Wednesday, February 19, 2014

FOCUS ON SRI LANKA: A Panel Discussion

10th IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival 2014


Through the Looking Glass
Post-Conflict Sri Lanka and its Dilemmas 

A Panel Discussion with Anomaa Rajakaruna (Filmmaker), Sumathy Sivamohan (Academic and Filmmaker), Leena Manimekalai (Filmmaker), Priya Thangarajah (Activist)

4.30pm on 6 March, 2014
Kamladevi Complex, India International Centre

In May 2009, the 30 year civil war between the Sri Lankan State and the Tamil rebels got over. While the bloodshed, killings and disappearances may have been put to an end, Sri Lanka is going through the painful ramifications of a post-conflict society, where the wounds are both physical and psychological. The challenges that face the Sri Lankan society today exist at various levels—psychological, social, economic and political. Efforts are being made to rebuild the war-torn economy, especially in the northern part of the countrywhich bore the brunt of the war. It has not been an easy process.  While there has been a move towards decentralization of powers of the Sri Lankan State with the holding of the provincial elections in September 2013, what this actually means for the democratic process is something that one will have to wait and watch. Along with this, the effort of ‘integration’ between the Tamils, Muslims and the Sinhalese has its own fallouts. The rise of the right-wing “Buddhu Bala Sena” which has been calling for a ban on halal certification, is driving a wedge in the fragile peace that exists between different communities.

In this context, what this panel seeks to addressare the everyday challenges that the Sri Lankan society is currently facing. How does a war-torn country pick itself up and move on, but do it in a way that does not violate democratic processes? What are the psychological impacts of this war on a generation whose only political reference point was the ethnic strife? How do various ethnic communities learn to co-exist, especially in the context of the rise of right-wing Buddhist nationalism? And as importantly, how has the post-conflict situation affected women? These are some of the questions that this panel will delve into. It will not only attempt to discuss the sites of strife and violence that plague the Sri Lankan society today, but imagine what the way forward could be.