Category Archives: Buddhism

Suicide Missions as Witnessing: From Self-Immolation to Assassination and Mass Strike

Michael Roberts ….. This article appeared first in Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 2007, vol. 30:  857-88.with the titleSuicide Missions as Witnessing: Expansions, Contrasts” and is reproduced here with its original American English spelling. The re-working of this article was seen to by Ms Nadeeka Paththuwaarachchi of Battaramulla. The pictorial images are embellishments that were not part of the original essay. I have also added highlighting emphasis in orange as well as a few hyperlinks to other standard sources of information. The bibliographical references are within the End Notes as in the original format.

ABSTRACT: Studies of suicide missions usually focus solely on attacks. They also have highlighted the performative character of suicide missions as acts of witness. By extending surveys to suicidal acts that embrace no-escape attacks, theatrical assassination, defensive suicide, and suicidal protest, one gains further insight into the motivations of individuals and organizations. Illustrative studies, notably the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and Sadat as well as Tamil Tiger operations, generate a typology that underlines the benefits of such extensions. The Japanese and Tamil contexts reveal the profound differences in readings of sacrificial acts of atonement or punishment by local constituencies. Norman Morrison in Washington in 1965 and Jan Palach in Prague in 1969 did not have such beneficial settings and the immediate ramifications of their protest action were limited. Morrison’s story highlights the significance of a societal context of individuated rationalism as opposed, say, to the “pyramidical corporatism” encouraging martyrdom operations in the Islamic world.

Jan Palach…19 Jan. 1969 Nathuram Godse vs Mahatma Gandhi .. 30 Jan 1948

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KM de Silva’s Biographical Routes to the Recent Past

Sri Lanka: The Recent Past by Kingsley M. de Silva is now on the bookshelves in Sri Lanka.

The doyen among the contemporary historians of the island has deplye personal biographical expirences and his considerable reserch material to pen biographical tales that can illuminate our history, Editor, Thuppahi

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Filed under British colonialism, British imperialism, Buddhism, economic processes, education, education policy, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, life stories, modernity & modernization, parliamentary elections, politIcal discourse, power sharing, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, teaching profession, unusual people, world affairs

Secularism on the Wane in South Asia

P K Balachandran, in Financial Times, 27 October 2018 -where the title reads “Decline of Secularism in South Asia”

South Asia’s multi-religious countries, namely India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, started off with a noble wish to be ‘secular’ and keep religion out of the business of the State. Hindu-majority India, under the leadership of the avowedly secular Jawaharlal Nehru, explicitly stated that it would be secular.


Jinnah–Getty Images DS Senanaayke

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Politics without Principle in Sri Lanka, 1948-1992

John Richardson. reproducing a chapter in Arun Gandhi, Ed., W orld Without Violence (1993) which is entitled “The Seventh Blunder: Politics without Principle. Lessons from Sri Lanka” ++

 FR Jayasuriya fasting unto death in support of SINHALA ONLY … 24 May 1956

The world began to experience a wave of political change in 1989.  Entrenched authoritarian regimes in many nations have crumbled in the face of popular dissatisfaction with repressive policies that failed to deliver on promises of economic opportunity.  Many nations are now experimenting with the forms of democracy: popular elections to choose leaders, accountability of leaders to elected parliaments, freedom of expression and freedom to compete for power within organized political parties.[i]

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Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka and Sinhalese Perspectives: Barriers to Accommodation

Michael Roberts …. reprinting an article drafted in Heidelberg in 1976 and published in the MODERN ASIAN STUDIES in 1978  … with the pessimistic forecast in its concluding paragraphs being informed by seminar discussions in SRi Lanka in the early 1970s, an article by Martin Woolacott in the Guardian Weekly and news items in UK indicating that young Tamils were receiving military training with the PLO.

Bandaranaike stirring a crowd and Mettananda addressing a crowd of Sinhalayo on Galle Face Green pressing for the Sinhala Only Bill

It is widely recognized that the concepts of ‘state’ and ‘nation’ developed largely out of the history of Europe. In Western Europe the process of state-building preceded and assisted the process of nation-formation. In consequence, the concept of the nation that developed from this process focused on the political community as defined by the institutional and territorial framework. In the tradition of Rousseau, Abbé Sieyes could define a nation as ‘a body of associates living under one common law and represented by the same legislature’.[1] In most lands of Western Europe these developments also produced the model of a single nationality nation or nation-state. In Central and Eastern Europe, the process was different: ‘the nation was first defined as a cultural rather than a political entity’ and the underlying theoretical foundation was in the tradition of Herder rather than Rousseau.[2] Nevertheless, once nationhood had been achieved in these regions there was a tendency to approximate to the model associated with Western Europe. This was made all the easier in such states as Italy and Germany because the majority of their citizens were from one ethnic group; they, too, were single nationality nations.[3] Whatever the dualisms and amalgams in Europe, the export model has been that associated with that of Western Europe—for the simple reason that the predominant colonizing powers were from this part of the Continent.

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President Sirisena addresses United Nations in New York

News Item, AT … with this title President urges the international community to look at Sri Lanka with a fresh perspective”

President Maithripala Sirisena called upon the international community to look at Sri Lanka with a fresh perspective and consider the tremendous progress made by the government towards reconciliation, restoration of democratic freedoms, human rights and the rule of law and [therefore to] extend the fullest support to build a progressive, democratic, free and equal society.

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Jayasekera’s Study of British Colonialism in Ceylon reviewed

Chandra R De Silva, in Sri Lanka Journal of Social Sciences 41(1) 2018, pp 65-68, with highlighting emphasis being the Work of The Editor, Thuppahi

reviewing Confrontations with Colonialism: Resistance, Revivalism and Reform under British Rule in Sri Lanka 1796- 1920, Vol. I, by P. V. J. Jayasekera (Colombo: Vijitha Yapa, 2017), Rs. 1500.

In one of the most challenging and thought-provoking history books published in Sri Lanka in the last decade, P. V. J. Jayasekera has used a wide variety of sources to challenge a number of existing interpretations relating to Sri Lanka under British colonial rule in the nineteenth century. While the book is based partly on his own doctoral dissertation completed in 1970, in Jayasekera’s own words “The scope and the foci of the original study have been substantially changed (p. ix)” in view of new theoretical approaches in the study of colonial history and the debates on history arising out of the recent ethnic conflict. Jayasekera has also carefully taken into account historical research on Sri Lanka published in the long period since he completed his dissertation. Readers should note that despite the title, Jayasekera has consciously avoided any attempt “to cover the confrontations of the Sri Lankan Tamil society with colonialism (p. xxvii)” and that, with the exception of brief references in the concluding section, information on Muslim-Buddhist relations will come to us only in the forthcoming second volume.

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