Michael Roberts: A recent invitation to present a Zoom Lecture from Dr. Geethika Dharmasinghe of Colgate University in USA found me stumbling upon one of my unpublished Notes from yesteryear: a “Note” which seems worthy of resuscitation for public consumption now with suitable illustrations added.
Young LTTE recruits receive their kuppi (cyanide capsule) as final award at a passing out ceremony filmed by the BBC in Jaffna in 1991 …. One of the LTTE officers at this ceremony was the Australian Adele Balasingham, who told he BBC team that “the cyanide capsule has come to symbolise a sense of self-sacrifice by cadres of the movement, their determination, their commitment to the cause and, ultimately, of course, their courage.”
Apropos of the misleading interpretations of suicide attacks by Western commentators such as the political scientist, Robert Pape, it is important to note that the act of suicide was initially adopted by the LTTE as a defensive tool to protect the organisation from the leaking of information after capture. It was also a mark of their dedication to the Tamil liberation cause and thus a method of drawing popular admiration. It was not till 5 July 1987 that it was deployed as a low cost precision weapon when Miller (a nom de guerre) drove a truck bomb into an SL Army encampment at Nelliyadi. This was but one instance of uyirayutham — life as weapon.
I met Riaz Hassan for the first time as one of the keynote speakers at a conference organised by Neelan Tiruchelvam in Sri Lanka circa 1974 (details forgotten) when I was teaching in the History Department at Peradeniya University and Riaz was at an university in Singapore. It was the best of serendipity (a word deriving perhaps from Serendib aka Sri Lanka) that I found him attached to Flinders University when I moved to the Anthropology Department at University in 1977.
The Yiddish word “chutzpah”, pronounced “huspa”, has the exact same meaning as the Tibetan word “hamba”, and even shares a passing tonal quality to it. Leo Rosten, the humourist, defined chutzpah as “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.”
This image from video footage released by Students For A Free Tibet via APTN purports to show Buddhist nun Palden Choetso engulfed in flames in her self-immolation protest against Chinese rule on a street in Tawu, Tibetan Ganzi prefecture, in China’s Sichuan Province Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011.Continue reading →
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)
For what they are worth, here are three “imperatives for preventing conflict and terrorism” (from the 10 that conclude Paradise Poisoned) that seem particularly relevant to this discussion. These are excerpted from “elevator talk” I gave to Board members of the US Association for the Club of Rome a year or so ago.
This article from my pen was probably drafted in 2004. It appeared in Studies in Conflict & Terrorismvol. 28 in 2005 after the usual refereeing process. Some of the details and arguments have, in fact, been obliterated within my fading memory. For this reason, it was a refreshing READ for me and brought up specific details that are pertinent to any debate surrounding the motivations that induce self-immolation, jihadist killings of a suicidal nature, et cetera… The Bibilography will also aid present investigations though, of course, other writings have appeared since then on Islamic jihadists and other martyrdom operations…. Michael Roberts, 8 November 2020 … The photographs are fresh additions … and so too the highlighting within the text.
It is common for governments to issue travel warnings to their citizens. Australia does it frequently. Australia’s travel warnings to its citizens have sometimes annoyed other countries such as Indonesia and Jordan, to name a few. So, it should come as no surprise that China has issued travel warnings to its citizens over concerns about a surge in racist attacks against Chinese and Asians in Australia.
Daya ….. Rohan…. Shyam…. Riaz ….. what a South Asian spread! …………………. a dinkie-die curry’
I = Michael Roberts: An Explanatory Preamble Cast in May 2020
By 2004 I had retired from teaching in the Anthropology Department at Adelaide University and was proceeding with the pursuit of my research interests at my own pace within my limited resources. Sri Lanka and my connections therein was one such resource. When researching in Colombo in late November 2004 I flew to Jaffna on a wing and a prayer with the intention of exploring the Tamil Tiger “cult of suicide.” Previous contacts with two Tamil Canadians and a visit to the University of Jaffna as soon as I landed assisted me no end: partly via the invaluable support provided by the Krishnaswamy family and the readiness of their medical student son Chenthan to become my aide and guide during peregrinations within the Peninsula.
Michael Roberts ….. This article appeared first in Studiesin Conflict and Terrorism, 2007, vol. 30: 857-88.with the title “Suicide Missions as Witnessing: Expansions, Contrasts” and is reproduced here with its original American English spelling. The re-working of this article was seen to by Ms Nadeeka Paththuwaarachchi of Battaramulla. The pictorial images are embellishments that were not part of the original essay. I have also added highlighting emphasis in orange as well as a few hyperlinks to other standard sources of information. The bibliographical references are within the End Notes as in the original format.
ABSTRACT: Studies of suicide missions usually focus solely on attacks. They also have highlighted the performative character of suicide missions as acts of witness. By extending surveys to suicidal acts that embrace no-escape attacks, theatrical assassination, defensive suicide, and suicidal protest, one gains further insight into the motivations of individuals and organizations. Illustrative studies, notably the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and Sadat as well as Tamil Tiger operations, generate a typology that underlines the benefits of such extensions. The Japanese and Tamil contexts reveal the profound differences in readings of sacrificial acts of atonement or punishment by local constituencies. Norman Morrison in Washington in 1965 and Jan Palach in Prague in 1969 did not have such beneficial settings and the immediate ramifications of their protest action were limited. Morrison’s story highlights the significance of a societal context of individuated rationalism as opposed, say, to the “pyramidical corporatism” encouraging martyrdom operations in the Islamic world.
Jan Palach…19 Jan. 1969 Nathuram Godse vs Mahatma Gandhi .. 30 Jan 1948
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.