Category Archives: NGOs

Asoka Bandarage’s Study of The Separatist Conflict in Sri Lanka appeared in 2009

Assoke Bandarage BANDARAGE COVER

The Routledge Flier: Using careful historical research and analysis of policy documents, this book explains the origin and evolution of the political conflict in Sri Lanka over the struggle to establish a separate state in its Northern and Eastern Provinces. The conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the secessionist LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) is one of the world’s most intractable contemporary armed struggles. The internationally banned LTTE is considered the prototype of modern terrorism. It is known to have introduced suicide bombing to the world, and recently became the first terrorist organization ever to acquire an air force. The book argues that the Sri Lankan conflict cannot be adequately understood from the dominant bipolar analysis that sees it as a primordial ethnic conflict between the Sinhala majority and the Tamil minority. The book broadens the discourse providing a multipolar analysis of the complex interplay of political-economic and cultural forces at the local, regional and international levels including the roles of India and the international community. Overall, the book presents a conceptual framework useful for comparative global conflict analysis and resolution, shedding light on a host of complex issues such as terrorism, civil society, diasporas, international intervention and secessionism.

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The LLRC Sittings in Pictures

The recent presentation in Thuppahi of a specific proposal from the LLRC on national anthems as well as the issues raised by Thuppahi on the topic of DISAPPEARANCES prompt me to present a number of images from the sittings conducted by this peripatic body of personnel together with a brief officla report. the images have been helpfully provided by Kithsiri De Silva an old Aloysian class-mate who was an officer servicing the work of this august body.  I am also tacking on an official report on the LLRC plus one dissenting note about its lopsided composition from Harshadeva Amarathunga. Michael Roberts

llrc-1

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Situating Clarance’s Book: Ethnic Warfare in Sri Lanka and the UN Crisis

Michael Roberts, reprinted from South Asia, Sept 2008, 31: 394-96, a review of Ethnic Warfare in Sri Lanka and the UN Crisis (London: Pluto Press, and Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2007), 296 pp.

This is an unusual book and essential reading for those interested in the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. William Clarance was head of UNHCR’s relief mission in Sri Lanka from 1989 to 1992. He kept a diary and has waited until he had left the arena of international administration before recounting his riveting experiences in the field. 

aa-ethnic-warfare-in-sri-lanka-and-the-un-crisis  His brief in Sri Lanka was to cater to the needs of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India who had chosen to return to their homeland. In practice, however, the local UNHCR’s efforts also embraced some local refugees (IDPs, or ‘internally displaced people’), whether Tamil, Muslim or Sinhalese, who were the flotsam and jetsam generated by the warring turmoil in the island. Clarance sets the pursuit of this venture within its historical context by outlining the temporal stages in the escalation of hostility between leading Tamil and Sinhalese political forces. This competent summary is complemented by a description of the Indian intervention in 1987 and a capsule survey of the events in the period 1987–89, the immediate background to the UNHCR relief efforts.  Continue reading

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Disappearances and Torture in Lanka, 2009-16: A Bibliography

Michael Roberts

 a-z-torture  t-for-temperature

In reviewing the blog comments on my short memo on “Sinhala Mind-Set” during the years 2009-15,  I was induced to place a claim by one “Flloyd” before about eighty of friends and others in my email address list in order to evaluate his assertion in April 2013 that “the Tamils continue to be tortured, raped, and killed by the state.” Though reading this particular charge as far too sweeping, I set out to test my reading. In my thinking this claim gained weight from the fact that the rest of Flloyd’s commentary suggested that he was not an extremist.

Some 23 individuals – including 5 Tamils, 1 Irishman,1 Colombo Chetty and 2 Indians — have responded, albeit briefly in several instances (with a few endorsing  my suggestion that it is a sweeping exaggeration).. This item is now on web. One of those who commented, the Telugu Indian journalist Muralidhar Reddy has been kind enough to send me a private note from his location (now in India) that runs thus: “This turned out to be a very good exercise. Productive, useful and frankness from the heart of real people who were or are still on the ground.”

In pursuit of further value, I now present a BIBLIOGRAPHY on the topic of disappearances that amplifies previous efforts – one that has been assisted by the recent exercise. Note that I have not embraced items that focus specifically on rape in this exercise. Ii is a standard practice in agit-prop action from anti-state activists[1] as well as foreign reporters on brief excursions to the island to bracket “disappearances, torture and rape” together. Such an ‘alliance’ brings feminists on board and illuminates the halo around any writer’s head. Continue reading

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Mahinda Rajapaksa meets “The Hindu” in July 2009

I. Preamble by Michael Roberts

I was in Colombo from mid-April 2009 to early June and observed the local coverage of Eelam War IV at its bitter end. I was invited by Muralidhar Reddy[i] to write articles for Frontline on aspects of the politics surrounding the war. Though Frontline is a magazine produced by The Hindu consortium, I was not a regular follower of that newspaper on web — even though I had once been introduced to its owner and chief executive, N. Ram, way back in time by Chandra Schafter and had also had an extended chat with him in Delhi in 1995.[ii]

n_ram_20120625_350_630 N Ram talking to Mahinda Rajapaksa, mid-2009 mahinda-with-ram

Thus the receipt of a Hindu report on President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s thoughts in mid-2009, expressed in an extended session with him conducted by N. Ram, serves up new material from my position. In step with my policy of raising significant episodes in the course of Eelam War IV to public notice,[iii] I  hasten to place this exchange in the public domain. Continue reading

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Chaotic Pluralism in Sri Lanka’s Polity Today

Sanjana Hattotuwa, courtesy of The Island, 1 October 2016, where the title is “Factions & Fractions. Chaos in Sri Lanka’s Polity” emphasis has been added by The Editor, Thuppahi.

My conversations with individuals and institutions over the course of last week highlighted what a few in government and many more outside already know and fear. Since January 8, 2015, politics as usual has trumped the promise of a new political culture, captured best by the yahapalanaya brand. This was expected, though to see and live through it is no less depressing. A friend succinctly flagged salient features of the challenge at a meeting held to trace the contours of what today is a promising, new, government led communications initiative. Those in power now trust more those they perceived to be loyal (either to self or party) more than those with skills and experience. Critical commentary, including that which holds the President, PM and the rest of government accountable to the promises they themselves made, is seen as unnecessary, inconvenient and as a sign of trouble. So instead of attending to or focusing on the short-comings flagged, attention is almost entirely devoted to deny, decry or destroy the messenger. Adding to this is a new and already complex constellation of party political appointees and personal favourites, acting as gatekeepers and firewalls to ideas, information and input that can from those without any interest in SUVs, the perks of office or foreign jaunts, strengthen governance.

mahinda-sirisena-ranilchandrika-plus-gopalkrishna-dgandhi

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Groundviews on Disappearances and the OMP

MISSING -GV 22

Raisa Wickrematunga: “Searching for Answers: The Road to the OMP,” 30 August 2016, https://groundviews.org/2016/08/30/searching-for-answers-the-road-to-the-omp/

Bhavani Fonseka: “The Office on Missing Persons: A New Chapter or Another Empty Promise?” 18 August 2016, https://groundviews.org/2016/08/18/the-office-on-missing-persons-a-new-chapter-or-another-empty-promise/

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