Anoma Pieris** with an introductory note in response to my invitation that is pertinent & runs thus “Hello Uncle Michael, Nice to hear from you. Afraid you reach me at a time when I am overwhelmed with work, in fact that has been the case throughout the pandemic. I dont know if I have the mental space to address your text but offer instead reflection on my understanding of the theme. Best, Anoma.”
My childhood sensibilities of being Sinhala were formed in two ways which were moral and monstrous: (1) First by being educated in a language stream with specific texts like the Guttila Kavya, Saddharma Ratnavaliya, Ummaga Jatakaya, which being religious texts, educated even a nominally Christian child in a missionary college into Sinhala Buddhist forms of cultural patrimony and morality. But because it was a Christian school the lines between Sinhala and Tamil classes were lightly drawn and we came together for sports activities, and after 1983 for many more subjects, partly due to the depletion of numbers but also a deliberate strategy initiated by our principal Sirancee Gunawardana, who was committed to empathetic coexistence. (2) The second way in which being Sinhala was made evident to me was through the 1983 pogrom when for a short time I volunteered in the camp set up in our school, seeing people like myself from my social background who had been displaced, dispossessed and fearful and witnessing and being made aware of Sinhala identification as behind monstrous acts. It also made me aware that I was part of a Christian minority and that a division was being drawn within the Sinhala community because of our greater empathy for Tamil friends.
Sanjeewa Karunaratne, whose favoured title is “Stories from Sri Lanka’s Civil War – Lional Silva“
During 1984-89, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (“JVP”) or People’s Liberation Front launched a clandestine attack against the Government of Sri Lanka.Since its fighters were mingling among the public, the military and its militia groups were struggling to cope with this invisible enemy. As a result, spies were everywhere—one wrong word, move or contact may bestow a gruesome death on top of a burning tire. It may be an “in-kind” response to the JVP, whose piece of paper was enough to close down an entire city; and who did not hesitate to execute a school principal, government servant, singer, politician, or an ordinary person who disobeyed their orders, in front of their loved ones. It was a crisis of epic proportions and a very uncertain time in the country.
A gutted building that is near the beach on Mount Lavinia has been an eyesore for the last 33 years. It was once the Tilly’s Beach Hotel, which was owned by a Tamil businessman. The hotel was a favourite among residents of Colombo as well as German and Russian tourists. Colomboites would enjoy the Sunday Lunch Table Buffet, while many tourists had a mad crush on the handsome head chef, a culinary genius who understood Russian and German besides his native Tamil, Sinhalese and English.
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).
Chandre Dharmawardene, in Island, 26 July 2020, with this title “Ontario’s Bill on Alleged Genocide of Sri Lankan Tamils”
It was interesting to read Lynn Ockersz’ postingin The Island titled “UN Genocide Convention and Social Peace”. What should rise to the top of the minds of most Sri Lankan readers when the word “genocide” is mentioned, is the allegation against the Sri Lankan state. The columnist states that “As is known, some sections have been flinging the allegation of genocide against the Sri Lankan state in matters arising from its 30-year war against the LTTE, but it is clear that, going by the UN definition, the Lankan state has not committed genocide“.
C.V. Wigneswaran, Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council in Sri Lanka, addresses members of the Tamil community in Markham, Ontario, Canada, on January 15, 2017. During his trip to formalize a friendship agreement between the City of Markham and district of Mullaitivu, Northern Province in Sri Lanka Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran spoke about the importance of issues of transitional justice and post-war development to diaspora Tamils in Canada……..Photo by Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images
Michael Roberts, reiterating the original draft sent to a few on 10 June 2020
Recent forum discussions on the topic of “Reconciliation” and correspondence with concerned friends have prompted me to essay an analysis of Sri Lanka’s societal problems over the last 150 years. This is a tendentious quest.
This Mapshowing districts served by Regional Malaria Officers happens to suit the metaphor “Riddled” and/or “Honeycombed” in my title
Let me begin with the closing statement voiced by Kumar Sangakkara in his Cowdrey Lecture at the MCC in 2011: “My loyalty will be to the ordinary Sri Lankan fan, their twenty million hearts beating collectively. They are my foundation. They are my family. I will play cricket for them….. With me are all my people. I am Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim, Burgher. I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity. I am, today, and always, proudly Sri Lankan.” Continue reading →
Karen Attiah in Washington Post,30 May 2020, where the title runs “How Western media would cover Minneapolis if it happened in another country”
If we talked about what is happening in Minneapolis the same way we talk about events in a foreign country, here’s how the Western media would cover it. The quotes and those “quoted” in the piece below are fictional.
In recent years, the international community has sounded the alarm on the deteriorating political and human rights situation in the United States under the regime of Donald Trump. Now, as the country marks 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, the former British colony finds itself in a downward spiral of ethnic violence. The fatigue and paralysis of the international community are evident in its silence, America experts say.
DB Dhanapala on LH Mettananda in his book Among those Present, 1962
OF COURSE, L.H. Mettananda is a fanatic. Anybody who dares to talk of Buddhist’s rights in a Buddhist country is bound to be called a fanatic bent on disturbing the peace and rousing up religious feelings.
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.