The First Settlers and Their Claim to Ownership of Terrain/State. A Comparative Excursion

Michael Roberts, introducing an article entitled “Firstness, History, Place & Legitimate Claimto Place as homeland in Comparative Focus”originally presented in Abdul Rahman Embong, Rethinking Ethnicity and Nation Building: Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Fiji in Comparative Perspective, Panbrit UKM, Bangi, Malaysia, (c. 2003 ) which was then reprinted as abooklet by ICES, Colombo in 2005 –see ISBN 955-580-099-5

I.    The Story of Sri Lanka in Slanted Summary

To summarise the tale of modern Sri Lankan political conflict in a few words is impossible. The principal outlines have been set out in a number of publications[1] and Donald Horowitz has provided an instructive comparison of the divergent stories of accommodation in Malaysia and failure of coexistence in Sri Lanka (Horowitz 1993) in ways that cater to the thrust of this comparative exercise. Let me begin therefore with a specific twist upon a summary. aaveddas-vedda-org Vaddaas aa-oaslai-22 Orang Asli aus-ab-blueswami Aboriginal Folk in Oz

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Revelations from Ram of The Hindu: From JRJ to 2016 Today

Darshanie Ratnawalli, in The Sunday Island,22 January 2017, where the title reads I can’t give up my interest in SL” Sri Lanka’s favourite foreign journalist becomes confidential

Ram the former editor in chief of The Hindu has had a long association with Sri Lanka. In the 1980s he used to come here regularly, motivated by his interest in the Tamil question. As a working journalist who happened also to be the Managing Director of The Hindu and a foremost member of the family which controls The Hindu Group, he had privileged access to President J. R. Jayewardene. They used to have long conversations during which JR would discuss what came to be the Indo-Lanka accord. Ram would be asked to switch off his recorder and JR would say things like, “India should guarantee this agreement”.


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Jayasekera’s Critical Study of the British Colonial Dispensation in Ceylon



Preface                                                    ix

Abbreviations                                           xi

Introduction                                            xiii

Part 1:  The British Colonial Project in 19th Century Sri Lanka: The Orwellian Logic                                            01

Part 2: Christian Colonialism and theResistance and Revival of Buddhism                                   175

Part 3: Buddhism, Theosophy and Nationalism                      355

Bibliography  …  517 …..  Index   ….         557 Continue reading

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Revelations of Afghanistan as A War Zone: Andrew Quilty’s Photo-Journalism

A series of striking images for the Year 2016 in the local Advertiser newspaper include one by Andrew Quilty which had the caption, ”Shock: a dead patient on an operating table at Afghanistan’s MSF Trauma Center after an attack by an American gunship on the hospital.” I am still searching for this particular image but found a veritable treasure trove in the Andrew Quilty site. I present selections for the benefit of those readers who bask in the comforts of relatively peaceful sites and landscapes. For many Sri Lankans of all ethnicities, of course, these pictures will evoke memories of traumatic times, albeit within landscapes that differ from the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan.

quilty-33 DAY 17: Sunday 21 August 2016: “I was up early this morning to meet the friend and fixer that Sune, Danielle and I often work with in Helmand, on the outskirts of Kabul. Although Helmand is his home, Rauf is in self-imposed exile at the moment. As an Afghan that worked for several years as an interpreter for the British army (not to mention foreign journalists), had the province fallen to the Taliban as was recently feared, he’d have been a marked man. (Rauf has been waiting more than 18 months for his UK visa to be finalised.)We were waiting to speak with the local commander at a police checkpoint toward the southern outskirts of Kabul when a taxi pulled to a stop. Its boot was open and a pair of bloodied, lifeless feet hung over the tailgate. Inside, a middle-aged man lay on a stretcher. Several bandages barely hid stab wounds – inflicted during what we were told was a family dispute. A younger man held a clear bag of IV fluid to the roof. His hand was rusty with dried blood.” Continue reading

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The Limits of State Sovereignty and R2P: Gareth Evans in Colombo, Mid-2007

Gareth Evans: “The Limits of Sovereignty: The Responsibility to Protect in the 21st Century,”  being the Neelan Memorial Lecture of 2007 …. see vital NOTE at the end clarifying the context and inviting responses.


Today more than ever, on this eighth anniversary of his assassination, Sri Lankans and those in the wider international community need to remember and be re-inspired by Neelan Tiruchelvam’s life and achievements. While we can no longer benefit directly from his remarkable intelligence and learning, his boundless energy, his political commitment, and his optimism, we do still have his spirit living among us in the ideas and institutions he gave us, and in the example he set for us of an engaged intellectual and a principled politician.


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DAI as Point-Agency for USA’s Tentacles?

Lasanda Kurukulasuriya, in Daily Mirror,  18 January 2017, where the title is”The US and AID: Sri Lanka’s dangerous liaison,”

Responding to my column of January 7,  2017 titled ‘US role in Sri Lanka’s institutional reform process – Assistance or Espionage?’ the Secretary General of Parliament wrote a Letter to the Editor regarding the agreement signed by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in Washington  DC in September. It said: “The said agreement does not relate to the SDGAP launched by USAID with DAI as its implementing partner” = Daily Mirror January 11, 2017, A12).

While the Parliament Secretary General’s letter clarifies that the House Democracy Partnership Agreement signed by Speaker Jayasuriya in Washington, and USAID’s SDGAP (Strengthening Democratic Governance and Accountability Project) are not one and the same, it also acknowledges that the SDGAP is in fact implemented by DAI. The Parliament Secretary General does not address the bone of contention here, which is that USAID’s contractor DAI (Development Alternatives Inc.) is a private US company alleged to be a CIA front. It is on record that Speaker Jayasuriya chaired the launch of the SDGAP in November.

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Vale Jim Gair, Sinhala Enthusiast, Linguist Extraordinary

A Valedictory in American Academia


James Wells Gair, Ph.D. ’63, professor emeritus of linguistics who throughout a long and distinguished career produced groundbreaking work on South Asian languages and their relation to other languages, died Dec. 10 in Ithaca. He was 88.“Jim Gair was in many ways the paradigmatic Cornell linguist,” said John Whitman, chair and professor of linguistics. “He had a language passion for Sinhala, the language of Sri Lanka, and he threw himself entirely into it, teaching the language, writing textbooks for its learners, and analyzing both the colloquial language and its classical texts.

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