Category Archives: ethnicity

The Samaraweera-Yahapālana Induction of Tony Blair in support of their “Reconciliation Programme” in August 2015

Michael Roberts

A chance finding during my sojourn with Moninna and Ranjit Goonewardena in Galle Fort in July/August 2015 introduced me to the visit of Tony Blair’s family to Sri Lanka in August 2015 ….. See https://thuppahis.com/2020/11/22/tony-blair-and-family-in-galle-mid-august-2015/ As we all know, in 2015 the Yahapālana govt indulged in an about/turn (with US backing) and joined the HR lobbies by saying ‘mea culpa’ at the UNHRC Sessions in Geneva in March/April that year. This programme overturned the presentations pursued earlier by Dayan Jayatilleke and Tamara Kunanayakam under the Mahinda Rajapakse dispensation. Kunanayakam’s competent representations in 2011 earned the undiluted ire of Eileen Donahue (the American ambassador at the UNHCR) who even threatened Kunanayakam verbally on the phone: “we will get you!”.[1] Internal machinations within the Rajapaksa camp, apparently involving Sajjin Vaas Gunawardena and a Ministry staffer Kshenuka Seneviratne, led to Kunanayakam’s displacement a little later.

Donahoe  Samaraweera at UNHCR sessions in 2015

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Samantha Power on USA’s Interventionist Mission in 2002

Stephen Wertheim

Reproduced here is a sub-section from Wertheim’s review article in the 4th quarter edition[1] of the Journal of Genocide Research in 2010 (without re-deploying his footnotes). This section focuses on the Pullitzer Prize winning book by Samantha Power (2002) and argues that its programme resembles shades of the “civilizing mission” associated with European and Evangelical agencies during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Here, with and within Samantha Power, the mission of “humanitarian intervention” was vested solely in US arms and feet ……..…. thus, not in the UN or any other agencies.

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Tony Blair and Family in Galle, Mid-August 2015

Michael Roberts

In August 2015 Tony Blair and family visited Sri Lanka  on a private holiday trip[1] and during their stay in Galle resided at the upmarket boutique hotel known as “Amangalla.”[2] When a Sunday dawned on 11th August 2015 they adhered to their Catholic faith and attended mass at the little low-key Catholic Chapel in Lighthouse Street around the corner from Amangalla. So, we now witness a picture of an informal gathering after the service where the Blairs are chatting with Moninna Goonewardena of Parawa Street, Fort Galle, Charmaine Fereira of Galle and Fr. Tharanga Saminathan of the Jesuit Order — a lovely moment etched in ecumenical space.

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Galle: Basic Facts ….. Historical, General and Pacha

Ruhunu Putra, in THE ISLAND, 2o  November 2020, where the title is “Historical Glance at Galle”

Galle is the capital of the Southern Province. The popular derivation of its name is from the Sinhala word Gaala – a cattle pen. The mighty king Ravana’s cattle pen had extended from the present day Mahapola premises to the Town Hall, according to legend.  Galle is also considered to be the Tarshish in the Bible. It is reputed for cottage-crafts, lace making, tortoise shell work, gem polishing, ivory carving, jewellery and ornamental ebony elephants.

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The Burgher Exodus from Sri Lanka: A Reading in 1988

Barbara Crossette, in New York Times way back in 1988 …. where the title runs thus “Colombo Journal; A Proud People, Scattered and Forgotten by Time”

In Sri Lanka, a country torn by violence, the holiday season is perhaps most poignant for a small minority that has not been part of the ethnic strife at all.  They call themselves the Dutch Burghers, but the name, most generously defined, can cover a rich ethnic mix of Portuguese, Dutch, British and other Europeans who settled here over several centuries.

The Burghers, who are Christians, also number among themselves the Eurasian descendants of Europeans and high-born Sinhalese or, less often, Tamils. Ethnic Sinhalese account for about 74 percent of the Sri Lankan population of about 16 million; Tamils, 18 percent. Continue reading

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Robert Pape’s Blunders in Tigerland: Pape’s Muddles on ‘Suicide Bombers’ in Sri Lanka

Michael Roberts, reprinting here an article which appeared initially in November 2007  as Working Paper No. 32 November 2007 in the Heidelberg Papers on South Asian PoliticsISSN: 1617-5069 …. edited by Subrata Mitra. Insofar as this essay is being reproduced in 2020, I cannot overstress the point at which it appeared in the public realm — in 2007 well before the LTTE was defeated… [noting that, with the exception of the emblematic Picture at the start, all other illustrations appeared in the Heidelberg publication. These pictorial scenes, I stress now in 2020, are valuable data in themselves].

