22 April, 2019

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A Long Watch: War, Captivity And Return In Sri Lanka

By Charles Sarvan

Prof. Charles Sarvan

Prof. Charles Sarvan

A Long Watch by Commodore Ajith Boyagoda, as told to Sunila Galappatti (Hurst & Company, London, 2016)

So few know, and “those who know will be the last to tell”. (From a poem by Henry G. Lee, 1915-1945; US prisoner-of-war of the Japanese; died in captivity.)

People did not want to hear my story (Ajith Boyagoda)

Incarceration has proved productive because some individuals have refused to accept stone walls as a prison or iron bars as a cage (lines adapted from the poem, ‘To Althea from Prison’, by Richard Lovelace, 1617-1657) while Lord Byron in his poem, ‘The Prisoner of Chillon’, celebrates the mind that cannot be chained. Nehru wrote Glimpses of World History while in prison; Mandela’s autobiography which Boyagoda read several times (perhaps A Long Watch is an echo of the title of Mandela’s book, A Long Walk to Freedom) was smuggled out of prison; the Kurdish leader Abdulla Öcalan, still in prison as I write (November 2016), published The Roots of Civilization, and Mohamedou Ould Slahi his Guantanamo Diary, reviewed by me in Colombo Telegraph, 28 February 2016. However, A Long Watch differs in that it is a post-prison memoir. The highest-ranking prisoner of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) Boyagoda, while being watched, watched. But “watch” is also appropriately nautical: on ships at sea, there’s someone on watch round the clock. (The watch on the ‘Titanic’ saw the iceberg too late.)

a-long-watch-war-captivity-and-return-in-sri-lankaWith disarming candour, Boyagoda writes that though he had been a sportsman at school, he had “neglected his studies”; employment was not easy to find, and when he joined the Navy in 1974, aged twenty, he “had no thought of dying for my country”. (Naively, he assumed it was just coincidence that all twelve recruited were, like him, Sinhalese Buddhists.) On 19 September 1994, his ship was attacked and sunk, one of the attack-boats consisting of female Black Sea-Tigers. Ironically, being captured also meant rescue from drowning (p. 71). After spending eight years as a prisoner-of-war, Boyagoda was exchanged for the Tiger’s Kennedy (nom de guerre), the one who “had led a group of nine cadres in infiltrating the Palaly air base in August 1994” (p. 190). He wryly observes that he had been a prisoner of one of the most ruthless terrorist organisations in the world; people talk about the Tamil Tigers all the time; he lived with them for eight years and yet, most strangely, no one ever wanted to hear his account (xi). I will return to this aspect later.

On capture, his gold chain was taken but when he complained, it was returned (p. 78). There was no forced-labour imposed on the prisoners. “LTTE paramedics came to see us every day. Yes, every day, in every place we were held” (p. 128). Food parcels sent by their families were meticulously handed over, so much so that between “the ICRC and our families we had better treats than our captors” (p. 170). When a fellow prisoner, Hemapala, fell ill and died, the body was given a gun-salute before being handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (p. 153). It will be interesting to compare the treatment accorded to Tiger cadres captured by the government, male and female – that is, those who were not killed. One awaits testimony from that side.

But Boyagoda is not naïve. For example, their favourite jailer was a man called Newton, “gentle, soft spoken” (p. 170) who even entrusted his daughters, aged about three and six, to the care of the prisoners. Yet this same man was also “reputedly one of the best and most ruthless bomb experts the LTTE had”. The Tigers were disciplined (no alcohol or cigarettes) and harsh on their own. A cadre was of use until she or he died: even some without legs learnt to climb trees (p. 102). In an interview (see: thewire.in/author/sunila-galappatti/) Boyagoda exclaims, “imagine a reality in which the Tigers had won”! The prisoners were well-treated according to international laws and norms, but “I know mine is not the only story. I have heard screams coming from underground cells” (p. xi). This last statement reminds me of that chilling classic, Darkness at Noon.

