16th May, 2006

Sri Lanka violence escalates

by Sunny at 9:00 am    

Luke Skywalker has company. A few weeks ago a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber RebelBabe disguised as a pregnant woman, spontaneously combusted in central Colombo, Sri Lanka, killing 8 people. Her intended target was Lt General Sarath Fonseka – the Commander of the Sri Lankan Army who is in hospital in serious but stable condition (along with 27 others).

Begging to differ from the fashionable Osama ‘Cam-Whore’ Bin Laden trend of doing things, the LTTE generally stays away from claims of responsibility. They do however party hard when celebrating the efforts of their ‘Spontaneous-Combustion Martyrs’.

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Filed under: South Asia,Sri Lanka
27th April, 2006

War?

by Rohin at 2:23 am    

Sri Lanka’s fragile peace continues to be eroded. Until we do piece together a more substantial post (and we welcome contributions), I thought I would get the debate started.

A suicide attack and a familiar Tiger denial. Retaliatory government air strikes and a mass exodus. Are we watching a country once more plunge headlong into war? There does remain a possibility of resolving this latest escalation in tension with talks, as President Rajapakse has suggested this – albeit wrapped in an ultimatum to the LTTE. Meanwhile the rebels have appealed to the international community to put pressure on the government to stop what they see as a “genocidal attempt on the Tamil-speaking people.”

Norway has acted as mediator between the two sides for many years and the small contingent of international ceasefire monitors and Norwegian mediators has stated they no longer feel they can cope without backup. An emergency meeting, however, has been called for Friday this week.

40,000 have fled Trinco, the last two days have seen at least 100 dead and Tamil Nadu’s coast has been put on alert. Indian police have been patrolling looking for boats landing and warning residents that Tigers may arrive posing as refugees.

TT:

16th April, 2006

It’s not just Christians celebrating this weekend

by SajiniW at 3:44 pm    

Sri Lankans of all races have been partying too. Not due to the first cross-ethnic phenomenon, mind (cricket), but the second! The thirteenth and fourteenth of April saw the Sinhala-Hindu New Year descend upon us.

Celebrated in the month of Bak according to the lunar calendar, the Sri Lankan New Year pays homage to the coming of spring. Co-incidentally, the name ‘Bak’ derives from the Sanskrit word ‘bhagya’ meaning ‘fortunate’. Useful when this time of year sees the ripened rice paddy harvest being gathered in, giving a sense of plenty to rural Sri Lanka.

Strong similarities can be drawn with the Jewish observance of Pesach, earlier this week – it is a time for families to celebrate, exchange gifts, observe cultural rituals (such as eating the famous ‘kiribath’ milk rice) and wish for a prosperous new year. Further information can be found here.

22nd February, 2006

First, the bad news…

by Sunny at 4:16 pm    

Major unrest has erupted in Iraq between Shia and Sunni groups, that I hope will not erupt into civil war. It follows a major bomb attack on one of Shia Islam’s holiest mosques.

Kudos to the Norweigans meanwhile, for brokering another round of peace talks in Sri Lanka between the government and Tamil Tigers.

26th December, 2005

The Politics of the Wave

by Rohin at 7:17 pm    

TWELVE months have passed since the sea claimed 250,000 lives in south Asia and east Africa. Services have been held across the world, including many returning to the coastline where their loved ones were lost. As they look out at the peaceful Indian Ocean (left), it is hard to believe a year has already passed.

DesiPundit points visitors to the The World Wide Help Blog which is observing Disaster Remembrance Week to mark a year when nature’s fury wrought havoc around the world. Famine across Africa, Katrina, the Kashmir Quake and the aftermath of the tsunami led to what became known as ‘donor fatigue’. It is also worth bearing in mind today marks the second anniversary of the Bam quake in Iran, which claimed 30,000 and soon slipped from the world’s news.

Many have suggested that we can show our thanks for being safe in our homes by ending this traumatic year with a donation. I shan’t advise you what to do with your money as there are many good causes out there in need of support. However, a brief mention for Tim Worstall, who is running a smart campaign at his blog. Check it out – NO money is needed, just clicks. Google does the rest.

Over the course of this week, I shall be running a series of tsunami-related articles on my personal blog, most of which fall outside PP’s remit. However I thought I’d start by discussing the role of politics since the great wave.

When I worked in tsunami-hit areas around Sri Lanka’s coastline earlier this year, I quickly learnt the politics of the tsunami. Sri Lanka and Banda Aceh in Indonesia represent the two worst-affected regions of Asia and both have been marred by civil conflict for many years. In the past, lax government efforts in the face of natural disaster have precipitated major turning points in the histories of several countries. For example, when East Pakistan was ravaged by a cyclone in 1970, the appalling response of the Pakistani government contributed significantly to the death of 300,000. Some estimates put it as high as 500,000. Either way, the chapter galvanised East Pakistani politics and brought Independence for Bangladesh soon after.

Inside, I take a closer look at how the political climates of Indonesia and Sri Lanka have affected rebuilding lives.

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