05 September, 2012

FunkyPix2's trip to Sri Lanka, August 2012

We're never short of surprises here in Chiangmai...
Welcome to Soi Auschwitz near our condo, for example...
...but inside the gates, it's all friendly and fuzzy.
It reminded us that we were about to visit Sri Lanka again (click here to jump to our travelogue). This was despite the moral decrepitude of its Rajapakse regime. As with the two photos above, there's a dark authoritarian side to Sri Lanka's personality, not the least demonstrated by ruthless repression of political opposition. A dozen journalists have been disappeared in the last year alone, and the leader of the opposition spent time in prison on what were clearly bogus charges. Plenty more examples at the Sri Lanka Campaign website.
Prime Monster Rajapakse, however, has his nose to the wind of public opinion. He is wary of the power of example set by the Arab Spring, and a mere three days after the backlash against Putin after the jailing of Pussy Riot, this sweet-talking benign little article appeared on the front page of a local newspaper, addressed to the Inspector-General of Police:
Scarf stained by blood of his own people?
If you trust what he says you might be a tad naive. Beware of snakes-in-the-grass. Sri Lanka's 'democracy' has a long way to travel before it matures. The social inequalities against which the Tamils were fighting are still there, evidence for which may be intuited from the following article in which the writer - obviously a Rajapakse mouthpiece -  berates the Tamils for daring to express their (democratic!) dissatisfaction with ongoing unfairness. This is not independent journalism, it's government stenography:
You can embiggen any picture by clicking on it.
To be fair, though, there was gross inhumanity on both sides during the 25-year civil war. Anyway, as with all visitors to Sri Lanka, we had to weigh up these moral issues, but decided to go anyway on the grounds that as Australian citizens we could talk with people and at least confirm that not all Australians subscribe to the heartless policy of the Coalition towards asylum seekers. And indeed, that we felt seriously embarrassed by both Gillard and Abbott. Have either of them ever met a Sri Lankan person for a chat over a bowl of curd and kittul?

Click here to read about our recent spin around Colombo, Kandy, Polunnaruwa, Anuradhapura and Galle.

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