September 21, 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka – In this second feature by Abdul Halik Azeez for CPA’s ‘Right To The City Sri Lanka’ initiative, we see the lived experiences and daily struggles of the various people that live in Slave Island (Kompannyaveediya). One of the most culturally rich neighbourhoods in Colombo, it is also one of the most commercially lucrative. In the post war years, the residents of Slave Island have seen their more than century long idyll being disrupted in massive upheavals as state driven projects have sought to wrest away the land from them in a bid to beautify and ‘modernise’ Colombo.
Azeez notes in the feature, “Neighbourhoods like Mews Street have experienced violent, forcible evictions by a militarised Urban Development Authority, while other neighbourhoods like Station Passage have faced a more humane State, albeit temporarily. The acquisition of Java Lane, a densely populated, historic and largely Malay Muslim neighbourhood, is a case in point which illustrates the single minded approach of the gentrification drive, blind to the loss of intangibles such as community, shared culture and human co-dependencies.”
The full feature, created on Adobe Spark, can be viewed here and is embedded below.
‘Right To The City Sri Lanka’ is an initiative by the Centre for Policy Alternatives that aims to broaden the discussion and awareness on key issues concerning development, urbanisation, housing and displacement in Colombo. Combining CPA’s research and advocacy, ongoing documentation, photography and video, the Right To The City Sri Lanka initiative provides alternative narratives to the development discourse in Sri Lanka. Please visit the RTTC website for more details.