Charles Sarvan’s recent essay in Colombo Telegraph “On ‘Reading’ A Picture” presents reflections with a dispassionate air that conveys an impression of philosophical weight above the tumult of a propaganda war in which all of us are willy-nilly involved. He distances himself at the outset from the identities of the victors in the picture as Sinhalese and the vanquished as Tamil by terming that differentiation “accidental”. But, in concentrating on the horrendous assaults on women perpetrated by men, he proceeds to a presentation of the contemporary Tamil litany about the horrendous acts inflicted on the Tamils in the last stages of Eelam War IV. He does this without any historical, political and cartographic contextualization of the events that unfolded from mid-2006 to May 2009.
Map I = The Situation in late December 2008
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Introductory Note from Michael Roberts
The public event organised by Chatham House to discuss recent events in Sri Lanka on 17th January was chaired by a University Lecturer at University College London whose specialty is “human rights,” rather than any one of the Sri Lankan specialists teaching at British Universities (for e.g. Rajesh Venugopal, Asanga Welikala, Sujit Suvisundaram, Zoltan Beidermann and Alan Strathern). The combination of ignorance, distortion and prejudice that guided the organisation and direction of the debate was exposed in the opening lines of this Chairperson, one Kate Cronin-Furman. “[We are meeting today some ten years after the “final push” of the Sri Lankan Army in a war that ended in May 2009 – “a final phase where the UN estimates said that more than 40,000 civilians were killed by that military [action].”
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Sharika Thiranagama, Chapter in Suspicion, Intimacyy and The Ethics of State-building, ed. by S. Thirangama and Tobias Kelly, , University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.
ABSTRACT: In a 2006 Canadian Sri Lankan Tamil pamphlet called Thurohi (Traitor), the author tells his diasporic audience, “many of us fled and came to this country. Why? Our life’s duty is to survive. But what is our historical duty? To be traitors” (Jeeva 2006, 3; emphasis added).1 The war between the Sri Lankan state and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) drew in Sri Lanka’s three largest ethnic groups: The majority Sinhalese, the minority Sri Lankan Tamils, and Sri Lankan Muslims; the latter, while war-affected, were not active in the conflict. The primary battlefields and areas of LTTE control were northern and eastern Sri Lanka. In May 2009 the war came to a bloody close in a stand-off with the Sri Lankan Army and the death of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and most senior leadership. This end came long after the writing of this chapter and is not its subject……. Continue reading
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