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SLMUN 2021 focuses on Press Freedom

May 2, 2021 Featured Articles, IPC, News & Media
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SLMUN 2021 focuses on Press Freedom

By Anna Shearer (News and Media Team – SLMUN 2021)

Freedom of the press is the understanding that communication through media should be a right to be exercised freely. In simpler terms, the idea that journalists should be able to convey information and opinions and explore the story they are writing about without facing issues of censorship, or in dire cases, face imprisonment or even death.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that – “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”. For years, journalists all over the world have been deprived of this universal human right to freedom of expression.

A free press is a rudimentary requirement to any democratic society. It finds and passes on news, information and opinions; creating self-reliant cycle of awareness and exchange. This is essential for education in order to make sure people know what is happening in the world we live in and serves as a platform for people to express their opinion. It ensures people have access to the correct information so they do not spread false rumours.

On 3rd of May, World Press Freedom Day takes place as a reminder to governments around the world of their promise of freedom of speech, as a platform for the media to speak up on the issues they have experienced with regards to the world of journalism and lastly to commemorate journalists who have lost their lives trying to tell a story. This year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day is “Information as a Public Good”. The goal is to show that the people deserve credible information and that it is the duty of the journalists to deliver it to them.

As many will likely be able to guess, North Korea has the least amount of press freedom in the world. Article 67 of the North Korean Constitution supports freedom of speech and freedom of the press. However, in practice the press is almost completely controlled by the state and the government only allows speech that agrees with the ruling party. An example of how little freedom of press is present in China is the fact that Kim Jong-Il’s death was not reported until 2 days after it occurred. Journalists in North Korea all come from the working party and to qualify for such a job one must not only carry the correct ideologies but also come from a well-off family. Even for the most insignificant typing error, journalists in North Korea could face imprisonment. The only news that is allowed is that which compliments the regime. There is no political or economic criticism, and the people are not permitted to read the foreign media and will likely be punished for doing so. It is situations like this, situations where freedom of the press is barely in the people’s vocabulary, where change needs to occur. 

Another country with very little press freedom is China. The government is entitled to full censorship and foreign media is barely permitted. In the area of Xinjiang, where the concentration camps for the Uyghur Muslims are based, there is absolutely no media coverage allowed. The European Union has even accused China of harassing and preventing their journalists from carrying out their job.

Unfortunately, there are also many threats to press freedom in other countries such as the United Kingdom. Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 is punishing newspapers if they have not signed up to political control. Other threats include ideas of an online harms regime and tighter criminal laws against government leaks, efforts to reduce the Freedom of Information and the use of state surveillance powers to uncover journalists’ sources. Journalists in the United Kingdom are also affected by multiple legal restrictions of freedom of expression, making their essential jobs unnecessarily difficult.

Throughout history, the world has seen societies emerging with absolutely no freedom of speech or press freedom. These include Nazi Germany and Communist Russia where nearly all parts of life were controlled by the government. The world has also seen people’s revolutions in favour of freedom of speech such as the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the American Revolution and the British Revolution

The media and press are responsible for sharing of information and so are vital to today’s society. Therefore, it is essential to achieve freedom for the press and for journalists by fighting to receive at least the most basic human rights to allow them to write and sgare information without fear. Despite being one of the most important jobs, a journalism is, and always has been one of the most dangerous jobs.  It is our responsibility to stand up for them and start fighting to receive a positive outcome for the betterment of individuals connected to the world of journalism.

At SLMUN 2021, we hope to showcase the talents of our delegate journalists by allowing them to express their freedom through many ways in the committee of International Press Corps (IPC), and set an example to the rest of the world on what journalism should really be about.

Session XIV of SLMUN will be held on the 11th and 12th of September 2021 at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), Colombo, Sri Lanka. Registrations for delegates, admins and IPC delegates are now open until the 30th of June 2021.

