Showing posts with label Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. Show all posts

Saturday, February 05, 2011

What is there to celebrate so much in the independence of Sri Lanka?

(February 05, 2011,  Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka celebrated the 63rd Independance Day at Katharama, with retarded elegance. The dusty road, the hurriedly half painted lamp posts with newly pasted election posters on them and the shabbily clad ordinary sectators depicted the under-development of the area.

The writer cannot guess what this country could look like now if it did not come under the British colonial rule. Perhaps, Sri Lanka may look like present Bhutan. However, the fact is a non-entity since the geographical and economical aspects relative to Sri Lanka might never let it be isolated like Bhutan. But one thing is definite. Sri Lanka faced a drastic change in this period and it is a rapid development under the modern concepts and terminology.

British brought Ceylon under one rule. By the beginning of the 15th century when Sri Lanka was invaded by Portuguese, the island was under at least five rulers, three in western side, one each centering Kandy and Jaffna.

To ascertain the unitary nature of the state, British rulers built a network of roads and railway that connected the various parts of the island. They turned Colombo to the administrative and economic capital of the country. For that, they bore a massive expenditure as well, i.e. a big portion of wealth they geberated from the island.

They brought Ceylon under single judiciary system, developed a legislature and introduced a modern development political structure later.

During the latter part of the colonial times, the leaders of the people of apparently accepted these things positively with a constructive criticism.

Anyhow, by the times Ceylon achieved independence, or better say, by the time the ruling powers were transfered to local elite, Lanka was an upcoming, democratic, developing state that was potential to build up as a Lankan nation

However, the rulers that came to power after the independence were prey of the voters that had not understood the core values of superimposed democracy and compelled to initiate measures that hindered the progress of the nation.

Disregarding the provisions compiled by the colonial constitution experts to prevent measures against minority communities, both indigenous Sinhala and Tamil leaders united to disenfranchise the Indian origin plantation worker community. Before long, the Tamils of Northern and Eastern Provinces also had to pay for their folly as the majority Sinhala leaders made the Tamils second class citizen through legalizing Sinhala only as official language in 1956.

Ethnic problem remains the major barrier to nation building and development even after 62 years from independence.

Was colonial rule so bad according to the modernist thinking pattern, sans the fact the King was from a far away nation? If it was so bad, what good we achieved following the so-called independence?

Can anybody explain how the exploitation under present system changes from the plunder in colonial times?


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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Galle Literary Festival that has no Galle

(January 23, 2011,  Lanka PolityGalle Literary Festival (GLF) will begin this week for the fifth time.

Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy and a few other writers together with Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) have urged the writers to keep away from the GLF due to alleged Freedom of Expression issues in Sri Lanka.

Most of the Sri Lankan writers actually keep away from GLF every year not because of the 'alleged Freedom of Expression issues in Sri Lanka' but simply because they are unaware of such a magnanimous literary event is held in Sri Lanka.

The so called big literary event is represented by just one or two actual local vernacular writers. The only name I saw among the participants as a recognised Sinhala language writer is Liyanage Amarakeerthi, a university lecturer, writer and critique.

The Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Sri Lanka is at least not in the list of sponsors although it is not essential the government sponsor the event. Interestingly, the state Tourism Promotion Bureau is among the prominent sponsors instead.

The literary festival that uses the name and the cultural significance of Sri Lanka's Southern Province capital Galle seems to have concrete base in Galle at all and in Sri Lanka too. For Sri Lankans and for the so called literary figures also that are in thie organization structure, this seems a mere tourism event. 

Literature sans people is something extraordinary definitely. While appreciating the efforts rendered by the organizers to make this event 'a favourite of participants and audiences alike; named the best literary festival in the world' as mentioned in the GLF website, we beg them to make this an actual Sri Lankan event by getting down to earth at least to make it nationally known.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Frustrated mother throws her baby to river while the politicians boast about per capita income in Sri Lanka

(March 16, Colombo - Lanka Polity)  While Sri Lanka government is boasting about the increase of per capita income over US $ 2000 per annum, a 30-year-old mother that says she was frustrated with her failure to feed her five children, threw the youngest to a river.

The magistrate court of Kaluthara yesterday directed the children of a suspected mother that attempted to drown her two years and eight month old son to be taken care of the Probation and Childcare Department. This mother said she had earlier attempted in vain to hand over this child to probation care. These officials that work less while withdrawing public money as salaries appear only after the horse bolted. No need to talk about the officials and the politicians that have the duty of monitoring these systems.

