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5000 People Spoke Out Against Racism in Sri Lanka

Petition pic

5,081 people that is. The petition was created by a small group of concerned Sri Lankan citizens, following the systematic harassment of minority communities around the island over the past few months. What started out with banning Halal food, rapidly developed into arson attacks on Muslim owned businesses, defacing of Mosques and attacks on Churches.

That’s not to say that the issue cropped up recently. In 2012 an extremist Buddhist group, lead by monks, stormed a Mosque in Dambulla and torched the 50 year old building. The Buddhists in the area condemned the violence against their Muslims neighbours, stating that they have co-existed peacefully over the years. The government did what they do best– they ignored it.

Just as they ignored other isolated incidents of both Mosques and Churches being attacked as well in the recent past. They went as far as calling the public delusional and having cooked up the Grease Yakka attacks.

Then again, this has been an issue since the 1950’s; possibly beyond. The problem is undoubtedly deep-rooted, and we cannot allow it to fester as it has for all these decades. It has been the impetus of the 30 year conflict, and here we are once again, repeating the mistakes of our past.

We need to speak up. We need to work towards chipping away at the racism in Sri Lanka that’s preventing us from truly progressing. No amount of expressways, wider roads, wetland parks and cobble-stone pavements (all built on borrowed money as we sink deeper and deeper in debt), will help Sri Lanka progress.

So 5081 people spoke out. They called on the government to take action against the hate-speech, hate-crimes and racism. The petition was mailed to the President a few weeks back and has reached the Presidential Secretariat.

Here’s a link to the petition in case you’d like to read through it (there’s a Sinhala and Tamil translation available as well)-

http://www.change.org/petitions/his-excellency-mahinda-rajapaksa-the-president-of-sri-lanka-take-action-to-stop-incidents-of-harassment-against-minorities?utm_campaign=friend_inviter_chat&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=permissions_dialog_false

You can check out the Facebook page too(it’s got lost of neat graphics and posters)- http://www.facebook.com/NoMoreHateInSriLanka

I do hope that all those who signed the petition will continue to speak out and fight against racism in Sri Lanka. Signing the petition is a good first step, but we need people actively working towards bringing about change.

-Megara Tegal

Meg is a member of the steering committee of Beyond Borders. She’s a journalist and a world-class klutz. She blogs here. Her opinions are her own.

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One Billion No More

One Billion Rising has been launched in several countries, and on Sunday Sri Lanka joined the growing list.

Women in Need conducted a walk the same day that led to Galle Face where OBR Sri Lanka  was launched, with motivating speeches from inspirational women, street theater, song and dance.

Pic by Tehani Ariyaratne

Pic by Tehani Ariyaratne

Pic by Tehani Ariyaratne

Pic by Tehani Ariyaratne

At Galle Face for the launching of OBR Sri Lanka!

Pic by Megara Tegal

Pic by Megara Tegal

Street theatre performance about VAW

DSC_1348

Pic by Megara Tegal

The engrossed audience

Pic by Megara Tegal

Pic by Megara Tegal

 

Real Men Do Not Harass Women

As most of my friends and I have had our fair share of encounters with perverts, mostly while travelling in public transport. Initially when a woman encounters such weird disturbing characters we become scared and even come to a point to be ashamed that maybe it was our fault for have invited such due to our dress code or so on. But due to the mentality of such perverts they actually tend to enjoy making a woman feel uncomfortable and vulnerable and probably assume we will not make a commotion and carry on with their pervert-ish acts.

It is well known that in society there exists people with diverse mentalities but harassment is not something any woman should face in order to satisfy anyone idiosyncrasies. Any person found to have caused harassment is possible to be faced with penal sanctions and no woman should stay quiet about it, speak up and stand up for all women! since no one should tolerate harassment.

One project that interested me was one carried out by Reach Out with the help of Beyond Borders that creates awareness through forum theatre relating to harassment of women in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately I could not commit to this project due to busy work schedules, but something anyone should be a part of, since it speaks of a social issue that needs to be addressed by all.

Recently I came across a post by this site called Hollaback, which is a global movement to end street harassment and HollabackMumbai is where Indian women can share their experiences of such harassment and create awareness. One article that caught my eye was the following, and thought of sharing it with everyone.

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Original post by Radhi de Silva.