For further details, head on over to our website on www.slmun.org , or please contact us via:

Email – cda@slmun.org / pr@slmun.org

Telephone – +94 71 801 3722 / +94 71 444 9694 / +94 76 898 9763

SLMUN 2021 TO CONDUCT ONLINE TRAINING FOR SCHOOLS ISLAND-WIDE 

March 21, 2021 Featured Articles, IPC, News & Media
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SLMUN 2021 TO CONDUCT ONLINE TRAINING FOR SCHOOLS ISLAND-WIDE 

By Ashan Chandrasena (News and Media Team – SLMUN 2021)

Online training is the art of transferring knowledge through the internet, from anywhere in the globe to targeted audiences who choose to learn a particular subject. This provides an effective platform for the delegates attending the SLMUN Conference to aid them in understanding the proceedings of the debates. This also allows the Executive Committee to share their comprehensive knowledge and train delegates who are willing to take up the online learning sessions that SLMUN provides. Corollary, delegates are supplied with committee descriptions, video tutorials, and study guides as a package with the training, thereby helping delegates understand faster and easier. 

A few advantages of online training that showcase how it helps improve a delegate’s conference experience: 

The online training course can be taken in the comfort of your own home; the only requirement being an internet connection. Whether it be making time during your coffee breaks at work or sitting on your couch and taking online courses instead of watching television. This form of training ensures flexibility in terms of time and effort for the delegates. 

As mentioned before, the SLMUN online course provides basic information such as MUN objectives, procedure of conference, structure of speeches, and committee descriptions in PDF form which can be permanently saved in delegates’ hard drives and as there is no fee charged for this training, the program is extremely cost effective for any delegate. In addition to this the skills gained through the online course will not only help them during the conference but also in many of their future endeavors.

The Executive Committee of SLMUN 2021 hopes that delegates take full advantage of this opportunity to understand the inner workings of MUN and have a great conference experience that will have them returning in the years to come.

Session XIV of SLMUN will be held on the 11th and 12th of September 2021 at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), Colombo, Sri Lanka. Registrations for delegates, admins and IPC delegates are now open until the 30th of June 2021.

For further details, please contact us via:

Email – cda@slmun.org / pr@slmun.org

Telephone – +94 71 801 3722 / +94 71 444 9694 / +94 76 898 9763

Restless for Change at SLMUN 2021

March 6, 2021 Featured Articles, IPC, News & Media
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Restless for Change at SLMUN 2021

By Diyara Jaswar (News and Media Team – SLMUN 2021)

Sri Lanka Model United Nations (SLMUN), the largest student-run UN simulation in Asia, is back for the 14th consecutive year and will be held at the BMICH on the 11th and 12th of September 2021. SLMUN 2021 will be under the theme “Restless for Change”, where we believe that it is essential for the youth today to raise their voice against discrimination and encourage them to be a part of the change that will break countless boundaries. Your experience as a delegate in SLMUN will aid in the development of your skills in leadership, teamwork and communication. This year, SLMUN will be simulating the following 9 committees:

The First General Assembly (GA1), also known as the Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC), is one of the main 6 committees of the General Assembly (GA) of the United Nations. The role of this committee is responsible for looking into matters regarding disarmament, global challenges and threats to peace that impact the global society. 

The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM), most commonly known as GA3 or the Third General Assembly, is also a part of the General Assembly (GA), and focuses on issues relating to fundamental human rights and social and humanitarian affairs that affect people all over the world.

The Sixth General Assembly (GA6) is a legal forum and the primary unit for deliberation and consideration of international law and legal matters that arise in the General Assembly, therefore it is known as the Legal Committee.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is one of the most important bodies of the UN as it operates to not only promote but also to protect human rights ranging from freedom of expression to women’s rights to rights related to ethnicities and religions.

The Security Council (SC) is a UN body that entertains discussions that contribute to the promotion of international security and peace. Even at SLMUN, it is considered to be one of the most esteemed committees, and unlike the committees of the GA, it consists of only 15 member states.

The World Health Assembly is the governing body of the World Health Organization, and is the world’s highest health policy setting body. Given the situation of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, WHA would be one of the most interesting committees to be a part of at SLMUN this year.

UNEP, also known as the United Nations Environment Programme, deals with issues related to areas such as climate change and ecosystem management. It is the leading global environmental authority within the UN while it also plays a major role in working towards the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Foals (SDGs) as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is one of the five regional commissions under the jurisdiction of the United Nations Economic and Social Council and its overall purpose is to promote sustainable economic and social development in the Asia-Pacific region. ESCAP also works to overcome challenges related to areas like transport, trade, investment and energy. It is the largest United Nations body serving the Asia-Pacific region.

