Hatreds. Chasms. Bill Deutrom’s Insights on the Political Impasse in Sri Lanka

Michael Roberts, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph, 15 December 2018, where the title is different

    pro-UNP rally

Email Note from Bill Deutrom in Lanka to Michael Roberts, 8 Dec 2018

Thank you, Michael for your amazing collection of articles on the Eelam War and its aftermath as well as the present political impasse. Alas, they will not convince people who have already made up their mind based on emotion, ethnicity or with a hatred for Rajapaksa.

Meeting Bill in 1998 …  and Then …

Bill Deutrom lives and works in Brisbane, Queensland, but happened to be in Sri Lanka on a work-related visit for several months when he penned these incisive lines to me. Bill is an old acquaintance, but our interactions have been intermittent. I got to know him initially in 1998 when Thilanga Sumathipala, then President of the BCCSL, assembled personnel from the main Australian cities in Melbourne in order to mount a protective screen for the SL cricket team during their Australian tour. I represented the Adelaide Friends of SL Cricket and shared a hotel room with Tilak Chandratilleka from Perth. Bill Deutrom represented Brisbane.

Bill and I maintained contact on cricket matters for a while, but then lost touch. It was when I sat down with a buddy, Justin Labrooy, watching the Indians play Australia at Adelaide Oval on Friday the 7th December that I learnt that Justin and Bill had been neighbours in Colombo in the 1940s/50s and was prompted to send an email to Bill with assorted ‘fare’ (some articles on cricket politics and SL politics).

Lo and Behold! Bill was not in Brisbane. He was at work in Lanka in his capacity as the President of the Sri Lanka Federation of Organisations Queensland participating in the supply of RO machines[1] that purify water to 100 villages in the North Central Province – a venture directed towards reducing kidney disease. From this vantage point he has been watching the island’s present constitutional/political imbroglio unfold. In my assessment Bill Deutrom has provided us with a concise and clinical evaluation of the complex DIVIDE in Sri Lanka that pits a combination of elements favouring the UNP combo around Ranil, Karu et al against a motley collection around Rajapaksa and Sirisena.

This confrontation is not merely a political one, but a field in which so-called legal ‘experts’ and political scientists have provided starkly opposed interpretations of the existing constitution in the form taken after the 19th Amendment of 2015 – a document that seems to be so long and so complex[2] that it is full of ‘landmines’ that shatter the verbiage of these ‘experts’ (e.g. Suri Ratnapala, Nihal Jayawickrema et al[3]).

These opposed interpretations of the Constitution, it is now clear, have been mostly directed by hard-line political positions. Those slashing the constitutionality of the Sirisena intervention are not confined to pro-UNP party stalwarts such as Sharmini Serasinghe and Shyamon Jayasinghe.[4] They include (A) those liberals committed to civil liberty and democracy (e.g. Asanga Welikala, Suri Ratnapala. SWR de Samarasinghe); (B) Marxist radicals such as Jayadeva Uyangoda (whose passionate and personalized tale[5] is a must-read); and (C) journalists who cannot forgive the Rajapaksa administration for their hand in the white-van phenomenon of the years 2008/09 and the killing of Lasantha Wickrematunga in particular.

Indeed, in my ethnographic experience the figure and face of Mahinda Rajapaksa generates apoplexy and emotional repulsiveness in the minds of several Sinhalese personnel, both men and women. Indeed, this reaction is immediately etched within their faces. It is a visceral reaction. Bill Deutrom has spotted this type of positioning on both sides whether in body posture, visage, speech or written text.

Let me elaborate on the incisive sharpness contained within Bill’s reading by providing ethnographic data of my own and setting the scene by traveling back in time to the 1990s. This journey, I warn you, includes a measure of conjecture as well as accounts of my personal engagements with the political struggles in Sri Lanka — including the efforts to forge a political via media launched by Godfrey Gunatilleka and the Marga Institute in the period 2000-2002.

At that point, in the late 1990s, I was teaching at the Department of Anthropology at Adelaide University and heavily engaged in the study of “nationalisms” (note the plural) in Sri Lanka.[6] I was among the peaceniks of various political shades who were hopeful of working out a via media with the LTTE that would restore peace and enable the island-country to move forward in ways that satisfied Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim aspirations. I was therefore partial to the efforts being pursued by President Chandrika Kumaratunga, supported by my friend Neelan Tiruchelvam among others, to fashion a form of devolution that would garner Tamil nationalist favour.

