Category Archives: chauvinism

In Defence of a Voice from the Grave, That of Sunila Abeysekera

Jane Russell presenting “a reply to unjustified criticism ” …. * …. [see endnote]

Foreword: I first met Sunila Abeysekera at a joint exhibition of sculpture and poetry which my Sri Lankan partner, sculptor Malathie de Silva, and I held at the Lionel Wendt Gallery in 1976. Sunila was twenty-four; I was two years older. She brought her father along and he purchased one of my poems which I‘d produced as wall-posters.:

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Addressing Jehan Perera’s Recent Piece on Reconciliation in Sri Lanka

Lakshman Gunasekara …. with highlighting and a cartoon imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi

What ‘re-conciliation’ ??

Jehan Perera, a very good friend and long-time colleague, at least uses the term “re-conciliation” which was intelligently adopted by the Mahinda regime at the end of the military phase of the ethnic conflict (with a resounding defeat for the LTTE). That regime conveniently picked up that word from among local liberal activists who had begun using it — taking it from South African post-Apartheid peace-building parlance.

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A Death-Bed Declamation in Grief from Bishop Lakshman Wickremesinghe in September 1983

Text of the final Pastoral Letter written by the Anglican Bishop of Kurunegala, Rt. Rev. L Wickremasinghe, in September 1983 after the July 1983 Violence ……  [Bishop Lakshman passed away some weeks after this on October 23rd 1983] ………….. from http://dbsjeyaraj.com 28 July 2021, 9:28 pm

“The Tragedy is that it is Becoming Harder in 1983 for Sinhala Christians to Acknowledge that what was done is a GREATER Moral Crime than in 1958” …………….. Bishop Lakshman Wickremesinghe

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Encountering Extremism: Biographical Tracks and Twists

Michael Roberts reproducing an article that originally appeared on the 19th March 2010 in https://sacrificialdevotionnetwork.wordpress.com/

One’s academic trajectories and journeys are invariably subject to vagaries and contingencies. The events and researches leading to my interest in “communal violence” and “zealotry” in the 1990s, and thereafter to what I have called ‘sacrificial devotion” (embracing the topics of “terrorism,” suicide bombers and Tamil Tigers),[i] were shaped by such contingencies. Since my web site will present some short essays on both these topics in the course of this month, let me detail some moments during my research work that resulted in the journeys that produced such outcomes.

In 1986-87 I spent about 14 months in Sri Lanka on research work during my sabbatical year. I was completing my research and writing on the history of Colombo in British times and the associated rise of a Westernized middle class-cum-bourgeoisie – work that resulted in the book People Inbetween (Sarvodaya, 1989).[ii] The island was still under the clouds cast by the attacks on Tamils in the southern parts of the island in July 1983. Following the British colonial lexicon this momentous and tragic set of events was generally described as the “1983 riots.” But such politically-aware scholars as Newton Gunasinghe and Shelton Kodikara were among those who depicted the event as a “pogrom.” This was a sensitizing revision that I accepted.

 Riots May 1958 – A Tamil passenger was taken out of the vehicle and beaten up

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Murderous Mayhem at a Rural Junction in North Western Lanka, 1983-1989

Liyanage Amarakeerthi, whose chosen title is “A Fatal Intersection: Three Small Shops in North  Western Sri Lanka that No Longer Exist” …. with highlighting imposed by The Editor Thuppahi

I was born and raised in a little community in Kuliyapitiya, a typical agricultural area with three small tanks (wewa), which watered paddy fields, within walking distance on three sides of my house. Of course, there were also three Buddhist temples, almost within walking distance from each other. It was a typical village in the North-Western province, a part of which is known as bath kooralee or ‘rice province’. Where there were no tanks or paddy fields there were coconut plantations, big and small. Not surprisingly, much of the ‘coconut triangle’ is also in this province.