The International Cricket Council, widely known as the ICC, is the governing body of cricket worldwide, and is responsible for handling most of the organization and governance of the biggest Cricket Tournaments in the world. Formerly known as the Imperial Cricket Council, the ICC is also responsible for determining the professional standards for International Cricket and maintains integrity of the sport with the ICC Code of Conduct, which takes actions against match fixing and corruption. The International Cricket Council will be the only non-UN committee simulated at SLMUN this year.

 In addition to these 9 committees, the International Press Corps (IPC) will also be a part of the 14th session of SLMUN. IPC is a committee that consists of journalists that gives a unique perspective to the world of diplomacy. Their role is to report on committee proceedings and give more depth to the debate that takes places in committees. Being an IPC delegate at SLMUN this year would not only improve your skills in journalism but will give an experience different from delegates actively taking part in debates.

Registrations for Session XIV of SLMUN will be open from the 15th of March 2021 to the 30th of June 2021.

For further details, please contact us via:

Email – cda@slmun.org / pr@slmun.org

Telephone – +94 71 801 3722 / +94 71 444 9694 / +94 76 898 9763

The Arctic Fires: What will be its impact on the global climate?

February 21, 2021 Featured Articles, IPC, News & Media, Uncategorized
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The Arctic Fires: What will be its impact on the global climate?

By Ashan Chandrasena

The Arctic Circle blazed with wildfires in the summer of 2020, destroying tundra and developing Siberian cities in smoke and bringing about the second most extraordinary fire season in a row. By the time the fire season died down at the end of November 2020, the blazes had emitted a record 244 megatons of carbon dioxide which is 35% more than the previous year. Scientists say that one culprit of this  could be peatlands that are burning as the top of the world melts.

Peatlands are carbon-rich soils that have accumulate while waterlogged plants slowly decay over thousands of years. They are the most carbon-rich ecosystems on Earth, and a peatland in the North carries about ten times as much carbon as a boreal forest. Thus when they burn, it releases its ancient carbon to the atmosphere, adding to the greenhouse gases that result in climate change.

Nearly half the world’s peatland-stored carbon lies, along the Arctic Circle. The problem with this is that frozen carbon-rich soils thaws as the planet warms, making them susceptible to wildfires. Therefore, as more carbon is released from peatlands, there is an increase in global warming, which thaws more peat. This leads to an increase in the number of wildfires. A study published last month shows that northern peatlands could eventually become a net source of carbon, thereby accelerating climate change.

According to researchers, the fire season in the Arctic in 2020 kicked off in May – which is unusually early – and there were fires blazing north of Siberia’s tree line, which normally wouldn’t happen until around July. One reason for this is that temperatures in winter and spring were warmer than usual, priming the landscape to burn. It is also possible that peat fires had been smoldering beneath the ice and snow all winter, and then emerged, zombie-like, in the spring as the snow melted. Scientists have shown that this kind of low-temperature, flameless combustion can burn in peat and other organic matter, for months or even years.

Because of the early start, individual Arctic wildfires have been burning for longer durations of time, and it was stated that the fires were starting much farther north than they used to — in landscapes that were believed to be fire-resistant rather than fire-prone. An assessment is being conducted by researchers to see just how severe the season of Arctic Wildfires has been. The Russian Wildfires Remote Monitoring System catalogued 18,591 separate fires in Russia’s two

Eastern-most districts, with most of the burning happening in permafrost zones, where the ground is normally frozen all year-round.

To estimate the carbon dioxide emissions, scientists with the European Commission’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) used satellites to study the wildfires locations and intensity, and then calculated how much fuel each had probably burnt. However, it is believed that even this method is likely to be an underestimate according to scientists at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) in Reading, UK, who was involved in the analysis.

Moreover, a study conducted in August 2020 found that there are nearly four million square kilometers of peatlands in northern latitudes. “More than what was previously thought is frozen and shallow — and therefore vulnerable to thawing and drying out”, says Gustaf Hugelius, a permafrost scientist at Stockholm University who led the investigation. He and his colleagues also found that although peatlands have been helping to cool the climate for thousands of years, by accumulating carbon , they will probably become a net source of carbon being released into the atmosphere by the end of the century.

