Presentation: Bradman Weerakoon on Black July

Deshamanya Bradman Weerakoon was invited to join Dr. Devanesan Nesiah in the first or four panel discussion held at the venue of the exhibition, on 24th August 2013. As Sri Lanka’s first Commissioner General of Essential Services (CGES) Mr. Weerakoon has unique perspectives to share around the violence in July, its aftermath and lasting impact. More details of the panel discussion, along with a recording of the session, can be accessed here. M. Weerakoon’s Powerpoint presentation on Black July can be downloaded as a PDF here.

The Same Page

Life changed in ’83 when my Tamil friends left to Canada, Australia, to the USA.  I still have my Sinhalese friends, but life isn’t whole when a part of me is missing. The anti-Tamil pogrom that Black July was a shameful episode I’m sure all of us would like to forget.  We lost the beautiful integration of cultures for hatred, suspicion and isolation.  Our children are conscious if their friends are Sinhalese, Tamil or Muslim.  I suppose they think of these things now, when a few children in school have begun casting remarks denigrating the other’s religion.  What is this …

Moments over 30 years

My task of creating the infographic began with identifying an underlying theme to base the design on. Combining the sequence of events here with the experience of our current political discourse, there is an alarming precedent building of the possibility that “history might repeat itself”. The conclusion is highly premature, and uncertain given the variables and political depth of the matter, but it is not without reason. So I decided to use this as the thematic premise to build the infographic on. Armed with the theme, the next step was to devise the best way to visually communicate the message …

DeterMined

Puthukudiyiruppu, June 2013. Photograph by Seshanka Samarajiwa When the war finally concluded in 2009 it was estimated that as many as one million landmines and items of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) remained as a deadly legacy of the conflict. Based on surveys conducted after the war a total of 2.065 km2 of land was designated as Confirmed Hazardous Areas. This feature explores the use of Information Communications Technology (ICT) in the day to day operations of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), an international mine action agency deployed in Sri Lanka. The location is Puthukudiyiruppu township in Mullaitivu District of Northern Sri …

Framed Memories

I have carefully chosen the subject which I wanted to focus through photos with narratives, while giving ethnic and gender balance to strengthen the stories.  I have met the only surviving senior most female member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a senior Tamil woman, a Sinhala journalist cum activist and a Sinhala artist for the project “30 Years Ago”. Their memories are framed forever. The only surviving senior most woman ex combatant has spoken to a journalist for the first time after the end of the war. She clearly and strongly recalls her memories, and the sole decision …

ICTs and Economic Empowerment

Weerakodiyana village, Udabaddawa, August 2013. Photograph by Anushka Wijesinha Constantly pulling out our phone to check-in on Foursquare or flipping open our tab to send that urgent email, we sometimes forget that it is not just the urbanised ‘city folk’ that are finding mobile technologies transformative in their lives. This feature takes a look at how different types of mobile devices – from basic phones to Android tabs – are being used by different groups of people across Sri Lanka for new and meaningful purposes that would have been unheard of thirty years ago. Farmers in the middle of a …

Early Warning: ICTs and Disaster Management

Negombo. July 2013. Photograph by Muradh Mohideen The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was a turning point in Sri Lanka. Devastating nearly two-thirds of the country’s coastal region, it claimed over 35,000 lives, and displaced another 500,000. The South, North, East and West were all affecting, in varying degrees. The tsunami also led to a critical turning point in the relationship between the government and the LTTE, with the political acrimony that surrounded the proposed relief sharing mechanism, the P-TOMS. Since then, Sri Lanka has taken disaster management a lot more seriously, with the government, supported by international agencies, putting in …

ICTs and Youth Aspirations

Udabaddawa, August 2013. Photograph by Anushka Wijesinha From factory bench to computer chair, the job aspirations of Sri Lanka’s youth are changing rapidly. In the 1980s, following the liberalisation of the economy and limited industrialisation that came with it (particularly in the hundreds of ready-made garment factories), the country’s youth saw manufacturing sector work as the path to prosperity. Thirty years on, gaining upward social mobility necessarily means, in the minds of many young people, getting a service sector job – an officer in a government department, a sales assistant in a retail outlet, and of course, a computer whiz …

Bringing Government Closer to the People

Thimbirigasyaya Divisional Secretariat, Colombo, July 2013. Photograph by Anushka Wijesinha The idea of ‘bringing government closer to the people’ can have many connotations. In contemporary Sri Lanka what jumps to mind first is the debate on decentralisation and the 13th Amendment. Thirty years ago, inter alia, the government was woefully inadequate in providing people with basic services at a critical time of need. Ten years ago, obtaining any kind of service from a Government department meant long queues and longer waits – all this adding to dissatisfaction and disengagement by the public with government related matters and services. This feature, …

How ICTs Are Changing Sri Lanka

Information Communications Technologies (ICTs) are undoubtedly becoming a defining transformation of our time. Through over 80 photographs in 8 features produced for the Groundviews ’30 Years Ago’ project, The Picture Press explores how ICTs have changed Sri Lanka’s current context and how it relates to issues that have, and continue to, influence our society and the nation at large. By combining original photography and well-researched narratives, these features visually narrate the influence of ICTs on individuals and groups at national, regional and local levels across Sri Lanka, presented through various lenses – social integration, safety and security, connectivity and ‘closeness’ …