On the other side, it was on the islet of Karainagar that he first saw “the mentality of a Sinhala army walking through a Tamil village. Whatever they saw, they destroyed” (p. 45). A picture-album doesn’t mean anything to a stranger but to those who own it, it is a treasure. Memories of generations are lost when a single album is destroyed (p. 46). Smuggling became not of weapons but of “whole families packed into small, perilous vessels, looking for any safe haven” (p. 22). Sometimes, in order to destroy evidence, the Navy “would pour petrol on to the boats and burn them, with the people on them”, and pass it off as a barbeque (p. 96). During the JVP uprising in the Sinhalese South, the armed forces were described as being murderous. Now, behaving in the same way in the North, they are seen as “heroic” (p. 50). So too with the work the ICRC then did in the South and, later, attempted to do in the North.

To be impartial in a highly polarized and emotional situation is to invite execration from both sides. During successive riots, it was always a case of Sinhalese mobs attacking Tamils, and not of Tamil mobs attacking hapless Sinhalese civilians. (The emphasis here is on “mobs”.) Logically, if Tamils were not safe in Sinhalese areas, then their only safety lay in separation. Separation as the only answer was forced upon Tamils by their repeated experience, and then they are reproached with wishing to divide the Island. Ajith Boyagoda supports some form of devolution.

The tragedy, as Boyagoda sees it, is that the conflict is between brothers. When Sri Lanka won the cricket World Cup, Tamil Tiger cadres joined their Sinhalese prisoners in cheering. (To my recollection, the word “terrorist” is used only once by the narrator.) After the war, he meets up with a few former Tamil Tigers, among them one “George Uncle” who had just lost his wife. On seeing and recognizing him,

“George Uncle’s eyes filled with tears and he called to his children who had come for the funeral from Australia and Canada… He told his children who I was and how, even after being his prisoner, I had come to see him. I laughed and said, ‘this is the way in Sinhala culture – we don’t hold grudges’. I know he had a lot of affection for the South from his years as a post-master” (p. 221).

To the ancient Greeks, tragedy was the remorseless unfolding of what the gods had ordained, but tragedy now is also when there’s a sense of “unnecessariness” and consequent waste: as Shakespeare’s Othello exclaimed in a very different context, But yet the pity of it, O the pity of it (Act 4, Scene 1). The abstraction, “History”, cannot be blamed: events in Sri Lanka, as elsewhere in the world, could and should have been handled differently. But neither side, thinks Boyagoda, had the political maturity to reach a settlement (p. 191). The government in the South lacked leaders with will and courage (p. 184). For their part, the LTTE was intransigent in its demands, unwilling to make concessions in order to achieve a compromise.

One reason the Tigers lost is that the war lasted too long, comments Boyagoda. (So it was, for example, with Hannibal’s surprise attack on Rome having brought, in a bold and brilliant feat, elephants over the Alps in winter. But Roman Fabius Maximus saw that time was not on the side of his enemy, and took advantage of it. The rest, as they say, is history.) Given the overwhelming disparity in numbers; given international support; given that the Tigers did not possess one helicopter or jet fighter; given they were surrounded on mountain-less land, the longer the war lasted, the greater the attrition and the more certain their defeat.

Truth isn’t single and simple but, rather, multiple and complex. Boyagoda does not claim to tell the truth: he merely bears witness to his experience, modestly and honestly, conscious that there are other experiences; other truths. “I know the Tigers were capable of great brutality. There are many who can testify to this and many who did not survive” (p. 205). What he offers is but a tessera which, together with other tesserae, future generations will put together to form and ‘read’ the resulting mosaic. There is, he sadly notes, the suspicion that he had “sold out” (p. 201) to the LTTE. A Long Watch will not help dispel that cloud: quite the contrary. Had he falsified his treatment in captivity, painted the Tigers as unmitigated devils, he would have done his career great good. Truly, courage takes many different forms. When people asked him about his eight years of imprisonment by the Tigers, they already knew the answers they wanted to hear. The truth, as Boyagoda experienced and saw it, was irrelevant (p. 205). They wanted to hear a story that “reinforced their prejudices” (ibid). His nuanced version was to them falsity and, worse, traitorous: contrast the reception accorded to Major General Kamal Gunaratne’s Road to Nandikadal, also published this year. (According to the UK’s Guardian newspaper of 16 November 2016, Oxford Dictionaries have named ‘post-truth’ as the international word of this year. The term relates to or denotes circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. Why 2016? When, I wonder, was it ever different?)