I recall seeing the documentary film TIGERS AT THE GATE moulded by Mark Corcoran of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation which was aired in June 1999, but I clearly did not ingest its frontispiece message (noted below). My chief recollection now about this video documentary is an appreciative amazement at the impressively brave views expressed by the psychiatrist Daya Somasundaram,[7] speaking in forthright manner from his position in Jaffna town then in 1999.

In the years 2000-01 I participated in the several round-table gatherings of scholars marshaled by the Marga Institute in Colombo on the topic entitled “A History of Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka: Recollection, Reinterpretation and Reconciliation.” Godfrey Gunatilleka and Devanesan Nesiah were the key drivers of this programme, with the first gathering held at a hotel in Bentota and the rest in Colombo at the Marga building. While my own research work benefited from these encounters, my recollections of the specific exchanges are, alas, spotty and dim.

The general thrust of this Marga project, however, was towards seeking a via media at our academic level in the hope that we could foster a political détente of some sorts. It follows that we were in support of the cessation of war and the ceasefire that came into force in early 2002 and the various peace talks involving Norwegian sponsorship in the years that followed.

So, I was a “peacenik” …. THEN.

By the end of December 2004 that position changed towards a more realistic appraisal. Two turning points in this re-appraisal can be marked. One was a cogent point presented by Dayan Jayatilleka in one of his many articles on the politics of the day. Dayan stressed that it was impossible to work a federal scheme in which one of the provincial units possessed an army and a navy. Touche, so to speak.

Alas, I cannot recall when Dayan’s article entered my consciousness and where precisely it entered the public domain. [8]  It set me thinking. That reading was consolidated when I flew to the Jaffna Peninsula on the 22nd November 2004 and spent four days in the Peninsula before traveling to Kilinochchi by road on the 26th in the company of two Canadian friends in order to observe the huge gathering paying homage to the LTTE dead at Kanagapuram Thuyilumilam on Saturday the 27th November 2004  ..…  and then returning to Jaffna on the Sunday or Monday. That tale is now in the process of being written up as detailed story. For our purposes here the pertinent and devastating conclusion that arose from that visit was that it became crystal clear to me that the LTTE was gearing up for the renewal of war.

A maaveerar shed at Tirunelvelly Nov 2004 & at Jaffna University Campus …. Kopay Thuyilumilum

The first indications on these lines came from the feistiness and eagerness to take on the Sri Lankan government displayed by two English-speaking health officials in Kilinochchi with whom we (myself and the two Canadian Tamils) conversed over dinner one evening in the course of extended interaction during the course of that day; and a similar attitude displayed by Thiru Master, a senior LTTE official who taught English to the cadres and was one of the VIP speakers at the opening of the LTTE’s Media Centre on Friday 26th November. I took the trouble to visit Thiru Master at his home for a convivial chat with him and his wife –an amiability that was discarded when it came to references about the government in Colombo.

Those experiences were mere pointers. The clinching evidence arrived in December from one of my Canadian friends who had introduced me to “Ramesh,” the Head of the LTTE Propaganda Wing, at his official HQ in Kilinochchi on Sunday the 28th November. Writing from Kilinochchi in early December, he informed me that Ramesh had moved to Mullaitivu, the Tiger stronghold and HQ, “in order to prepare for war.”

So, the renewal of war was a foregone conclusion. The impact of the tsunami of 26th December 2004 on the Sea Tiger forces and the Tamil coastal regions delayed the LTTE’s capacities and thus their move to war. They did not move to war till August 2006 at Mavil Aru.

In summary, then, that trip to the north decimated my naïve peacenik inclinations.

When war commenced in mid-2006, I had no insights as to how the outcome would turn out. I was wholly ignorant about the reforms within the SL Army and the SL Navy which were transforming their fighting capabilities. My focus in the period 2004-09 was that which had taken me to the Tamil north in the first place: namely, the dissection of the patriotic commitment displayed by the Tamil nationalists serving the LTTE – a depth of devotion that induced many of them to participate as low-cost precision weapons in  suicide attacks, or to swallow kuppi (cyanide capsules) to avoid capture that would potentially yield information to the enemy. “Sacrificial devotion” was at the centre of my researches in the years 2004-10.