Session XIV of SLMUN will be held on the 11th and 12th of September 2021 at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), Colombo, Sri Lanka. For further details, please contact us via:

Email – cda@slmun.org / pr@slmun.org

Telephone – +94 71 801 3722 / +94 71 444 9694

What Makes a Man

February 7, 2021 Featured Articles, IPC, News & Media
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What Makes a Man

By Sonal Randeny

In an era when social constructs surrounding gender norms and sexuality are being defied and questioned, the term ‘toxic masculinity’ seems to be at the tip of everyone’s tongue. It refers to a set of standards deemed as inherently masculine that “real men” are expected to meet. What sets them apart from general traits of masculinity are their harmful potential to damage lives of the men who follow them, and their acquaintances alike. 

From a young age, boys are encouraged to hide, ignore or suppress their emotions. We are fed the idea that expressing emotions such as fear or sadness are a sign of weakness. As a result, we resort to other — often destructive— emotional outlets such as violence or substance abuse; further distancing men from their feelings and people. The resulting lack of emotional intelligence can hinder the ability to form and maintain intimate relationships as men are unable to be vulnerable with themselves or anyone else. 

In addition, men are also far less likely to seek help for or even acknowledge issues regarding their mental health. The idea of a “tough guy” who doesn’t struggle with emotions can force men to live through untreated mental illnesses. As a result men all over the world are suffering in silence because toxic masculinity teaches us that needing help or being afraid “is for women”.

Furthermore, patriarchal beliefs promote the idea that anger is the only acceptable outlet of emotion, which is often a precursor to aggression or violence. Toxic masculinity teaches that violence is the best way prove your manliness, especially when domination, humiliation and imposing control are idolised. These ideologies horrifically in the many horrifically high rate of violent crimes committed by men. 

We are all familiar with the “Macho Bully” archetype who expresses their anger through violence often toward innocent bystanders: we this is as toxic behavior because the narrative dictates it. However, many of the most popular heroes in mainstream media also exhibit these traits. A prime example is James Bond: frequently depicted objectifying, harassing, and forcing himself onto his female counterparts. Conversely, as they are the “Good Guys” their actions are perceived as admirable displays of domination, power and manhood. Though this may be blatant misogyny, it’s framed as acceptable and excused because it’s “just a man being a man”. 

Speaking of boys being boys, our culture expects all males to conform to fixed masculine identity; leaving no space for gender non-conforming and gender-queer individuals. Especially during teen years when we’re all experiencing turbulence, forming our own independent gender identity is crucial, but teenage boys and girls alike, are constantly told their authentic self is invalid. To the same extent, non-heterosexual males must face endless challenges because their idea of love does not fit in the patriarchy’s idea of society. Such repetitive trauma causes deep psycho-social disparities. 

However, the silver lining is the emerging awareness of toxic masculinity. The young generation is one that has completely discarded the binary ideas regarding gender and sexuality. They are a generation of beautiful, atypical, multicoloured, multi-gendered freaks who strive to create their identity out of the bounds of norms and expectations. 

The term “toxic masculinity” does not imply that masculinity or men are toxic. It only criticises the cultural construction of manhood that negatively impacts our lives. The patriarchy hurts men as well as women, and completely disregards non-binary folk. 

The predetermined roles that each unit of society is expected to play is antiquated and impersonal. It is up to us, as a sole being, to define what masculinity or femininity means to us.

SRI LANKA MODEL UNITED NATIONS: TAKING ON A WORLD OF CONFLICT VIRTUALLY AND STEPPING INTO 2021

January 24, 2021 Featured Articles, IPC, News & Media
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SRI LANKA MODEL UNITED NATIONS: TAKING ON A WORLD OF CONFLICT VIRTUALLY AND STEPPING INTO 2021

By Dinithi Gunasekera

Sri Lanka Model United Nations (SLMUN) 

Being the pioneering MUN conference in Sri Lanka and the largest student-run UN simulation in Asia, SLMUN consistently attracts around 1000 students coming from diverse backgrounds nationwide and beyond each year. Since our inception in 2008, we aim to give the youth a platform to voice their ideas and encourage constructive debate in order to reach a viable solution. Our mission is to shape our delegates to be compassionate and intelligent young leaders who will lead Sri Lanka towards a brighter future. Your experience as a delegate in SLMUN is sure to develop your skills in leadership, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving.

