Monthly Archives: October 2014

Critiquing Nationalism

Tagore recognises the problem of races as the most menacing of the issues faced by India, making our history a continual social adjustment rather than one of organised power for defence or aggression or the rise and fall of dynasties as in the case of most other countries. Social regulation of differences with a spiritual recognition of unity has been the twin strategy for her to cope with her ethnic multiplicity. Tagore is sharply critical of the rigidity of social stratification in India and the resulting crippling of her people’s minds, the insularity of world views and the perpetuation of hierarchies. But he is even more critical of the West where “the national machinery of commerce and politics turns out neatly compressed bales of humanity which have their use and high market value; but they are bound in iron hoops, labelled and separated off with scientific care and precision”…

Whatever hopes of world peace, the dismantling of the Soviet Union and the rhetoric of globalisation had raised for the unthinking have been erased by the post-1980s genocides in Bosnia, Somalia, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Gujarat…

Tagore circumvents the issue of civilisational hierarchy by contrasting civilisations through their respective capacities for handling difference and sees history proceeding through the effects of one civilisation on another, thus placing civilisations symmetrically rather than in a progressive hierarchy. Tagore provides an alternative to the narrative modes of his time by directly critiquing the basis of the global modern located in its homelands in the West through the counter-universal. He neither privileges the “difference” of the post-colonial world nor critiques universalism itself as an embodiment of Western culture; “instead he interrogates the basis of a universal, modern Western project of nation-making by posing a counter-universal derived from his location in the East”. He invokes the East as an ensemble of non-instrumentalist modes of social relationships which can supply the principles for an alternative to the “Nation”, a Western creation.

Amnesty: UN Review Highlights

by Amnesty International, London, October 30, 2014 Amnesty UN review AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT Index: ASA 37/014/2014 30 October 2014 Sri Lanka: UN review highlights ongoing human rights abuse and impunity The UN Human Rights Committee review of Sri Lanka has once again highlighted the vast disconnect between Sri Lanka’s promises to Sri Lankan citizens… Read more »

Jaffna International Tamil Research Conference of 1974

Introductory Note The 40th anniversary of the 4th International Tamil Research Conference held in Jaffna (January 3-9) had passed by silently. The sad event of January 10th, 1974 in which nine Tamils lost their lives was one of the trend setting episodes which generated the Eelam Campaign of late 1970s among Tamil militant youth. As… Read more »

Media Freedom in Sri Lanka

Watch this powerful talk by Lukshmee Saravanapavan on media freedom in Sri Lanka at  the Amnesty International USA conference in St. Louis, Missouri on Oct. 25. or —————- For more information on Amnesty’s concerns in Sri Lanka, please visit

Sri Lanka: Where Disappearances Served as a National Security Imperative

Thomson-Senanayake’s study explores these historical fault-lines through the manner in which disappearances served as an integral part of a system of state power and patronage during 1971-2002, ‘to enable the political elite to immobilise all political opposition.’ This is a reading of history which peels away the skin of ideological preoccupations and exposes the truth for what it is, simply a ruthless appropriation of ancient mistrusts and convenient mythologies to serve the political purposes of governments and oppositions.

Tamil National Resistance and the Limits of Sinhala Liberal Intelligentsia

Since the conclusion of genocidal massacres in Mullivaaykkaal and the annihilation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Sinhala chauvinist Sri Lankan state has taken unparalleled measures to criminalize the commemoration of national resistance and to destroy its symbols in a bid to eradicate the spirit of national resistance among the beleaguered Eelam… Read more »

Compilation of all NESoHR Reports 2005 – 2009 In this current climate of investigation by the OHCHR on Sri Lanka, the NESoHR reports issued during the period from 2005 till January 2009 is here republished as a single file for ease of access. These reports were written from the NESoHR office in Kilinochchi during the above mentioned period and later from its… Read more »

Deadly Alliances Against Muslims

On his 79th birthday in July, the Dalai Lama appealed to Buddhist extremist groups in Myanmar and Sri Lanka to stop instigating attacks against Muslim minorities that have killed scores. Instead, in an affront to Buddhism’s core message of compassion, leaders of those groups announced an alliance to make common cause against Muslims. “The time… Read more »

The Indo-Lanka 13A

There is an uptick on the TNA pronouncements lately about India and her role in the 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution.  A series of events perhaps contributed this: TNA delegation’s meeting with the new Indian prime minister and now the NPC Chief Minister’s letter to the Sri Lankan President invoking India’s role as a… Read more »

A Garrison State?

The Sri Lankan military is Sri Lankan in name only. In actuality, it is predominantly Sinhalese and Buddhist in composition, and Sinhala-Buddhist supremacist in ethos. How will the militarisation of an ethno-religiously pluralist society by such a monolithic military impact on inter-communal relations and on the rights and security of minorities?

Traditionally, Sinhala-Buddhist supremacists strongly advocated the state-aided internal colonisation of Tamil-majority areas. They realised that the consequent demographic changes would cause a drastic electoral disempowerment of Tamils. State-aided colonisation schemes implemented by successive Lankan governments contributed to the worsening of Sinhala-Tamil relations.

In the post-war period, this project has been embraced by the Rajapaksas for their own purposes. Having decisively lost the 2013 provisional election in the Tamil-majority Northern Province, the Rajapaksas desire to change Northern demographics for electoral reasons just as much as Sinhala-Buddhist supremacists yearn to do so for ideological reasons. The military has become the willing executioner of this joint Rajapaksa-Sinhala/Buddhist supremacist project to render Tamils thinner on the northern ground.

Rohan Gunaratna Revisited

by Sachi Sri Kantha, October 10, 2014 I wanted to write this item on Dr. Rohan Gunaratna in last February or March, after the verdict by a Canadian court, which awarded $53,000 to the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) against Gunaratna in a defamation lawsuit.  Seven months have lapsed since then.  If one googles ‘Rohan Gunaratna’,… Read more »

Amnesty: UN Review Highlights Empty Rights Promises

Press releases 7 October 2014 Sri Lanka: UN review highlights empty rights promises Sri Lanka must stop making empty promises to the international community and the Sri Lankan people on improving the country’s still desperate human rights situation, Amnesty International said ahead of a UN review of the country’s rights record. The UN Human Rights… Read more »

MGR Remembered – Part 21

Part 20 By Sachi Sri Kantha, September 30, 2014 A Response received from Mr. Shrikanth Veeravalli I received an email from Shrikanth Veeravalli on Sept. 6th, related to my review of his recently published MGR biography book (see Part 18). As I requested permission from him to post his details unedited, and he had given… Read more »

Amnesty Briefing on Sri Lanka for ICCPR Review

Amnesty UN INT_CCPR_CSS_LKA_18252_E Amnesty International has submitted a 40-page briefing on Sri Lanka to the U.N. Human Rights Committee in connection with the Committee’s review during this month of Sri Lanka’s fifth periodic report on its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  The briefing can be found at   INTRODUCTION Amnesty… Read more »