Category Archives: religious nationalism

Suicide Missions as Witnessing: From Self-Immolation to Assassination and Mass Strike

Michael Roberts ….. This article appeared first in Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 2007, vol. 30:  857-88.with the titleSuicide Missions as Witnessing: Expansions, Contrasts” and is reproduced here with its original American English spelling. The re-working of this article was seen to by Ms Nadeeka Paththuwaarachchi of Battaramulla. The pictorial images are embellishments that were not part of the original essay. I have also added highlighting emphasis in orange as well as a few hyperlinks to other standard sources of information. The bibliographical references are within the End Notes as in the original format.

ABSTRACT: Studies of suicide missions usually focus solely on attacks. They also have highlighted the performative character of suicide missions as acts of witness. By extending surveys to suicidal acts that embrace no-escape attacks, theatrical assassination, defensive suicide, and suicidal protest, one gains further insight into the motivations of individuals and organizations. Illustrative studies, notably the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and Sadat as well as Tamil Tiger operations, generate a typology that underlines the benefits of such extensions. The Japanese and Tamil contexts reveal the profound differences in readings of sacrificial acts of atonement or punishment by local constituencies. Norman Morrison in Washington in 1965 and Jan Palach in Prague in 1969 did not have such beneficial settings and the immediate ramifications of their protest action were limited. Morrison’s story highlights the significance of a societal context of individuated rationalism as opposed, say, to the “pyramidical corporatism” encouraging martyrdom operations in the Islamic world.

Jan Palach…19 Jan. 1969 Nathuram Godse vs Mahatma Gandhi .. 30 Jan 1948

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Dharmapāla’s Seminal Moment at Buddha Gāya in 1891: An Anagārika for the Universe

 Michael Roberts, courtesy of  The Island and Sunday Times and with thanks to Sasanka Perera & Steve Kemper

Sasanka Perera has recently introduced readers to a new book by Steven Kemper entitled Rescuing Dharmapala from the Nation (University of Chicago Press, 2015) – a book which surveys the socio-political activities of the Anagarika Dharmapala in a refreshing manner. I have yet to get hold of the book, but Sasanka provides enough commentary to provoke a discussion.

 Dharmapala in USA –probably at the World Congress of Religions 1893

Within a context where Dharmapala aka Don David Hewavitarne is regarded as an influential Sinhala Buddhist chauvinist by many social scientists analysing Sri Lankan history and politics, Perera indicates that Kemper provides broader dimensions by re-situating Dharmapala “within the Buddhist world of his time by … focusing on his international activities in aid of Buddhist causes and cross-faith discussions.” Kemper’s new work, therefore, is a modification of the Protestant Buddhist thesis popularized in social science circles by Gananath Obeyesekere’s writings in particular. Continue reading

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Tisaranee dissects the Current Populist Currents and their Chauvinist Underpinnings

Tisaranee Gunasekara in The Sri Lanka Guardian where the title runs thus: “Blood-and-Faith Populism and Sri Lanka’s Future””

“As the great reformers of the 19th century well knew, the Social Question, if left unaddressed, does not just wither away. It goes instead in search of more radical answers.””……Tony Judt (Reappraisals)

This month, the populist wave suffered two critical defeats. In France outsider-candidate Emmanuel Macron beat Marine Le Pen. In Iran, reformist president Hassan Rouhani trounced Ebrahim Raisi, a religious hardliner backed by Supreme Leader Khameni and the Revolutionary Guard. These defeats come in the wake of other electoral setbacks for populists, especially in Austria and The Netherlands. Despite these welcome-defeats, the current wave of populism is far from spent – and would continue wreak havoc, until the forces of moderation manage to create a new synthesis between pluralist democracy and progressive economics.

Populism is hardly a new phenomenon. It flourishes best where there is economic loss and pain. Populist leaders succeed in their power-grabs by harnessing that economic pain to their political projects. Continue reading

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Kemper in London on Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World

Listen to PODCAST by Steven E. Kemper introducing his book Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World (U of Chicago Press, 2015) from New Books in Buddhist Studies … in London ….. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/new-books-in-buddhist-studies/id458210899?mt=2&i=1000345817559

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A Battery of Cricketers condemn Sinhala Racist Attacks

Mahela Jayawardena :https://twitter.com/mahelajay/status/971269970964381696

Sanath Jayasuriya :https://twitter.com/sanath07/status/971296370408808449

Kumar Sangakkara :https://twitter.com/kumarsanga2/status/971293153969000449 Continue reading

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Prevent International Conventions creeping in as Law

Sriyan de Silva, Island, 17 October 2017, where the title is “Sri Lanka, International conventions and debasement of our legislative process”

Arising from Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka’s useful article, titled Government has Accepted the ICJ’s Jurisdiction over Sri Lanka [The Island, 18 September 2017], where she has stated that such acceptance is a consequence of the government’s ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances, it is necessary to examine when/where Sri Lanka is legally bound by the International Conventions it has ratified. [Presumably she means the International Criminal Court and not the International Court of Justice].

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When Terrorism assailed Cricket at Lahore, 3 March 2009: A Cumulus Cloud of Questions

Michael Roberts, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph, where the title is different

A distant image of some assailants  

99793-H-Sun cover large

  a dead body is removed subsequently –Pic from AFP

A few years back I studied the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team when they were on their way to the Gaddafi Stadium at Lahore during the course of their Test Match vs Pakistan in 2009. This analysis is available as “Cricket under Siege:  The Lahore Attack, 3 March 2009,” in my book Incursions & Excursions in and around Sri Lanka Cricket (Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2011).. I did not interview Brendon Kuruppu, the SL Team Manager, till after that work was presented. Since he presented a lucid account of his experiences, that essay lacks some of his insights. Continue reading

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