The word “relate” comes from the Latin meaning “to bring back”. Ajith Boyagoda has related some of his recollections, and Sunila Galappatti has done excellently well in “bringing back” in English what was “brought back” in Sinhala. The memoir is honest and brave; modest, dignified and restrained: in the words of Michael Ondaatje, it’s the “best book yet on the war in Sri Lanka”. However, published abroad, few Sri Lankans will read it. Apart from cost, most of us want our opinions confirmed – not challenged and troubled – and the most effective way to “sink” a book is to ignore it. I hope, very much, that Commodore Boyagoda will publish a Sinhala translation in Sri Lanka. That would be a very valuable, and much needed, contribution.

In war, there are no winners but only losers, reflects Ajith Boyagoda sadly (p. 218). His is a truly Buddhist perspective: wise and compassionate.

Once again with thanks to my wife for her strictures.

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    [Edited out]

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    [Edited out] Please write instead of posting links – CT

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    Many Tamils joined LTTE after personally experiencing atrocities at the hands of SL genocidal army of sexual predators who went around looting, torturing, raping and beheading Tamil civilians each time they got their sorry asses handed to them by the Tigers.

    Margaret Trawick, a cultural anthropologist who had shortly lived in the LTTE-controlled Batticaloa region of eastern Sri Lanka for her study which was later published in a book titled, Enemy Lines: Warfare, Childhood, and Play in Batticaloa, interviewed Tiger members there and writes that a certain female cadre by the name of Sita “made it quite clear that she and many other combatants were motivated to join the LTTE by frustrated anger at the death of loved ones killed by the army.” (p. 82)

    Sita the Tigress recounts her family tragedy at the hands of Sri Lankan government forces and explains her motive for joining the LTTE:
    “In 1985, an older brother, when he was coming home from school, the STF [Special Task Force] pursued him and shot and killed him. Another brother, in 1990, was shot and killed in Vantharumulai University [in Batticaloa District]. … We were living happily before. After my brothers died, I decided to join the movement. After my brothers were killed, bitterness and frustration [virakti] came upon me. I wanted to die as my brothers died. … If I were at home, I could not do all these things. I have become even more ready to die. I see the suffering of the people, and I have no fear about fighting and dying for them. Even if I die today, I will be satisfied. When people in the movement die, it is a useful death. If I died in the house, there would be nothing remarkable about that.” (pp. 83-84)

    Trawick interviewed another Tigress, Malaimalli, then the head of the Batticaloa-Amparai branch of the women’s wing of the LTTE and when asked of the reason for joining the movement Malaimalli recounts a similar family tragedy:
    “Her older sister saw her husband shot before eyes. Her younger sister was imprisoned and tortured: they peeled off the skin on her leg and rubbed pepper in, and pulled off her fingernails. Now she is at home but unable to do anything. Malaimalli says there are sixteen thousand widows in Batticaloa District. Why get married just to become a widow? One must go to war in search of a peaceful life …” (p. 159)

    Even children felt compelled to join the Tigers after experiencing similar tragedies at the hands of government forces. According to a Human Rights Watch report:
    “children who witnessed or suffered abuses by Sri Lankan security forces often felt driven to join the LTTE. Government abuses prior to the cease-fire included unlawful detention, interrogation, torture, execution, enforced disappearances, and rape. A 1993 study of adolescents in Vaddukoddai in the North found that one quarter of the children studied had witnessed violence personally. In response, many children joined the LTTE, seeking to protect their families or to avenge real or perceived abuses.”

    Likewise, the Tehelka news magazine reported the motives of certain child soldiers for joining the LTTE:
    “Sureka was once a regular young girl in a village in the east, but the war between the LTTE and the army caught up with her. It killed her mother, leaving her orphaned. She had no siblings; her father had died a few years earlier. Soon after, soldiers began to turn up at her house regularly to torment her. They poured boiling water on her head once and hit her on the back with sticks. It’s what drove her to join the LTTE in 2000. … Like Sureka, Easwaran was orphaned in the 1990s when his parents were killed by the Sri Lankan Army. His father, an electrician, had dared to refuse to work for free for the soldiers. They paid him back by entering his house some days later and killing him and his wife. Easwaran was eight when he saw this happen. He and his two siblings screamed for help but fear had paralysed the neighbours into silence. He joined the LTTE to avenge his parents’ death, he says. … “All I wanted is a safe place for Tamils to live,””

    There are many more stories like the ones above that go covered up or drowned out by the mass hysteria over “terrorism” which is but a symptom of a much larger problem that is state terrorism.

