In the shoes of Nimalaruban’s Parents

Whilst going through ‘Groundviews’ I came across the link to this shocking and disturbing article (http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/7855). It’s about the murder of 28-year-old Nimalaruban from Vavuniya, allegedly by state authorities.  I’m surprised that I didn’t come across it much sooner (see http://groundviews.org/2012/07/31/ganesan-nimalaruban-a-damning-murder-funeral-and-silence/ ).

I will not speculate the authenticity of this story, there is always two sides to a story, but considering that it is true, there are a few things that I would like to draw attention to that will help the reconciliation process of Sri Lanka.

First of all, I was saddened by just reading what the parents would have gone through, not only that they  were unable to understand completely what was going on due to the language barrier, but just being sent from place to place with no proper direction, and not being able to see their son for five days, whilst being told that he was in a seriously critical condition. I was sitting on my desk, safe and sound, but my body felt like it was somewhere else, frozen, my eye threatening to tear.

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There is no other way to solve human problems other than with loving-kindness and compassion

I wanted to share this video because I’m relieved that someone is speaking out. Let’s not let another 30 years of destruction and grief be repeated again. Let’s work together to stop this conflict before it escalates. Let’s not let the paradise that is Sri Lanka be turned into hell.

“We should be alarmed if our society is moving towards another conflict again… we can blame our foregone generation for the last war. But, if the same thing repeats, it is a sign of our failure. It is our responsibility to prevent such a thing from happening again” – Ven Dhammananda, Lecturer at the University of Kelaniya.

‘Red My Lips’ – Stop Blaming Victims of Abuse!

Me with my 'Red Lips'... inspired and empowered to talk!
Me with my ‘Red Lips’… inspired and empowered to talk!

I was invited by a friend on Facebook to join this amazing campaign called ‘Red My Lips’… It’s a campaign to create awareness and stop blaming victims of sexual abuse. And a really creative way of creating awareness is to wear red lipstick for the month of April. It’s not only empowering to wear such a bold colour all the time, but it’s the perfect opportunity to get the conversation started.

So, today a girl at work commented that she liked the colour of my lipstick… I told her that I’m wearing it for a cause and that got us talking… and I’m 99% percent sure that, it will get her talking and her friends talking and it’s going to create a wave of talking about this ridiculous trend of victim blaming. From the girl who was gang raped on a bus in India being blamed for it to the 14 year old girl in Maldives being blamed for ‘having underage sex with her stepfather’… when in fact she was raped… it’s everywhere.. and women are not the only victims of sexual abuse, men are too. So this campaign is for everyone.

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The next time before you complain…

Hussein witnessed his entired family been killed except for his brother who takes care of him now in Norway. He too was stabbed and has lost the ability to walk and has a serious mental condition. Because his story was heard the Norwegian government has granted him temporary permission to remain. Still Image from the film courtesy of the web trailer from http://vimeo.com/52241270
Hussein witnessed his entire family been killed except for his brother who takes care of him now in Norway. He too was stabbed and has lost the ability to walk and has a serious mental condition. Because his story was heard the Norwegian government has granted him temporary permission to remain. Still Image from the film courtesy of the web trailer from http://vimeo.com/52241270

Today I had the privilege of watching the documentary ‘Nowhere Home’ by the inspiring Norwegian film-maker Margreth Olin at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London.

She tells the story of boys from Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Iraq and other war-striken countries who seek asylum in Norway, but who will be sent back to their countries as soon as they turn 18.

They try to escape a horrific life; experiencing people been killed, even their close family and friends, and to think that they have to go back to these conditions. Khalid, a boy portrayed in the film, say there is no hope in Afghanistan, there is no humanity.

For most of us, the day we turn 18 is special, we celebrate with big parties and embrace a life of freedom as an adult. But for these boys, the day they turn 18 is the end of their lives.They know no freedom, they have no hope for a future. It makes me wonder, and I hope it makes you wonder too… what is it that we have to complain about? We have hope for a future, we have the freedom and the choice to choose our paths… But these boys, they have a future of fear, trying to illegally cross borders to be safe and face the ruthless authorities who imprison them.

We have a lot to be thankful for. And if you don’t have the desire or the ability to take a risk like Margreth Olin to give a voice to these boys and so many others who suffer like them, the least you can do is to think about them the next time before you complain.

My best wishes are with Margreth who is working tirelessly to change the system in Norway to give children like Khalid and Hussein hope.

“Everyone is watching you!”

from www.tumblr.com
from http://www.tumblr.com

Today someone said to me: “the world is watching you…”, referring to Sri Lanka… And I was stumped for words. What I realised is that whatever a small minority of the population does reflects on all Sri Lankans, whether it’s good or bad. In this instance I’m talking about a small group of Buddhist extremists who are claiming to be the true Sri Lankan’s and are fighting to abolish the halal system in the country.

We may not agree with them, but as long as we stay silent and not do our part in standing against it, and standing for the unity and beliefs of every ethnic and religious group that makes Sri Lanka as special as it is, to the rest of the world it seems like we agree with it. So here I am, doing my part in the smallest way I can to share the message that this is not what Sri Lanka is.

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Cultural Rights Vs. Women’s Rights: How do we strike a balance?

Image courtesy of: http://www.pakistanlaw.net
Image courtesy of: http://www.pakistanlaw.net

This is a paper I wrote for one of my modules last term for MA International Politics and Human Rights, I enjoyed researching for it and writing it so much that I think it will be a waste not to share it with you. Here is a shortened version of it, hope you like it and your comments are deeply appreciated: 

 

In an ideal world all human beings will be treated equally, regardless of their gender or ethnicity. In fact, article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” However in reality this is not practiced. The universality of human rights, especially when it comes to women’s rights, is lost in the realm of cultural relativism. Drawing from Bunch’s (1990) observation that gender related abuses have been most neglected, I believe that cultural and religious group rights are given more recognition than women’s rights. In this essay I will set forth various theoretical claims and practical cases to argue my point that in reality cultural rights are given a higher grounding than women’s rights, specifically in the Middle East and Asia, but also in Africa and in some cases in the West. I will also look at various approaches that may help in rectifying these challenges.

Before I discuss the challenges I will look at the background of both cultural and religious groups rights and women’s rights. Will Kymlicka (1995) lays down two different kinds of group rights. The first is minority rights that protects the interests of their members and secondly rights which impose restrictions on its members, such as some cultural groups that set prohibitions and regulations on women. Kymlicka supports the first kind of rights but regards the second kind as “difficult” (cited in Anthias 2002: 280). It is one of those situations that whatever approach you choose to support there is always a negative aspect to it. If you oppose the second kind of rights you are demeaning the autonomy of a culture: “rejecting the cultural rules of a minority” (Anthias 2002:280). However if you ignore that these cultural impositions are abusing individual human rights then where does that make you stand? For instance, if you ignore the very brutal practice of female genital mutilation just because it is a cultural practice, does not that make you as ignorant as those practicing it? I will dwell on this further when I discuss how the human rights of women are abused in the name of culture.

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