Young Tigress receiving cyanide kuppi at induction, 1991- BBC

When, therefore, the GoSL forces gained ascendancy over the LTTE by mid-2008 and then, by January 2009, squeezed them into the north eastern corner that has been labelled the “Vanni Pocket,” my writings in Groundviews.[9]  in early 2009 presented my concerns about the prospect of the Tamil civilian peoples participating in the devotion to cause pursued by the fighters and joining in acts of mass suicide.

My fears were disproven. But a seven-week visit to Colombo in April-June 2009 exposed me to the knitty-gritty of the war and the raging propaganda battle in the air-and-print waves of the world. Since then my research interests have diverted from “sacrificial devotion in comparative perspective,”[10] to an engagement with the lineaments of Eelam War IV and the worldwide propaganda struggles around its course and aftermath –including the human rights programme of vengeance orchestrated by USA via its UN handmaidens wielding ‘tunes’ that were on the same wavelength as those pressed by the wide-ranging networks of LTTE and Tamil supporters in many Western countries.

This alignment of forces also had the continuing rule of Mahinda Rajapaksa in its gunsights – gaining oxygen from (a) the killing of Lasantha Wickramatunga in January 2009 and the assaults on some journalists associated with what is known as the “white van” phenomenon; (b) the widespread allegations that members of the extended Rajapaksa family were lining their coffers by corrupt or threatening measures;[11] and (c) the displeasure among a wide band of Western governments at the degree to which the Rajapaksa administration was turning to China for its loans and investment programmes.

These allegations, as we know, remain powerful claims today. They have been bolstered by a series of articles in powerful Western media engines serving up a picture of  a “Chinese debt trap.”[12] Such charges were among the ingredients marshaled in late 2014 when a combination of forces[13] persuaded one Maithripala Sirisena to lead a section of the SLFP away from the Rajapaksa camp and to forge an alliance with the UNP that led him to the Presidency in league with the UNP in early 2015 in a regime that flies the flag and slogan of “Yahapālanaya” (good government).

That flag has grown dull and full of holes since it came into the sunlight in early 2015. For reasons that remain unclear to me,[14] Sirisena has turned about face, ditched Ranil and the UNP and re-aligned himself with the Rajapaksa camp. It is this moment in the island history as it unfolded from late October 2018 that Bill Deutrom has been experiencing at close quarters in Sri Lanka.

Uyangoda 

He is closer to the action than I am. However, my regular visits to the island in the last few years and engagements via the website Thuppahi enable me to underline and elaborate upon the insights embedded within Bill Deutrom’s succinct summary. To repeat my affirmation above: the name Mahinda Rajapaksa generates visceral distaste in some minds and faces. These faces are not confined to the Colombo 7 elites and the business world.   They include those with well-credentialled Marxist or radical backgrounds. Jayadeva Uyangoda’s impassioned essay provides one sample of this body of thought – a broad front that admits of variations within the same theme. This loose çoalition includes  those of liberal democratic persuasion – among them my good friend Sam Samarasinghe in Washington whose several essays in the public domain provide readers with his reasoning.[15] Add Sinha Ranatunga, proprietor of the Times group of newspapers and the interests behind the Lake House group to this coalition, and you see a powerful local consortium strengthened further by the weight of the US and European governments as well as the insidious news items pedaled by the New York Times and Financial Times that raise such concerns as the “Chinese debt trap” – a tale that is laid at the door of the Rajapaksa administration.

Most such alignments are unsurprising – just par for the course of right-wing thinking. It is the positioning of the radical voice of such individuals as Uyangoda and Lakshman Gunaskera in the period 1990s to 2018 that interests me. From way back their democratic leanings favoured a political bargain that provided space and recognition for the Tamil nationalists flying the LTTE flag. They were (are) ideologically hostile to Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism and/or Sinhala chauvinism. They have been one branch of the peaceniks. They reacted in stern opposition to the white van phenomenon. They began to hate the Rajapaksas … and the hate escalated in the 2010s, fuelled by the emergence of the Bodu Bala Sena and the Alutgama disturbances.

