Category Archives: anton balasingham

The Lalith Athulathmudali Assassination: Context, Rumours, Smokescreens

rVijitha Yapa, courtesy of Lanka Monthly Digest 7 June 2017 and DBS Jeyaraj  ..where the original title is  “The Whole Truth About Lalith Athulathmudali’s Assassination is Delved Into in Detail By Prof. Ravindra Fernando in his Book.

If asked who is the single individual in politics whose life affected me most, the choice with no hesitation would be Lalith Athulathmudali. I live in Claessen Place and he moved in to Paget Road as Minister of National Security and was my rear neighbour, once removed on the left. (Interestingly President Sirisena’s residence is now a rear neighbour, once removed, but on the right).

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Revisiting Jaffna and the LTTE in mid-1999 guided by Mark Corcoran and the ABC

Michael Roberts


In mid-year 1999 during the ongoing Eelam War III, Mark Corcoran of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) visited Sri Lanka and composed three film documentaries of fascinating breadth. They were

Sri Lanka. A Close Encounter with Arthur C. Clarke …. 6 June 1999
Sri Lanka Tigers at the Gate …… 29 June 1999

Sri Lanka. Extreme Surfing ……… 13 July 1999

I have yet to see the first and third of these film documentaries, but find the topics chosen very much in my line of interest. It so happened that I watched TIGERS AT THE GATE in Adelaide then.[1]  I then had the temerity to send a Letter to the ABC and Corcoran with some criticisms of the coveragedeploying an University of Adelaide letterhead so as to secure attention. This exercise had completely slipped my mind till I came across my typescript and Mark Corcoran’s reply (dated 5th July) among my manuscripts when indulging in some archival sorting. In reproducing my Memo and placing this exchange within the inter-net ‘bar,’ I stress that my memories of the documentary NOW are zilch and that i have not been able to study it again. However, I suspect that it would be very useful for analysts to revisit this documentary. Continue reading

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“Demons in Paradise” at Cannes: Jude Rutnam in Firing Line

Hindustan Times,

 Jude Ratnam is worried how his film might go down with his fellow Sri Lankan Tamils. And he has a point. Demons in Paradise, which is premiering at the Cannes film festival, tells of the bloodbath that drove some Tamils to take up arms in the three decade-long insurgency that tore the island apart. But the documentary also shatters a taboo by insisting that some of most horrific violence the minority endured was at the hands of their supposed defenders, the Tamil Tigers.  And the “hard truth” comes from the mouths of former Tamil fighters   themselves.

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Karuna’s Split with Pirapāharan in 2004 in his Own Words

In Q and A with Jeremy Liyanage 

Jeremy Liyanage is a Sri Lankan of mixed Sinhala-Burgher ancestry whose family moved to Australia when he was 9 years old. He  has been deeply involved in a social service project called BRIDGING LANKA in Mannar Island since the years 2009/10. As a spin-off from this work, he and several colleagues were in Sri Lanka in July 2010 in a venture supported by International Alert when they received an invitation to join Karuna Amman, in his capacity as Minister for Resettlement, on a work visit to the fields of IDP settlement in the Kilinochchi-Mullaitivu areas.  The local International Alert officials were aghast and warned them against venturing on this trip on the grounds that IA could not guarantee their safety. They decided against going, but went to the initial meeting that had been set up as a matter of courtesy. At that gathering Karuna’s Media Officer Justin assuaged their fears and persuaded them to participate in the trip. This turned out to be a  helter-sketer journey involving their vehicle as one element in a convoy bearing  Karuna and his personnel and several vehicles with  STF (police commando) personnel. 

karuna-and-vp  Karuna, Adele & Anton Bālasingham, Pirapāharan, Thamil Chelvam, Rudrakumāran, & Jay Maheswaran in the LTTE’s halcyon daysPic from Lanka Guardian karuna-aklila Commanders All -Karuna with two senior female commanders 


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Rasalingam slashes Solheim’s grandstanding activity

Sebastian Rasalingam in the Island wherea different ttile was deployed: Solheim and Prabhakaran”

Mr. Eric Solheim has used the book launch of BBC’s Frances Harrison to claim that he and the `international community’ offered an “organized end to the war which included the LTTE handing over weapons, registering LTTE caders and every single Tamil civilian supervised by international authorities and theUN, the US, India, etc.” He claims that this was ‘not heeded by Prabhakaran’ and the ‘international community’ could have done this even if the majority of people in Sri Lanka backing the Rajapaksa government did not want the self-appointed ‘international community’ to intervene. Continue reading


