This collection documents the activity of a generation of Sri Lankan radical activists who, in their different ways, attempted to escape the claims of rival ethno-nationalisms and build alternative political and development projects, drawing on Marxism, Christian socialism, and feminism, among other inspirations.
A recent article by Dishan Joseph (see below) has marked the role of a commando outfit known as the SBS, or Special Boat Service, that was developed within the Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) during the Eelam Wars. The story is complex and demands an elaborate ‘companion piece’ that is attentive to time, combat locations, initiatives and the lessons derived from a remarkable and formidable enemy, namely, the Sea Tigers. In war one becomes like one’s opponent in order to survive. The innovativeness of the LTTE was monumental and its sea-faring capacities were one reason why it outdid-and-outbid the other Tamil militant organisations in the fight to lead the claim for independence for Thamililam during the 1980s/1990s.
Lord Michael Naseby, in Island, 5 March 2021, where the title is “Lord Naseby asks why Adele not prosecuted in UK for child recruitment”
Lord Naseby President of the UK all party British-Sri Lanka Parliamentary group, has questioned the failure on the part of the UK to prosecute senior LTTE leader Adela Balasingham, wife of the outfit’s late theoretician Anton Balasingham. Lord Naseby said that Adele, who had been involved with the LTTE for several decades, was responsible for recruitment and deployment of child soldiers.
ONE — A Letter in Sadness from Professor Veena Das to Pradeep Jeganathan, January 2021
First of all, I want to convey my sadness and my gratefulness and to some extent my rage that this has happened and that I will never see that radiant smile and that integrity and brilliance anymore. Any such death at my stage of life makes me angry and sorrowful as to why the young are being taken. The war undid so many of us in so many ways and why would it not do that? So what kind of miracle is it that Malathi let herself be deeply affected by the war but not be undone by it? You must know that I loved her work and her personality just as I love your work and know what struggles you have been through.
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 Politics … ISSN: 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.
My D. Phil dissertation at Oxford in the early 1960s centred on British agrarian policy in the mid-nineteenth century and therefore included the British efforts to revive the tank irrigation systems of the Sinhala past. Several British colonial personnel as well as visiting dignitaries were captivated by the ruins of the Anuradhapura/Polonnaruwa periods which they observed during adventure trips. A few saw it as a challenge for their imperial capacity. Some British governors, notably Ward, Gregory and Gordon, took up the prospect.
In following up on my article clarifying the context of a Letter sent by my sister Norah Roberts in April 1995, I am saying “Mea Culpa, Norah, I did not realise what a repository of knowledge on Sri Lankan society you were during your lifetime. Neither did I recognise your commitment to this land and its people.”
Yesterday (29/07/20) in the House of Lords, Lord Naseby spoke in the debate on Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020: “My Lords, I have no problem at all with the financial aspects of this SI. I think there is a big challenge with individuals and human rights; I remember Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Assad, all of whose communities we interfered in at huge human cost to those communities. I want to focus, though, sadly, on the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers—LTTE—which we proscribed in 2001. It was succeeded by the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam—TGTE—itself proscribed in Sri Lanka. It is staffed and organised by former LTTE people and yesterday it started a legal action in the courts here in the UK to lift the proscription on the Tamil Tigers.
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.