 Sinha Le forces in protest in 2010s

What fascinates me in this positioning of some liberals and radicals is the fact that this stance was in place even in the years 1995-2009. Sinhala chauvinism was regarded as the main enemy and principal obstacle to some workable political resolution of the Sinhala-Tamil divide. Devolution and autonomy in the northern and eastern provinces with the LTTE at the helm therein were regarded as workable.

Why? In my speculative conjecture the answer is geographical and configurational. They are living in the south west of the island where the Sinhala chauvinists reside as neighbours next door. The Sinhala extremists were (are) therefore the “NEAR ENEMY.” The Tigers, in contrast, were (are) the FAR ENEMY.[16] These labels and their placement in a spatial picture-configuration, I stress, are my analytical constructs. The radical Sinhalese are not likely to have looked on their positions introspectively in such terms.

In the result, the transgressions of the LTTE – their regular acts of assassination and their occasional acts of devastating bomb blasts in the southwest — were (are) passed over or glossed. In this my conjecture, the killing of Lasantha Wikramatunga loomed (looms) larger than the LTTE’s killing of Lakshman Kadirgamar (2005) and Neelan Tiruchelvam within the thinking of some Sinhala radicals. These radicals have simply blotted out the consistent pattern of rubbing out Tamil rivals or dangerous Sinhala personnel which Pirapāharan pursued so relentlessly and successfully over two decades,

Defence Minister Ranjan Wijeratne & Car destroyed

If they ever saw Tigers at the Gate (which is unlikely), these radicals (as well as some liberal democrats I add) did not pay heed to the message spelt out by Mark Corcoran when he and the ABC released the documentary to the world on 29th June 1999: “The truth is a political solution is as impossible as a military breakthrough because for the (Tamil) Tigers it’s all or nothing — a homeland or glorious death.” ….. Mark Corcoran

The radicals have not been alone. I viewed that documentary in 1999, though, as it happens, I did not see the written blurb. Be that as it may, I say now that I was a bloody fool peacenik then not to discern the import of Corcoran’s film-making.

Moreover, I remained a bloody fool peacenik even when, one month later, my good friend Neelan Tiruchelvam was blasted to death by a female suicide bomber on 29th July 1999 at a spot with which I am intimately familiar – because it leads to the ICES offices in Colombo.

Neelan’s Car after the killing by a female suicide bomber 

“When shall we ever learn … long time passing” – these poignant lines seem so apposite to register my comprehensive failings in comprehension THEN.

It was not until last year, year 2017, that I came across an exchange of letters with Mark Corcoran in 1999 which I had completely forgotten about.[17] That discovery led me to seek access to the ABC film. This search led me to the ABC website where the prospectus detailed above is set out.

In brief, Corcoran’s visit to Jaffna in 1999 had generated profound discernment and a depth of understanding that had passed me by. ……… And passed by all the good Sri Lankan peaceniks, whether liberal or radical. For Pirapāharan and his Tigers, ceasefire and negotiations were temporary stops on the path to independence that was to be wrested by war and power – sheer power.[18] Hitler and his Wehrmacht were his guiding light.[19]

 Mark Corcoran

POSTSCRIPT

The power struggle that emerged in Sri La nka in late October 2018 and which Bill Deutrom is referring to developed without gunfire of a life-threatening kind. However, the struggle has generated intense heat and visceral accusations – not only between political parties and factions, but also between leaders embodying the mantle of “Countryside” (Rajapaksa, Sirisena) against those embodying the “City” (Wickremasinghe, Karu Jayasuriya).[20] The rural hinterland represented by Rajapaksa and Sirisena,[21] I suggest, is populist in its thinking[22] and therefore contains ingredients that are potentially fascist – fascist in Sinhala chauvinist colours. Such strains will be encouraged by the Tamil forces who are also elements in todays’ parliamentary manoeuvres: Tamil political elements whose continued push towards “self-determination” (i. e. Thamilīlam in sheep’s clothing) will benefit from Sinhala extremism and any fascist-populist excesses.