The murder suspect is a 30 year old woman and she was arrested and remanded. Police says that she has given a statement that she threw the child to the river after failing to abandon him near Kaluthara Bodhiya sacred shrine. The suspect is a single mother of five children that lived in a village for tsunami victims in Panadura and made living out of selling lottery tickets. She told to police that her husband abandoned her and she faced utmost difficulties in taking care of the five children. An enormous amount of tsunami aids were swindled by fraudulent elements of various social stratas while the women like this one did not see a better future.

She attempted to abandon the youngest child at Kaluthara Bodhiya sacred shrine. But the child came after her and she then fed him with some rice that she begged for the boy and herself. She was walking with the child along the rail bridge as the child fell asleep. Suddenly, this unfortunate women had a mind to throw the child into water, according to police reports.

The place she got the cruel mind to throw her baby to water is a Buddhist shrine that earns massive amounts of money from the passerby motorists. It is a time the politicians are spending millions of rupees that can fed hundreds of thousands of children like this, for election propaganda campaigns.

The child was rescued by several youth and he is now in Lady Ridgeway Children's Hospital in critical condition.

The remaining boy child and the three girl children of the ill-fated were handed over to separate children’s homes with a condition of allowing them to unite once a week.

Meanwhile, the child that was saved by people whilst he was floating in the river was still in critical condition in Colombo Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital and doctors did not predict positively regarding his life. The child had not been given proper first aid since the rescuers were not trained in them, said the hospital sources.

The rescuing incident was video recorded by a volunteer and it was aired by a private TV channel.



Friday, December 04, 2009

After the Sri Lankan Surge

The war-torn island starts to see the benefits of defeating terrorists militarily. (Wall Street Journal Opinion)

(December 03, Colombo - Lanka Polity) While Washington debates President Obama's Afghan surge, another country not so far away offers a glimpse of the importance, and benefits, of getting it right. No, we don't just mean Iraq. Look also to Sri Lanka.
That island nation is just starting to recover from a 26-year civil war, which the government in Colombo won in May when it crushed the last remnants of the neo-Marxist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Colombo's year-long military offensive against the Tiger terrorists was controversial abroad and costly in blood and treasure on both sides at home.

The most obvious green shoot is the presidential election due for January 26. President Mahinda Rajapaksa called the vote two years earlier than expected hoping to ride a wave of majority-Sinhalese nationalism back into office. Instead he's facing a surprise challenger in General Sarath Fonseka, the military commander who won the war.

Neither candidate is perfect by a long stretch, but the mere fact of competition could benefit ethnic minorities. With Mr. Rajapaksa and Gen. Fonseka splitting the Sinhalese vote, each candidate will need to court Tamils and Muslims.

This is creating political incentives to hasten resettlement of the upward of 250,000 Tamils displaced by fighting in the Northern Province earlier this year. Roughly half of those have already returned home from the refugee camps, according to the United Nations. The government this week finally allowed greater movement in and out of the camps for those who remain.

Meanwhile Tiger extremists no longer menace moderate Tamils, who used to face regular intimidation. Incentives are now better aligned on all sides to resolve longstanding, legitimate Tamil grievances, such as Sinhalese preferences in university places and exclusion of Tamils from the police.

Whether the January vote will be free and fair is an open question. But the country is closer to resolving its problems than at any time since the Tigers started fighting in 1983. Sri Lanka isn't exactly analogous to Afghanistan. But the island does demonstrate the benefits of defeating terrorists on the battlefield.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Significant new sandakadapahana recovered from Anuradhapura


(November 13, Colombo - Lanka Polity) A new sandakadapahana or moonstone has been recovered from the ancient Anuradhapura city. Sandakadapahana is a unique stepping stone with artistic carvings on it and it was widely used at the entrances of the shrines in Anuradhapura era that spans up to 10the century AD.

However, the recovery had been made spontaneously as a base pit was dug to build a shrine near the ancient Sri Maha Bodhiya, the sacred bo tree believed to hail from the tree that provided shade to Lord Buddha..

The sandakadapahana was observed significant in its artistic and archaeological value.

However, the Department of Archaeology has decided to bury this invaluable monument as it was until a systematic archaeological excavation is carried out.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sri Lanka Department of Archeology to reserve Jaffna Fort

(October 31, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka Department of Archeology is to launch a project to renovate the Jaffna Dutch Fort located in Jaffna peninsula in the northern tip of the island.

The wall of the Jaffna fortress is now being cleared of the trees grown on it with the help of the Army. However, the Director General of the Archeological Department Dr. Senarath Disanayaka said that although the wall is repairable, the ancient Dutch church building inside the fort is beyond repair.

The cost for the reservation project is estimated at Rs. 400 million. Government of Netherlands provide assistance for the project.

