Category Archives: Eelam

Reporters struggling with Eelam War IV: Some Recollections and Reports

 Michael Roberts

In addressing the serious issues raised by some of the Western media reportage of the events unfolding during the last phase of Eelam War IV and several seemingly deliberate obfuscations, I recently sent a short set of questions to some Indian journalists who were in Sri Lanka then and also to a few Sri Lankan reporters/cameramen who had been taken to the war front – guided here by an official list available. I have only received responses from a few, but it is enough to set the reflections rolling.

  Journalists in plane en route to war front, circa 27 January —Pic by Kanchan Prasad

These responses throw light on the difficulties faced by journalists in reporting the war and I see them as important appendages to an analytical review that I have already penned in draft form (in progress). Those studying Eelam War IV should pay heed to these recollections, while also visiting the Al Jazeera You-Tube presentations provided by Tony Birtley & David Chater and marveling at the capacities revealed by Sergei de Silva Ranasinghe in deciphering the ups-and-downs of the SL Army progress from distant shores far better than Birtley or those in Colombo who visited the front on conducted tours on some occasions. Continue reading

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ELIYA launched as Challenge to the Present Lankan-US Dispensation

Shamindra Ferdinando, in The Island, 12 September 2017, with title “A challenging task for Gotabhaya”

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The high profile launch of Eliya (light) by wartime Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa underscored Sri Lanka’s PATHETIC failure to counter unsubstantiated war crimes allegations, directed by a section of the international community, since the conclusion of the war, in May 2009. Sri Lanka paid a very heavy price for its failure and the previous government can never absolve itself of the responsibility for the situation. Continue reading

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Vale. In Memoriam. Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

In sadness, we record the passing away of Dr. Rajasingham Narendran, truly a Tamil intellectual in difficult times who did not let his ethnic sentiments distort his commitment to fact and realistic assessment. There cannot be a greater testament to his commitment to TRUTH than his terse description of the discovery of the rotting corpse sof his mother, brother and family aides after they had been killed by the IPKF in 1987 (repeated below in full to remind readers of their own frailties and the realities of war).

“Naren,” alas, was man whom I met only once …. a man who traversed investigative paths far removed from his training and did so in the incisive ways expected in his specialist field. I borrow his familial details from the VALE recorded in COLOMBO TELEGRAPH where he was a contributor of informative articles. Continue reading

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Solheim and Sri Lanka: Q and A Today

Padma Rao Sundarji  courtesy of Asian Tribune, 20 August 2017, where the title reads Ërik Solheim : “Regret we could not spend more time with Prabhakaran”

Erik Solheim, Norwegian peace mediator in the 30-year-long Sri Lanka civil war breaks his silence on his controversial role to Padama Rao Sundarji.

If we had spent more time with him (Prabhakaran), we would probably be able to influence him more,’ said Solheim

Padma Rao Sundarji: How and when did the government of Norway decide to mediate in Sri Lanka and why did they pick you?

Erik Solheim: We were invited in absolute secrecy by the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga. At the time, only two people in Colombo knew — she and foreign minister Lakshman Kadiragamar. It stayed like that for one-and-a-half years. Only later, it became public. I believe we were invited because we could potentially be acceptable to India as a small nation. And, we were invited because we had, at that time, seen some successes in the Middle East. They were small successes. But as a small, faraway nation it was felt that we could not really mess up Sri Lanka and could be acceptable to both the Tigers and the government of Sri Lanka at the same time. Continue reading

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“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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Introducing FIRE AND STORM by Michael Roberts

Anonymous Reviewer in Sunday Times, 21 July 2013,  where the title runs “Important contribution towards a dialogue on Lankan polity. Book facts”

When Michael Roberts left Peradeniya in the late seventies, he was part of an exodus of intellectuals from the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya, arguably one of the best universities at that time. The exodus of academics at that time was compelled by the economic difficulties faced by university dons. It was the second wave of such emigration that diminished the intellectual life of the university and country.

  Pirapāharan and leading Tiger Commanders at the Indian sponsored training camp at Sirimalai in 1984

The Arts Faculty of the University of Peradeniya never regained its prestigious academic status after that. Today the University of Peradeniya cannot take pride in intellectuals of the eminence of E. F. C. Ludowyck, E. R Sarachchandra, H. A. de S. Gunasekera, Fr. Ignatius Pinto, Ian Van den Driesen and many others. Continue reading

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The Death Toll in 2009: Deceit and Myopia, International and Lankan

 Michael Roberts, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph which  accepted the idea in principle several days ago, but requested a division of the essay into six parts.

Discussion of the death toll during Eelam War IV and the related topic of “The Disappeared” has been marked by collective myopia. Most discussions have dwelt in cloud cuckoo-land. This criticism can be levelled at the witch-hunters in the Western international order (whether UN and Western officials, media personnel or Tamil migrants) as well as the liberal humanists within the Sri Lankan middle class supporting a range of allegations. However, it also applies to analysts and reporters in defense of the realm such as Rohan Gunaratna,[1] Shamindra Ferdinando,[2] the editors of Sri Lanka’s print and internet media and many defenders of the Sri Lankan dispensation in its moment of crisis.

 1=Tiger dead assembled by SL Army (MoD Pic)    2 = A body in the Last Redoubt, presumably Tiger (MoDefence Pic)

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