On 9/11 I was at my desk at the CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA. We had just started our morning meeting when the planes hit the World Trade Towers in NYC. We sat in stunned silence, trying to absorb the catastrophe before our eyes; then we shifted to frantic action. Overnight, my professional world changed. I was now front and center in our fight against terrorism. The walls outside our embassies only got higher as the world saw the U.S as a target and a threat.
With the advent of the Black Lives Matter movement, together with the emergence of Critical Race Theory, the spotlight has once again been shone on the heinous institution that was slavery and its aftermath, racial discrimination. Could anything be worse than a system in which a human being becomes the property of another, to do with as the slave owner sees fit?
For good reason, the ownership of one human being by another is now universally prohibited, at least legally, for the inhumane abomination it has always been. Yet, in rejecting slavery it is easy to overlook one aspect that may be identified, for lack of a better word, as its sole positive feature. Namely, it was not in the slave owner’s interest to kill their slaves outright, for only living slaves made it possible for the owner to profit from their labor.
Matt Wade, in The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 May 2009, …. where the title runs thus “Kill or be killed: 11-year-olds forced to fight for Tamil Tigers”
IT IS hard to imagine Christine* in combat. But the diminutive 14-year-old with a cheeky smile and dancing eyes knows how to handle a Kalashnikov and detonate grenades. A Tamil speaker from northern Sri Lanka, Christine says she was abducted by Tamil Tiger cadres in March and forced to undergo military training. She performed drills using dummy weapons in preparation for battle and, as with many female recruits, her hair was cut short.
No place for a child … (left) Young fighters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka, and (right) a 14-year old conscript at the Kegalle district centre.CREDIT:AP/GEMUNU AMARASINGHE/MATT WADE
Bart Von Es, in The Guardian, 25 May 2019, where the title runs “Anne Frank: the real story of the girl behind the diary”
Albert Gomes de Mesquita is one of the last people alive to have known Anne Frank in person. He appears briefly in her diary as a fellow student at the Jewish Lyceum in Amsterdam, where she writes of him: “Albert de Mesquita came from the Montessori School and jumped a year. He’s really clever.” There is nothing else. In all likelihood, Albert more or less vanished from her memory, but for him the situation is, inevitably, very different.
As the years have gone by his memories of Anne have become ever more important. Aged 89, he still travels internationally to conferences on her work and life. Anne has become a strange kind of celebrity and Albert, as someone who was actually there at the birthday party at which she was given her still-empty diary, is a point of contact for that fame.
My story here begins in Colombo in mid-2020 where I stubbed by big toe badly as I walked into the National Archives. The injury turned septic; and I was treated … I would say rescued …. by a Richmondite, Dr Sarath Gamani De Silva. He ensured that I was fit to fly to Australia in mid-September 2020. This entailed extra airfare and quarantine for two weeks at another cost of 3000$. The toe became a godsend because it meant that my enforced stay was at a hotel run by the Health Department and not that run by the Police.
When I set up the THUPPAHI WEBSITE in late 2009 I imprinted two project statements: one entitled “WHY THUPPAHI”; the other bearing the heading ‘SINHALA MINDSET.” Readers can access these two items via the sub-headings within the website – so I will not reiterate the latter here.
This set of project statements was crafted after the LTTE-led drive to create an independent SL Tamil nation state had been defeated over the course of Eelam War IV. I had been in Colombo from April-mid-June 2009, so I had vivid experiences of the last stages of this ‘encounter’ and the triumphant sentiments expressed in the Colombo area when the war was won. More vitally, I had been commissioned by Muralidhar Reddy, the correspondent from the Hindu newspaper chain based in Colombo to present analytic essays for their magazine FRONTLINE.
“Double Eagle” responding to a Query that I sent re the Assassination of Retd Major-General Janaka Perera in 2008.[i]
He was assassinated by the LTTE in their calculated political-military strategy directed towards selectively eliminating potential Sri Lanka Sinhalese leaders whom the Tamils considered a threat to their Eelam ambition. I am inclined to believe that the Tamil grand strategy to selectively take out strong Sinhala leaders was not of LTTE making. The LTTE were fighters and not strategists. The strategy may have evolved at a higher level from the pro-Eelam Tamil community within the country and abroad.[ii]
Much has been written about the insurrectionary Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP—Peoples Liberation Front). The main focus has been on the character of the organisation itself, why it emerged, and how it was defeated in 1971, and again in 1989. This paper deals with a different set of issues: the ways in which the Sri Lankan state and the insurrectionary JVP interacted and shaped one another.This reflects a broader interest in the question of why the quality of national governance in Sri Lanka has deteriorated so much in the 50 years since the first JVP insurrection of 1971. I suggest that JVP-state interactions can help explain that deterioration. But only so far. There is much more to that story – which is far too big and complex to explore further here.
Fire and smoke billows from the north tower of New York’s World Trade Center on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/David Karp)
A person falls from the north tower of New York’s World Trade Center as another clings to the outside, left, while smoke and fire billow from the building, Tuesday Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
I present several comments from Sri Lankans in New Zealand and Sri Lanka
A NOTE from SM in Colombo, 7 Sept 2021
It is high time for countries to cut hard on organisations promoting and practicing extremist ideologies whether they be religious, ethnic, separatist, or nationalist. The UK extended its ban on the LTTE a few days back which is a welcome development. Canada should practice what they preach. With an election round the corner, the Liberal Trudeau govt soft peddles the LTTE issue in order to garner Canadian Tamil votes. The Canadian government’s sponsorship of TGWA is a case in point.
Countries that ignore, or aid and abet violent extremism will reap what they sow.
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.