Stephen Champion’s cover photo has been deployed here  by Thuppahi as an external intervention to highlight the scenario of the 1980s 

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Scott Atran on Unconditional Commitment draws Reflections from Thuppahi Roberts

  ONE: Scott Atran: “The Devoted Actor Unconditional Commitment and Intractable Conflict across Cultures,” ... as introduced to Thuppahi by The Library of Social Science,in New York,with this abstract at journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/685495

Uncompromising wars, revolution, rights movements, and today’s global terrorism are in part driven by “devoted actors” who adhere to sacred, transcendent values that generate actions dissociated from rationally expected risks and rewards. Studies in real-world conflicts show ways that devoted actors, who are unconditionally committed to sacred causes and whose personal identities are fused within a unique collective identity, willingly make costly sacrifices. This enables low-power groups to endure and often prevail against materially stronger foes. Explaining how devoted actors come to sacrifice for cause and comrades not only is a scientific goal but a practical imperative to address intergroup disputes that can spiral out of control in a rapidly interconnecting world of collapsing and conflicting cultural traditions. From the recent massive media-driven global political awakening, horizontal peer-to-peer transcultural niches, geographically disconnected, are emerging to replace vertical generation-to-generation territorial traditions. Devoted actors of the global jihadi archipelago militate within such a novel transcultural niche, which is socially tight, ideationally narrow, and globe spanning. Nevertheless, its evolutionary maintenance depends on costly commitments to transcendental values, rituals and sacrifices, and parochial altruism, which may have deep roots even in the earliest and most traditional human societies. Fieldwork results from the Kurdish battlefront with the Islamic State are highlighted.

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Dissecting Robert Kaplan’s Jaundiced Reportage: “Orientalism” Savaging Lanka

Michael Roberts 

Robert Kaplan is a well-connected Jewish American author and journalist. As one he travels widely and chose to visit Sri Lanka as a newshound in mid-2009 just after the Sri Lankan government forces had vanquished the Tamil Tiger forces and rescued about 280-290,000 Tamil ‘civilians’[1] who had been deployed as a defensive barrier and bargaining chip for about 15-17 months by the LTTE as they, the Tigers, were forced into a west-to-east retreat in the northern Vanni.

Situation Map on 23rd December 2008 & then on  8th March 2009 

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Lessons Derived from the Anti-Muslim Riots of 1915 …. For Today

Walter Wuthmann, in Daily News, 7 May 2018, where the title runs: “Revisiting 1915: Lessons from A Violent Past”

The recent mob attacks[ against Muslim families and property in Kandy is another sad chapter in Sri Lanka’s history of ethnic violence. Now, many are re-examining the past, looking for reasons for why this ugly strain of communalism will not subside, and for ways to fight it for the future. Because before Digana in March, and before Aluthgama in 2014, there was 1915.

  An old photo of the Mosqueat Castele Street inKandy where the initial spark for the “1915 riots”originated

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Confronting Ethnic Violence and Its Roots in Vengeance

Michael Roberts

In presenting Basil Fernando’s book to the public, I have been led back in time to critical data he presented to me in the early 1990s re the “riots of July 1983.” As an act of condemnation THEN, my essay on those events depicted the MOMENT as a “pogrom.”[1] This label was guided by my awareness that in Russian usage this label meant “destruction” and thus went beyond the English dictionary translations of that word. Though I have been rapped on the knuckles by Kingsley M. de Silva for this nomenclature,[2] I remain adamant. What occurred in late July 1983 was a horrific set of events that cannot be buried inside that relatively mundane label “riots.”

 

Jubilant {Sinhala) rioters celebrate their mayhem at Borella Junction in Colombo on the 24/25th July night 1983

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Ernest Macintyre’s SILINDU of BADDEGAMA

A play in five acts derived and adapted from LEONARD WOOLF’S novel THE VILLAGE IN THE JUNGLE.

 SILUNDU OF BADDEGAMA, by Ernest Macintyre, was first performed at the Erindale Theatre Canberra on 16 April 1994

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