Category Archives: communal relations

Momentous Changes in Ceylon instituted by the Donoughmore Commisison

Leelananda de Silva, in Sunday Times, 5 July 2020

The Donoughmore Commission which came to Sri Lanka in the late 1920s made far reaching and far seeing recommendations, which changed the political, economic and social landscape of Ceylon. The present generation is largely unaware of its role and it is time that they refresh their understanding of the tremendous changes brought in by Donoughmore.

The Earl of Donoughmore

It was a commission consisting of three Britons — the Earl of Donoughmore, Drummond Shields and Burrows. They were political personalities well known in Britain at the time and were not colonial civil servants. They had the political and social vision to overcome the objections of both the colonial masters in Sri Lanka and the local dominant political personalities who were also not in favour of radical reforms.

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Achtung! Whiffs of Tiger Militarism and Tamil Federalism in Recent Talk and Action

ONE: Camelia Nathaniel, in Daily News, 9 July 2020, which carries this title Resurrection of LTTE’s Agenda of Violence”

The LTTE network overseas has been planning a series of attacks in Sri Lanka since the war ended in May 2009. The latest attempt to disrupt peace and stability in Sri Lanka was on July 4, 2020. A former member of the Tamil Tigers Thangarajah Thevathashan was preparing to conduct a bombing to mark the Black Tigers Day. The foreign handlers knew Thangarajah Thevathashan by his LTTE name Gangai Athman alias Kavinjan. He was serving in the LTTE Intelligence wing, notorious for the assassinations of several leaders including the former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

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The Threads of Intolerance within Contemporary Liberal/Radical Fervour

A Letter on Justice and Open Debate …. Harpers’ Magazine, July 7, 2020 ……………..
……… The letter below  will be appearing in the Letters section of the magazine’s October issue. We welcome responses at letters@harpers.org

Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second. The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

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Fresh Insights on the 4/21 Salafi Bombings in Sri Lanka

Samanth Subramanium, in New York Times, 2 July 2020, where the title reads “Two Wealthy Muslim Brothers became suicide Bombers, but Why?”

There’s a video of the exact moment Inshaf Ibrahim decided to abandon his life as a rich young man and turn into a mass murderer. In one sense, he had made up his mind weeks earlier, which was why he was loitering in the Cinnamon Grand hotel’s breakfast buffet on Easter Sunday last year in Colombo, strapped into a knapsack of explosives. Once he arrived, though, he appeared to dither. Later, investigators picked him out of CCTV footage, standing near a vacant table, wearing a baseball cap and a T-shirt, his back to the camera. In the footage, he moves like a perplexed penguin. Two steps forward, half a step back, a turn, another turn: a choreography of hesitation. Perhaps he is reconsidering? But no, the investigators concluded; he is waiting for more people to come in. Finally, a microsecond of stillness, arms heavy by his side; then his hands reach toward the front of his waist, and the film goes dark.

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The Exiled Malays, Javanese et al in Ceilao and Lanka Today and Yesterday

Greg Fealy reviewing Ronit Ricci, Banishment and Belonging: Exile and Diaspora in Sarandib, Lanka and Ceylon, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2019, 282pp, ISBN 978-1-108-72724-2…… https://www.newmandala.org/book-review/banishment-and-belonging-exile-and-diaspora-in-sarandib-lanka-and-ceylon-2019/

For well over a century, Sri Lanka was the Dutch colonial administration’s main site of exile for troublesome Indonesians. From the late seventeenth century, hundreds of ‘natives’ from the Netherlands East Indies who were deemed rebellious were consigned to the island, many never to return. They were a diverse community, including members of royal families from across the archipelago and their retinues, as well as soldiers, convicts and slaves. Among the nobles were kings, sultans and princes from Java, Madura, the Moluccas and Timor. Revered Islamic leaders were also banished there. Conditions for the exiles ranged from tolerably comfortable to miserable, with often tight restrictions on their ability to socialize and travel within the island, and also limited communications with family and peers in the Indies. The psychological toll of separation from their homeland was immense. Many felt humiliated and personally diminished by the experience. Today, the descendants of this exilic community are known collectively as ‘Sri Lankan Malays’ and they have a distinctive culture and identity borne of their peculiar historical experience.

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Adieu! Galle Fort’s Burghers …. A Swansong in the Late 1980’s

This extended Video Clip recorded in the late 1980s takes many of us back to disappearing slices of life and its interactions within the Galle Fort, an arena that has been altered in ,but nevertheless retains its old world charm even today — while boasting astronomical land prices.

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An Unknown Aussie in India: A Covid Travel Saviour …. Simon Quinn

Richard Guilliatt, in The Australian Weekend Magazine 20-21 June 2020, where the title is

Simon Quinn is a 32 year old PhD student from Australia, studying Sanskrit living in Gurgaon 30km South West of Delhi. When the Indian government announced a sudden & draconian nationwide lockdown on 24th March, to halt the spread of Covid19 among the nation’s 1.38 billion people, he logged on to a chat forum for Aussies travelling in India on his lap top. Anxious messages were flooding in.

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An Epitaph for Martin Luther King and Memphis Today –when Black Lives Matter

Jane Russell, reviewing Stuart Cosgrove Memphis 68:  The Tragedy of Southern Soul,” Polygon Press Oct. 2017

This book is the middle section of a critically acclaimed sixties ‘soul’ trilogy by Australian-Scot Stuart Cosgrove, award winning broadcaster for Channel 4 and long-time writer for UK music media, Echoes and New Musical Express.  It follows on from Detroit 67: The Year that Changed Soul and anticipates the forthcoming Harlem 69: The Future of Soul (October 2018).

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The Rhodes Statue and Battle Lines in Oxford University: Aristocratic Brits face Black Extremists

Anonymous Oriel College Collective …….The letter (below) is a response from [one part of] Oxford University to black students attending as Rhodes Scholars who demand the university removes the statue of Oxford Benefactor, Cecil Rhodes.

Interestingly, Chris Patten (Lord Patten of Barnes), The Chancellor of Oxford University, was on the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 on precisely the same topic. The Daily Telegraph headline yesterday was “Oxford will not rewrite history”.  Lord Patten commented: “Education is not indoctrination. Our history is not  a blank page on which we can write our own version of what it should  have been according to our contemporary views and prejudice.”

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Imbalanced Task Forces in Sri Lanka?

Jehan Perera, in Island, 30 June 2020, with this title “The Need For Better Representation In Divided Societies”

There has been a trend of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa making senior appointments in which those who are outside the established administrative systems are being brought in to provide leadership and ensure effective and non-corrupt practices.  As a large number of these appointments have been from the security forces this has given rise to a perception that the country is heading towards eventual military rule. There is a concern that the forthcoming general elections will be followed by constitutional changes that will entrench the military in governance as in some other countries such as Myanmar. This is unlikely to be the case in Sri Lanka as democratic traditions upholding civilian control of government are deeply ingrained in the fabric of political society.

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