Sri Lanka at a crossroads

Tomorrow, 8th January, the parliament in Sri Lanka will be asked by the government (who control a majority) to vote on the removal of the Chief Justice. This process was declared unconstitutional by the country’s supreme court. Precedents in Sri Lanka and elsewhere suggest that if it happens such a move to effectively bypass the constitution will be supported by other moves to suppress opposition. These precedents are very worrying, and what seemed an interesting political tussle may mark something much more sinister. One of the great strengths of countries like India and Sri Lanka has been historically that they have followed the rule of law, rather than merely the power of the gun.

The current situation

KNU soldiers in their front line on Thailand-Burma border. (Photo: Saw Yan Naing / The Irrawaddy)

KNU soldiers in their front line on Thailand-Burma border. (Photo: Saw Yan Naing / The Irrawaddy)

There is a good short summary of the current situation in this Irrawaddy article: “Kayin State’s Fragile Peace” I seems balanced and careful and is well-documented.

[You may get warnings from your browser that the site is dangerous, however if you ask for the details it appears Google found as many as "0" problems when they visited! As far as I can see the warning is a error.]

Colombo Theological Seminary (second visit)

The rather rural view from the guest flat window, actually CTS is next to a busy junction opposite a big police station!
I’m tired or I would not have left the stool in the shot ;)

I arrived in Colombo yesterday, and got to CTS about 2:30am. After 26 hours of wakefulness and travel (including waiting in airports).

The experience of Colombo from the windows of the lovely guest flat at CTS seems much the same, perhaps greener (maybe the trees have grown) and noisier than I remember and as muggily tropical. This morning the traffic (Sri Lankan etiquette demands hooting to warn other road users of your intention to overtake, as well as other potential dangers, which means some drivers almost connect their horn hand with their accelerator foot) and the ravens and green parrots in the trees outside are competing, I think the birds being closer if less numerous are winning :)

The few people I’ve heard comment have been optimistic that the war really is over, though I think all have been Sinhalese and it would be helpful to hear what Tamils are saying.

I had a lovely Sri Lanka/Western fusion breakfast, and lunch out with Vinodh Gunasekera (my academic contact) and a decent night’s sleep should put me on better form for marking Laidlaw assignments and teaching a four hour block this evening.

Amid all the good news…

KNU and government peace delegations hold talks at the Sedona Hotel in Rangoon on 6 April, 2012. (Photo: THE IRRAWADDY)

News from Burma has been astoundingly good for the most part in recent months. Despite the military government’s continuing war on some ethnic minorities, liberalisation, the freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners and peace talks between the government and some ethnic groups (notably the KNU) suggested an opening to a happier future.

However, rivalries and disagreements among the leadership of the KNU and KNLA suggest the possibility of a darker turn. Please pray that peace and loyalty to their people may sway hot heads at this time.

An iPad in a refugee camp

Take a teacher with an iPad, her name is Diane, put her in a refugee camp with just three hours electricity per day. Mai La Ooon is out in the forest hours from the town of Mai Sariang in northwest Thailand.

She showed students how to tell their stories, in this case food:

Diane also tells her story. It is also about food as well as iPads :)

Videos of the fire

Here are videos of the fire. Still no news of the people…

Karen News reports that a fire has devastated the KKBBSC buildings

Photo of the fire from the Karen News website

A fire has destroyed a bible school and other buildings in Mae La Refugee Camp, 57km north of the Thai town of Mae Sot at 12.30pm today. Camp residents managed to put out the fire after about an hour.

A camp resident whom witnessed the fire explained to Karen News that the fire destroyed several buildings in the Kawthoolei Karen Baptist Bible School and College (KKBBSC) compound located in Zone C.1A of Mae La refugee camp.

“The fire started in the food storage building. Now many buildings including the school, food storage, library, teachers’ houses and other buildings were destroyed by the fire.”