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    There could hardly be a greater contrast than the responses of (even) the English-language reading public, to the books by Ajith Boyagoda and Kamal Gunaratne. Thamilini’s book has had a better reception than Boyagoda’s. That tells us something about where the people are at–and I for one, think they are at the right place, morally and ethically speaking, on how they view the war.

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      “” I for one, think they are at the right place, morally and ethically speaking, on how they view the war. “”

      spin doctor spin and spin for that is the profession of political scientist!

      Wiggle ’til you’re high, wiggle ’til you’re higher
      Wiggle ’til you vomit fire
      Wiggle ’til it whispers, wiggle ’til it hums
      Wiggle ’til it answers, wiggle ’til it comes

      Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle like satin and silk
      Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle like a pail of milk
      Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, rattle and shake
      Wiggle like a big fat snake

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      dayan j;

      What exactly do you mean? Can you please clarify?

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        KARL

        “dayan j; What exactly do you mean?”

        Waffle, Waffle, Waffle, Waffle, …… Waffle, Waffle, Waffle, Waffle, bit more Waffle.

        ” Can you please clarify?”

        He does not know if he is coming or going. Therefore it is unreasonable for you to ask him this favour.

        Please be kind to him.

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      Dayan Jayatilleke:
      Instead of writing these cryptic comments, why don’t you write a review of both Boyagoda and Trawick’s books?After all you pass yourself as a scholar and not as a mere polemicist for Rajapksaism?

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      Majority of the English language reading public in Srilanka are Sinhala racists. Therefore it is natural that any book that is written for the gallery will get a better response, than what tells the truth.

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        “”Majority of the English language reading public in Srilanka are Sinhala racists. “”

        Old rouge of royal college is wrong.

        10% of the islanders converse in the English language.The % that takes the trouble to read outside their subject could easily be less than 1%.
        A worldwide survey of university lecturers/professors carried out by TIME magazine in 1979 said only 5% read outside their subject.

        At colombo (where our ancestors were born for several generations) we dislike both the southern Sinhalese and northern Tamil for ruining our lives and the picture book island. It’s difficult to forgive both of you for July 1983.
        The country can do without both and prosper.

        Son of journalist Dayan is an opportunist who should be locked up – he is no different to late tiger Bala the journalist.

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        Yes, “mahaa sudhu Johnson”, I haven’t seen the book yet, and our changing reading habits are part of the problem. “TIME magazine in 1979 said only 5% read outside their subject”, and that figure for academics. How much worse 37 years later when we are bombarded each day with bits of transient information. This remarkable book is one that could get overlooked for that reason, and because it doesn’t confirm our cherished opinions about the vanquished foe.

        Thanks, Prof. Sarvan for being yet another person bringing this book to our notice. I wonder whether “Hurst & Company, London,” is one of those publishers who would realise that if this book is shipped to Sri Lankan bookshops at a special price its remarkable insights could get better known even in other countries.

        I think that a Sinhala translation could also be successful among the many more reflective persons who are beginning to realise that what has been so frequently asserted just can’t be right. The Tamils are all too aware of this.

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          Sinhala_Man ,
          Remember the 81 page report about Peradeniya University that you and a couple of others requested from that old woman Manel a month or 2 ago? Have you got it? It does not cost much for her to send it to a shop that does batch scanning to pdf but she decided to ignore it by saying I have to edit parts of it bla bla. They make promises because they can’t be seen and are promoted by idiots like backlash and ct.
          If this book is sold via amazon then you can download it or they network print it at SL on order. The cheapest would be downloading and that is an area which you should discuss with the publisher quoting ISBN . Since it is commercial the publishers would not want to stack it in a library. Good luck.

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            Those 81 pages – may I suggest that you write to me at “paniniedirisinhe@gmail.com”. I will be able to help you with that, but getting it on the Internet will require somebody with more computer knowledge. The harsh bit of your comment is not really warranted!

            Dear “mahaa sudhu Johnson”, we’re in this all together – on the same side, the side of Truth and Justice.

            Best wishes; hope to hear from you. Confidentiality will be respected.

