Category Archives: military strategy

Eelam War IV Images: Kanchan Prasad, A Times Stringer and Makkaal Padai

In my Flickr Web sites … Michael Roberts

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Revisiting Jaffna and the LTTE in mid-1999 guided by Mark Corcoran and the ABC

Michael Roberts

 

In mid-year 1999 during the ongoing Eelam War III, Mark Corcoran of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) visited Sri Lanka and composed three film documentaries of fascinating breadth. They were

Sri Lanka. A Close Encounter with Arthur C. Clarke …. 6 June 1999
Sri Lanka Tigers at the Gate …… 29 June 1999

Sri Lanka. Extreme Surfing ……… 13 July 1999

I have yet to see the first and third of these film documentaries, but find the topics chosen very much in my line of interest. It so happened that I watched TIGERS AT THE GATE in Adelaide then.[1]  I then had the temerity to send a Letter to the ABC and Corcoran with some criticisms of the coveragedeploying an University of Adelaide letterhead so as to secure attention. This exercise had completely slipped my mind till I came across my typescript and Mark Corcoran’s reply (dated 5th July) among my manuscripts when indulging in some archival sorting. In reproducing my Memo and placing this exchange within the inter-net ‘bar,’ I stress that my memories of the documentary NOW are zilch and that i have not been able to study it again. However, I suspect that it would be very useful for analysts to revisit this documentary. Continue reading

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The Collective Consciousness of the Sinhalese During the Kandyan Era: Manichean Images, Associational Logic

Michael Roberts, being a reprint of an article with the same title in Asian Ethnicity, Volume 3, Number 1, March 2002

ABSTRACT:  An analysis of the form of the dynastic state known today as the Kingdom of Kandy provides a backdrop for an exploration of the sentiments that directed its resistance to the imperial expansion of the Portuguese, Dutch and British in the period from the 1590s to 1818. Known in its day as Sinhalē, a concept that could embrace the whole island of Lanka, the state and its cakravārti king served as the focus for a Sinhala collective consciousness that was embodied in epic tales, war poems and onomastic folklore, while also being promoted by the sacred topography associated with pilgrimages. These sentiments embraced both the ruling elements and the ordinary people. Within this body of thought, two threads stand out: first, the demonisation of Threatening Others; and, secondly, an associational logic that merges present with past, old enemies with new. This logic is akin to the atidēsa function identified by Ranajit Guha. In its ethnographic specifics among the Sinhalese, it merged the ‘vile-cum-fierce Tamils’ with the disordering Portuguese, English, et al. All were para rupu, ‘alien enemies’. The imagery is Manichean.

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Lanka walks tightrope in Indian Ocean Political-Naval Manoeuvres

Shamindra Ferdinando,  in The Island, 2 August 2017, where the title is “China makes headway as Lanka walks tightrope

Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) on July 22, 2017, took delivery of an Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV) built by the Government of India owned Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL).

On the invitation of Navy Chief Vice Admiral Ravi Wijegunaratne, President Maithripala Sirisena will commission the vessel as SLNS Sayurala (P 623) today (August 2) at the Eastern Container Terminal, Colombo harbour. It’ll be the first occasion a President participates in such a ceremony, in wartime or peacetime Sri Lanka. The AOPV is fitted for 76 mm main weapon though the SLN is exploring the possibility of mounting MBRL with stabilized platform developed by Research and Development. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will be among the invitees. Continue reading

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Fire-Storm Images, IV: Tamil Commitment to Their Cause

A road junction memorial for Annai Poopathi in Batticaloa District, Annai Poopathi, a mother of ten  children and aged 55, fasted unto death in protest against the IPKF presence in Sri Lanka, breathing her last on 19th April 1988.  –thereby backing Thileepan’s fast-unto-death earlier in Jaffna in 1987. A permanent memorial in her homage was also constructed at Kiran … but the tsunami  destroyed it. Her memory is evoked to this day.  Her sacrifice is remembered and hallowed today among Tamils in many lands –Germany, Netherlands, UK et  cetera –see http://www.tamilguardian.com/content/annai-poopathy-remembered?articleid=4700.

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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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Fire-Storm Images, II: The Indian Intervention, 1987

Naval rating Wijemuni Rohana de Silva attempts to hammer — deliver guti, so to speak — Premier Rajiv Gandhi for the humiliation imposed on Sri Lanka Through the insertion of an Indian Peace Keeping Force  as the main pillar of the Indo-Lanka Accord.  This incident occurred during the guard of honour on his arrival  to finalize the Accord.  Note that after serving his period of imprisonment for this act WR de Silva contested parliamentary elections under the JVP banner in his home area down south. I have been reliably informed that The cameraman was Sena Vidanagamage — what a camera strike!

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