Author Archives: purpleboxers

Silence of the Land Of Lotus Eaters

In a democracy the constitution should ideally epitomize everything that its people stand for. It is intended to be the document which protects the people from unfettered powers of its Leader while protecting the individual whether he is a political minority or a racial minority. But in a country like Sri Lanka with a unique interpretation to constitutionalism we might as well stop using the façade of democracy as our country codifies unlimited powers to an inevitable despot thus allow the “all knowing” head of the state to do as he pleases for as long as he pleases.

So we Sri Lankans do not complain and have complete faith in our noble leader to make choices for us and as many say the amendment only gives him the opportunity to seek elections if the people are unsatisfied with the leader they surely will be able to show their dissent through their vote. Sadly, in Sri Lanka the only form of the average Sri Lankans involvement in the Political process and how he is governed is reduced to just casting his vote. And as observed time and time again in any form of election in Sri Lanka, our elections have been far from “free and fair.” The election in which leading political party’s openly misuse public funds, ignore the directions of the Election commissioner will surely not be more reliable specially in a situation in which the incumbent is certain of retaining power indefinitely . The credibility of Election results will be further hindered as the new constitutional changes take away the powers of the Election commissioner of issuing guidelines to prevent the misuse of state resource while he may oppress the private media by imposing specific guidelines.

The only glimmer of hope for the de-politicization of the currently politically infested Public service Commission and other institutions was the 17th amendment which ensured a certain form of independence in the Constitutional council. However the proposed Parliamentary council will undoubtly reflect the whims and fancies of the political Party’s as it will purely consist of MP’s. This council is not empowered to make any recommendations merely to make certain ‘observations’ which the President is not inclined to abide by.

Impeachment is the only safeguard available even if the President is despised by all during his infinite reign. But this too is made next to impossible with the constitutional requirement of two third support at various stages for such a motion supported by the Supreme Court.

In a country where incidents of openly violating the Fundamental rights of an officer, publicly bashing of media personnel goes without any recourse it is highly unlikely that the an individual may seek any form of justice where his fundamental rights are violated. If the constitution does not protect the individual, does not serve as a check, or seek to preserve the separation of powers among the different arms of government, one questions the essence of the Sri Lankan constitution.

With such impending dooms apparent for anyone with an atom of a brain to realize it’s shocking that the opposition is silent on these matters. Where is the public debate that should be present before such important constitutional changes?  An unconstitutional bill may receive public outcry and will be severely criticized in a vibrant democracy if the people object to it. In Sri Lanka where judicial review of legislation is non-existent this may never happen, but its saddening to see that even as a constitutional amendment of such public importance is being rushed through we tacitly accept the “wise” decisions made by our representatives.

Is it due to public apathy, ignorance or absolute faith in the current ruling system that we the people sit and watch as the rulers of this country entrench their powers further by manipulation of the constitution, which ironically is the document of the people and not a person.

Anushka is a core group member of Beyond Borders and a lawyer in the making, currently studying in her second year of law. Her opinions are her own.

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8/9/10 : The Day to Remember!

8th of September 2010 marks the new era. The end of Sri Lanka as we know it and a new beginning. An era of limitless power and political overhaul. The birth of the 18th amendment with a majority of 141 votes. 161 against a mere 20! Even the numbers don’t seem quite right next to each other!

I speak to friends with animation trying to make sense to be answered back with “I am sorry I didn’t have time to read what is in the 18th amendment!” or “I don’t do politics”.

I wake up to a protest for the 18th Amendment! I wonder whether these people even know what the 18th Amendment entails… Or be these people like in all other protests being packed in and brought to perform their duty. ( the question is rhetoric. Of course we all know the answer to this!)

I yearn to ask these protesters what they scream for, but of course I am no way near them. Surely for my better health.

In the evening there is a meagre crowd holding candles at the peaceful vigil expressing their resentment towards the Amendment. There is more police around it than those who are actually participating. I tell them that there are not many people, to be answered that it is an improvement from the previous experiences. So does that mean we are finally making sense to people??

Ever so faithful “dialog sms news” arrives on the phones of those who have subscribed announcing the result of the vote. 160 for and 20 against! People not much surprised at the outcome. They knew   it was coming. But fail to hide the bafflement at the one digit missing when contrasting the numbers.

