I’ve been to the Welikada Jail, where the recent riots and slaughter of nearly thirty people took place. It’s a strange place, right on a main road with prisoners going in and out (on work detail I guess). There’s a waiting room and a canteen and you enter through a vaguely secure tunnel. But it’s really a rather open jail. Here are my comments from an earlier visit, with some lawyers:
Archive for the 'Human Rights' Category
Personally, I hate the white van metaphor. I mean, most vans are white, and there’s a lot of vans. If you want to see white vans, just go stand outside a school. Or my house, where they’re running an unzoned ‘international’ school next door. White van central.
If I had a blogger idol it would be Han Han – Chinese super-blogger, race car driver, and all around dreamy guy. My friend is down from Beijing and he says China is a land of paradoxes. It’s both more free and restricted than you would imagine. I think Han Han is the riddle within the enigma. He’s recently written three essays, On Revolution, On Democracy, and On Freedom. They’re quite interesting.
Everybody knows that migrant workers are abused based on anecdotes, mainly from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi couple that hammered 24 nails into a woman, the Sri Lankan woman kept hostage for 14 years, the Indonesian maid beheaded by the Saudi government, etc nauseum. But aside from anecdotes, how bad is it. According to Caritas, pretty fucking bad.
Humans are sexual dimorphic. Men are bigger than women. Animals are thought to evolve this way to compete over mates (ie, male on male, or male on prey violence), not to beat their mates directly. Still, we live in a time where the Maldives still publicly flogs women for adultery and Sri Lankans often look the other way at domestic abuse.
The Egyptian Revolution never quite won. The military (the source of Mubarak) just took power, in trust. But they’re not leaving. And they’ve been arresting, torturing and thugging like before. Now the trust has run out, and there are tens of thousands in Tahrir again. This year I met Ahmed Salah, one of the street organizers, in Madrid. Great guy, very intelligent and fun. I’ve been following his updates on Facebook and they’re alternately hopeful and terrifying.
Leymah Gbowee is a remarkably charming woman. Brings me back to something I heard Ivan Marovic said. That revolution should be fun. She was part of the movement that overthrew the psychotic and gratuitous butcher Charles Taylor and is now tasked with pushing reconciliation. On Jon Stewart’s show she emphasized how it was hard, how killers and rapists had to live side by side with their victims and families of.
Professor Ratnajeevan Hoole once had to flee Sri Lanka because he spoke out against the LTTE. Now he’s left again, this time because he spoke out against Douglas Devananda and the EPDP. What does that tell you about the EPDP, and the government’s support for them? “This time he had to leave, he said, because of his differences with the lone Tamil Minister in Sri Lankan Cabinet, Douglas Devananda.”
Amantha Perera has a great report from Vavuniya, in the north. “After two-and-a-half decades of bloodshed that tore Sri Lanka apart, children like Tendulkar who dream of becoming teachers, or whatever else they want to be, can now chase those dreams without fear of death” (IPS).
I’m 28 and I grew up with the war. Now the war is over and I’d like to live. I think this is possible within a multi-ethnic Sri Lanka with equal rights for all. And I don’t think we need to wait for the government, we can simply define what Sri Lankan is ourselves. That’s what I said on the Jazeera, echoing what Kumar Sangakkara said in his speech. You know, I’m Sri Lankan. That there we can find some common ground. I think that this simple idea has some legs. People are changing, compromising and – in a word – beginning to reconcile.