Category Archives: language policies

Violence in Sri Lanka: Slipshod Scholarship

Michael Roberts

I recently circulated a whole set of articles by some Muslim scholars (located in the Eastern Province and abroad) as well as a few others in Western universities — mostly written in the 2011-19 period. I am beginning to go through them slowly when I can carve out time for this set of tasks. A few have focused on the incidence of crime and communal violence in the post 2009 period.

What strikes me on reading these ventures is the limited degree of reading of past works that has been pursued and the appalling gaps in their background – lapses which also impinge on their comments on the death toll in the last stages of Eelam War IV.

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Waduge’s Summary Survey: USA’s Hands in Sri Lankan Politics, 1950s-2019

Shenali Waduge, in LankaWeb. 1 November 2019, where the title reads “US in Sri Lanka since 2015 – turning Sri Lanka into a Neo-Colonial Military Base”

Ever since a regime change was choreographed in 2015 January, the US has been using its lackeys in government to exert tremendous influence in 3 areas – Sri Lanka‘s economy, Sri Lanka‘s Parliament and Sri Lanka‘s armed forces. Based on media articles, press releases and whatever other information has been made available to the public, an overview of the extent to which Sri Lanka’s sovereignty has been compromised can be deduced. Sri Lanka is a sovereign nation and Sri Lanka must uphold that sovereign status. Any new government must understand the fundamentals of what it means to be sovereign and ensure national policy is drafted to ensure that and for any gain that sovereignty is not compromised.

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Sinhala Buddhist Storm Clouds in the Present Presidential Race

ACL Ameer Ali, in Colombo Telegraph, 25 October 2019, … and Financial Times, 26 October 2019, with this title, “Political Buddhism, Presidential Race & Minorities”

Although the origins of political Buddhism in Sri Lanka goes back to the 19thcentury, it was harnessed as an election winning tool in the 1950s by the founder of SLFP, SWRD Bandaranaike. It was from him that even the CIA is said to have learned to politicise Buddhism to entrench American power in Southeast Asia (Eugene Ford, Cold War Monks, Yale University Press, 2017). From the 1950s onwards, political Buddhism has become a permanent feature of in Sri Lanka’s ethno-democracy. In a sense, political Buddhism adopted a military face during the Rajapakse regime between 2005 and 2009 when it confronted an armed nationalist Tamil militia, and the absolute victory in that confrontation added an element of pride to politicised Buddhists. 

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Political Currents Past and Present bearing on the Sri Lankan Dilemmas Now

 DCP Amarasekere[i], in Island, 28 October 2019, with this titleBeyond the story of doom: the social base of ‘new authoritarianism’ in Sri Lanka”

With only a few weeks left for the 2019 Presidential Election, two questions seem to dominate our social conversations and news coverage: “who will win?” and “what will be Sri Lanka’s political destiny?” In the absence of country-wide scientific polling, the first question is typically answered by using anecdotes, quasi-scientific, social media or social network specific speculations or gossip.  The second question, which categorically stems from the liberal quarters of society, is a long-winded lament about the “cruel dilemma” of having to choose between a “neo-conservative” coalition and weak political formations putting up a brave fight to hold on to the last straw of the country’s democracy.

NM Perera at hartal 1953 and SWRD for Sinhala Only in 1956

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Wigneswaran’s Political Manifesto dissected in Devastating Fashion

Chandre Dharmawardana, in Island, 29 October 2019, where the title is “The ITAK’s 13-Point Letter””

According to news reports in The Island of 18 Oct. 2019), the TNA has sent a 13-point to the presidential candidates, even though the prospective President has been shackled by the 19A crafted by the Jayampathy-Sumanthiran cabal. It should not be forgotten that parties constituting the TNA backed the LTTE in its heyday and were the political facades of Prabhakaran’s terror campaign, even though their very own colleagues like Amirthalingam and Yogeswaran had been murdered in cold blood by Prabhakaran. Those acts have never been condemned by the TNA.

see https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Atlas_of_Tamil_Eelam

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Narendran’s Critical Dissection of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Victory Day Speech on 18th May 2009

Rajasingham Narendran, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph, 19th May 2009, where the title is “A Response To The President’s Address On Victory Day”

I read with much interest the President’s ‘Victory Day’ speech at the Galle Face Green, yesterday [18th May 2009], reproduced in CT.   While I agree with much of his recount of recent history, there are glaring gaps in the story he recalled.  Further, he has failed to address the current concerns of the victims his forces liberated, at all.  I have selected some sentences and sections from his address to express my concerns.

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Sri Lanka’s Rivers of Grief from 1956-to-Present within Documentary Film

Anurudha Kodagoda in Sunday Observer, 6 October 2019, reviewing Dharmasiri Bandaranayake’s TEARS IN PARADISE

Dharmasiri Bandaranayake’s latest documentary film, ‘Tears in Paradise’ (Paradisayaka Kadulu), consists of the political history of Sri Lanka from the assassination of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike to the 1983 Black July, emphasizing the dark history of violence released by the Sinhala-Buddhist ethnicity of the country with the patronage of the Sri Lankan Government which was in power at that time.

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