Arrival of another sms, announcement of a mistake in the information transmitted. The guy next to me finds it amusing, adds “I am sure some more people would have jumped.” (if you are Sri Lankan you know the meaning of “jumped”. But for the enlightenment of others, it would be a reference to those politicians who change from the opposition to the governing party.)

With all his smirking, he did manage to make sense. After all it was all quite predictable.

At office I hear explosions. My thought: the war being over, where do such sounds emanate?

My boss explains “sound of celebrations”.

I nod, busy cutting paper articles on the Amendment.

I need to keep them, carefully pasted on a scrapbook.

When and if I ever live to have grandchildren, I will show the date on the articles to them and tell, “Look kids! This was the day the Sri Lankans got the best of their stupidity! The day they all marked the beginning of an end!”

Vositha is a legal researcher, law student and ardent Eco-activist working with Project Act, our environmental project. Her views are her own. The original post and more of her writing can be found here.

Answering the Revolution

Wanting to blog more is something I keep telling myself everyday like an incessantly chanted prayer. Like most things in life, I never get around to do so. Anyhow, one of the key things that prompted me to blog for Beyond Borders once more, was ‘Revolution Calling’. This indeed did arouse a considerable amount of nostalgia within me.

September 2009. Just after my A/Ls, bored to death at home after playing Travian, Empire-something and a countless number of games online. Barn Buddy was my new best friend. I cannot recall as to where, but it was during that time that I saw the BB poster claiming that they were recruiting volunteers. I did some casual research on the Organisation, I had occasionally heard the name previously though I could not place it. Just for the heck of it, I applied and they responded and I was call for an interview. Mama took me to the interview, (she didn’t mind as long as I’d be kept occupied 🙂 ) which I believe was held on Saturday (yes it was, I was going to get Sims 3 then 😀 ) and the place, the now-long-gone Infoshare which we had some trouble finding. After the interview, Mama who was waiting outside in the car told me that I had laughed too hard and too loud. Oops. Mistake number one? Little did I know after that it was only Sachith, Hanim and Shehan and that I needn’t be worried of them. LoL.

The little time I was a part of Beyond Borders, I was exposed to a great deal. And no I am not exaggerating. It was only then that I realised that there were so many things that I was unaware of. Though my awareness of my general unawareness was acknowledged, the well-informed personas that I saw in BB left me awestricken. To this date, I am astonished by the fact that they are capable of multi-tasking to its truest sense. They work, they study, they are a part of BB and at times even other organisations, they are blog-whores *wink* and they are brilliantly street smart (and occasionally book smart I suppose. Tsk-tsk).

Sad as it may sound, I was only able to watch them and not learn their multi-tasking abilities. I started working in November 2009. Initially I used to juggle BB meetings and press conferences just fine. However, as I grew more attached to my job, my editor’s dislike for youth activism increased, thereby keeping me at work for longer and not allowing me to go for meetings. Eventually, work was the only thing that existed in my world. I was hardly at home. Mama’s and my key mode of communication was sunk to e-mails, text messages, IMs and phone calls. BB was what I occasionally read through the group mail.

My work, is something I would never regret in life. However, the extent to which it engulfed me and shut me out from what’s happening around me; making me a mere observer and commentator is something I do wish that didn’t happen.

August 2010. Residing in Bangalore now, I begin to realise how much I miss BB. New projects are coming up. A new FT might be brewing somewhere in the minds of those jokers 🙂 Having joined the only NGO-like activity in University, I find it incomparable to BB.

I believe that what makes BB awesome is the fact that it is entirely youth-led and youth-run. This allows the free flow of thought from young people, which I think is restricted almost all the time, everywhere. Over here, despite the ideas been formulated by ‘young people’ unless approved by an individual who is not considered ‘young’ it is not executed. Sigh. So much for keeping the faith in ‘Tomorrow’s Leaders’.

Beyond Borders truly is a platform for young people to express their ideas. For those of whom who are passionate about something, or even for those of whom who are bored and are at home doing absolutely nothing, by all means join BB. Coming from me, an individual who was ‘properly’ a part of BB for only a few months, believe me it is truly amazing. All of a sudden you discover a dimension to you that you failed to realise that existed. You begin to explore new ideas. For the fairly ignorant sort like myself, you suddenly find yourself interested in what’s happening beneath your own safe sphere of things.

Answer the revolution. You won’t regret it.