No study of the LTTE can afford to neglect Sri Lanka’s cultural, historical, and geographical backdrop, The lack of existential awareness of religious cross-fertilisation, the either/or foundations of Western reasoning and the absence of local knowledge bedevil the scholarship that incorporates Sri Lanka within the global surveys of suicide attacks. Pape’s Dying to Win is an example. Here, in Pape’s article, the LTTE’s multi-pronged capacities are poorly evaluated. Too much significance is attributed to the coercive success of SMs in bringing the government to the negotiating table at various moments. Religious persecution has not been the main reason for the Tamil struggle. Comparative references to SMs elsewhere are occasionally interspersed in this review of the Sri Lankan scene.

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Kamikaze, Mujahid, Tamil Tiger: Sacrificial Devotion in Comparative Lens

Michael Roberts, reprinting an essay drafted in 2007 and since presented in Fire & Storm in 2010 (chapter 19: 131-38)

  • Gandhi tried for years to reduce himself to zero” (Dennis Hudson 2002: 132).
  • Hitler: “You are nothing, your nation is everything” (quoted in Koenigsberg 2009: 13).
  • LTTE: “the martyr sacrifices himself for the whole by destroying the I…” (Dagmar Hellmann-Rajanayagam’s interpretation of a Tamil Tiger supporter’s poem; 2005: 134).
  • Spokesman for Al Qaida after the Madrid bombing: “You love life and we love death”
  • Col. Karuna, ex-LTTE: “Death means nothing to me….”
  • The Hagakure is “a living philosophy that holds that life and death [are] the two sides of the same shield” (Yoshio Mishima in his The Way of the Samurai, quoted in Moeren 1986: 109-10).
  • Bushido means to die” (Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney 2002: 117).
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVpbl0azdFM …. Kamikaze strike

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Mahindapala on Trump and USA after Trump with Kamala Harris in the Biden Team

H. L. D. Mahindapala, in LankaWeb, November 2020, where the title reads: “Post-Trump America with Biden – not to mention Kamala Harris”  …. highlighting by Editor, Thuppahi

Say what you like against Donald Trump, the man was a phenomenon. Whether the legacy he leaves behind is good or bad is a judgement that will be determined finally by those who will feel the impact of his regime in the years to come. Win or lose, (he is losing at the time of writing) he will be remembered as the leader who articulated and released the underlying undercurrents that had been dormant in the political landscape, awaiting a leader to take up the challenge. Trump is the leader that represented the subterranean forces which the pundit class had never expected to rise to levels raised by Trump. Though Trump seems to be doomed at the polls (now its midday – Friday) the Trumpism he generated has the force to haunt US politics in the foreseeable future. One of his ambitions has been to make his  mark in history. He would achieve that place as the most  unorthodox, controversial and unpredictable president ever who bucked the system and won. In short, he has changed the style, the substance and the contours of American politics with  the arrogance of an outsider spitting into the inside.

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Biden’s Challenges –New and Old

SWR De A Samarasinghe, aka “Sam”, in Daily Mirror, 10 November 2020, where the title reads  “Biden Presidency Faces Old Problems and New Challenges”

Joe Biden will assume office as the 46th president of USA on January 20, 2021. He defeated the incumbent Donald Trump in a bitterly fought contest. Biden polled 75.2m (50.7%) votes and has secured 290 of the 538 electoral college votes that are allocated among the states roughly in proportion to the size of the population in each state. Trump polled 70.8m (47.7%) and has 214 electoral college votes. The final vote tallies will be a little higher because some votes are yet to be counted.  But those votes will not affect the result because Biden already has 290, that is above the minimum 270 needed to win.

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Allahu Akbar! Missing Dimensions in Contemporary Reportage

Michael Roberts

I recently watched a good part of Stephen Sackur’s dialogue with a French lady politician [whose name I have forgotten]. Sackur pursued his usual hard-line aggressive and bullying mode of questioning – posing vigorous criticisms of the French government’s position on secularism and its hostility to the carving out of sacred domains by French Muslim peoples.  The implicit suggestion[1] was that the British system’s tolerance of religious sensibilities was a better line of policy.[2]

Muslim protests … and the selfie proudly posted by the Islamic terrorist who was responsible for the killings in Nice in October 2020

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