SLMUN 2020: The 13th Session 

The COVID-19 outbreak has drastically changed the way we live, from learning to business to socializing. Humans have adapted to the new normal of social distancing. We at SLMUN too, had altered the conference to adhere to the health guidelines published by the Ministry of Health and conducted our first ever virtual conference last year.

The 13th session of SLMUN was held over the 12th and 13th of September 2020 with its own distinctive twist, under the theme ‘A world of conflict’, aiming to unite today’s youth to stand up against misgovernance and injustice and creating a better future for all. 

With over 500 delegates taking part, the conference was successfully conducted virtually via Microsoft Teams.

Commencing with a fresh start on the 12th of September, and Dr. Harsha Alles as the distinguished Chief Guest of the day, the rest of the weekend was a blur of faces on screens, as the delegates tuned in from home to discuss and debate their relevant committees’ topics. Despite a few technical difficulties, each committee was filled with fruitful discussion as the delegates competed as well as collaborated to come up with the best resolutions to complex current affairs of international significance. The most noteworthy delegates of the conference were accordingly recognized for their efforts.

Our partners for SLMUN 2020

A virtual MUN conference presents the Executive committee as well as the participants with unprecedented challenges. From the software to internet facilities to the necessary devices, we intend to give the best experience possible to our delegates. Many organisations, from Hewlett Packard (HP) to Dialog Axiata, had stepped in to support our endeavor of organizing a successful online conference, and all the delegates were eligible for the offers brought forward by them. Gateway International College, the only Microsoft Showcase School in Sri Lanka, was our official technology partner last year and provided us with the necessary software to conduct our conference.

Stepping into SLMUN 2021: The 14th Session

The world we live in is ever-changing and each day presents us with newer and more arduous obstacles to overcome. This is why we believe that SLMUN can really make a proactive change for the better among the youth of the country who are essentially the game-changers of tomorrow. 

We, at SLMUN hope to yet again, host conference for the year 2021, with the most grandiose efforts as expected of us. 

Having successfully hosted the conference virtually in 2020, we hope to bring back to the delegates the 14th session in the form of a physical conference at BMICH in its usual fashion, on the 11th and 12th of September 2021, comprising 10 committees with about a 1000 delegates.  

The main workshop and the 1st Practice Debate will be held virtually while Practice Debate 2, which is a crucial trial run for delegates to polish their skills, will be held physically.  Depending on if the current pandemic situation takes a turn towards the better, all training sessions are expected to be hosted physically.  

 

Taking on a world in conflict: SLMUN 2020

June 27, 2020 Featured Articles, IPC, News & Media
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Taking on a world in conflict: SLMUN 2020

By Sonal Randeny and Asiri Ekanayake

Sri Lanka Model United Nations (SLMUN) returns for its 13th session this year on September 12th and 13th. Considering the status quo around the globe, the theme for the upcoming conference is ÔÇÿA world in conflictÔÇÖ; aiming to unite todayÔÇÖs youth to stand up against misgovernance and injustice and creating a better future for all. SLMUN 2020 will simulate the following ten committees this year.┬á

The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM), one of the main six committees that form the General Assembly (GA), focuses on issues relating to fundamental human rights and social and humanitarian affairs that affect the international community. SOCHUM will debate on the topic ÔÇÿCountering the spread of violent extremism.ÔÇÖ

Like SOCHUM, the Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC) is a part of the GA. This committee attempts to resolve matters regarding disarmament, global challenges and threats to peace that impact the global society. The topic for DISEC is ÔÇÿDiscussing the measures to strengthen international counter-terrorism efforts.ÔÇÖ

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees was formed in 1950 to help displaced communities and stateless people. In addition to refugees, the countries that choose to accept them are also affected. Considering the current refugee situation, we must ‘Devise strategies to alleviate the burden on refugees on their life-threatening journeys to safety and the burden on countries that chose to accept them.’

Comprised of the more experienced MUNers, the Security Council (UNSC) is a competitive committee with 15 member states that discuss issues relating to maintaining international security and peace. This yearÔÇÖs topic is ÔÇÿThe situation in SyriaÔÇÖ which will undoubtedly stimulate intriguing debate within the council.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) seeks to develop an accessible and effective system for Intellectual Property (IP) and reward and stimulate creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCE) are IP that contributes to cultural identity. The importance of protecting them is precisely why ‘TCEs and IP’ was chosen as the topic for WIPO.