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              thanks please request CT to delete your comment with e-mail
              I have mailed you requesting postal address to get them to post on Tuesday.

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              I was talking about a demagogue.
              I have never been interested in SL education or it’s universities Or the report. But once a promise is made to several then it must be kept-Avoidance of self deception is a matter of integrity not comfort- Woodward.
              You read the bible?? Never make a promise.

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          Dear “mahaa sudhu Johnson”,

          This is an update to what I have already said. I do realise that putting books on the Internet using a venture like Amazon Books is the future. However, as we get older all the new technologies are not so easy to master – so one does one’s best. When I was ordering books only about twenty years ago, I found that guys in bookshops didn’t know what ISBN numbers were, and that once the International Standard Book Numbers are given one has uniquely identified the book, and no mistake could occur. I was then told that I was too advanced!

          To start with, I don’t have a Credit Card which is necessary to download anything from the Internet. I have tried using the two DEBIT Cards that I have, but to no avail. I know that one has to pay for the books that one wants to read. And Amazon Books are cheaper than the hard copies would be. I’m sure that it is illegal to distribute copies to others – even for free – but it is inevitable that this will happen. I don’t think it exactly unethical if, in a third world country, one genuinely can’t afford even the “small amounts” (the term is relative, isn’t it?) that would be necessary to obtain a Credit Card (Banks are unlikely to issue me one!). Now that’s for starters! Let me assure you that I don’t exaggerate the difficulties.

          Thanks to Sir Tim Berners-Lee much on the Internet is free, but nothing can be given entirely free. We have to endure all sorts of advertisements.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Berners-Lee

          Anyway, the main thing in this instance is that if I have your e-mail address you will be sent the 81 pages as an attachment which will amount to less than 300 kb. Don’t ask where it came from!

          I know that what I have said above may not be totally satisfactory. I also know that you are quite sincere in writing what you have above – and it is not patronising! Thanks. Let’s work out a solution!

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            “” on the Internet using a venture like Amazon Books is the future.””

            Amazon came into being selling books on the internet and today its portfolio and resources is bigger than all the banks of UK- Bezos runs the $65.7 billion company (bicycle shop owners son) interesting life story- He has a date with Trump (ha ha).
            http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/10/10/bezos-amazon-biological-father/2959633/
            Alibaba Jack Ma is an English school teacher.$27 billion
            Another Ram Shriram from Loyola college BSc only- $1.92 Billion board member of Google. (he has head not IT)
            The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.”
            Pelé

            A Long Watch £20.00 (its walking distance to publishers 41 Great Russell Street)
            Tell me do you really want to read it?? If you do I would get them to post it to you on Tuesday as a X’mas present- give me an address please.
            please put a postal address on comment only.

            http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/a-long-watch/

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              Dear mahaa sudhu Johnson,

              I have followed the links you have given. I have seen what you say about Bezos. There is reference to Steve Jobs. I have the biography by Walter Isaacson in my hand right now. ISBN 978-1-4087-0374-8. My daughter gave it to me for Christmas 2011. I read it all, rather painful because Jobs was in many ways a nasty man: genius, no doubt.

              Yes, there was a mail from a strange looking address yesterday. fortunately I didn’t delete it, although I have now erased a paragraph of this comment. The first paragraph was written many hours ago, before I realised that you had indeed e-mailed me. Getting CT to remove my comment which gives my email address is going to be too much of a process. The risk of a professional spammer finding it in that place NOW (after the article has got “stale”) is not great.

              So, I have replied your e-mail, at some length, giving my postal address there, and attaching the Lanerolle Report on Peradeniya University.

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                As promised the publishers have shipped the product.
                Enjoy reading.

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                  Dear Maha Sudhu Johnson,

                  I don’t yet know your real name, but there is that strange gmail address that you were using to write to me! Must find it, and mail you right NOW!

                  But before that, I must tell any readers who come back to this article, that MSJ has kept his word. Thank you very much! I am in my house in the hills. My wife has phoned me to say that there was this parcel with a book in it delivered to my home near Colombo.

                  So, now it is my duty sit down to reading the book, and, thereafter sharing it with as many as many.

                  Many thanks, MSJ!

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                  My earlier comment has not come on, but I have written to MSJ.

