Category Archives: Indian Ocean politics

The Gash Files II: LTTE’s Strategic Design

Michael Roberts

In Despatch COL/2/08 of12 March 2009 Lt. Col Anton Gash has this summary appraisal for his superiors: The LTTE has been forcing the civilian population to move in accordance with their tactical requirements. The NFZ is rigorously policed and patrolled by LTTE cadres, who control access to food and medical facilities, ensuring that their own needs are met before any capacity is allowed for civilians.”

This is a critical observation pointing in the right direction. Nevertheless, it falls short of the mark. The mass of Tamil civilians was not merely a tactical element. They were a central pillar in the LTTE’s grand strategy. For one, they constituted a defensive formation: just so many sandbags restraining the full deployment of the government forces’ military weaponry. While the standard description of the civilians as “hostages” in HR and Western circles does point in this direction, the terminology is “weak” and does not fully capture the overarching strategic purpose of the corralled civilian mass. In addition to serving as a restrictive ‘bund’, the civilian mass provided an active incentive for Western intervention in favour of a ceasefire and some sort of “political solution.

 a tent citty in the Tigers’ last redoubt –-Pic from UNPoE circa February 2009

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Looking Down a Ship’s Cannon: Vice Admiral Travis Sinniah in Q and A

Manjula Fernando, in Sunday Observer, 27 August 2017, where the title is “”I was always the target of the LTTE” …. Note: the highlighting is my imposition and see additional references at the end — Editor, Thuppahi

Speaking about his ascension to become the topmost Naval officer in the country, the son of a Tamil Naval doctor who developed a love for the service as a little boy, he says, “I was destined to be a front line executive officer to go out to sea, and carry out certain missions which would have changed the tide of the war with the LTTE.”

 

MANJULA FERNANDO’s QUESTIONS

Q: There is a popular perception that war heroes are born in a particular genre of schools. Are you the first Trinitian to be appointed to this prestigious post?

As the Navy Commander yes, I am the first. But, it doesn’t mean Trinitians haven’t gone to war. Trititians have fought in World War 1 as well as WW 11. Many Trinitians have served in the security forces but unfortunately, none have lived long enough to rise to the top. There were Trinitians, like Commander Shanti Bahar, Gen. Densil Kobbekaduwa and Lieutenant General Parami Kulatunga who made the ultimate sacrifice for the people of this country. I represent all of them. Continue reading

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Is there a Chinese Dragon Looming over Sri Lanka ?

 in Hambantota and in The Guardian, 26 March 2018, with this titleThe biggest game changer in 100 years’: Chinese money gushes into Sri Lanka,” … with highlights being the imposition of  The  Editor, Thuppahi

Little disturbs the serenity of Guan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion, as her statue sits in contemplation at the centre of Mattala Rajapaksa international airport. The last flight from the airport departed at 7.50am. The next is scheduled for 7.50am tomorrow. In the meantime, check-in counters are empty, car rental desks deserted, and the only sign of life a handful of staff laughing around an information desk who disperse when a visitor arrives.

Mattala Rakapaksa airport, built with Chinese loans, handles 50,000 passengers a year, a fraction of its capacity of 1 million. Photograph: Michael Safi

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Introducing Prophetic Indictments by Mervyn De Silva

Noel Ranjith

Regular readers of “The Island” newspaper over the twenty year period from the 1980’s will remember the almost weekly columns written by Dr. Mervyn D. De Silva, who was in those years a Deputy Director of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs, followed by being appointed as the Director of the Ministry of Plan Implementation, and later becoming a Member of Parliament through the National List. His most profuse and provocative period was during the tenures of four Presidents from Mr. J. R. Jayawardene to Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. His writings covered a wide range of public and national concerns and took their cue from what the controversial American journalist I.F. Stone believed was the purpose of good journalism  –to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”.

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Michael Roberts in Conversation in London, 8 March 2018

VISIT https://vimeo.com/259131094

Distinguished academic Dr Michael Roberts was in England recently and talked about his experiences and work including his online life as creator of the Thuppahi Blog (https://thuppahi.wordpress.com) …. This Q and A takes 60 minutes.

Pic by Eranga Jayawardena

Michael Roberts is a historian by training and has taught at the Department of History at Peradeniya University (1961-76) and the Department of Anthropology at Adelaide University (1977-2003). His major works are in agrarian history, social mobility, nationalism and ethnic conflict. Based on his interest in the Tamil liberation struggle and the sacrificial devotion mustered by the LTTE, he has written extensively on suicide missions. Michael Roberts has also edited several volumes on Sri Lanka entitled Collective Identities. In 2004, he retired as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Adelaide University, but continues to write articles.

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British House of Commons press for Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Sri Lanka, March 2018

HOUSE OF COMMONS HANSARD, 20 March 2018, 

Paul Scully MP (Conservative, Sutton & Cheam), Chair of UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils called a short debate in Westminster Hall on the establishment of a Truth & Reconciliation Commission in Sri Lanka. FCO Minister, Rt Hon Mark Field responded on behalf of HMG

    • I beg to move,

      That this House has considered the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission in Sri Lanka.

      It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Paisley. I am delighted to be joined by fellow members of the all-party parliamentary group for Tamils. The turnout represents the depth of feeling, particularly among the Tamil diaspora, in our constituencies. Yesterday, I led a debate in this Chamber on cystic fibrosis, which was the first time I have seen it with standing room only. The fact that there are fewer Members here for this debate does not negate its importance. Every Member in this Chamber represents many thousand members of the Tamil diaspora, who remain concerned about what is happening in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Government’s slow progress in meeting the terms of UN Human Rights Council resolution 30/1, which the Sri Lankan Government co-sponsored.

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Alan Strathern on The Vijaya Story as A Variant of the Romulus Tale … and Stranger Kings

Alan Strathern of Brasenose College, Oxford, with emphasis in colour being an imposition by The Editor Thuppahi

ABSTRACT: The story of Vijaya, has long been central to the Sinhalese idea of themselves as a distinct ethnic group of Aryan origin with ancient roots in the island of Lanka. The ‘national’ chronicle of the Sinhalese, the Mahāvaṃsa (circa fifth century ce) presents Vijaya, an exiled prince from India descended from a lion, as the founder hero of Sinhala civilisation. In a companion article to this, I argued that the narrative of Vijaya and other founder-heroes in the Mahāvaṃsa revolves around the theme of transgression, and that this puzzling fact can only be explained by a consideration of the symbolic logic of the ‘stranger-king’ in origin stories and kingship rituals worldwide.

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