Senashia Ekanayake is the most eccentric of the BBites and also, the most efficient when it comes to getting something done. She is currently on leave, pursuing her degree in Psychology. Her views are her own. More of Seni’s work, can be found here.

THE 1ST YOUTH ENVIRONMENTAL SUMMIT – SRI LANKA

Beyond Borders Sri Lanka is a voluntary youth organization focused on development.It is a platform which enables for young people to network, develop skills and workon issues they are passionate about. The Beyond Borders Environmental Programmewas launched in 2009 by involving youth in the International Day of Climate Action.The event was part of the more than 5000 events held globally on the 24th of October2009 calling on positive climate action.

Beyond Borders together with of a group of active and concerned youth areorganizing the 1st Youth Environmental Summit in Sri Lanka with the objectiveof bringing all Sri Lankan youth working for the benefit of the environment bothas individuals and in organizations, to a common platform. The aim is to form acommunicable network for the exchange of commonly beneficial information andopportunities for the benefit of everyone.

As such, the organizing team is pleased to host the inaugural event which will beheld on the 21st of August 2010 from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm at the Subodhi, Centre forIntegral Studies.

Goals of Network:

To establish a platform through which beneficial information and opportunities canbe publicized uniformly and equally

• To promote interaction between individuals and organizations for possible jointactivities and project implementation

• To provide awareness and training on issues and management systems that impactthe environment

• To build the capacity of Sri Lankan youth to interact, negotiate and formpartnerships with their global counterparts for the benefit of the commonenvironment and organizational growth

Date: 21st August 2010

Venue: Subodhi, Centre for Integral Studies, Piliyandala, Sri Lanka

Time: 9.00am to 4.00pm

Registrations:Forms could be obtained by sending a request mail to shehan@beyondborders.lk

Beyond Borders is registered as a nonprofit organization in Sri Lanka.This initiative is funded by the United States Department of State in Sri Lanka.

Start a Revolution!

Are passionate for change?  Do you think out of the box? Do you have plans, but don’t have a platform from which you can launch them? Then Beyond Borders is your place to be!

Who are we?

Beyond Borders is a youth led, youth run voluntary organization engaged in social activism and a push for change. Our focus is on a wide array of issues ranging from identity, diversity to active global citizenship. We work through various media; organizing training sessions both outbound and inbound, hosting seminars and discussions, and last but not least forum theater.

We are currently looking for people to join us. As a Member, you will be involved in making the decisions that will determine the direction of Beyond Borders and will decide the nature of the projects we will do. You will also get opportunities to organize and lead project teams and to pursue work you may be passionate about.

Beyond Borders has been working closely with British Council Colombo in a variety of its projects, since its inception in 2005.

What do I have to do to join?

To join you have to be between the ages of 18 and 25 be keen, enthusiastic, and mostly importantly be ready to do work with passion for what you believe in. You will also need to;

1. Email us to recruitments@beyondborders.lk a brief description of yourself, including your name (obviously), contact details, educational background, extra curricular activities (tell us what you did, not the groups you were a member of) and if you’ve worked anywhere, details of that. Keep the description to a maximum of 300 words.

2. Write 300 words on something you are extremely passionate about, or something you want to work on in your life. This is not a test of your writing skills; we just need to make sure that you will enjoy getting involved with BB. If you have an idea, but no idea how to implement it, you can write about that and we might provide you the platform to do so.

The deadline for applications is the 25th August 2010. Call us on 0777696656 or Visit our website for more info. You can also find us on FacebookYoutubeTwitter and Flickr.

ELECTED!

From racist sentiments to power group mentalities to ethics to corruption, elected covers it all. The latest Beyond Borders Forum Theater production is finally here . ‘Elected’, revolves around a student body election and its main theme is racism. The story follows the campaigns of the two candidates, one from a minority and the other, a majority, as they work towards victory, both on the promise of improving the facilities of the university. But when the going gets tough for one, things start to get ugly and at the end of it, something’s got to give. Be there to find out!

For those who do not know about forum theater, it is a medium, where drama is used to portray critical social issues. It is also known as the ‘theater of the oppressed’ and usually ends in a bad way.  The unique feature of it is that the audience is allowed to engage in the proceedings of the play in a sensible way and make changes that improve the outcome. It promises to be entertaining and educational at the same time. Entrance is free but you will have to register at http://beyondborders.lk/ft/.