Living with the Past is an on-going project that explore how the 30-year civil war continues to define life across the island. The lack of accountability, peace and justice runs through the fabric of Sri Lanka society.
The divisions within society between Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims. The division between Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims. The divisions within the Tamil community, the divisions between Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists and Buddhists. A country divided.
The project started in 2015 when I lived and worked in Sri Lanka as Field Researcher for a local NGO, INFORM. I went back a few days after the Easter Sunday attacks in April 2019 covering the violence against muslims as some kind of revenge for the act of terrorism.
A memorial to the enforced disappeared. In the last decade, enforced disappearances (when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state) have been a widespread tactic against those campaigning for the truth about how the war ended and justice for those responsible.
A home in Colombo watch the news which announced the arrest of over 100 muslims in the week after Easter Sunday. (April, 2019)
May 18 2019 marked 10 years since the end of the Sri Lankan Civil War. Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day takes place in the fields where tens of thousands of Tamils were killed by the army in the final month of the 30-year civil war.
A picture of a military celebration with the ex President Mahinda Rajapaksa (centre) and his brother Gotabhaya Rajapksa (right) who was Minister of Defence during the final phase of war in 2009 that killed tens of thousands of Tamil civilians. (September, 2015)
The army surround the memorialisation service, taking down identification details of everyone in attendance. In the last decade, enforced disappearances (when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state) have been a widespread tactic against those campaigning for the truth about how the war ended and justice for those responsible.
In the aftermath of the Easter Day attacks, a state of national emergency was declared, giving sweeping powers to the army and police to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders.
A forgotten home of Jaffna, during the 1980s Jaffna became the frontline of the 30-year civil war. Many of the houses have not been touched in the decades since. (November, 2015)
A church in Jaffna that had been attacked by Buddhist nationalists in 2015, a glimpse into the future as extremist buddhist nationalist called for muslims to be attacked in their homes and drive form the country in the wake of the Easter Sunday attacks. (December, 2015)
Fatima, a young Afghanistan refugee reaches a safe house having been chased from her home in the aftermath of the attacks. (May, 2019)
A young boy watches fisherman coming into the shore in Jaffna. (May, 2019)
Two navy soldiers arrive to shore in Mannar, the northern most point of Sri Lanka. At a time when the Sri Lankan Government were in Geneva promising the de-militarisation of the north. (September, 2015)
An army checkpoint, one of hundreds on the road connecting Sri Lanka in the immediate aftermath of Easter Sunday. (May, 2019)
Ruki Fernando, renowned human rights activist. (May, 2019)
The files in the Colombo office of the NGO, INFORM, who I used to work for. (April, 2019)
A safe house used for meetings and education amongst the activist community. (May, 2019)
Colombo was in a state of shock and fear in the days after the terrorist attacks with 300 hundred muslims rounded within a week of the attacks. Imprisoned without trial. (April, 2019)
Alli, a refugee from Afghanistan being transported to a safe house in the North having been evicted from his home in Colombo with his family for being refugees. 3 weeks after Easter Sunday. (May, 2019)
Sisters from VAROD, who work at an orphanage for children in Vavuniya, Northern Sri Lanka, injured in the civil war or who have lost their parents to conflict. (August, 2015)
May Day meeting of the Christian Socialites in a hidden location in Colombo. (May, 2019)
Kite flying at the end of the day in Jaffna (May, 2019)
Living with the Past is an on-going project that explore how the 30-year civil war continues to define life across the island. The lack of accountability, peace and justice runs through the fabric of Sri Lanka society. The divisions within society...