About this website

March 11, 2008

This website will pursue the notion that democracy can be created only by the availability of public space and by people taking part in the discussion of their own problems. Such discussions should primarily take place in their own localities, that is, their villages, towns, cities and their capitals. What is important is to stress that the discussion at the bottom, that is in the village and the neighbouring towns is much more important than the discussions promoted from the top that is, from the capitals.

In the capital the people who are interested in power create various forms of discussions and debates the ultimate aim of which is to safeguard the powers and privileges of the elite. As it is often said, the elite do not understand what is going on in the countryside and in the lives of the ordinary folk. The truth really is that they do not even want to understand the reality faced by the people. If they understand the reality that the people face it creates a lot of problems for them. They may even begin to think that they are hypocrites and even be reluctant to use the words, democracy, rule of law and the like since in fact what they say and do has nothing to do with these things.

This particular website is devoted to one particular geographical area in Sri Lanka. Wattala is one of the towns situated near the road between Colombo and the airport which is situated at Katunayake. It is in the Gampaha province. Around the main town there are many villages and this town acts as some sort of a centre for these villages. On the one side there are the villages of Handala, such as Nayakakanda, Paliyawatte, Hakitha and a number of villages on the way to Bopitiya. And on the other side there are villages such as Kunopitiya, Marbola and many others.

People from all walks of life live in this area. The traditional fisher folk, large sections of the working class, many types of white collar workers, a few professionals and even some richer folk live here. Churches, Buddhist temples, schools of various grades and many private dispensaries are spread throughout the area. Though it is a majority Catholic area, people of many faiths live here in peaceful coexistence. A sizable population also exists of minority Tamils and a smaller percentage of Muslims. There has been no record of any violence used by one faith group or racial group against another. However, politically organised attacks by various pogroms have also lead to leave their mark in this area like many other areas in Sri Lanka.

Transport facilities in the area are very poor and the roads are overcrowded with vehicles. Accidents of all sorts happen frequently. There is no ambulance or other services which can quickly attend to emergencies for example to take patients to hospitals and the like.

There is a main police station and several police posts. Unfortunately the police are known for their routine use of torture and therefore there is no relationship of trust between the people and the police. There have been many gruesome torture cases out of which the case of Gerard Perera stands out clearly. Throughout many decades there has been many persons killed at the police station while in custody. Complaints of corruption against police officers abound. Generally officers do not observe any etiquette or refinement in dealing with the population. In fact, presenting a rough image is considered a necessary characteristic in order to impose authority. Like in other police stations also the level of literacy among the police is low while the literacy among the people has increased greatly.

There is a Magistrate’s Court which deals with cases of several police stations around Wattala. Much of the time of this court is occupied by statutory offences such as cases of illicit liquor and traffic. A number of cases where initial reports called B reports are filed on complaints of people on issues like theft, robbery, rape and sexual harassment, various forms of physical assault and even murder are often not followed by progress reports on completion of inquiries. Allegations of fabrication of cases often come before the courts. Like other courts in the country the process of law here too is very slow. The police often collaborate with some lawyers for fixing cases and the odds that are faced by persons who claim to be innocent to fight their cases is very many.

This area also produces many migrant workers. Almost all families produce one or more persons who go abroad for employment. The migrant workers also bring back income and therefore have an influence in creating new trends in the society. Social competitiveness is quite high in the area and the actual avenues for assistance for the poor, elderly and the weak are limited.

This area has not been blessed with any committed political leaders and in fact has experienced many corrupt and mediocre political leaders representing the people in parliament as well as in local councils. The people do not show much faith in the political system although they participate in the election voting for one or another party.

However, this area has seen and produced many persons who have contributed to humanist enterprises as teachers and social workers in various categories. They have contributed to the improvement of education in the area as well as to look into some social problems such as leprosy, mental disabilities and other forms of difficulties faced by the people. Basic culture is a mixture of all ways of life, mentalities with suburban lifestyles.

In this website we will try to cover the various facets of the lives of the people and try to raise the issues relating to justice, democracy and human rights.