The World Health Organisation is a specialized agency formed in 1948 to ensure “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health”. In the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, we must invest in avoiding and preparing for such diseases in the future. With that in mind, this year’s topics include ‘Addressing the global threat of pandemics’.

The United Nations Economic and Social Council is the central forum for coordinating the economic and social aspects pertaining to specialized agencies and various commissions of the UN. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the global economy as well as communities all over the world. Therefore, we hope to ÔÇÿRethink global approaches and solutions to tax evasion, tax avoidance, and money launderingÔÇÖ at this yearÔÇÖs conference.┬á

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an autonomous organization formed in 1957 to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and inhibit using it for military purposes. To ensure this, IAEA will discuss ÔÇÿThe question of nuclear non-proliferation and the future of the NPT.ÔÇÖ

The Global Summit on Climate Change 2020 is a forum that will gather leading green energy practitioners from around the world in hope to support and showcase ÔÇÿNationally Determined Contributions to the Paris AgreementÔÇÖ. At SLMUN 2020, we will ‘Discuss and confront the economic, social and geopolitical challenges caused by climate change.ÔÇÖ

The International Court of Justice, which serves as the main judicial body of the UN, carries an exclusive role in MUN much like its real-life counterpart. Delegates of the Courts will deviate from the usual committee procedures and have the privilege of gaining a unique experience witnessing justice in action.

As always, SLMUN strives to give an enlightening experience to all our delegates which is sure to be valuable in their journey to become capable and knowledgeable young leaders of the future.

 

Pride

June 7, 2020 Featured Articles, IPC, News & Media
by admin

Pride; Love beyond boundaries

As the month of June passes by, an age-old topic that lies beneath our society’s general discussions rises to the surface. Yet, as always, it is eventually dismissed and sent back to the list of taboo topics that we Sri Lankans chose not to discuss. And what is this forbidden subject? LGBTQ+ and anything and everything related to it.

What is pride?

What pride means to a person is entirely individualistic. However, all these opinions can be assembled into a common theme of acceptance and liberation. Pride celebrates individualism, standing up to anyone who shames you and being proud of who you are, regardless of your beliefs. June was chosen as LGBTQ pride month to commemorate the LGBTQ+ community, and strengthen their fight for their rights and freedom.

The origin of pride

In June 1969, when homosexuality was still a crime in the United States, the police arrived at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York City to arrest anyone who was in drag clothing or as part of the gay community. Police raids were common in the past; they marginalized and inflicted pain and discomfort on those who were ÔÇ£differentÔÇØ. However, on that day at Stonewall Inn, for the first time in history, the community rallied together and fought back. Greenwich Village, as a whole, joined hands to resist police brutality and more importantly, to send a powerful message about their frustration with the status quo for LGBTQ individuals. This particular event went down in history as ÔÇÿthe Stonewall RiotsÔÇÖ and is the historical significance behind Pride month.

The current status of LGBTQ rights in the world

Currently, the World Health Organization recognizes homosexuality and gender identities as ÔÇ£normalÔÇØ and not a mental illness, as most of our society presumes. Moreover, gay marriage is legal in 29 countries, and each day more and more countries recognize LGBTQ individuals and are on the path to legalizing gay marriage. But on the other side of the spectrum, many countries refuse to acknowledge this subject at all, and in some, being homosexual is even punishable by death.

Status quo for LGBTQ folk in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, there are no laws that recognize or protect the LGBTQ community. Furthermore, this topic remains entirely controversial and is never discussed out in the open. Even when politicians attempt to bring it up, it is taken as a joke, and various slurs are thrown around to shun them.

The irony in this hostile attitude is that pre-colonial Srilanka had an open-minded society, where homosexuality and even concepts such as polyamory were recognized. Our nation succumbed to our current mindset in the act of being colonized.

It is important to address that being a person of the LGBTQ community is not a threat to any other community or anyone else’s beliefs. Pride is about celebrating these individuals within their community and making them feel valid in a society that constantly invalidates them. Even though the sacredness of marriage between a male and a female was used to shun those who were different, Pride does not take away the sanctity of marriage. Pride does not hurt anyone or their beliefs. Pride simply celebrates love in all shapes and forms.

