A commenter posted a link to this video
The Rajapakse’s have illegally destroyed the homes of some of the poorest people in Sri Lanka, to soothe the sore eyes of our foreign guests. Over half of Colombo’s citizens live in shanties. The League Of Slum Dwellers (LSD) is (was?) a blog devoted to those issues. However, as everyone in Sri Lanka knows, when our post-colonial masters are on the road, everyone else needs to get in the ditch. Even if you happen to live on the side of the road. Over a Supreme Court injunction halting the demolition, the Ministry of Defense evicted the poor people leaving on Glennie Street, bulldozing their homes and leaving them to find shelter anywhere, including a mud pit in Grandpass. Pro-poor indeed.
What’s the worst is that we chose to have SAARC, the countries coming to SAARC (besides India) are not especially posh themselves, and that the demolition was patently illegal under the rule of law anyways. And yet squatters and their children who, I repeat, are more then half of the population are left homeless.
I think that squatting, shanties and property rights are a complicated issue. At some point perhaps the land in Glennie Street should be reclaimed for development. However, in a country where family property disputes leave prime land fallow for decades, people simply do set up and live there. For many reasons, perhaps because they like the proximity to Onyx/Nuovo, but also because they commute on foot or bus and they want to send their kids to decent schools. You can’t simply destroy peoples homes because of ‘security concerns’ for a voluntary conference. If your management of the war is so shite that the country isn’t safe enough for people to both visit and live in Sri Lanka at the same time, then perhaps you shouldn’t volunteer for the conference. As in, if you have to kick your family out of the house to throw a party, perhaps you shouldn’t throw the party.
Instead, the Rajapakses get to have their armoured limousine fete while everyone in Colombo loses their time, money, streets and, now, their home. The Rajapakse government is pro-poor votes but once elected, pro-themselves and no one else. Did I mention that we’re at war, with TERRORISTS! Everyone get in the ditch!