25th commemoration of Black July across the web

Sites that over the week put up content to commemorate the anti-Tamil riots of 1983 in Sri Lanka were many and ranged from a plethora of wire services to an equally diverse range of blogs, each with their own take on the events a quarter century ago in real time, yet just yesterday for some of the victims. 

I started to plan for the content on both Groundviews and Vikalpa from early June. Both sites now feature a tremendous wealth of perspectives on Black July, which I’ve written about earlier. I was particularly touched by one contributor who sent an article in spite of medical orders to rest after eye surgery, noting in the email to me that an invite to contribute to the site was not one that could be refused. Others have told me in person and on email that the collection of articles / videos on the site as the best selection on any one website they have seen commemorating ’83.

There were many others in the Sri Lankan blogosphere who wrote about the events. Four posts in particular I enjoyed reading were:

  • 24 July 1983 on PACT: A very good starting point for research on Black July. Peace and Conflict Timeline (PACT) itself is a great initiative that I have reviewed in detail
  • Black July at 25 on Sepia Mutiny: A great post and great discussion, a rare and happy coincidence.
  • Six days in July on Pass the Roti: A great list of links to other (web) sites with commentary and information on Black July and an interesting post to boot.
  • Weird nostalgia: A bit naive and simplistic but redeemed at the end by the reference to Funny Boy which I think is Shyam’s best work to date. 
Any others that you came across worth reading?

A week of remembrance – Compelling articles and videos commemorating Black July 1983

Groundviews on Black July 

From 23rd to 30th July 2008, Groundviews published at least one article or video a day commemorating the anti-Tamil riots of July 1983Well over 9,000 visitors read and engaged with this content over the past week alone.

Contributions, nearly all written exclusively for Groundviews, came from award winning poets and novelists, senior Government Ministers, Members of Parliament, renown scholars, human rights defenders, civil society activists, artistes, senior civil servants, a former Secretary of Defense and others. All the content is archived and accessible from a single place.

Vikalpa Video

Complementing content on Groundviews are 35 short videos in Sinhala, Tamil and English commemorating Black July on Vikalpa YouTube Video, available by clicking the “Remember 1983” playlist.

Vikalpa Video Channel made it to the Top 100 most viewed channels on the YouTube Reporters category earlier this week, a ranking driven by significant the interest in and traffic to the videos commemorating Black July.

Groundviews is Sri Lanka’s first and award winning citizens journalism website features an unparalleled range of ideas, opinions and analyses on humanitarian issues, media freedom, human rights, peace, democratic governance and constitutional reform.

Vikalpa Video in the YouTube Reporters Top 100 for coverage of 1983 anti-Tamil riots

Screenshot taken at 9.15am, 30th July 2008 (+5.30GMT)

The Vikalpa Video Channel made it to the top 100 most viewed channels on the YouTube Reporters category this week. The interest in and traffic to the site was largely generated by over 30 short videos on July ’83 available here.

To put this significant achievement in perspective, the global media giant Voice of America’s YouTube channel generated 2,452 views to date on the YouTube Reporters category. CPA’s Vikalpa Channel has generated 2,377 at the time of writing.

This is the second time the channel has made to the top 100 list. The first was in December ’07.

Screenshot taken from here at 9.25am, 30th July 2008 (+5.30GMT)

Writing on Sri Lanka’s growing abductions, Burning Bridge noted recently that a video produced by Human Rights Watch on this disturbing issue had (at the time) only been viewed less than 2,000 times. Of the many possible reasons for this, one striking feature of many human rights / humanitarian advocacy in Sri Lanka is how little they leverage new media, social networking and well established (web) content management platforms for video like YouTube.

We’ve got well over 104,000 views to date and over 2,300 this past week alone for our videos, that are largely in Sinhala and Tamil and also feature notable figures from polity and civil society speaking in English such as TNA MP R. Sampanthan, Tamil Human Rights Activist Shanthi Satchithananthan and Convener of the Civil Monitoring Committee Mano Ganesan

I just need to find the time to sit down and write about the lessons learnt and identified as well as the technical and content generation and dissemination strategies adopted by us to make the channel what it is today and to take it forward in the midst of and as a response to the incredibly violent and difficult context for independent media in Sri Lanka.

Remembering the anti-Tamil riots of July 1983 and 1958


From the 23rd to 30th of this month, Groundviews will feature articles that remember the anti-Tamil riots of July 1983 and 1958. Almost all exclusively written for Groundviews, the authors will range from award winning poets to renown academics, novelists, Members of Parliament and others from civil society.

A special archive for these articles can be accessed here.