Category Archives: legal issues

The Plantation Economy in British Ceylon: The Downtrodden Indian Tamil Labour and the Dispossessed Kandyan Peasantry

Uditha Devapriya, in SAT MAG” of The Island on September 19 and September 26, 2020.

PREFACE: This essay does not present a complete history of plantation slavery, which anyway has been covered many times before by scholars of repute, including Professor Asoka Bandarage, whose Colonialism in Sri Lanka went through a second edition recently. Rather, it counters Sinhala nationalists and those opposed to Sinhala nationalists who equate the position of African-Americans with that of Tamils and Muslims, indicating a failure to distinguish between minority communities which thrived under conditions of colonialism (and neocolonialism) and those which suffered under those conditions. It also counters certain “Marxist” and rightwing academics who see the plantation system as capitalist, and who, while either sympathising with the plight of Estate Tamils or ignoring them outright, single out Kandyan Sinhalese peasants for what they allege to have been their innate laziness under British colonialism, a myth demolished by S. B. D. de Silva in his underrated and unread magnum opusThe Political Economy of Underdevelopment.

Tea Plantation labour in Ceylon – circa 1890s

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Democracy under the Gun in Sri Lanka

Jayadeva Uyangoda, in Sri Lanka Guardian 24 September 2020, where the title is “The End of Sri Lanka’s Democracy”

The debate on the proposed 20th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s 1978 Constitution is gathering momentum. The proposal, which has been published in the Government Gazette, is indeed a constitutional bombshell, literally. Its provisions are very destructive in their objectives as well as consequences. 

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A Poignant Farewell at Vishvamadu in 2018: Rathnapriya Banda’s Work of Reconciliation

Shenali Waduge. in an article presented in June 2018 and entitled  “LTTE village & a Sri Lankan Military Officer show the world what Reconciliation & Peaceful Coexistence is all about” …. ith highlighting emphasis added by The Editor, Thuppahi

It was a farewell that has shocked & left plenty of critics speechless. It has put to rest & completely nullified the lies that have been spread against Sri Lanka’s Army. The culprits include foreign governments/envoys, INGOs/NGOs, UN & even the present government in particular the Tamil leadership & the LTTE diaspora who must be startled at the pictures emerging of an entire village weeping as they bid farewell to a military officer who had played the role of their mentor, their father, their brother, their advisor & virtually their leader. Col. Rathnapriya Bandu has done what Prabakaran, Wigneswaran, Sivajilingam, Sumbanthiran, Sambanthan or even Tamil Nadu politicians could not do & do not want to do. In a world that plays divisive politics of divide & rule he has shown that it takes a hero to unite & Col. Bandu is one hero that we must all salute. No former LTTE village would ever carry a Sri Lankan Military officer on their shoulders & weep as he bid goodbye if he was no hero in their eyes.

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Colombo Port City via Chinese Alliance

News Item in Colombo Times, 18 September 2020, with this title “Colombo Port City … has attrcted 16 billion dollar investment ….”

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said the Colombo Port City Project will become the main source of income for the country and the project will generate more than 83,000 employment opportunities.

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Milinda Moragoda’s Heavy Burden in Delhi and the World-Around

Shenali Waduge, in her Facebook Page, 11 September 2020, https://www.shenaliwaduge.com/can-moragoda-deliver-a-sri-lanka-first/ fbclid=IwAR0ENoSao7UVsWL5vdkIb0fLN61HCL_Sn49DJldGZ8MgQqI5gfaXj5UCnm8 .… where the title is “Will Moragoda deliver a ‘Sri Lanka First’?”

With much thought and strategy Sri Lanka has appointed Moragoda as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Delhi iced with cabinet ranking, the first such fringe benefit afforded to a high commissioner. No doubt, Sri Lanka is thinking the Moragoda magic will provide much relief to Sri Lanka, given the appointment is being made against tremendous objections.

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Rumpf’s Diary and Other Archival Treasures with KD Paranavitana’s Hand in Archival Acts

The Department of National Archives, in introducing the English translation of thevTravel Diary of Isaac Augustin Rumpf

The National Archives of Sri Lanka (SLNA) is in possession of 7,570 volumes of archives written in the Dutch language. These mainly consist of Dutch Political Council Minutes, land records, all types of correspondence, reports and instructions. One of the most valuable series of these records is known as Memoirs of the Governors, Memoirs of other high ranking officers in the Dutch Government and the Tombos, namely, Head, Land and School Tombos. These records provide a vast knowledge of the Dutch administration, cultural interactions, commercial aspects, political background and various social and environmental conditions pertaining to the 17th and 18th centuries.

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Barbados to jettison Queen Elizabeth: A Move to Republic

Barbados has announced plans to become a republic, removing Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. The former British Caribbean colony, which retained the monarch as head of state when it became an independent state in 1966.gIt intends to make the transition by November next year when it celebrates 55 years since independence.

Queen Elizabeth in Barbados in 1989

The move was announced in the annual Throne Speech delivered by Governor General Sandra Mason, who is Elizabeth’s representative in Barbados.

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Ameer Ali draws the Battlelines for the Muslims of Sri Lanka

     in DailyFT, 11 September 2020, with this title “Muslim prime movers in Parliament”

Muslims of Sri Lanka, after more than a millennium of integrated and peaceful coexistence, have become a hated, or to put it mildly, highly-suspected minority at least in the perception of ultra-Sinhala Buddhist supremacists, led by Bodu Bala Sena and a coterie such movements supported by influential political monks.

“It is a strange irony that it is from the hated Muslim community that a Minister of Justice has been picked before the election, brought to the Parliament through the back door and entrusted amidst opposition with the task of amending the Constitution to empower and disempower the President and Prime Minister respectively and simultaneously, all in the name of easing the path for developmen.” Continue reading

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The Democratization Process in Ceylon, 1832-1948

Michael Roberts: “The Democratization Process in Sri Lanka,”  being the text of an Illustrated Lecture on Video presented to The May 18 Memorial Foundation in Korea in early September 2020 …. as part of a series encompassing several countries — organised by Professor Inrae You. The Lecture was, as I understood it, for highschool students.

The democratisation process began in the period of British rule in the 20th century. It would however be unwise to start with the early 20th century. One should look at the prehistory of the island of Ceylon before that. Ceylon, Ceilão, Sihalē had forms of autocratic kingship well before the European colonial powers came to Asia and set up their colonies.

Rajasinghe II of Sihale ruling from Mahanuvara and receiving homage (dakuma) from the Dutch

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Experiencing Denigration in Sri Lanka: The Muslims Yesterday and Today

Shamara Wettimuny, in History Workshop, 7 September 2020, where the title runs “The Colonial History of Islamophobic Slurs in Sri Lanka”**

Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-faith island. Yet despite centuries of physical coexistence, ethnic, religious and linguistic differences continue to bring communities into conflict. Muslims in Sri Lanka (comprising around 9.7% of the population) are often vilified by both the Sinhalese majority (who are either Buddhist or Christian) and Tamil minority (either Hindu or Christian) for their religious beliefs, practices, and dress. Following the Easter Sunday suicide attacks in April 2019 – carried out by a group of extremists linked to the Islamist group, the National Thowheed Jamaat – the wider Muslim community faced a discriminatory and sometimes violent backlash. In 2020, as COVID-19 spread in Sri Lanka, Muslims were blamed for ‘spreading the disease’, and for wanting to bury their dead in line with traditional Islamic burial practices (as opposed to cremation as stipulated by the Sri Lankan government).

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