Journalists and media activists have cautioned against Sri Lanka’s newfound press freedom as the country heads to the polls in 2020. Separate incidents of hate-speech against a Muslim minority—and the subsequent shutdown of social media platforms—and the harassment of reporters critical of the country’s opposition have led some to believe that the changes in media independence could reverse.
It was a shutdown that was emblematic of the instability plaguing the Maldives in recent months.
On Feb. 8, Raajje TV, an opposition aligned TV channel in the atolls, suspended broadcasting due to lack of security.
Last year was an annus horribilis
for 52-year-old Newton Gunathileka. A paddy smallholder from Sri Lanka’s northwestern Puttalam District, 2017 saw Gunathileka abandon his two acres of paddy for the first time in over three and half decades, leaving his family almost destitute.
Sri Lanka’s long-awaited and much-debated Right to Information (RTI) Act became law this month without much fanfare.
The warnings are stark, the instructions, for a change, clear.
Sri Lanka is heading into one of its worst droughts in recent history, and according some estimates the worst in 30 years. The reservoirs are running on empty, at 30 percent or less capacity. Only 12 percent of the island’s power generation is currently from hydropower and 85 percent comes from thermal, with a staggering 41 percent from coal.
Beragama is a typical Sri Lankan rural village, with lush green paddy fields interspersed by small houses and the village temple standing at the highest location. Despite being close to the island’s second international harbour and its second international airport, Beragama appears untouched by modernity.
Sri Lanka’s upcoming 69th Independence Commemorations will be of special value to the island’s media - that is, if everything works as planned.
It is a Tuesday afternoon and only a handful of devotees have flocked to the Meera Grand Mosque in Katankuddi, about 300 kms east of the capital Colombo.
Sri Lanka is literally baking these days.
As Sri Lanka readies to begin the grim task of searching for thousands of war missing, those doing the tracing on the ground say that they still face intimidation and threats while doing their work.
The picture could be straight out of a tourist postcard – a sleepy green mountain with misty clouds floating above the canopy – if not for one fatal flaw: the ugly gash running right through the middle.
Sri Lanka is facing the heat from a scorching sun for the past one month. In recent times, the country has imposed power cuts after almost a decade. The main reason was the stoppage at a coal power plant, but engineers at the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) admit that the island’s hydro-power generation capacity is at such a critical low that without additional coal, diesel and renewable generation, the country’s full demand for power cannot be met.
Early evening, there is a play of light and shadow over Kathmandu’s famous Durbar Square. The rising monuments, damaged by the April 2015 earthquake, appear as dark silhouettes while large flash lights streak through in between them.
Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores, was in her early 20s when she co-founded the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (Cophin), a group that campaigned for the rights of indigenous communities in the Central American nation.
One and half years ago, Johnson, a 20- something youth, hailing from Sri Lanka’s tea plantations, received an unusual request. The caller, someone Johnson knew casually, made an offer for his kidney. “It was for a half a million rupees (around US $3,500),” he said.
Details of a secret detention center, where serious human rights abuses took place, deep inside the sprawling Tricomalee Naval base in the east of Sri Lanka are slowly emerging.
On a late Friday afternoon as choking smog descended on the Indian Capital, Francois Richier, the French ambassador to India , took some hard questions from scores of journalists about the upcoming climate change talks in Paris this month.
Residents in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo and outlying areas have been waking up to misty mornings of late. A decade ago, regular mist in this area just above the equator would have been a noteworthy event. These days, it is a regular occurrence in some parts north of the capital.
Thavarasa Utharai’s most treasured belongings are stuck inside several plastic bags and tucked within old traveling bags.
Twice a week, 20-year-old Kulsum Begam, a young mother of two, spends over three hours gossiping with the neighbours.
The new Sri Lankan government that was voted in on Aug. 17 certainly didn’t inherit as much baggage as its predecessors did during the nearly 30 years of conflict that gripped this South Asian island nation.