Turning a new cultural leaf

Noticeably, the youth of Sri Lanka is far more progressive in terms of acceptance than the previous generations, and are more willing to understand the movement and stand up in the face of injustice. Along with globalization, our youth engage in discussions regarding these topics and have access to information that will help them sympathize and understand topics our society refuses to discuss. Furthermore, recently, we see various organizations such as Equal Ground that advocate for LGBTQ rights as well as Colombo Pride that gives the LGBT community and their allies to celebrate themselves and their love.

If you are part of the youth of our nation, combating these issues is in your hands. Our older generations fought for issues such as classism, racial issues, and female empowerment, therefore our generation must be more progressive and even more accepting. We must be the ones to spark up the discussion that will hopefully make the future safer for everyone.

What can you do as a member of the youth

Firstly, creating awareness and starting a discussion is vital in introducing progressive concepts. Educating those around us and letting them know that being a part of the LGBTQ community is neither a mental illness, nor a sin, nor is a characteristic to be ashamed of. Especially in instances such as in all-boysÔÇÖ schools, the concept of masculinity is extremely toxic. Stand up for your peers if they are being bullied, because they are not ÔÇ£manÔÇØ enough or if they like subjects that are typically considered unmasculine. Break down those barriers that have been forced among us to degrade people and make them feel worthless. Stop using terms belonging to the LGBTQ community as slurs and insults. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement such as letting your loved ones know that they are accepted, regardless of their gender, sexuality, beliefs, etc. and that these features are a part of them, but in no way make a difference in your friendship with them.

Due to the unsafe atmosphere in the status quo in Sri Lanka, to be open about oneÔÇÖs sexuality is risky and challenging. This environment leads to many closeted young people being scared and feels like they have no one to turn to. They are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders and fear that their families will disown them the second they find out. They yearn for a home where they are loved. If you are not a part of the LGBTQ community, this may be a hard concept to grasp, but that does not justify turning a blind eye. These are your colleagues, your friends, your family, and they deserve your compassion, your protection, and most importantly, your unwavering acceptance.

Raincheck on Doomsday

May 24, 2020 Featured Articles, IPC, News & Media
by admin

Raincheck on Doomsday

by Sonal Randeny and Sayumi Jayawardene

During the last hundred years, atmospheric temperatures have been readily increasing to the point where we are now experiencing some of the most extreme temperatures on record. This is both caused by and cause for a self-sustaining feedback loop that inevitably worsens these conditions. ItÔÇÖs abundantly clear that by releasing heat-trapping gasses into the atmosphere, as a result of the means we have employed to power our modern lives, weÔÇÖre accelerating this morbid cycle and driving our planet further towards doom. Today, greenhouse gas levels are at the highest they have been in the last 800,000 years.┬á

Although the abstract idea of global warming and the greenhouse effect is no longer a mere hypothesis but widely credited and scientifically proven, there is still an air of suspicion and disbelief among some. Not to mention the complicity and inaction shown by the government in many countries including Sri Lanka. 

There are many other factors that affect the climate besides human activity. Volcanic eruptions, varying levels of solar radiation and solar wind, the position of the earth in relation to the sun, and certain weather patterns are a few natural occurrences that cause variations in atmospheric temperatures. However, itÔÇÖs clear that these are only responsible for approximately two percent of the recent warning effect. By definition, this goes to show that human activity is responsible for the remaining 98%.┬á

Since the dawn of the human race, heat-trapping gases have been naturally absorbed through natural means, providing stable temperatures in which civilizations can flourish. However, since the industrial revolution, when fossil fuels were introduced as ways to produce energy and a precursor of our post-modern lifestyle was created, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and atmospheric temperatures have been on the rise. In the 150 years since then, humans have increased the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere threefold. This is causing processes that would usually happen over thousands of years to take place in a matter of decades. These changes occur faster than most organisms can adapt to, and as a result will pose a multitude of challenges to all EarthÔÇÖs inhabitants.┬á

In addition, climate change also causes irreversible damage to the environment. The remaining ice sheets such as those in Greenland and Antarctica are beginning to melt. This sets off a chain reaction where the extra water could raise sea levels significantly in a short time. The Global Change Research Program projects that by 2050, sea levels will rise by 2.3 feet. To perpetuate this cycle, the greenhouse gases trapped in the glaciers and ice caps will be released into the atmosphere and further exacerbate the greenhouse effect. This leads far more extreme weather patterns.

