Tuesday, September 24, 2013


          By Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Poonga, the only surviving senior most woman ex combatant

I have carefully chosen the subject which I wanted to focus through photos with narratives, while giving ethnic and gender balance to strengthen the stories.  I have met the only surviving senior most female member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a senior Tamil woman, a Sinhala journalist cum activist and a Sinhala artist for the project “30 Years Ago”. Their memories are framed forever.

The only surviving senior most woman ex combatant has spoken to a journalist for the first time after the end of the war. She clearly and strongly recalls her memories, and the sole decision made by her to be a freedom fighter.

A senior Tamil woman who has witnessed numerous incidents during “Black July”, lost and suffered of being a Tamil in Sri Lanka. She has extensively shared her memories of loss, displacement, relocation and recovery.

A Sinhala journalist cum activist who also has witnessed the violence and killings of Tamils in July 1983, and has readily helped a pregnant Tamil woman while taking enormous amounts of risks, and hardships during their journey together until he has brought her home safely. He has spoken aloud about what he has witnessed in July 1983.

And, a Sinhala artist who too has witnessed what happened to the Tamils in July 1983. He has chosen art to recall his memories of 1983 pogrom while using barrels, barbed wires,bricks, blocks and so on.

Out of the above four people I have met to speak and photograph, it was extraordinarily challenging to do the story of the senior most woman ex combatant. Because I had to travel through checkpoints, sentry points, and bypass the men in plain clothes! I had to be exceptionally careful with the exclusive journalistic materials in my hands. It was the most difficult part in completing my assignment. I steadily and strongly feel it’s a risk worth taking!!!

This particular assignment has been an emotional journey, while meeting people to talk for longer hours, and recollect their painful and haunting memories (of witnessing violence and killings, displacement in our own land, rebuilding the shattered lives, and still remembering the loss of lives and invaluable belongings), and to be captured closely and widely on my camera.

Please click http://30yearsago.asia/portfolio/framed-memories/ to read my four stories in full with photographs.


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