Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World by Steven Kemper, Chicago, 480 pp, £31.50, January 2015, ISBN 978 0 226 19907
Tamil: A Biography by David Shulman, Harvard, 416 pp, £25.00, September 2016, ISBN 978 0 674 05992 4
The Seasons of Trouble: Life amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka’s Civil War by Rohini Mohan, Verso, 368 pp, £16.99, October 2015, ISBN 978 1 78168 883 0
Independence was handed to Ceylon’s elite on a platter. ‘Think of Ceylon as a little bit of England,’ Oliver Ernest Goonetilleke, the first native governor-general, said. This was a point of pride. Don Stephen Senanayake, the country’s first prime minister, remarked: ‘There has been no rebellion in Ceylon, no non-cooperation movement and no fifth column. We were among the peoples who gave full collaboration while Britain was hard-pressed.’ After independence in 1948, Ceylon alone among the former colonies not only retained but promoted the monarchy: the Union Jack flew alongside the Ceylon flag; a new constitution was drafted by a former LSE professor, Ivor Jennings; Colombo debutantes were presented at Buckingham Palace; and, thanks to some genealogical ingenuity, George VI was recognised as the latest monarch in the ancient line of Kandyan kings. While the rest of the empire in Asia smouldered – in India there was Partition, in Malaya the Emergency, in Burma the civil war – Ceylon became Whitehall’s model for the transfer of colonial power. ‘There was no fight for that freedom which involved a fight for principles, policies and programmes,’ Solomon Ridgeway Bandaranaike, the anti-colonial head of state who took power in 1956, said when he reviewed the transition a decade later. ‘It just came overnight. We just woke up one day and were told: “You are a dominion now.”Continue reading →
In writing about the Gal Oya riots, it would not be possible to give a meaningful and chronological account of the happenings if one were to confine oneself to only what one saw with one’s own eyes. I am taking the liberty of presenting an account based on direct knowledge as well as indirect information elicited from persons. However I shall carefully specify and differentiate between statements based on events witnessed by me and statements based on accounts given by others in the valley at the time of the riots. Care will be taken to state the sources of the facts narrated.
The Gal Oya disturbance cannot of course be treated as an isolated phenomenon. It must be viewed in the general context of communal tensions and political differences existing in the country and also as a continuation of disturbances that started in Colombo during and after June fifth. The account given here however deals only with incidents that happened in the Eastern Province. Continue reading →
The recent presentation in Thuppahi of a specific proposal from the LLRC on national anthems as well as the issues raised by Thuppahi on the topic of DISAPPEARANCES prompt me to present a number of images from the sittings conducted by this peripatic body of personnel together with a brief officla report. the images have been helpfully provided by Kithsiri De Silva an old Aloysian class-mate who was an officer servicing the work of this august body. I am also tacking on an official report on the LLRC plus one dissenting note about its lopsided composition from Harshadeva Amarathunga. Michael Roberts
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. For bio-data on Quilty, see http://andrewquilty.com/about/
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 →
Marie Lecomte-Tilouine, courtesy of http://samaj.revues.org/3018,where the title is “Martyrs and Living Martyrs of the People’s War in Nepal
Abstract: In Nepal, the Maoists’ armed wing (PLA) developed as a collective of martyrs-to-be, whose example was disseminated as soon as they fell through tributes, poems and ceremonies. Its dynamic relied on self-sacrifice rather than any heroic prowess, and acquired a strong power of attraction in that it fundamentally asserts that anyone, whether illiterate, poor or of the lowest status, is of ‘priceless’ value, and can contribute to the project to change the order of things by putting their lives at stake. The People’s War also brought about a wave of ‘Living Martyrs’, who survived the war and who are now busy recording their past experiences. They combine all the ingredients in terms of pathos and achievement to become historical figures and models for the future, while fallen immortals have already lost their individualities and play a collective and anonymous role.Pic from Global Security Org
Michael Roberts, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph where the title is different and reads as “The Political Bankruptcy of the Western Human Rights Lobby: Their Stance in Syria & Sri Lanka in Juxtaposition.” I anticipate lively blog-comments therein –with the usual quota of disparaging ‘assassinations’.Highlighted emphasis in RED in the version below is my work.
A friend in Adelaide recently directed me towards an article in a prestigious world media outlet by Kenneth Roth, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. In this essay entitled “What Trump Should Do in Syria,” Roth contends that Donald Trump needs to pursue “a much tougher approach toward Moscow than he so far envisions” because the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has been “targeting and indiscriminately firing upon civilians and civilian infrastructure in opposition-held areas” with Russian backing. In his reading the enormous civilian death-toll is the product of the regime’s deliberate strategy, Besides generating an outflow of refugees, he says that the consequence will also produce an escalation of Islamist extremism.
As an outsider with a limited knowledge of the extremely complex Syrian and Middle-Eastern ground situation, what strikes me about Roth’s declamation is its one-sidedness and its simplifications. It slides over the impact of US and NATO bombing runs. It implies that the extremism of ISIS, Al Qaida and other forces who are challenging the Syrian dictator is an outcome of the latter’s policies and says little about (a) the Sunni-Shia rivalries that are one aspect of the complex politics in Syria and the Middle East and (b) the repercussions flowing from the American dethronement of Saddam via invasion.
The then 30-year-old was a captain with the SAS and, as troop commander, had called the Apache helicopters to take out two Taliban members loitering with a pair of donkeys about 1200m away. The Australians had intercepted communications from the pair organising an attack on the Black Hawk helicopters due to pick up this group of seven Aussie soldiers, who were visiting a remote police post in Taliban territory.Across the valley, two other figures with donkeys were gathering firewood, but Hastie didn’t pay them much attention. They were clearly civilians, and were hundreds of metres away from both the police post and the Taliban pair.
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.