Institutional Voids during State Re-scaling

This international workshop which will take place on 13 May 2013 in Rotterdam, aims to combine the insights and findings from the two previous workshops on institutional voids and state re-scaling respectively. The goal is to look at the crisscrossing between these two frontiers of research so as to generate new research questions and scholarly agenda.

Date: Monday 13 May 2013
to be announced
Rotterdam, The Netherlands (details to be announced)

Deadline for abstracts: 1 November 2012
Please go to this webform to submit your abstract.


Submission Instructions

An abstract of not more than 500 words together with a short CV should be submitted in digital format before 1 November 2012.
Selected abstracted will be notified before 30 November 2012.
The full paper should be sent in digital format before 15 April 2013.

The organizer will provide hotel accommodation for two nights (12 and 13 May 2013). Participants are expected to take care of their own travel expenses.


The Workshop

The national state has been under increasing pressure to re-articulate and re-territorize in relation to both sub- and supra-national scales. A strategic response, often formulated in conjunction with mobilized business and other interest groups, involves adapting institutional, regulatory, and spatial configurations to meet the demands of transnational investments, cross-country financial operations, internal and international migrations, and so on (Friedmann 1995, Brenner 2004). This sets off a highly contentious process that hinges upon a redefinition of state-market relations as well as a redistribution of state power between the national administration and the other levels of authorities. It also brings about severe competition between sub-national regions when they all aspire to become an epicentre for growth (Brenner 1998). New alliances between local authorities, domestic producers, and international investors are being forged, which in some cases has set in motion a counter-movement among forces opposed to these alliances and to globalization forces generally.

During this contentious process, the boundaries of the political are redrawn, and economic and political scales redefined. Many countries have experienced institutional voids with regard to the new challenges posed by state re-scaling. The current financial crisis in the Euro zone is a case in point. This also applies to the management of cross-border water and natural resources, the coordination of regional developments, the regulation of human and capital flows, and so on. Existing scholarship has long studied societies where the absence or weakness of particular institutions inhibits social and economic development. Yet until more recently insufficient attention was paid to the questions of how and under what circumstances institutional can voids be filled. Whereas a growing number of studies ( eg. Khanna and Palepu 1997) have documented intriguing cases where entrepreneurial actors – public and private, organizational and individual – have trespassed on the boundaries of formal rules and institutions to create new space of governance that performs important coordinating functions, there is still a dearth of evidence concerning the problems of void-filling during state re-scaling. This workshop seeks to address this gap in the existing scholarship.

Objectives of the Workshop

The workshop is the third event in a series of joint symposiums and workshops. The first symposium on Institutional Voids and the Governance of Developing Economies took place on 16 May 2011. The second workshop on State Restructuring and Rescaling in Comparative Perspective will be held on 3-4 December 2012. The fourth workshop is planned to take place in December 2013.

The current workshop aims to combine the insights and findings from the two previous workshops on institutional voids and state re-scaling respectively. The goal is to look at the crisscrossing between these two frontiers of research so as to generate new research questions and scholarly agenda.

Specifically, the workshop seeks to address the following questions:

  1. examination of empirical cases about the process of state restructuring and re-scaling in a globalizing world;
  2. identification of institutional voids as a result of scaling up or scaling down during the re-territorization of the national state;
  3. analysis of the social, political, coalitional, and economic contexts that facilitate the filling of voids by the creation of alternative forms of governance and the consequences; and
  4. reflection upon existing theories of the state, sub-national and supra-national politics, and institutional change, as well as conventional concepts about the national-international division, public-private boundary, and the state-market dichotomy.



For enquiries about the workshop and submission of abstracts, please contact:
Martina van den Haak


CFP Online International Journal of Arts and Humanities (OIJAH)

Online International Journal of Arts and Humanities (OIJAH) is currently accepting manuscripts for publication. OIJAH publishes high-quality solicited and unsolicited articles, in English in areas of arts and humanities pertaining to psychology and counseling, policy studies, history and culture, music and dance, religious studies, library and information science, gender studies, media and communication, English and literature, African studies and development, Asian studies and development, the middle east, European Union, language and culture, fine and studio art, physical education, philosophy, international studies, sport management, etc.
All papers published by OIJAH are peer-reviewed. OIJAH is a rapid response journal with an issue published every month.

