The Sri Lankan government is sadly adept at squelching journalism, which makes the crowdsourced Groundviews a truly precious gem. Proudly calling itself “Sri Lanka’s first and only citizens journalism website,” Groundviews provides a rare English-language peek at the mood on Colombo’s streets. The site has been in peak form as the nation’s civil war has drawn to its bloody close, providing a series of posts examining Sri Lanka’s post-Tigers future. Of particular note is this sobering take on President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s victory speech to Parliament:
Somewhere I hoped that this speech would signal a new chapter, a transformation in this Government that they wanted to begin a post-war phase. Instead the language of the War on Terror found its place once more. The President declared that the term ‘minorities’ is no longer part of the vocabulary of Sri Lanka. I don’t think he was speaking about the idea of each of the major communities being a nation or people in their own right. Instead, he continued there are only two peoples – those who love their country [read those supported the war] and those who “have no love for the land of their birth.” Essentially those who fail to gather around Government holding the national flag are classified as unpatriotic. So for a moment think of the Tamil family who has lost one member to the recent fighting, in a camp not allowed to leave and are not in a state of mind to choose to be patriotic. Those others who do not love their country according to this rule of patriotism must also include the dissenting media, opposition political parties and critical NGOs. So it unclear if there will be an end to the culture of fear, intimidation and violence by ‘unknown groups.’
Groundviews has a sister video channel here; it’s well worth your time even if your Sinhalese or Tamil language skills are negligible.