I never discuss openly the events we went through in July 1983, when an ethnic violence broke out across the country, part-sponsored by sections of the government at that time.
I’ve shared some details with my children, but have tended to focus on the positive — the people who spoke out against the madness, the safe houses I stayed in etc. Perhaps it is one’s way of compartmentalizing the horror; of forgetting…
This week, in Colombo is a series of events around the theme “Thirty Years Ago.” Two days of dialogue, art and memories.
Sanjana Hattotuwa, TED Fellow and new media entrepreneur who has made this happen, puts it this way:
The project is an attempt to remember and probe Sri Lanka’s epochal anti-Tamil pogrom of ’83 through perspectives rarely, if ever, featured before. The producers have used a wide range of media and methods – from a mixed media triptych to info-graphics, from audio podcasts to video, from photography to compelling write-ups.
That’s right, a way of putting this ‘pogrom’ in context, by capturing the “anxiety, fear, violence, courage, love, sacrifice, of opportunities lost as well as well-springs of hope.”
The Web now provides us with new ways of dealing with history, and not just in real-time. We have become accustomed to seeing how shiny new tools and apps can help raise money, provide relief, or report on events. Dealing with the past takes more thoughtfulness. This is a mixed media project that not only informs us of where we have been, but where we might go.
Do visit the site at ThirtyYearsAgo.Asia
In Sri Lanka, these are the upcoming events
Sat 24 August
10am – 11am: Reflections of ’83: Plus change?
4:00 – 5:00 pm Art and Memorialising
Looking at how art plays a role in memorialising violent events
Sun 25 August
10 am – 11 am Frames
How do we see our past, and thereby choose to learn from or repeat that which gave rise to violence? In framing histories, what are the politics of selection and exclusion?
4 pm – 5 pm Media Matters
How did the media cover 1983, and why is it so difficult to find archival material on Black July?