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Sandwiched in between: Tamil Dissidents and Others in the Furnace of War & its Killings, January 1989-December1990 via Ben Bavinck’s Diary

Sharika Thiranagama rides a bike in emulation of her mother Rajani Thiranagama nee Rajasingam for the biographical documentary NO MORE TEARS

As the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka escalated from July 1983 and the Tamil liberation struggle developed along several militant paths, Tamils throughout the island were placed in a difficult position. The focus here is on the sentiments of those identified in the census as “Sri Lanka Tamils” as distinct from “Indian Tamils” – wherever they resided in the island.[1]

But within this framework the emphasis is on those Sri Lankan Tamils who resided in the northern and eastern parts during the period extending from August 1988 to October 1992, the time spanned by the first volume in Ben Bavinck’s diaries. Note, here, that Bavinck was a fluent Tamil speaker and because of his long experience in the Jaffna Peninsula in the 1950s-70s he was, as Val Daniel suggests, a de facto Tamil in sentiment.[2]

However, he did not look Tamil. On several occasions he was treated as a foreign NGO person or even as “a foreign dignitary.” In the period of his diary, moreover, he was attached to the National Christian Council and was undertaking welfare and relief measures throughout the island. As such, he was able to intervene on behalf of people who were at the receiving end of the conflict. A good part of this work took him to the north on many occasions. Therefore his dairy extracts reveal the thinking of many of his friends, acquaintances and others in this region during the period of warfare between the Tigers and the Indian Peace Keeping Force (till late 1989) and, thereafter during the short interregnum of peace negotiations from January to April 1990 and, thirdly, the renewal of war between the LTTE and the government of Lanka (GoSL) from June 1990 onwards.

A theatrical dramatization of the murder of Rajani Thiranagama by the National Film Board of Canada with Sharika Thiranagama in the role

 His information, therefore, is a voice of his times and conveys invaluable information. It should not be dismissed as “gossip,” though of course some of the reportage has to be treated cautiously as second-hand or third-hand reportage of events that Bavinck did not witness himself. These tales, clearly, must be sifted and evaluated in the light of other contemporaneous information Continue reading


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Recent Works on Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Conflict

Asoka Bandarage, The separatist conflict in Sri Lanka, terrorism, ethnicity, political economy, London & New York, Routledge, 2009, ISBN 0-415-77678-3 (hbk) & 10-203-88631-3 (ebk) 279 pp

N. Manoharan, Democratic dilemma. Ethnic violence and human rights in Sri Lanka, New Delhi, Samskriti,  2008, 279 pp, (pbk) ISBN978-81-87374-50-3

MR Narayan Swamy, The Tiger vanquished. LTTE’s story, Sage Publications, India, 2010 189 pp, ISBN 978-81-321-0459-9 (pbk)

 Ana Pararajasingham (ed.)  Sri Lanka: 60 years of independence and beyond, AMM Screens, Chennai, for Centre for Just Peace and Democracy, 2009, 621 pp, with articles by Lionel Bopage, Neil de Votta, Bruce Kapferer, John Gooneratne, Dagmar Helmann-Rajanayagam, David Rampton, Peter Schalk, Kristian Stokke, Jayampathy Wickramaratne among others.

Michael Roberts, Fire and Storm. Essays in Sri Lankan Politics,Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2010 … ISBN 978-955-665-134-8… 336 pp, 33 illustrations

Michael Roberts, Potency, Power and People in Groups, Colombo, Marga Institute, 2011, 128 pp and 78 pp illustrations, incl. of rare images (pbk), ISBN 978-955-582-129-2

Anton Sebastian, A Complete Illustrated History of Sri Lanka, 696 pp, 444 illustrations

Gordon Weiss, The Cage, Pan Macmillan Australia, 2011 … 352 pp, 24 illustrations

                                             SOME ARTICLES

Kumar Reupesinghe, “Ethnic conflicts in South Asia: the case of Sri Lanka and the Indian Peace-keeping force (IPKF),” in Subrata Mitra (ed.) Politics of South Asia,  volume V,  London, Routledge, 2009, pp.  315-35.

Daya Somasundaram, “Collective trauma in the Vanni — a qualitative inquiry into the mental health of the internally displaced due to the civil war in Sri Lanka,” International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 2010 ….This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited].

Daya Somasundaram, “Parallel Governments: Living Between Terror and Counter Terror in Northern Lanka (1982-2009),” Journal of Asian and African Studies, 2010, 45: 568-583, doi:10.1177/0021909610373899;

 Symbolic burning of DC bill, late 1960s

ALL IMAGES are reproduced from the book Potency listed above. The signature image is a depcition of the Kotahena Riots, 1883.


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