                  Also, to tell readers that I did send the “rescued version” of the Lanerolle Report, almost complete, to MSJ about three weeks ago. Sent to a few others as well. But we have yet to get the 800 pages inclusive of the Attachments. That remains with Mr Tissa Jayatilleka.

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    ‘His is a truly Buddhist perspective: wise and compassionate’ was not Ajith involved in a scam to help steal Albino Turtle an later this poor creature died? Governments neglect of armed forces personal.

    Police arrested retired Commodore of the Navy Ajith Boyagoda, who was in LTTE custody for several years during the war and two members of the underworld, who had planned the theft of a white turtle from a centre where turtles were being reared in Kosgoda in 2013.

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    :Charles Sarvan

    Maybe he Ajith Boyagoda could be having STOCKHOLM SYNDROME, as many victims of captivity suffer such.

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    Prof. Charles Sarvan,

    Fine piece.

    when all the actors who still try to wring out every tiny morsel of personal benefit – not always monetary, at times even adulation – out of the war-victory has passed away, and the triumphalism born out of insecurity has died down, people will begin to see this as the best book to come out of the war.

    “Given the overwhelming disparity in numbers; given international support; given that the Tigers did not possess one helicopter or jet fighter”

    Few times I tried to get this across! :)

    Triumphalism is just not confined to us Lankans. After they got their butts kicked by the Vietnamese the USA was mortally scared of foreign “adventures.” Their first “adventure” was the invasion of Granada – a small Caribbean country. The returning victorious troops were greeted with ticker-tape parades. And Reagan was marching up and down with puffed out chest reminiscent of one of my very own countrymen in later years.

    Ah! such is life.

    PS

    9/11 was a spectacular symbolic act of great folly. It gave a blank check for the USA to wallow in their instinctive natural bad behaviour towards the rest of the world without even a token attempt at justification. Alas, no one now remembers the pre 9/11 world!

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    Prof:Sarvan.

    I have not read the book as yet.But your review gives me an idea of the personality of Commodore Ajith Boyagoda. Naturally,his long years in captivity would have made him reflective and see the conflict in a broader perspective.
    Perhaps,Boyagoda may have stopped short of saying that the LTTE was,in essence,a creation of the treatment meted out to the Tamils over the years.The LTTE was not an entity that was pulled out by the waving of the magic wand!
    I am glad that Boyagoda lived to tell his tale.

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    “In war, there are no winners but only losers, reflects Ajith Boyagoda sadly (p. 218). His is a truly Buddhist perspective: wise and compassionate.”

    The best of quotes- this is how the idealist Germans and Japanese were able to rise once again as a powerhouse- research and development than crying over spilt milk.

    War does not determine who is right — only who is left- Bertrand Russell

    (was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic, political activist and Nobel laureate)

    “”(According to the UK’s Guardian newspaper of 16 November 2016, Oxford Dictionaries have named ‘post-truth’ as the international word of this year. The term relates to or denotes circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. Why 2016? When, I wonder, was it ever different?)””

    Postmodernism describes both an era and a broad movement that developed in the mid to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism which marked a departure from modernism.

    Like after the invention of the personal computer mankind’s way of thinking and way of life is different.(I am not talking of idiots to IT for who wiki is god but don’t pay a penny- now we have to pay a minimum of $1 to read newsroom articles- guardian would follow suit soon so we would have blog-guardian articles)
    Thanks to the PC we are able to process millions of data in a short time so our new subjects carry `computational` as prefix eg computational biology- by which we understand bats and albatross to make drones and travel free.

    You may be interested in the word `loot` which came into the Cambridge dictionary after the Nawab invaders of North India. the same way we have Brexit though UK was always different from the continent.English has less Latin(simpleton Shakespeare did not like Latin much though it was the kings language then) than French and more German but the Brits are realistic unlike the idealistic Germans with less humour.

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    I thank “SinhalaPropaganda” for drawing my attention to Margaret Tawick’s ENEMY LINES.

    I confess I didn’t know of its existence: as I tell friends, my teaching days are long over but I remain happy to learn!

    Sarvan

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    “”People did not want to hear my story (Ajith Boyagoda)””

    To Kill a Mockingbird – novel by Harper Lee published in 1960.-It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American literature. The novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality.

