Category Archives: authoritarian regimes

Final Passage for McGuinness and Prabhākaran: Sharply Contrasting

Michael Roberts

 The ‘final’ journeys on this our earth for Martin McGuinness and Velupillai Pirapāharan have been sharply different: McGuinness’ mortal remains were borne in March 2017 by his very own with a massive crowd of IRA and other Irish around; Pirapāharan’s in May 2009 was borne by his deadly enemies with no Tamils present…. and, definitely, no Tamil Tiger fighters.

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Anguish as Empowerment … and A Path to Retribution

Michael Roberts, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph where it is presented with a different title ….  https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/histrionic-voice-as-spark-for-ethnic-violence-political-extremism/

Anguish and grief are powerful emotions that can contort and wrack a body. While ‘suggesting’ helplessness, the anguish that engulfs a person can also empower that person … and others connected to that person by commonalities of interest/emotion. In this manner anguish can transcend obstacles, generate waves of bitterness and swell into paths of retributory hate and punishment. The ‘little’ drops of tears can swell metaphorically into ‘waves’ – and even inspire enraged mobs (mostly male) bent on punishing the purported root of the tears, a recalcitrant Other, an enemy family or “community” deemed to be the cause of that expressive anguish or deemed to have transcended local norms. In southern Lanka that community can be a neighbouring caste grouping or ethnic group or religious group (Muslim Moor,[1] Hindu, Buddhist, Christian).

Let me highlight the argument by presenting an unusual juxtaposition.

  1. Expressive Grief displayed by a Sri Lankan Tamil woman at a protest demonstration before David Cameron by persons whose kin have been missing in the course of Eelam War IV

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Left-Liberals in Intolerant Mode within Some American Campuses

Kay Hymowitz, in The Weekend Australian, 18/19 March 2017, where the title is “Free Thought dies in Campus Ghettoes”

Warning to Aussies from a visiting American: pay careful attention to the latest mob action to darken one of America’s elite — and one of its loveliest — campuses, Middlebury College in Vermont. The incident offers a glimpse of how identity politics and political correctness can evolve into a dangerous religious orthodoxy with its own canonical dogma, rituals, believers, and heretics.

Middlebury is a foretaste of where Australia is headed if the campus culture of intolerance continues on the same trajectory.

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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 

karuna-and-gota

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Thomas Meaney, A Review Article, courtesy of the Author and the London Review of Books,… with emphasis by highlights added by The Editor, Thuppahi … SEE www.lrb.co.uk

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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.”[1] Continue reading

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February 10, 2017 · 1:03 pm

Talaivar Pirapāharan embodied in Notebooks: One Mark of the LTTE’s Remarkable Propaganda Machinery

Michael Roberts

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These three images adorn the cover of little notebooks, each 4 inches in height and 2.7 inches breadth, in my possession. They were purchased by me at Kilinochchi on 27th November 2004 when I visited the administrative capital of the state of Thamilīlam[1] during the ceasefire. The tale is recounted below as entry-point to a portrait of the LTTE’s remarkable innovations.

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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. For bio-data on Quilty, see http://andrewquilty.com/about/

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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