Serge De Silva Ranasinghe, in The Diplomat, 20 May 2010,*** where the title runs thus “Reflections on the Tigers”
A year after the LTTE’s defeat, evidence shows criticism of Sri Lanka’s army is misplaced, says Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe.
Tamil civilians reach safety across Nandhikadal Lagoon —Pix by SL army
A year ago this week, the Sri Lankan government officially declared victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in one of the most extraordinary counter-insurgency campaigns in recent times.
Chandani Kirinde, in Sunday Times, March 2023. where the title runs thus: “Pride and tears of Uva Wellassa”
200 years after what is considered one of the bloodiest chapters in the history of colonial rule here, Chandani Kirinde visits the area that saw an uprising by its people that was brutally crushed by the British
A British cannon recovered from Wellassa. Pix by Indika Handuwala
The awe-inspiring cloud covered mountains, lush forests, formidable waterfalls and clear streams of Uva Wellassa bear little testimony today to the darkest and bloodiest chapter in the country’s history under British rule. There is little sign of the burnt hamlets, scorched paddy fields, broken tank bunds, felled trees and the skeletons of the thousands of men, women and children killed or starved to death when the military might of the coloniser was turned on the population of the Kandyan provinces to put down a rebellion against British rule.
27 May 2002 Blood drips off the deck; a torrent of rapid gunfire sores through the air. We are in the midst of a savage sea battle, fought by the Sea Tigers — the maritime arm of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Produced by ABC Australia Distributed by Journeyman Pictures
Within the contemporary (2020) context of a few killings in European cities by Islamic jihadists on a journey to martyrdom at the feet of Allah, I happened to see Stephen Sackur’s grilling of a French politician in one of his “Hard Talk” presentations on Channel Four. I was critical of his narrow focus and my reflections led me on a comparative journey where I indicated that the cry of “Allahu Akbar” indicated a sense of self-fulfilment in this their final journey on earth for the perpetrators of such attacks.
ABSTRACT: This study highlights the Tantric threads within the transcendental religions of Asia that revealthe commanding role of encirclement as a mystical force. The cyanide capsule (kuppi) around the neck of every Tamil Tiger fighter was not only a tool of instrumental rationality as a binding force, but also a modality similar to a thāli(marriage bond necklace) and to participation in a velvi(religious animal sacrifice). It was thus embedded within Tamil cultural practice. Alongside the LTTE’s politics of homage to its māvīrar(dead heroes), the kuppi sits beside numerous incidents in LTTE acts of mobilization or military actions where key functionaries approached deities in thanks or in preparation for the kill. These practices highlight the inventive potential of liminal moments/spaces. We see this as modernized ‘war magic’—a hybrid re-enchantment energizing a specific religious worldview.
“Every time one country gets something, another soon has it. One country gets radar, but soon all have it. One gets a new type of engine or plane, then another gets it. But the Japs have got the kamikaze boys, and nobody else is going to get that, because nobody else is built that way.” …. John Thach
Near the end of 1944, almost 10 months before the end of the 2nd World War, the Japanese had already realized that their military effort would lead them to defeat. Their weapons and armaments were short, the stock of soldiers was dramatically decreasing and morality was low. Their precious bombs, other than being too few, were missing their targets and their pilots could not contest the Americans. So, in a desperate last effort to revive the army, the Kamikaze Special Attack Unit was formed. The aim was to obstruct enemy planes from taking off from aircraft carriers. The conversion of pilots themselves into bombs would surely mean the decrease of the failed bomb attacks.
The LTTE emerged as an underground militant organization in May 1976. Though sustaining strong informal links with the Tamil United Liberation Front, the parliamentary party committed to independence, the youth who led the LTTE believed that a revolutionary path was the only route available to their peoples.
The pogrom directed against Tamil people living in the south central parts of Sri Lanka in July 1983 resulted in a huge expansion of its personnel. It was around this stage that Pirapāharan decreed that all fighters should carry a cyanide capsule—a kuppi as they call it in Tamil—so that they could “bite it” when imminent danger of capture was looming.
LTTE soldiers in camp seen with the kuppi round their necks (photo by Shyam Tekwani)
Female recruits receive thekuppi at a passing out ceremony
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.
Michael Roberts in the DEDICATION presented on the first page of the bookTamil Person and State: Essays, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2014, … ISBN 978-955- 665-230-7
The essays that make up this anthology would not have been possible without the assistance of numerous individuals who provided me with information during face-to-face conversations, Skype and telephone chats or through responses by email. This will be only too evident if readers take note of my citations and footnotes.For this reason, it is entirely appropriate that I dedicate this work to all those who have assisted me in my researches over the last few years. Not all of them will agree with my thrusts. Indeed, there are a few of them in Colombo, such as Ananda Chittambalam, who have disputed some of my arguments, while yet encouraging me in my researches and publication programmes.
Ana Chittambalam: ex-Royal College, raconteur, promoter of causes and a staunch ally and dangerous foe
Celia Donert, in History Today, February 2022, where the title reads “The Roma Holocaust”
Europe’s Roma were the victims of Nazi genocide during the Second World War, but their persecution did not end in 1945
Robert Ritter, head of the Racial Hygiene and Demographic Biology Research Unit of Nazi Germany’s Criminal Police, conducting an interview with a Romani woman, 1936
“In 1944, I was deported to the concentration camp in Terezín, where I was imprisoned until May 1945. After returning from the concentration camp I did my military service, and then moved with my family to the village of B., as part of the drive to resettle the borderlands … My family and I lived decently from what I earned as a forestry worker; I didn’t live like a Gypsy, and I always had a fixed residence. I have never had a criminal record. Despite this, I’ve been put on the new register of Gypsies in 1947, and I was issued with a Gypsy registration card. I am requesting that my name be removed from the Gypsy register, and that my registration card be cancelled. “
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.