Category Archives: authoritarian regimes

“Sacrificial Devotion” — How I Entered This Terrain

Michael Roberts

With the benefit of a Teen Murti Fellowship I was collecting data on communal violence in India in 1995 when my readings of news archives indicated that the death of Mrs Indira Gandhi by assassination in Delhi induced a handful of individuals in southern India to commit sympathetic suicide. Since news reports did not indicate similar reactions in other parts of India, I began to reflect on the cultural foundations that promoted such expressions – acting, of course, in contexts that also could provide political and economic inspirations. This eventually led to my first essay on this topic:  “Filial Devotion and the Tiger Cult of Suicide,” Contributions to Indian Sociology, 1996, 30: 245-72.

Dhanu waits to kill Rajiv Gandhi in suicide attack

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Alleged ‘Land Grabbing’ by the Security Forces in Sri Lanka

Gerald Peiris, … an essay that is part of  Chapter 11 in a forthcoming monograph titled Sri Lanka: Land Policy for Sustainable Development, by G. H. Peiris, currently in the press (as a Visidunu Publication, 471 Lake Road, Boralesgamuwa, Sri Lanka) [1]

In view of the significance accorded in recent public debate and discussion on the subject of ‘land grabbing’ in several conflict-ridden countries of the Third World it is necessary to devote attention to a series of facts that are of crucial relevance to a balanced understanding of the related  situation in Sri Lanka.

Gerald Peiris Bhavani Fonseka  Mirak Raheem

Land Grabbing: Concept and Empirical Application  

The phenomenon referred to as ‘land grabbing’ lacks definitional clarity. In many writings of recent times (Keely, 2009; Borras, et.al., 2011; Deininger & Byerlee 2011; Rulli, et. al., 2013; Brimayer & Moon, 2014; to name only a few), especially those sponsored by civil society organisations, this phrase has been used exclusively in the specific connotation of large-scale acquisition of land in the poorer countries by foreign governments and private firms that are based in the politically and economically powerful countries. Estimates of the extent of grabbed land worldwide vary. The prestigious journal, The Economist (21 May 2009) placed it at 15-20 million ha. According to the World Bank, it is as high as 45 million ha, with an overwhelmingly large proportion of it in the less densely populated areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central America and Southeast Asia. In a major World Bank sponsored study (Deininger & Byerlee, op. cit.) ‘land grabbing’ has been portrayed as a phenomenon of both positive as well as negative impacts which nevertheless requires effective regulation. But more generally, this process is perceived as an exemplification of neo-colonial economic exploitation that has adverse consequences on the local people in the form of violation of fundamental rights, incitement of inter-group conflict, mass impoverishment and environmental degradation. What should be noted here is that in none of the research writings on the subject of ‘land grabbing’ as a global phenomenon do we come across a specific reference to Sri Lanka as a country that has been seriously affected by this phenomenon.[2] Continue reading

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Chandraprema on Gnanasara Thera in 2014

C. A. Chandraprema, in …5 July 2014,  with the title “Gnanasara Thera & the UNP” — a repetition of this article from 2014 in the light of Dayan Jayatilleka’s recent intervention and the clutch of news items and articles on hate-speech and Sinhala Buddhist –Muslim tensions

Last week, the cat jumped out of the bag when the US Embassy in Colombo cancelled Galagodaatte Gnanasara thera’s US visa. When this writer asked the US embassy in Colombo in a previous column how this monk had gone to the USA after he had begun this campaign of hatred and incitement of violence, we assumed that he had entered the USA on the kind of single entry visitor’s visa that ordinary mortals like us get after answering a whole string of questions and producing copious documentation. Now it turns out that he had a five- year multiple entry visa which had been granted to him in 2011 and had not yet expired. The US authorities appear to have panicked that if this monk made another visit to the USA on this visa in the middle of all this controversy, their role in all this mayhem would be badly exposed.

 Gnanasara Thero Continue reading

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Target Incitement to Violence – Deploy Gota’s Capacities

Dayan Jayatilleka, courtesy of The Island, 21 June 2017, where the title is  The issue is incitement: The BBS, Champika & the Gota factor” … with highlighting being the work of The editor, Thuppahi

The entire discussion or debate about the BBS, Gnanasara Thero and extremism is missing something. The discussion confuses ultra-nationalism, chauvinism, Islamophobia and extremism with the real issue: incitement to violence. Whether an ideology is extremist or not is one issue, but it is an issue that is difficult to resolve. What is far easier to resolve, legally and morally, is the issue of whether or not an action or statement constitutes an ‘incitement to violence’ against an individual or a collective.

 Gnanasara Thero Ranawake

It is morally slippery to avoid the central issue that is present before our very eyes, namely incitement, and instead to shift attention by merely equating all forms of chauvinism and denouncing them all equally. Continue reading

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Nirupama reviews A Powerkeg in Paradise

 Nirupama Subramanium, courtesy of http://www.sangam.org/2010/08/Powderkeg.php?print=true

Disappointingly for an “insider account”, there are no major revelations in the book; it is a faithful narrative of what is already in the public realm about the ceasefire and written carefully, striking a balance between the government and the LTTE, with the decisions/actions of both sides called into question.

A POWDERKEG IN PARADISELost Opportunity for Peace in Sri Lanka… by …  Jon Oskar Solnes; Konark Publishers Pvt. Ltd., A-149, Main Vikas Marg, Delhi-110092. Rs. 750.

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A Blanket over India’s Dirty War in Kashmir

Rajeeva Jayaweera,  in The Island, 4 June 2017, where the title is Army fighting dirty war in J&K need be innovative – Indian Army Chief”

Indian Army Chief of Staff General Bipin Rawat, during a recent ceremony to award Chief of Army staff (COAS) commendation card to Major Leetul Gogoi, has strongly defended his soldiers currently involved in counter terrorism operations and quelling rioting Kashmiris. Major Gogoi is accused of using an arrested stone pelting protestor as a human shield. The protestor was tied to the front of an army jeep on April 9 before moving his unit together with a dozen local Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) employees, ten ITPB Jawans, several constables from J&K police and a bus driver trapped inside a polling booth, to safety. The group was surrounded by a large number of violent protestors who had also taken up position on surrounding roofs. After reaching safety, the protestor used as a human shield was handed over to local police. The incident which was videoed went viral within hours.

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Philip Maisel’s Oral History of Jewish Holocaust Experiences

Jewish Holocaust Centre, Melbourne ….  http://www.jhc.org.au/museum/collections/survivor-testimonies.html

The JHC has over 1300 video testimonies as well as over 200 audio testimonies in its collection. These provide eyewitness accounts of the horrors of the Holocaust, as well as glimpses into the vibrancy of pre-war Jewish life in Europe. The collection is widely used by researchers and students of oral history, the Holocaust and a variety of other disciplines. The testimonies’ project began in the 1980s as the Melbourne Oral History Project, established by Sandra Cowan and Jenny Wajsenberg and later co-ordinated by the late Anne Bernhaut. They conducted over 200 audio recordings of Holocaust survivors.

 Phillip Maisel has been recording a testimony of Holocaust survivors for 25 years. (ABC News: Peter Drought)

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