Category Archives: Indian Ocean politics

Infantry Warfare and the Final Phase of Eelam War IV: Where Laymen Blunder into Infantile Assessments

Michael Roberts

 In his typically feisty style Mark Salter has taken issue with the characterization of a statement in his To End a Civil War as “infantile”  (within an article based on the Lt Col Gash files[1]). [This protest is now reproduced at the end of this essay as well]. Salter’s assertion is from an UTHR report which in turn is based on appraisals provided by Tamil civilians who survived the last stages of the war. Here I address both Salter and Rajan Hoole, a friend of mine and the central figure behind the exhaustive 2009 UTHR reports.

Sri Lankan Tamil civilians arrive to a government-controlled area after fleeing territory controlled by the LTTE separatist rebels in Puthukkudiyirippu…Sri Lankan Tamil civilians arrive to a government-controlled area after fleeing territory controlled by the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) separatist rebels in Puthukkudiyirippu, northeast Sri Lanka, March 26, 2009. Pictures taken March 26, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer (SRI LANKA POLITICS CONFLICT IMAGE OF THE DAY TOP PICTURE)

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Woollacott’s Insight in 1976: Tamils set for Guerilla War and Secession

In sorting through my papers I came across a news cutting that is historically significant. Here was one occasion where a visiting journalist deciphered a developing scenario correctly. That I retained the clipping in papers relating to an article  I drafted in 1976 is also significant. These circumstances are clarified briefly at the end of Woollacott’s piece. It is fitting that he should hold centre stage ((though, alas, Alamy have put a price on the only photograph I can find of Woollacott)…. Michael Roberts

Tamil satyagrahis being foricbly removed from Galle Face Green by Sinhala enthusiasts in 1956 during the former’s protest vs the Sinhala Only Bill … 1956 or thereabouts (see Victor Ivan: Paradise in Tears … http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2009/12/20/paradise-in-tears-%E2%80%93-new-edition-by-victor-ivan/)

 Ponnadurai Sivakumaran of Urumpirai was a budding resistance fighter who committed suicide by cyanide in 1974 when trapped by police. He is embodied here in high profile with SJV Chelvanayagam of the Federal Party as the embodiment of resistance to oppression. As such, he reflects the strands of Tamil thinking that Martin Woollacott discerned in 1976. Note that the Tamil New Tigers or TNT had been formed in 1972 and metamorphosed into the LTTE in 1976. In the meanwhile the Tamil United Liberation Front under SJV Chelvanyakam adopted the Vaddukoddai Resolution on 14 May 1976 calling for a separate state of Thamililam.

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June 16, 2018 · 4:29 am

Protecting Sri Lankan Rights: The Modern Saga of Shipwreck “Avondster”

Somasiri Devendra, in Island, 13 June 2018, where the title is “Under the Waters of Galle:  A Prelude to the “Avondster’ Project”

The curtain rises: One morning in 2002 I received a call from the Additional Director General, Central Cultural Fund (CCF), Mr. H. D. S. Hettipathirana, to discuss a glitch in the Avondster project which was due to get off the ground. I was, then, wearing several hats: Consultant (to the CCF) and Special Advisor (to the Director-General, Archaeology) on Maritime Archaeology; and member of the Advisory Committee to the Ministry. I was also a member of ICUCH (the ICOMOS International Committee on the Underwater Cultural Heritage) and had been involved in the formulation of both the ICOMOS Charter and the UNESCO International Convention on the Underwater Cultural Heritage. Neither I – nor anyone else in the country – had had any maritime archaeological training: I was the proverbial one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind! But, in all these honorary positions I strove to balance national and international interests.

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The Personal Touch in Diplomacy seen within the Troika 2008/09 … But Then …!!!

Rajiva Wijesinha, in Island, 13 June 2017, where the title is “The Troika and the importance of individuals” with the highlighting  being the work of The Editor, Thuppahi

I have read with interest the accounts by Lalith Weeratunge and Dayan Jayatilleke of the way in which a Troika managed relations between India and Sri Lanka during the war period. Lalith’s account is most illuminating, in explaining how our three representatives, Lalith himself and Gotabhaya and Basil Rajapaksa, ensured the confidence of the Indians, even though the latter were nervous about possible reactions in Tamil Nadu.

ALOK PRASAD

But I believe Dayan is correct in drawing attention to the policy commitments underlying the very positive relationship they nurtured in those crucial years. And I think Dayan is also correct in noting that we need to look also at what happened afterwards, and how the benefits of what the Troika achieved were squandered. Continue reading

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Western Neo-Colonialism Today: An Incisive Note from Tony Donaldson

Context: When the Editor of Thuppahi circulates articles, he sometimes includes attachments or adds bibliographical references. Tony Donaldson read some of the references listed with the article on the last phase of Eelam War IV presented recently by Lalith Weeratunga. He then responded spontaneously and privately to two of my efforts from August 2015 and July 2016 in an email note sent today 12th June 2018. His thoughts are as incisive as thought-provoking. They are a boost to thought and debate. I place them in the inter-net world and challenge readers to respond. The two references are listed after his capsule-statement

 

Tony Donaldson’s Capsule Comment

Michael, …. Two great articles in “Ambassador Blake in Never-Never Land…” and the imperious interventions of David Miliband….  I am not surprised by any of this.  US diplomats should study anthropology for a few years. It might teach them to recognize neo-colonialism in their own value system.   Continue reading

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At the Height of Eelam War IV: Mollifying India via Backdoor Threesomes

Lalith Weeratunga, courtesy of counterpoint and dailyft,… where the title runs thus  “The Troika: How crucial relations with India were managed in the last phase of the separatist war”

It is no secret that foreign ministries work in watertight compartments and often under immense pressure. As a result, they cannot be flexible, and quite obviously cannot think out of the box. Even the most experienced Foreign Service officers have to be cautious when dealing with their counterparts due to sensitivity of the work they handle.  In writing a memo, a letter or a communique’, foreign ministry officials take extraordinary precautions, and that’s quite understandable. Because of the visibility they get in the global scene, external affairs or Foreign Service personnel exercise tremendous caution and hence the stress they experience.

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Honouring Sir Desmond de Silva, A British Legal Luminary whose Incisive Report serves Lanka

Rajiva Wijesinha, courtesy of The Island, 8 June 2018, where the title isSir Desmond de Silva passes away” … with highlights being the intervention of The Editor, Thuppahi

The death of Sir Desmond de Silva last week is a tragedy for Sri Lanka. But what is perhaps more tragic is that none of our decision makers can understand the blow we have suffered. Sir Desmond came into the picture very late in the day. The last government completely ignored both the commitments it had entered into freely, to deal with accountability issues, and also the mounting dangers of international criticism. It started indeed by immediately throwing away its best defence against such criticism, by dismissing Dayan Jayatilleka from the position of our Permanent Representative in Geneva.

Sir Desmond de Silva

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