In sorting through my papers I came across a news cutting that is historically significant. Here was one occasion where a visiting journalist deciphered a developing scenario correctly. That I retained the clipping in papers relating to an article I drafted in 1976 is also significant. These circumstances are clarified briefly at the end of Woollacott’s piece. It is fitting that he should hold centre stage ((though, alas, Alamy have put a price on the only photograph I can find of Woollacott)…. Michael Roberts
Tamil satyagrahis being foricbly removed from Galle Face Green by Sinhala enthusiasts in 1956 during the former’s protest vs the Sinhala Only Bill … 1956 or thereabouts (see Victor Ivan: Paradise in Tears … http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2009/12/20/paradise-in-tears-%E2%80%93-new-edition-by-victor-ivan/)
Ponnadurai Sivakumaran of Urumpirai was a budding resistance fighter who committed suicide by cyanide in 1974 when trapped by police. He is embodied here in high profile with SJV Chelvanayagam of the Federal Party as the embodiment of resistance to oppression. As such, he reflects the strands of Tamil thinking that Martin Woollacott discerned in 1976. Note that the Tamil New Tigers or TNT had been formed in 1972 and metamorphosed into the LTTE in 1976. In the meanwhile the Tamil United Liberation Front under SJV Chelvanyakam adopted the Vaddukoddai Resolution on 14 May 1976 calling for a separate state of Thamililam.
Charles Sarvan aka Ponnadurai, in Colombo Telegraph, reviewing K. M de Silva’s The Island Story: A Short History of Sri Lanka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Kandy, Sri Lanka, 2017
EPIGRAPH: “Sri Lanka in the first few centuries after the early settlement was a multi-racial, multi-ethnic society: a conception which emphasises harmony and a spirit of live and let live” (K. M. de Silva, op. cit., page 13)
It’s said that fools rush in where the wise fear even to walk. I tiptoe hesitantly, conscious that I am no historian (my discipline was Literature) while the author is perhaps the most eminent of Sri Lankan historians writing in English. The hope is that what I write will be taken as a layman’s perspective and contribution to discussion. Continue reading
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Asoka Bandarage, in Asia Times, 30 March 2018, where the title runs “Avoiding ‘religious’ violence in Sri Lanka”
On the night of February 22, four drunken Muslim youths traveling on a three-wheeler in Sri Lanka’s Kandy district beat up a Sinhala Buddhist truck driver because he had not allowed them to overtake his truck. The police arrested the assailants but released them on bail.
Although intelligence officers had warned that the incident could be used to instigate ethnic tensions in the area, the police did not take immediate action. After the truck driver died and his body was being taten from the hospital on the night of March 2, feeling betrayed by state authorities, villagers burned tires in protest.
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If EVER there was a tale of gullibility and chicanery combining to spread violent killing and havoc among the populace, it is the manner in which some elements in the Sinhalese population accepted the validity of rumours that Muslim traders were dispersing infertility pills among the Sinhala peoples. Such rumours seem to have peaked immediately after the Digane-Teldeniya violence and may have been a factor inspiring the attacks. They are certainly part of the vicious propaganda being wrought by elements of the BBS type as well as gullible ordinary citizens.
From my studies of ethnic violence in the past, I note that this arena is where the voices and incitement of women contribute to the retributory actions we know as “riots” and/or “pogroms.” Michael Roberts ***
The featured picture shows Sri Lankan police commandos guarding a riot hit market place.
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