Unfortunately, it seems that weÔÇÖve forgotten our roots. Especially as a part of a culture thatÔÇÖs historically and physiognomically attached to nature and our environment. However, itÔÇÖs ironic that we, as a country, havenÔÇÖt addressed this issue due to a plethora of reasons. As a small tropical island nation, weÔÇÖre far more vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. WeÔÇÖre also susceptible to the socio-economic effects of climate change as our economy is heavily dependent on the fashion and garment industry as well as the tourism industry, two of the most environmentally destructive trades, of which, the latter is immensely more so.┬á

However, all hope is not lost. Our planetÔÇÖs afflictions may come in thousands but humans come in billions. We may doubt the impact that an individual can cause, but it is important to remember that your duty is all you can do and it is each personÔÇÖs responsibility to contribute to the solutions.┬á

 

Hazing

May 3, 2020 Featured Articles, IPC, News & Media
by admin

Tradition vs. Trauma : Hazing in Universities Worsen

By Himaya Perera and Asiri Ekanayake

 

Hazing, also known as ragging, is a common occurrence in state universities and is used to establish seniority within the student body. Initially, hazing was a way of eradicating the social hierarchies which exist beyond the boundaries of the university. Everybody got hazed therefore, everyone was equal. However, in status-quo, it has evolved into a display of power. Seniors will pressure freshmen into engaging in various acts, on the threat that their lives at university will be miserable if they refuse to oblige. 

Hazing could include anything from being asked to sing in public to forced consumption of various substances and even inflicting physical and sexual harm on students. Once hazing gets out of hand and causes emotional and/or physical harm, many students are driven into committing acts of self-harm such as suicide or to leave the particular institute altogether. Around 20 students have committed suicide due to hazing and according to the University Grants Commission, out of the registered university students, 1989 students have dropped out due to ragging incidents that occurred in 2017 and 2018. Since the students who enter local universities are those who passed their Advanced Level examinations with flying colours and are the cream of the crop, every drop-out is a huge loss to our nation. 

This topic was brought to light recently because of an incident that took place at Sri Jayawardenapura University. On March 5th, 21-year-old Pasindu Hirushan from Kamaragoda, Minuwangoda was descending a flight of stairs around 1.30 a.m. after a ÔÇ£bucket partyÔÇØ (an event celebrating the end of the ragging season)┬á when a group of senior students had sent a tractor tire down the stairs. The tyre had hit Pasindu causing him to collapse on the ground and hit his head, causing severe damage. It is still unknown whether the seniors were under the influence of alcohol. As of now, Pasindu is paralyzed. According to medical professionals, even if he recovers, he will have many side effects including loss of memory.┬á

The response on social media was fast and passionate. Among the many tweets, stories, and posts calling for justice, the police and the Sri Jayawardenapura University administration have launched separate investigations to inquire into the incident.

┬áPasindu is only one of the many victims who suffer permanent consequences of ragging. But given that this issue has existed for many decades, why arenÔÇÖt effective preventive measures in place yet?┬á

Under the Prohibition of Ragging and Other Forms of Violence in Educational Institutions Act No. 20 of 1998, ragging is a punishable offense by law. Moreover, the UGC has set up a 24-hour hotline (011- 2123700), a website (https://eugc.ac.lk/rag/), an anti-ragging mobile app to report different forms of threat and harassment on campus grounds as well as a special office at the Commission that is open on all days from 8.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m., excluding government holidays.

Despite the governments’ and universities’ best efforts, hazing still prevails, often carried out in remote locations around campus or even in private residences that are rented specifically for hazing such as in the incident at the University of Peradeniya in 2017. Ragging cannot be conquered by merely establishing a few laws; there is a dangerous age-old herd mentality that needs to be changed to make a significant difference. In order to do so, the government and higher authorities cannot take action alone. The youth must take a stand on enforcing morals within themselves to protect their peers from being succumbed to such injustice.