These hostilities have been sharply expressed in word and visage, while the ‘reasoned arguments’ of some legal experts and political scientists seem to be directed by “emotion, ethnicity [and] with a hatred for Rajapaksa” –in Bill Deutrom’s reading. As with Mark Corcoran, it would seem that an intelligent  ‘outsider’ can discern the lineaments driving struggle better than those intimately within the fray.

*** ***

BIBLIOGRAPHY

ABC 1999 Tigers at the Gate, Video Documentary

Abi-Habib, Mari 2018: “How China got Sri Lanka to cough up a Port,”25 June 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/25/world/asia/china-sri-lanka-port.html

Bloomberg 2018   ‘China’s US$1 billion port in Sri Lanka where ships don’t want to stop,” 18 April 2018,  https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/inside-chinas-us1-billion-p”ort-in-sri-lanka-where-ships-dont-want-to-sto

BBC 1991 “Suicide Killers,” Documentary series.

 Crossette, Barbara 1994 “Latest Killing of a Sri Lanka Politician Fits a Familiar Pattern,” 25 October 1994, http://www.nytimes.com/1994/10/25/world/latest-killing-of-a-sri-lanka-politician-fits-a-familiar-pattern.html

Dugger, Celia W. 1999 Ä Leading Sri Lankan Moderate is Killed,” New York Times, 30 July 1999.

Gunasekara, Lakshman F. B. 2018 Hambantota Port: Some Basic Facts from the Spot Today,” 13 December 2018, ………………………. …………….. ………… https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/12/13/hambantota-port-some-basic-facts-from-the-spot-today/

Hoole, Rajan 2001 Sri Lanka: The Arrogance of Power. Myths, Decadence, & Murder, Nugegoda Wasala Publications for UTHR (Jaffna).

Iyer, Ganeshan 2012a “Military Training in the German Nazi Mould amidst Internal Dissension in the early LTTE, late 1970s,” trans by Parames Blacker, in http://thuppahi. wordpress.com/2012/01/30/military-training-in-the-german-nazi-mould-amidst-internal-dissension-in-the-early-ltte-late-1970s/.

Narayan Swamy, M. R. 2009 “Prabhakaran: from Catapult Killer to Ruthless Insurgent,” IANS, 18 May 2009 – see http://twocircles.net/node/148596 [reprinted in The Tiger Vanquished, pp. 165-67].

Ragavan, 2009b “Prabhakaran’s Time Keeping. Memories of a Much-Mythologised Rebel Leader by a Former LTTE Fighter,” Sunday Leader, 24

Ragavan 2018 “Young Pirapaharan’s Inspirations and Ideology: Ragavan’s Incisive Memoria, May 2009,” 9 August 2018, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/08/09/young-pirapharans-inspirations-and-ideology-ragavans-incisive-memorial-in-may-2009/#more-31113

Roberts, Michael 2010 “Hitler, Nationalism, Sacrifice: Koenigsberg and Beyond … Towards the Tamil Tigers,” in https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/hitler-nationalism-sacrifice-koenigsberg-and-beyond-%e2%80%a6-towards-the-tamil-tigers/

Roberts, Michael 2014 “Hero figures and Hitler in Young Pirapaharan’s Thinking,” in Roberts, Tamil Person and State, Essays, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2014, pp, 69-89.

Roberts, Michael  2017 “Revisiting Jaffna and the LTTE in mid-1999 guided by Mark Corcoran and the ABC”. 7 August 2017, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2017/08/07/revisiting-jaffna-and-the-ltte-in-mid-1999-guided-by-mark-corcoran-and-the-abc/

Roberts, Michael 2018  “Pirapaharan’s Inspirations and Mind-Set, 10 August 2018, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/08/10/pirapaharans-inspirations-and-mind-set/

Tekwani, Shyam 2009 ‘The Man who destroyed Eelam,” http://www.tehelka.com/home  /20090523/default.asp

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY on the Present Political Struggle

Samarasinghe,  SWR de 2018   “Sam Samarasinghe’s Postscript to the Raging Debate in Colombo Telegraph on His Previous Essay,” 13 December 2018,  https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/12/13/sam-samarasinghes-postscript-to-the-raging-debate-in-colombo-telegraph-on-his-previous-essay/#more-33057

