Category Archives: working class conditions

Tambiah’s Contemporary Account of the Gal-Oya Riots of 1956: for Vice-Chancellor Attygalle

Stanley J. Tambiah

In writing about the Gal Oya riots, it would not be possible to give a meaningful and chronological account of the happenings if one were to confine oneself to only what one saw with one’s own eyes. I am taking the liberty of presenting an account based on direct knowledge as well as indirect information elicited from persons. However I shall carefully specify and differentiate between statements based on events witnessed by me and statements based on accounts given by others in the valley at the time of the riots. Care will be taken to state the sources of the facts narrated.

sj-tambiahTambiah sir_nicholas_attygalle_photo-210x300 Attygalle

The Gal Oya disturbance cannot of course be treated as an isolated phenomenon. It must be viewed in the general context of communal tensions and political differences existing in the country and also as a continuation of disturbances that started in Colombo during and after June fifth. The account given here however deals only with incidents that happened in the Eastern Province. Continue reading

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The Anti-Tamil Gal Oya Riots of 1956

 tambiah-pic-22Stanley J. Tambiah[1]

My own first hand and indelible experience of ethnic riots happened in June 1956, when as a twenty-seven-year-old social scientist, recently returned from graduate studies in the United States, I took a team of thirty three students (twenty-six Sinhalese and seven Tamils) to conduct a survey of some newly settled peasant colonies in Gal Oya Valley.+ The Gal Oya Multipurpose Scheme was Sri Lanka’s first and largest post-independence development project, whose tasks were flood control, provision of irrigation for cultivating the “maximum acreage of land possible,” and generation of electricity for domestic and industrial use. The Gal Oya Development Board, appointed by the Sri Lankan government in 1949, was modeled on the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Damodar Valley Corporation, but was actually more circumscribed in its structure and powers than these two giant corporations. The largest component of the board’s agricultural plan was the settlement of landless peasants from depressed villages with families and some agricultural experience on small paddy and highland allotments. (Provision was also made for larger-scale cultivation, marketing, and processing of cash crops by cooperative agricultural and industrial undertakings.) gal-oya-44

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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

llrc-1

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Looking Back at DS Senanayake and the Gal Oya Project

Ajit Kanagasundram, courtesy Sunday Island 18th & 25th September 2016, where the title is “The Gal Oya Project 60 years on” … an essay supported by personal experiences and his father’s key role in this pathfinding development project. ALSO  go to http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2016/10/10/the-gal-oya-project-60-years-on/ for the same essay and significant blog comments therein. … Emphasis by highlights is my imprint Editor, Thuppahi

Not many people today remember the Gal Oya Project but for 20 years it was the showpiece of modern independent Ceylon. It was later overshadowed by more grand (grandiose?) projects like Mahaveli where billions more were spent but the Gal Oya Project remains the standard by which all other projects should be judged. The Gal Oya Project, moreover, stands as an exemplar as to how things should be done under ideal circumstances. The project was done and paid for within our own resources, managed by local administrators and completed on time and all major objectives relating to the clearing of forest, settlement of colonists and irrigation of land were accomplished.

kanagasundramK. Kanagasundram Continue reading

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Kumari Jayawardena and her Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World

Meera Srinivasan, courtesy of The Hindu, 1 January 2017, where the title is ‘There was a gap about our part of the world’

The first draft, Kumari Jayawardena remembers, was all jagged. She wrote it on train journeys between The Hague where she was teaching and Brussels where she was living then. It was the early 1980s. As a visiting scholar at the International Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands, Jayawardena was preparing course material for the women and development programme she co-taught. The short manuscript later became the classic book, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World. [Verso Books] The work is still considered a primer to understanding feminist movements in Asia and West Asia through specific struggles of women fighting against colonial powers, for education, suffrage and safety, and against poverty and inequality.

kumari-j Kumari today

feminism-and-nationalism-in-the-third-world 

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Tamil Women at the Defusing Edge of Demining

Maneshka Borham, in The Sunday Observer, 1 January 2017 where the title is  “War Victims reintegrate into Society ..,”

very morning, war widow Arumainayagam Nalayani, 49, travels over 80 Km from her home in Mullivaikkal to Muhamalai for work. Never being employed before the war, to a traditional woman of the North, the work she engages in is not only daring, but comes with its own perils. Despite protests by her only child and aged mother, as the bread winner of the family Nalayani is however determined to continue. She, along with many other women, mainly widows of war, single parents and even some former LTTE cadres in the area, are today employed by Delvon Assistance for Social Harmony (DASH), a demining agency funded by the Government of Japan, which plays a pivotal role in Sri Lanka’s national demining effort.

defusing-mines Nalayani with Brigadier Ananda Chandrasiri 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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