Jaffna Fort was built as a small garrison by the Portuguese in 1618 under Philip De Olivera when the Portuguese invaded Jaffna. Later, on 20th June 1658 the Dutch captured it under Raiclop Van Goins from the Portuguese and expanded its location further. Tamil rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) forced the Sri Lanka Army to withdraw from the fort in 1986 and captured it. Sri Lanka Army in 1996 recaptured the entire Fort surroundings under Riviresa operation and brought it under them.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A psychiatric patient beaten to drown in Colombo as police observes the crime



(October 30, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka's Colombo Crime Division is investigating an incident of police or any other group assaulting a psychiatric patient compelling the latter to jump to sea and to drown.

The ill-fated man reportedly threw stones at trains running  along the coastal railway in Colombo city off Babbalapitiya railway station. Two persons suspected to be the members of either police or the security forces beat him to drown in sea in the attempt to escape from attacks. Lakbima newspaper reported that the police and a large number of others were observing the crime without taking action. The newspaper also said that a private television channel, TNL, has videoed the crime.(Watch video)

Sri Lanka Navy divers were searching for the corpse of the dead man yesterday (29) evening.

Protecting human rights of the psychiatric patients is very low in Sri Lanka. Many of the psychiatric patients are among the lowest income groups in the society and they are in extreme poverty. Lack of free medicine in public hospitals and the unavailability of viable welfare service for these persons have resulted public nuisance.

Around 2% of Sri Lankans are suffering from serious mental illnesses, according to WHO records. However, the country has 35 psychiatricians for the entire 20 million population.


Monday, October 05, 2009

Sri Lanka President challenges the western nations to produce the corruption charges against the forces in writing




(October 05, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse challenged the western nations to produce the corruption charges against the state security forces in written format.
Addressing a election rally in Southern Province Matara town, the President said that there was an attempt to take the government to international war tribunal ignoring the noble task they performed.
The President also said that the terrorism had not been eliminated despite it was defeated. The country should be freed from the international conspiracies of the elements that sympathize the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE). 
Sri Lanka government led by the President Mahinda Rajapakse and his brothers defeated the Tamil rebel LTTE that fought a three decade struggle for a homeland in northern and eastern Tamil dominated parts of the island.International Community led by Western nations urge the government to conduct investigations on the violation of human rights during the last phase of the war.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sri Lanka specially mentioned in press release issued by Reporters Without Borders to mark the 26th International Day of the Disappeared

 (August 29, 2009 - Lanka Polity) In a press release issued to mark the 26th International Day of the Disappeared on 30 August, Reporters Without Borders has provided a grim reminder that nothing has been heard, sometimes for years, of scores of journalists, who have been kidnapped, arrested or simply kept “appointments” that turned out to be traps in many countries including Sri Lanka.


Mexico, where eight journalists have disappeared since the year 2000, has been identified as the country most affected by this plague while Sri Lanka is mentioned next to that country.


Press release says "In January 2009, The International Press Freedom Mission to Sri Lanka condemned the “culture of impunity and indifference” surrounding the disappearances of journalists in the country. Soldiers arrested Subramaniam Ramachandran, correspondent for Tamil dailies Thinakural and Valampuri, close to a military camp, Kalikai Junction, in the north of Jaffna, in the north of the country on 15 February 2007. His family has heard nothing of him since then. He had been reporting on the illegal trade in sand, implicating a businessman and members of the military. The Jaffna office of the Human Rights Commission handled the case and it was referred to the military authorities, including the commander in chief for the Jaffna region. But as lawyer Mudiyapu Remedias explained, in this type of case “everyone is afraid of challenging the army, which denied any involvement”.


"Vadivel Nimalarajah, a sub-editor on the popular Tamil daily in Jaffna, Uthayan, which is highly critical of the government, has not been heard of since 17 November 2007 when, colleagues believe, he was abducted while cycling home after working overnight at the paper."


“Whether carried out by agents of the state or local criminals bent on settling scores, the many disappearances of journalists highlights the fact that the enemies of press freedom have no hesitation in using the most cowardly and despicable methods to gag journalists. We restate our support for the families of the disappeared and we share the pain they suffer in the waiting and uncertainty about their fate”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.


“We urge the relevant authorities to systematically take these disappearances seriously and to open the badly-needed investigations to find these missing journalists and punish those responsible. It is moreover incredible that cases of ‘enforced disappearance’ implicating agents of the state or those acting with its support can still be going on around the world. We urge countries that have signed the International Convention for the Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearance to ratify the law as quickly as possible so that it can be put into force”, it added.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sri Lanka polity on the verge of the limit of bearing police atrocities

(August 15, 2009 - Lanka Polity) Sri Lankan polity seems at the brink of the limit of the patience on the ongoing spate of police atrocities.