Samarasinghe, SWR de A 2018 “Sri Lanka’s democracy in Peril.” 10 November 2018, https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sri-lankas-democracy-in-peril/

Philips, Rajan 2018 “Continuing uncertainty, conflicting claims and counter-claims,” lsland, 3 November 2018

Hattotuwa, Sanjana 2018 “Rajapaksa rising,” Island, 3 November 2019

Sasanka Perera, Interview with NEWSCLICK, https://www.newsclick.in/sri-lankas-already-fragile-democracy-under-threat-after-sacking-pm 31 October 2018

Jayatilleka, Dayan: “The logic of the Republican Constitution and the relative autonomy of the Presidency: A political science perspective,” Island, 4 November 2018

Gunasekera, Anura:  “The Return of a Spectre,” Island, 3 November 2018,

Nan “Betrayal,” Island, 3 Nov 2018, http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=193791

Peiris, GL: GL explains how PM was removed and why Parliament was prorogued —http://www.adaderana.lk/news/51006/gl-explains-how-pm-was-removed-and-why-parliament-was-prorogued

Peiris, Gerald H: Peiris Confronts Samarasinghe and Other Pundits,” 19 November 2019,  https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/11/19/peiris-confronts-samarasinghe-and-other-pundits/

Ratnapala, Suri: “Sacking … unconstitutional,” Colombo Telegraph, November 2019,https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sacking-rw-appointing-mr-dissolution-of-parliament-are-unconstitutional-prof-suri-ratnapala/

Rajapakse, Ruwan: “Was President right in removing Ranil?” Island, 8 November 2018

Samaratne, Dinesha: “Losing a paradise that we never had?” 3 November 2018, http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-Serasingh, Sadetails&code_title=193795

Serasinghe, Sharmini: ”Sharmini’s Appeal: Stand up for Democracy,” 1 Dec 2018, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/12/01/sharminis-appeal-stand-up-for-democracy-on-december-6th/

Uyangoda, Jayadeva 2018 “The Political is Personal: An Essay in Despair from Sri Lanka,”5 November 2018, https://thewire.in/south-asia/the-political-is-personal-an-essay-in-despair-from-sri-lanka

Vitharana, Tissa: “UNP flouting Constitution and democracy to pave way for foreign intervention – LSSP,’” Island, 10 November 2018

Welikala, Asang:a “The Maithrie-Mahinda Coup Stymied?” 16 November 2018, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/11/16/the-maithri-mahinda-coup-stymied/

Welikala, Asanga: “Illegal Sirisena Coup Indefensible insists Welikala,” https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/11/01/illegal-sirisenas-coup-indefensible-insists-welikala/#more-32283

Wickramaratne, Jayampathy On Dissolution Of Parliament,” ……………………………………. https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/on-dissolution-of-parliament/

END NOTES

[1] RO = Reverse Osmosis” — see https://www.psifilters.com.au/42-reverse-osmosis?gclid=Cj0KCQiA6dLgBRDoARIsAJgoM4vlTgU2XtzzzuLzAWh9GuFIhqiyrSu11GInf3d3hvyHuK2cXJZ60scaAvOaEALw_wcB

[2] The constitution has as many as “30,000 words  s Sam Samarasinghe has stressed with the note that it is not surprising that “such details often lead to inconsistencies that nobody can foresee at the time of drafting” See Samarasinghe,

[3] The items listed in my incomplete bibliography are indications of the plethora of opinions on the topic.’

[4] Shyamon Jaaysinghe iin Queensland is a participant in an email exchange ‘çollective’ (mostly in the diaspora as Far as I can work out) where a debate rages back and forth on this issue. His partiality to the UNP is clear-cut.

[5] See Uyangoda, “The Political is Personal: An Essay in Despair from Sri Lanka,” 5 November 2018, https://thewire.in/south-asia/the-political-is-personal-an-essay-in-despair-from-sri-lanka

[6] This work was partly embodied in the two edited collections entitled Collective Identities which appeared in 1998 and 1999; but I continued to study related issues  relating to both Tamil and Sinhala nationalisms

[7] Daya ‘s colleague in the Medical Faculty in Jaffna University, Rajani Thiranagama nee Rajasingham had been assassinated by the LTTE in 1987 and it was measure of Daya’s courage and commitment that he continued to live and work in the Peninsula -where the LTTE was an underground government. I gather that Daya’s commitment to service was recognised and he also visited the LTTE territory to treat patients there. I subsequently invited Daya to present a paper at a workshop on “Sacrificial Devotion” held in Adelaide circa 2006.

