1 March 2009Download / read as PDF
For Immediate Release: Sri Lanka Democracy Forum and South Asia Solidarity Initiative Sponsor New York Event on Humanitarian Crisis and the Future of Peace in Sri Lanka
For Immediate Release
1 March 2009
Sri Lanka Democracy Forum and South Asia Solidarity Initiative Sponsor Event on Humanitarian Crisis and the Future of Peace in Sri Lanka
Around 120 people attended an evening of poetry, music, and debate entitled, “War and the Future of Peace in Sri Lanka: Some Critical Perspectives,” at the Alwan for the Arts in New York on February 27, 2009. YaliniDream and troupe began the night with a blend of poetry, theater, and music on topics ranging from the experiences of war refugees to the culture of violence within armed groups. Ahilan Kadirgamar, spokesperson for SLDF, started his talk by saying that both sides have committed grave human abuses, including war crimes. He called for greater scrutiny of the humanitarian situation by the United Nations and a resolution of the humanitarian crisis. This has to go hand in hand with a campaign for a political process to address the concerns of all of the minorities and democratization, he added. Nirmala Rajasingam, SLDF activist from London, began with a Tamil poem about “armed men cutting down trees that refused to bow down” and how a “great forest of resistance would arise again from those broken stumps.” Her talk described the growth and entrenchment of majoritarian thinking in Sri Lanka since independence. She emphasized the need for a movement for democratization, constitutional reform, and peace among Tamils, Muslims, Up-Country Tamils and other minorities in conjunction with progressive Sinhalese to challenge the majoritarian state. Both speakers emphasized the devastation on all sides resulting from decades of nationalist ideology. The lively, hour-long discussion, moderated by Bhavani Raman of the South Asia Solidarity Initiative, went into topics such as building a multi-ethnic movement in the context of intense polarization and violence, the immediate humanitarian needs of the people, human rights accountability on all sides, the role of the international community and Sri Lankan diaspora, and what a political solution might look like.