When garment factory workers outside Colombo once organised a noisy protest over a bonus issue, police threatened to file charges – of hostage taking -- against them.
When students walk into the Majeediya Boys School in this capital of the Maldives every morning, they are invariably drawn to the digital notice board in the courtyard that carries important announcements.
Authorities in the Maldives view women’s issues as a core human rights problem and are keen to tackle them head on, but cultural and religious issues often stand in the way.
The Maldives Islands, fast gaining a reputation for ‘walking the talk’ as it raises its tiny island voice in the climate change discourse, has launched an action plan to phase out hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) by 2020, or 10 years ahead of other countries and the target set by an international agreement known as the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
Relations between Sri Lanka and European Union (EU), which turned frosty around six months back, appear to be thawing as the government makes a last ditch stand to regain a crucial trade concession that has been suspended over human rights issues hounding the south Asian island state.
Though the global economic crisis has eased in most of Asia, latest reports about falling demand for garments in markets like Europe and the United States have become a new source of concern to Sri Lanka’s troubled garment labour force.
Two cyclists from the minority Tamil community are shooed away by government soldiers as they approach this northern Sri Lankan city’s only Buddhist temple while President Mahinda Rajapaksa is paying a visit.
Whenever Sri Lankan rights activist Shereen Xavier attends a meeting related to her work in this war-battered northern capital, she makes sure to be dressed in a sari, a traditional gown worn by South Asian women.
About eight months back, delivery boys for this northern city’s main newspaper were accompanied on their rounds by government soldiers – the first time a Sri Lankan broadsheet was being delivered under armed guard.
Issues of religious tolerance, the rule of law and freedom of expression in this mainly Buddhist country are being thrown into debate by the detention of a Sri Lankan Buddhist woman who converted to Islam and was writing a book on her conversion.
Political manifestos are often met with cynicism and even ridicule, but Sri Lanka’s first such manifesto for women is proving an exception to the rule as rights activists laud its recent launch.
Pressured by the west and international groups over its human right record, the Sri Lankan government is close to finalising a roadmap on safeguarding civil and political liberties.
The extent of Sri Lanka’s dependence on its one million citizens who work abroad can be gauged from officials who gleefully count the dollars that come in to sustain the country’s economy.
As a wife of a rice farmer and mother of two children aged nine and two, Sanjeevani Bandara’s days are packed with chores. Yet while she used to be able to keep up with all she has to do in a day, this Sri Lankan mother now finds herself struggling to accomplish even the most basic tasks.
Local and foreign non-governmental organisations have had a liberal existence in Sri Lanka, but this may not last for much longer under the government’s plans to amend a 1980 law that would tighten control over them.
Sri Lanka is rejecting claims that some 11,000 people who surrendered as suspected Tamil rebels just before the decades-long bloody conflict ended in May 2009 are being held incommunicado or risk being tortured.
Under pressure over accusations that ill-gotten money would be siphoned out, Sri Lanka’s Central Bank has put the lid on a plan to allow a free flow of foreign currency in and out of the country.
When the global financial crisis struck in 2008, expectations were high that the Sri Lankan economy would be severely affected. But as it turned out, the number of job losses was not as bad as anticipated.
Sri Lankan experts do not seem to be pinning their hopes on the ongoing climate talks in Copenhagen, saying greenhouse gas emissions will continue to torment the world as long as western lifestyles remain the same.
Dozens of Sri Lankan migrant workers languishing under a flyover in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, claiming to be stranded, exemplify the crisis of migration that Sri Lankan authorities have faced over the years.
By January 2010 they will be returning to their homes in war-torn areas.