[8] I sent an email note to Dayan about five days ago seeking enlightenment. He is probably too busy in the diplomatic corridors to respond.

[9] Groundviews was my main outlet then and for several years afterwards. Over the last few years, however, Sanjana Hattotuwa has excluded all my offerings … so that I have ceased trying him out for quite some time.

[10] See https://sacrificialdevotionnetwork.wordpress.com/category/sacrificial-devotion-in-comparative-perspective/

[11] I have no reason to dismiss these allegations because I have not investigated the topic … and would in fact welcome info that point me to pertinent essays. But, of course, one must attend to the fact that these strands of embezzlement and corruption have bedevilled all governments in Sr Lanka for decades –if comments on these lines are valid.

[12] This spectre is still peddled (see Abi-Habib 2018 and Bloomberg 2018); but has been undermined by scholars who are not Rajapaksa handmaidens (see De Mel 2018 and Gunasekara 2018).

[13] I have not researched this topic and am not familiar with articles that clarify what happened in detail. I have been told that Chandrika Kumaratunga was one of the brokers and there is a whisper that indicates that Sirisena’s sponsored visit to USA in 2014(?) was a key turning point.

[14] I was too busy on other subjects to look over the literature on this issue in 2015-and-thereafter. Note Uyangoda’s passionate  personal recounting: “The Political is Personal: An Essay in Despair from Sri Lanka,””5 November 2018, https://thewire.in/south-asia/the-political-is-personal-an-essay-in-despair-from-sri-lana

[15] At least three essays have been in the public realm within Sri Lankan newspapers and the Colombo Telegraph. Two have been presented in Thuppahi.

[16] With some radical Sinhalese, the Tigers may not have been an enemy. They were “liberation fighters” and thus fellow radicals.

[17] See my recognition of Corcoran’s insights and the details of my correspondence with him in 1999 at Roberts, 2017.

[18] On Pirapaharan, see Narayan Swamy 2009; Ragavan 2009 & 2018; Roberts 2014 and 2018 and Tekwani 2009.

[19] Re Pirapaharan’s deep admiration for Hitler and German military capacities, see Iyer 2012 and Roberts 20180, 2014 and 2018.

[20] My thanks to Arun Dias Bandaranaike for an email remark that sparked this idea.

[21] The Rajapaksa hail from Hambantota District and continue to have strong interests therein (thóugh they have spread their wings); while Sirisena ‘s roots are in Polonnaruwa District. Born in September 1951 young Sirisena was a member of the outh wing of Shanmuagthasa Communist Party (Peking Wing) and was arested after the JVP insurrection of April 1971 but eventually released after 17 months incarceration without charges beeing presented. This is not mentioned in the bio-data in Wikipedia.

[22] These contentions are spelt out in Roberts, Mahinda Rajapaksa: Cakravarti Imagery and Populist Processes,” 2012. Also see my articles “Ideological Cancers within the Sinhala Universe” (2014) and “Where Majoritarian Part subsumes the Whole,”2016.

 

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7 responses to “Hatreds. Chasms. Bill Deutrom’s Insights on the Political Impasse in Sri Lanka

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  2. Pingback: Re-positioning Uyangoda et al in the 21st Century Political Dispensation | Thuppahi's Blog

  3. THIS EMAIL NOTE was sent to me by DAYA WICKRAMATUNGA of Australia and Sri Lanka when he received this artilce as an attachment ….AND … I PRESENT IT HERE WITH HIS PERMISSION
    Many thanks. ….. Sinhala chauvinism has been the curse of Sri Lanka. I am a Sinhalese, but this is a fact. Those of us who lived in an era , where everybody was treated alike, would know what a mess our politicians have brought about.

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  6. Pingback: Gotabaya’s Team overcomes the Odds | Thuppahi's Blog

  7. Pingback: Gotabaya’s Team overcomes the Odds – NewsHub Sri Lanka

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