I first came to know Ivan Samarawickrama when he was Government Agent of Polonnarawa in the mid-1960s. I was then attached to the Land Development Department. I van had already earned a name as a good administrator when he was appointed Assistant Government Agent of the Jaffna District at a time when there were civil disturbances and an army officer (for the first time I believe), was appointed to function as the Government Agent. The government of the day understood the importance of having an officer acquainted with District Administration in order to control and administer a district. Ivan Samarawickrama performed his duties with great acceptance to the people of Jaffna and greatly contributed to the district’s peace and development.
Stanley J. Tambiah
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
Filed under atrocities, colonisation schemes, economic processes, ethnicity, historical interpretation, life stories, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, power politics, racist thinking, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, trauma, working class conditions, zealotry
Gerald H. Peiris
I knew Ajit at the time he was an undergraduate at Cambridge, and remember meeting him on and off at the ‘Arts Theatre Restaurant’ at lunch-time. The image that comes to mind is a mild-mannered and gentle youth ̶- younger than my circle of post-grad ‘Ceylonese’ pals like Uswatte, Mahes, Shan, Gunda or Dharmawardena by, say, 6 or 7 years. I haven’t met him since that time, but it seems from what he has written that he has not lost his gentleness, and has remained almost entirely free of “racial” (ethnic?) prejudices, probably impelled by personal experiences since that time.
While I particularly like the ‘autobiographical’ segment of his essay, I have to refer to several errors ̶ some, important, others trivial ̶ that could be attributed to excessive reliance on memory and ignoring what serious researchers have documented. These I specify below under sub-headings numbered 1 to 7, referring in red to highlighted extracts from his essay.
Pic from Sumal Fernando Blog wordpress
Filed under colonisation schemes, economic processes, governance, growth pole, historical interpretation, island economy, land policies, landscape wondrous, life stories, modernity & modernization, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, unusual people, world affairs