    (was sold at MD Gunasena 1968) Best Seller! but crude (read it as a kid.)
    Soul On Ice is a memoir and collection of essays by Eldridge Cleaver. Originally written in Folsom State Prison in 1965, and published three years later in 1968, it is Cleaver’s best known writing and remains a seminal work in African-American literature.The central premise surrounding the book as a whole is the trouble of “identification as a black soul which has been ‘colonized’..In the book, Cleaver admitted to raping black girls as a “practice run” before seeking white women as prey. he text also included homophobic comments…The book was banned by the board of education of the Island Trees Union Free School District in New York, which was the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court case in 1982.

    Why is it banned and why is he not heard?? He misses the humour,and sensitivity of readers at large.

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    Charles Sarvan:
    Thanks for this review of Boyagoda’s book: disciplined, subtle and nuanced.
    I do hope it is translated into Sinhalese and Tamil and distributed widely.

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    “….The Tigers were disciplined (no alcohol or cigarettes) and harsh on their own…..Prisoners (Sinhala forces men held by the LTTE) were well-treated according to international laws and norms….Food parcels sent by their (Sinhala) families were meticulously handed over….. When a fellow prisoner, Hemapala, fell ill and died, the body was given a gun-salute before being handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (p. 153)…….”

    Boyagoda not only tells the story from his perspective but also serves the cause of peace and reconciliation by telling it as it is. There are many good stories such as this of the LTTE. As well many of the other side. Such is war – that turns even good men into beasts. How nice it would be if the larger Sinhala population is made aware of this.

    Kettikaran

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    Boyagoda better take care of his behind as long as this government or the Rajapaksas are around!

    And when I say “Rajapaksas” I include the Wijedasa who, in their wisdom, Sirisena and Wickremesinghe have made a senior cabinet minister and has very recently issued a statement to the effect that a large number of educated Sri Lankan Muslims have joined ISIS. If that is not an incitement to racist behaviour, I don’t know what is.
    This man’s conduct has been reprehensible from the time he started in the current cabinet and I expect that he will CONTINUE TO BE PERMITTED TO INCITE RACIAL HATRED as long as he is given the opportunity as Minister of Justice (???!!!) and Buddha Sasana (!!!?)

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      Slovenia, home of Melania Trump, ready for spotlight.
      Prime Minister Miro Cerar, in favor of the amendment, described water as “the 21st century’s liquid gold.”
      Slovenia becomes first EU nation to enshrine human right to water in their constitution
      “Everyone has the right to drinkable water,” Slovenia’s constitution now says. “Water resources represent a public good that is managed by the state. Water resources are primary and durably used to supply citizens with potable water and households with water and, in this sense, are not a market commodity.”

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    Emil van der Poorten

    “as long as he is given the opportunity as Minister of Justice (???!!!) and Buddha Sasana (!!!?)”

    Both justice and Buddha sasana are safe under his leadership according to his interpretation. You are just worrying too much for nothing.

    The business is as usual which provides stability.

    I wonder where you acquired taste for luxuries, for example longing for justice, clean government, dignity, honour, ….. equality, respect, tolerance, diversity, pluralism, …………

    This is Sri Lanka, the people should take what is given to them.

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      Lankas paymaster USA.
      Obama Hussein has pardoned more criminals than the last 9 Presidents combined.he granted clemency to a total of 944 drug related prisoners this year.The one batch of 214 was more criminals pardoned at one time since 1905. What a great legacy he is leaving behind. I would be interested to know how many of those have returned to a life of crime already.
      Imagine why MR retained KP etc and MR2 continuing.
      At Jaffna Samanta Power said it twice Obama is very interested and also flew to Washington to arrange the IMF loan that was refused.

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    Maha Sudhu Johnson kept to his word, and the book got to my home about two weeks ago; I felt I had to read it, and I have completed reading it. I tend not to read many books now; most reading tends to be blogs from the Internet.

    But I found this a very easy and interesting book to read.

    My sincere thanks to MSJ (real identity carefully concealed). So, there really are sane and decent people like MSJ: many thanks for the book. And it’s good that the book has got written: we need to reflect on what has gone so very wrong in our society. Let’s hope that this book is indeed translated in to Sinhalese and Tamil.

    It gets many messages across to all of us. We do need to look critically at all that went on for thirty years.

    Boyagoda’s writing is going to do so.

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