Shamara Wettimuny, a reprint of an article in the LSE International History Blog, in May 2018, where the title is Regulating Religious Rites: Did British Regulation of “Noise Worship” Trigger the 1915 Riots in Ceylon?’
Violence targeting the Muslim community has recently increased in Sri Lanka. Yet the scale of the violence is relatively small compared to events that took place a hundred years ago. In 1915, a dispute over a Buddhist procession near a mosque led to island-wide communal riots in Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka). This article revisits this historical event. It explores how the rise of ethno-religious nationalist ideologies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries converged with British regulation of ‘noise worship’ to trigger the most destructive episode of violence between Sinhala-Buddhists and Muslims to date.
Kandy in early 20th century
Filed under accountability, British imperialism, communal relations, conspiracies, cultural transmission, discrimination, economic processes, education, ethnicity, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian traditions, Islamic fundamentalism, island economy, landscape wondrous, legal issues, life stories, Muslims in Lanka, politIcal discourse, power politics, religiosity, riots and pogroms, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, world events & processes
Michael Roberts …. reprinting an article drafted in Heidelberg in 1976 and published in the MODERN ASIAN STUDIES in 1978 … with the pessimistic forecast in its concluding paragraphs being informed by seminar discussions in SRi Lanka in the early 1970s, an article by Martin Woolacott in the Guardian Weekly and news items in UK indicating that young Tamils were receiving military training with the PLO.
Bandaranaike stirring a crowd and Mettananda addressing a crowd of Sinhalayo on Galle Face Green pressing for the Sinhala Only Bill
It is widely recognized that the concepts of ‘state’ and ‘nation’ developed largely out of the history of Europe. In Western Europe the process of state-building preceded and assisted the process of nation-formation. In consequence, the concept of the nation that developed from this process focused on the political community as defined by the institutional and territorial framework. In the tradition of Rousseau, Abbé Sieyes could define a nation as ‘a body of associates living under one common law and represented by the same legislature’. In most lands of Western Europe these developments also produced the model of a single nationality nation or nation-state. In Central and Eastern Europe, the process was different: ‘the nation was first defined as a cultural rather than a political entity’ and the underlying theoretical foundation was in the tradition of Herder rather than Rousseau. Nevertheless, once nationhood had been achieved in these regions there was a tendency to approximate to the model associated with Western Europe. This was made all the easier in such states as Italy and Germany because the majority of their citizens were from one ethnic group; they, too, were single nationality nations. Whatever the dualisms and amalgams in Europe, the export model has been that associated with that of Western Europe—for the simple reason that the predominant colonizing powers were from this part of the Continent.
Filed under atrocities, Buddhism, communal relations, devolution, economic processes, electoral structures, historical interpretation, land policies, language policies, Left politics, legal issues, life stories, politIcal discourse, power politics, riots and pogroms, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society
Writer S Karunakaran reflects on Black July from the perspective of a marginalised and often forgotten community – the Malaiyagha Tamils – and specifically those who tried to resettle in the North…
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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
Filed under accountability, British colonialism, British imperialism, communal relations, cultural transmission, disparagement, Eelam, ethnicity, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian traditions, island economy, life stories, LTTE, military strategy, modernity & modernization, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, prabhakaran, riots and pogroms, security, self-reflexivity, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, Tamil Tiger fighters, transport and communications, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, war reportage, world events & processes
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.
Filed under accountability, atrocities, British colonialism, cultural transmission, economic processes, historical interpretation, jihad, landscape wondrous, life stories, politIcal discourse, reconciliation, religiosity, riots and pogroms, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, tolerance, trauma, truth as casualty of war, vengeance, world events & processes