Sri Lankan mothers from the “Dead and Missing Person’s Parents” organisation stage a protest in Jaffna on November 15, 2013. Sri Lanka has opened a Commonwealth summit amid criticism over its human-rights record and alleged war crimes committed against the country’s ethnic Tamil minority during a 27-year civil war that ended in 2009. Hundreds of Tamil people protested in the northern Sri Lankan city before David Cameron’s arrival, demanding answers about the thousands who went missing near the end of the war in 2009.
At least 100,000 people lost their lives in Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict between government forces and Tamil fighters. There are allegations that up to 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final weeks of the war in 2009. The northern Jaffna peninsula, home to around 800,000 Tamils, was the main battlefield in the decades-long conflict. Before the war, Jaffna had a flourishing economy that was second only to Colombo in terms of wealth. But its towns and villages are now littered with shelled-out buildings, farmland is abandoned and some 30,000 people still live in refugee camps.
[Credit : Lakruwan Wanniarac/AFP/Getty Images]
A Sri Lankan mahout washes his elephants prior to the beginning of an annual Buddhist procession of the temple of tooth in Kandy, Sri Lanka on Aug. 19, 2013. Hundreds of thousands of Buddhists throng the hill-capital every year to venerate Buddha’s tooth relic which is taken on a parade on decorated elephants with traditional dancers and drummers performing. The event is considered as Sri Lanka’s most prominent religious and cultural ceremony that dates back to centuries.
[Credit : Eranga Jayawardena/AP]
A Sri Lankan man places a saffron robe over a Buddha statue at a temple in Colombo on May 22, 2013. Sri Lankan Buddhists are preparing to celebrate Vesak, which commemorates the birth of Buddha, his attaining enlightenment and his passing away on the full moon day of May which falls on May 24 this year.
[Credit : Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images]
The Sri Lankan civil war lasted for a quarter of a century, from 1983 to 2009, with an estimated hundred thousand people killed. In 2011, over eight hundred and fifty-five thousand tourists visited the island—an all-time record—and the government hopes to draw 2.6 million annual tourists by 2016.
The German photographer Yannik Willing has been documenting Sri Lanka’s post-war normalization. Click-through for a selection of Willing’s work, and for more from him on the rapid changes in Sri Lanka: http://nyr.kr/N1I5QV