Trying to understand Sri Lanka

Secularism_or_Barbarism_–_Groundviews

A bit long, but very good article, which gave me such revelations as to why it is so difficult for Sri Lankans to really, truly become a united people:

Extremism is fuelled by ignorance. In Sri Lanka, every religious community has ghettoised itself. We interact less with each other and know less about each other than we did fifty years ago. This separation starts at school and continues right to the grave. We boast that Sri Lanka is home to four great religions, but our children are not taught even the basics of other religions. We know next to nothing of each other’s history. This ignorance provides a fertile ground for extremists of all varieties. It makes the task of demonising and dehumanising the religious Other easier.

I was only partially aware that schools here are not only separated by gender, but also by religion. There is a strong ‘We – them’ thinking, fostered from as early as kindergarten.

The other very insightful bit is how not having a common language (English was introduced as an official language only a while ago, and only the younger, well educated here have a decent command of it) leads to misunderstandings, which triggered the most recent riots:

The outburst of anti-Muslims violence began on 12th Sunday in Chilaw (the inciting incident seemingly was a Facebook post by a Muslim trader with deficient English and a cavalier attitude towards punctuation; it was translated into Sinhala by a Sinhalese whose knowledge of English was even poorer). Within hours, the violence spread to other parts of the North Western Province and to Gampaha district. Undeterred by the curfew or the presence of the security forces, the mobs attacked and burnt, as they did in Digana in 2018, Aluthgama in 2014 and nationally during Black July.

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Ironman Colombo ‘discontinued’

Cancelling a sporting event originally scheduled for February 2020 does reflect the trust everyone is NOT having in this country getting back up on her feet anytime soon …

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This is the second time now Ironman is giving up on Sri Lanka. The event in 2012 is widely ignored. Because it was a disaster.

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Limited News Coverage

If rumors are to be trusted (and at this point this is pretty much all we can go on) then local media has been “urged” or “cautioned” to hold back on news reporting.

‘For security reasons’

Very little info was available Tuesday on what had been going on the previous night in the ‘riot regions’

Thus, we have to turn to foreign media who in some cases have been contacted directly by affected parties (Diamond Pasta for example).

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It’s a long, but very interesting read.

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Meanwhile … Julius in Art Class

School resumed last week, bringing back the much needed feel of normalcy in this crazy place.

Found this video on Instagram from Art Class, where they are working with clay at the moment.



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The Morning Headlines!

Yup, everything is peachy here … will update as news are coming ...

And curfew again tonight.

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Aaaaaaand we are back to island-wide CURFEW!

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Notice how this article does not say ANYTHING about WHY?

In a similar post earlier they at least said ‘tense situation’

From the rumor mill we hear that local media is under orders to not report anything. From foreign news like Channel News Asia we found out the reason for last night’s curfew was inter-ethnicity quarrels in the North. Let’s see what we find out tomorrow.

Colombo Telegraph has more:

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No, things are NOT back to normal NOR does it feel safe.

The politicians and other ‘hungry for airtime’ mouth pieces are trying everything to assure the people that things are back to normal.

There was a big press conference last week claiming that all suspects have been caught or are dead … and that it was safe for tourists to return (to bring in the mighty tourist dollar, smaller businesses are already feeling the fall out!)

But with every weekend there’s something else:

And we only found out when we noticed that our social media was not working, again. Local news have been quiet on details regarding this story, they only informed about new curfew and new social media block.

I later heard from our driver that it came down to one facebook comment taken the wrong way and that got people to start throwing stones at mosques and muslim owned businesses. (which, by the way, is nothing new in Sri Lanka’s short period of ‘peace’ since their civil war .. see 2013 or just last year.

It is very sad to see that apparently Sri Lanka keeps selecting option #2

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Case in point, This just in:

The army now reinstates ‘special leaders’ who probably should be in prison for war crimes committed during the civil war.

Powder Keg – meet Short Fuse!

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is a nice summary from a local expat message board:

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To which I added:

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Oh look, the army chiefs are confident that there is no risk for attacks today

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Daily_Julius__Happy_Mother’s_Day___nackenTo celebrate we took La Mamma out to Epicure for lunch.

In contrast: this was Ritsu’s first mother’s day back in 2005.

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Metal Mouth!

Today was the big day to get braces!

After getting through the super annoying ‘hands on – pat down’ security check (by a very incompetent looking ‘just for show’ security guard) to get into Lanka Hospital, Julius sat down for a 40 minute procedure get get his teeth wired.

Another teenage milestone …

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Oh look, another warning!

This came across my news desk today and is being backed up by an email from the Japanese Embassy. They go more into detail saying (via google translate) “It is the Ramadan month of Islam until around June 7 here. In recent years, many terrorist attacks have occurred around the world in and around Ramadan month.

This is all very comforting …

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Update: Ok, this above warning has kinda been rebuked, well, at least we have been told through ‘official channels’ that this is a probably just a rumor, rated ‘not so credible’ BUT we still should be super vigilant and avoid those areas …

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Xenophobia

Nowhere have I felt more like a unwelcome foreigner as I do here in Sri Lanka.

This is just one example, a comment on an article in the news today. Mirrors a wide spread sentiment here.

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What a Smile!

Finally, after several hiccups regarding finding a good orthodontist we are now getting started on orthodontics for Julius.

After some x-rays and consultation with the specialist at Lanka Hospital, he got some preliminary rubber inserts that already keep bugging him and come Saturday, we are going for the full metal armour on his teeth.
Fun times ahead.

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Fresh Air

When you think about a nice stroll along the Indian Ocean in Colombo has anything to do with getting some fresh air … you might want to reconsider …

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Sakura?

We have this one big tree that sheds (at least twice a year) all those pink blossoms and makes our front area look like Japan in spring.       (Photo by Ritsu)

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Welcome to our new reality!

This is now our new view when coming out of the house …
The office across the street got 2 armed army guards and they quickly set up a new shed for them.


Of course we benefit from the added security in our street, but it also feels pretty unnerving to constantly see riffles.

For example here, this is the security check at the hospital we go for routine check-ups (today I went with Julius to have his spine checked out)

We have to show ID, they open all doors / trunk … it feels pretty evasive … besides the extra 15 minute queue in traffic just to get there …

At least the curfews are over for now. But we are told to remain vigilant (duh!)

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