Category Archives: slanted reportage

Thomas Meaney, A Review Article, courtesy of the Author and the London Review of Books,… with emphasis by highlights added by The Editor, Thuppahi … SEE www.lrb.co.uk

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Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World by Steven Kemper, Chicago, 480 pp, £31.50, January 2015, ISBN 978 0 226 19907

Tamil: A Biography by David Shulman, Harvard, 416 pp, £25.00, September 2016, ISBN 978 0 674 05992 4

The Seasons of Trouble: Life amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka’s Civil War by Rohini Mohan, Verso, 368 pp, £16.99, October 2015, ISBN 978 1 78168 883 0

Independence was handed to Ceylon’s elite on a platter. ‘Think of Ceylon as a little bit of England,’ Oliver Ernest Goonetilleke, the first native governor-general, said. This was a point of pride. Don Stephen Senanayake, the country’s first prime minister, remarked: ‘There has been no rebellion in Ceylon, no non-cooperation movement and no fifth column. We were among the peoples who gave full collaboration while Britain was hard-pressed.’ After independence in 1948, Ceylon alone among the former colonies not only retained but promoted the monarchy: the Union Jack flew alongside the Ceylon flag; a new constitution was drafted by a former LSE professor, Ivor Jennings; Colombo debutantes were presented at Buckingham Palace; and, thanks to some genealogical ingenuity, George VI was recognised as the latest monarch in the ancient line of Kandyan kings. While the rest of the empire in Asia smouldered – in India there was Partition, in Malaya the Emergency, in Burma the civil war – Ceylon became Whitehall’s model for the transfer of colonial power. ‘There was no fight for that freedom which involved a fight for principles, policies and programmes,’ Solomon Ridgeway Bandaranaike, the anti-colonial head of state who took power in 1956, said when he reviewed the transition a decade later. ‘It just came overnight. We just woke up one day and were told: “You are a dominion now.”[1] Continue reading

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February 10, 2017 · 1:03 pm

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

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Murali Dissected …. and Admired: Shehan Karunatilaka’s Conversion

Shehan Karunatilaka,  courtesy of ESPNcricinfo and http://shehanwriter.com/sport/Murali_Sceptic.html where the title is Confessions of a Murali Sceptic”

A dangerous confession: I have been a Murali-sceptic for some time. This is not something that should be admitted, in public or otherwise, if you are Sri Lankan and fear being lynched.  Make no mistake, I am no Murali-denier. Who can possibly deny the man’s genius, his artistry, and his quiet dignity? But when first I saw him in 1995, bamboozling the Kiwis in Sri Lanka’s first Test series win abroad, my reaction was that there was dodginess at work – dodginess concentrated around the elbow region. I wasn’t the only one.

At the time I hadn’t read the rules on what constituted a chuck, but it seemed to be all about elbows: whether they straightened or whether they bent. My view of chucking mirrored conventional views on pornography: hard to define, but I would know it when I saw it.

For those, however, who saw Murali, who truly saw the man’s wizardry, there is far more to him than a curious elbow. The eyes that glare like an All Black mid-haka, the wrist that flaps at improbable angles and, unseen by most, the shoulder that all but dislocates at the point of delivery.

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HRW in Syria and Sri Lanka: Moral Fervour generating Political Blindness and Partisanship

Michael Roberts,  courtesy of Colombo Telegraph where the title is different and reads as “The Political Bankruptcy of the Western Human Rights Lobby: Their Stance in Syria & Sri Lanka in Juxtaposition.” I anticipate lively blog-comments therein –with the usual quota of disparaging ‘assassinations’.  Highlighted emphasis in RED in the version below is my work.

 A friend in Adelaide recently directed me towards an article in a prestigious world media outlet by Kenneth Roth, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. In this essay entitled “What Trump Should Do in Syria,” Roth contends that Donald Trump needs to pursue “a much tougher approach toward Moscow than he so far envisions” because the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has been “targeting and indiscriminately firing upon civilians and civilian infrastructure in opposition-held areas” with Russian backing. In his reading the enormous civilian death-toll is the product of the regime’s deliberate strategy, Besides generating an outflow of refugees, he says that the consequence will also produce an escalation of Islamist extremism. 

As an outsider with a limited knowledge of the extremely complex Syrian and Middle-Eastern ground situation, what strikes me about Roth’s declamation is its one-sidedness and its simplifications. It slides over the impact of US and NATO bombing runs. It implies that the extremism of ISIS, Al Qaida and other forces who are challenging the Syrian dictator is an outcome of the latter’s policies and says little about (a) the Sunni-Shia rivalries that are one aspect of the complex politics in Syria and the Middle East and (b) the repercussions flowing from the American dethronement of Saddam via invasion.

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Lacking Pragmatism and Oozing Mediocrity –That is US Secretary-of-State Kerry

Greg Sheridan , in The Australian, 30 December 2016, where the title reads”Undergraduate ramble lacking context, reality” … see http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/greg-sheridan/undergraduate-ramble-lacking-context-reality/news-story/a4af14f12e1f30a35c0e800a28d77f37 for BLOG Comments

John Kerry’s imitation of Fidel Castro, with a speech as long and as mournful and as useless as those the Cuban dictator frequently delivered, helps explain why he was such a dismal failure as US Secretary of State. Kerry’s meandering speech blamed Israel for the failure so far to achieve a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. The problem is, it read like the speech of an earnest undergraduate who has just come to the issue through the reporting of al-Jazeera and CNN and has no background in historic reality.  The Kerry speech lacked all context, proportion, balance, history and any sense of reality. kerry-planet-ark Pic from Planet Ark

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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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Disappearances and Torture in Sri Lanka, 2011-13 … or Thereabouts: Soundings and Question-Marks

Michael Roberts

In studying the blog-comments on “Sinhala Mind-Set” and presenting the lot for public scrutiny a specific claim by a person identifying himself as “Flloyd” caught my attention. Whether Flloyd is a Tamil is of lesser moment than his allegation. It is the sort of claim that is widely peddled by reporters and VIPs who drop in and fly out after short stays and have the clout to reach a worldwide audience – for instance Roger Draper in the National Geographic and Greg Bearup in The Weekend Australian recently.   Thus prodded,  I took the initiative to test the degree of validity that we could attach to this type of assertion by approaching a selected body of personnel (mostly Sri Lankan) via a one-on-one letter presenting the QUESTION repeated here [in blue].

“I came across a blog comment from one “Flloyd” in April 2013 which adopted a reasonably moderate stance on the ethnic situation in the country but which also presented this assertion: “The presence of an organized rebel group is no more, but the Tamils continue to be tortured, raped, and killed by the state. Many still mention the brutality of the rebels, but in no way can that justify the current situation, as the rebel activity is gone.”

05-april-2009-exodus 09-yatawara-2figure-10a-tamil-people-at-the-last-redoubt-after-the-final-battles-2009 Continue reading

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