearheaded by women, a vital contribution of women to sustain peace in a society.”

 “We need to create a society exempt from violence. Women have the strength to achieve such a status. Because they are capable, women need to come together and draw strength from being united to achieve this goal. ”

“If we want peace, we need to bring a shift in thinking and in the attitude of the people.”

These are the voices of women, women who wish for peace in Sri Lanka.  They see numerous vital ways of building peace and transforming conflicts in Sri Lanka that Sri Lankan women can contribute to this long process. For a long time, their voices went unheard, lacking a space and acknowledgement.

The ‘Women in Solidarity for Peace’ radio campaign gave them the platform to express and advocate for their cause: sustainable peace in Sri Lanka. Continue reading

SRI LANKA: Legacy of war – unemployment and homelessness

By Amantha Perera

COLOMBO, 21 May 2012 (IRIN) – Life is slowly returning to normal in northern Sri Lanka, but three years after a decades-long conflict was officially declared over, jobs and housing are the prevailing concerns of returnees.

Most of the estimated 448,000 people displaced before or during 2008 by fighting between government forces and rebels wanting an independent Tamil state have returned to the Northern Province, according to the latest figures from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Some 13,000 are still living in temporary camps – mostly from areas infested with land mines, which may take a decade or more to clear due to lack of funding. Continue reading

Three years after the war in Sri Lanka: To celebrate or mourn?

19 May, 2012 by 

For the 3rd successive year, the Sri Lankan government has made elaborate arrangements to celebrate the end of the war in Colombo. This year, May was declared as “war hero’s commemoration month”. For the last few days, roads were closed in Colombo causing great inconvenience, as preparations were being made for celebrating the end of the war.

However, in the North, among Tamils, where the last phase of the war was fought, the mood was far from celebratory, but outright mourning and grieving. In the morning of 18th May, I joined a commemorative Mass in a church that was yet to be rebuilt after the war. More than the church building, two monuments stood out. One for Fr. Sarathjeevan (popularly known as Fr. Sara, who died on 18th May 2009) and another for all people who had been killed in the war. Villagers including school children and Hindus flocked to this church. Amongst those present were families of those killed and disappeared. About 20 priests participated. After the Mass,  flowers and garlands were laid for those killed. A Tamil priest from Jaffna welcomed the small group of Sinhalese from Negombo, Colombo, Anuradhapura etc., who had joined the mourning and the simple commemoration, while most other Sinhalese were seen celebrating. Continue reading

International Red Cross works with widows to track the missing

(WNN/ICRC) Kathmandu, NEPAL: Laxmi Devi Khadka has been in the dark about the fate of her husband for over nine years. In 2003, armed people came to her house in Bardia, southern Nepal, and took her husband, saying they wanted to speak to him for a few minutes. He has never been seen again. She says: “I have little hope, but there is still hope until you see otherwise with your own eyes.” More disappearances were recorded in Laxmi’s district of Bardia than in any other district of Nepal. The tree outside Laxmi’s house stands as a daily reminder of her husband. She planted it the year he disappeared. It now stands tall, towering over her house.

“Disappearance is far worse than death, because when a person dies, when I know that so-and-so is dead, the story ends and somehow or other we close the chapter. But when a person has disappeared, it is an eternal suffering.” A representation made before the Commission of Inquiry on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation, 12 November 2010. Continue reading