ONE REQUEIM from Gamini Seneviratne , in The Island, 25 July 2021 v
In the early nineteen sixties when we met, politics here was in a kind of crisis. The Left parties were defining themselves and each other in terms that emasculated such terms as ‘socialist’ of the meanings assigned to them not just in the literature but in the practice of revolution. We had sama samaja ‘new’ or without qualification, united socialist, revolutionary socialist, Bolshevik Leninist, Stalinist aka Communist, Trotskyite, Maoist and, lurking not far behind them every nuance of Democracy and Socialism. In hindsight all that seems innocent given the skulduggery that came to be sort of enshrined in a “Constitution” that enjoyed the distinction of being totally unconstitutional / illegal. So much more has been done since that J R J, the breaker of laws and trasher of justice would be chortling in whatever shades he now resides.
In dealing today with the outrageous prejudices displayed by the American political analyst Robert Kaplan in mid-2009, I realised that I should reaffirm the essays devoted to the services to mankind provided by a doctor indomitable and discerning.That medico was Dr. Susiri Weerasekera, who, alas, had deteriorated to a state non compos mentis when I made inquiries at his home in Nugegoda a few years back.
Susiri [with tie] is standing on the extreme left from the viewer’s eyes — this Pix being the Board of Management of the Friend-in-Need Society
Susiri Weerasekera was a person you would want to have alongside you in adversity: a person pragmatic, observant, down-to-earth and relatively unprejudiced. I got to know him when I dropped in on the Friend-in-Need Society in Colombo in 2010 to look into their work in support of the disabled and their speciality in assisting personnel who had lost a limb to obtain and then utilize a prosthetic leg.When I embarked on journeys to the northern reaches Susiri provided me with names and introductions to key personnel in Vavuniya and Jaffna as well as an introduction to Dr Hemantha Herath who was in charge of medical relief for the IDP camps. These recommendations were invaluable.
Last-minute injunctions have stalled the deportation of a Tamil family who have spent years fighting to stay in Australia. The plane carrying the Sri Lankan couple and their Australian-born daughters had already left the tarmac at Melbourne Airport when a judge granted a reprieve over the phone. Here’s what we know about the family’s case:
Dozens of people rushed to Melbourne Airport in a bid to stop the family being deported on Thursday night.. … Supplied: @HometoBilo)
We hadn’t seen him in years, ever since he left to work abroad. So, on the day of his return, his mother invited the extended family to lunch. As he walked through the door we reacted collectively, gasped audibly. He wore a sharp suit but sported one of those long, unkempt, rowdy beards. Perhaps, I thought, there are no barbers in Saudi Arabia. (You never know, it’s a weird place).
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.
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.