On August 13, Angulana police station situated around 10 km south of Colombo was attacked by the residents of the area following the recovery of the bodies of two youths that were arrested the previous day in relation to an incident of indecency towards a woman.

The two victims, Dhanushka Udaya Kumara (21) and Dinesh Tharanga (27) were the residents of houses close to Angulana Cooperative Shop. The mother of Dinesh Tharanga, Devika Vinifreeda says that she visited her son and his friend that were in police custody in the night of August 12th. However, when she went to visit them again in the following morning, the officers had told her that the suspects were released.

The police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekara said that there are no entries regarding the said arrest in police files. A spokesman of Mount Lavinia police station said to Dinamina newspaper that the suspects had been the members of an underworld gang and they might have been killed by a rival gang. However, on August 14, the same Mount Lavinia police produced five suspects including the Officer-in -Charge of Angulana police station in the magistrate court with a B report related to homicide.

The bodies of the two youths were later recovered with gunshots near a bridge located close to Angulana police station and on the railway line. The angry residents of the area attacked the police station with clubs and stones injuring officials including the Officer-in-Charge T.M.D. Newton. Police Department later transferred the officials to other stations.

Before the public protest mounted the Police Department attempted to transfer the officials and to close the file of this brutal murder. Transferring of junior officials is the only action taken against the police offenders in Sri Lanka in recent times. In another incident, five police officials of the Colombo Crime Division were also transferred with regard to an incident of torture of a student of an IT campus in Malabe, around 20 kilometers away from the capital city.

the student, Nipuna Ramanayaka, was severely tortured by the wife and a offspring of the director of the Colombo Crime Division SSP Vaas Gunasekara. At the moment of the writing, the media reported that SSP Vaas Gunawardhana had been transferred to Police Headquarters with immediate effect. No action against the police officer's wife and son has been taken so far despite repeated questioning of the media.

Meanwhile, the alleged police officer is accused of staging a drama of recovering a suspected Tamil Tiger van laden with large amounts of explosives. Another senior police officer who is in charge of the area the recovery was made has challenged that the said recovery is a farce. Media accuses that SSP Vaas Gunawardhana staged this drama to cover from disgrace caused by the allegations against his wife and son that are publicly enjoying impunity.

Recently, Sri Lankan Minister of Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe spoke of police actions violating human rights of one of his staff members that was arrested in an illegal manner with weapons.

Most of the police arrests in Sri Lanka violate the law and can be categorized as abductions. No warrants are produced; suspects are not explained the causes for the arrests and no receipts are issued to the families in accordance with Presidential directions. The IT student who was tortured by the police family says that the police threatened him to be killed alleging him to be a member of an underworld gang.

Police often gun down the suspected underworld goons and say that they attempted to escape whilst they were taken to show the hidden weapons.

Human rights organizations allege that the government's measures to suppress the underworld have opened wide space for police atrocities. Summary killings of underworld figures in the guise of opening fire at them as they attempt to escape save the persons that give contracts to the underworld.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How can the archaeological sites in Sri Lanka be saved from the treasure hunters?

(August 11, 2009 - Lanka Polity) On August 09, an unknown group of treasure hunters exploded a stone bed in 'Mihindu Guhava' caves in historic Mihinthale archeological site in Sri Lanka. Buddhists believe this bed was used by Arhath Mahinda Thero, the monk who is believed the person that introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka in 3rd century BC.

The treasure hunters damaged three of the four circular carvings at the four corners of the stone bed, site sources say.

The officials of the Archaeological Department point out that there are not sufficient watchers to guard this site. An entire Army will not be sufficient to guard the archaeological sites that are scattered all over Sri Lanka including forests.

These archaeological sites can be protected only by educating public that these places are not the treasure caches or the items that can be sold to foreigners for a lucrative income. Instead the public should be motivated to identify them as heritage from the past that should be protected for the future generations.

This cannot be done by mere preaching of the archaeologists via media. Both media and scholars of Sri Lanka have lost faith among people thanks to their own conduct.

The authorities like politicians, officials, archaeologists, historians and Buddhist monks should stop mystifying the past for the present gains. People must be able to see the brethren of the past as ones who were also human beings like themselves and not like the supernatural human beings that performed miracles and hid gold in every nook and corner.

White handkerchief marks protest against forcible cremation by the government of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan civil society is silently but strongly marking their protest against the government's inhuman  forcible  cremation of a 20-da...