The following types of papers are considered for publication:
Original articles in basic and applied research.
Critical reviews, surveys, opinions, short communications and essays.

Our objective is to inform authors of the decision on their manuscript(s) within a MONTH of submission. Following acceptance, a paper will normally be published in the next issue. One key request of researchers across the world is open access to research publications. OIJAH is fully committed to providing free access to all articles as soon as they are published. We ask you to support this initiative by publishing your papers in this journal or any of our sister journals. All publish articles are to remain forever in our site. We also give hard (printed) copies upon request.

Prospective authors should send manuscript(s) to Authors guide is available on our website

Please visit for more details.

Help-desk Officer
Online Research Journal
Visit the website at

Invitation to prospective writers: A Sri Lankan Anthology of Hint Fiction

Around two months ago, I picked up on a whim Hint Fiction edited by Robert Swartwood. Swartwood’s definition of hint fiction is ‘a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story’. As the book’s blurb on Amazon notes,

“The stories in this collection run the gamut from playful to tragic, conservative to experimental, but they all have one thing in common: they are no more than 25 words long. Robert Swartwood was inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s possibly apocryphal six-word story—”For Sale: baby shoes, never worn”—to foster the writing of these incredibly short-short stories. He termed them “hint fiction” because the few chosen words suggest a larger, more complex chain of events. Spare and evocative, these stories prove that a brilliantly honed narrative can be as startling and powerful as a story of traditional length. The 125 gemlike stories in this collection come from such best-selling and award-winning authors as Joyce Carol Oates, Ha Jin, Peter Straub, and James Frey, as well as emerging writers.”

The book was a compelling read. The stories in it, as the best of them often do, resonated beyond the culture and context they were written in and the audience they were meant for.

Four of my favourite stories from Swartwood’s anthology are:

  • They buried him deep. Again. – Joe R. Lansdale
  • Triumphant, Dr. Masuyo held the frail child. After year, he finally had a cure. Outside, the sun warmed Hiroshima. And then he saw the flash. – Kevin Hose
  • The bull terrier watched the car fishtail and then straighten as it sped away. The dog turned, looked down, and gently licked his master’s forehead. – Daniel A. Olivas
  • The sour of breaking glass got Philip out of bed, and then he remembered he was no longer in love with his wife. – Jason Rice

After reading it cover to cover, I wondered what it would be like to do a similar project in Sri Lanka, with resident writers or those from abroad who had spent some time in the country. Having discussing the idea with them, Perera-Hussein Books offered to seriously consider publishing a Sri Lankan anthology of Hint Fiction, and I am keen to also use the exercise as a way to see how a traditional print based work can be complemented through e-book and Apple iBook formats, which Groundviews pioneered in Sri Lanka.

But before form comes content. Twitter’s @sixwordstories demonstrates that even as little as six words is enough, in the hands of a vibrant imagination and creative word-weaver, to tell a good story.

Prospective writers should anchor their story (or stories) to something very Sri Lankan – a phrase, place, event, issue, marker, adage, trait, historical chapter, reference, image, dish, sweetmeat or map, for example. The idea is to evoke something of this country – something loved, reviled, longed for or missed.

Submissions will be accepted till 15th September 2012. Please email your story or stories only to Please remember that each story should be 25 words or less.

I sincerely hope the submissions, if they are good enough and make to print and the web, will introduce a new genre to Sri Lankan fiction and be a damn good read as well.


« Impact des décisions politiques sur la population civile à Sri Lanka » par Blanche Mattern

Nous avons le plaisir de partager un lien pour télécharger le mémoire de Master de sciences politiques de Blanche Mattern qui porte sur l' »impact des décisions politiques sur la population civile à Sri Lanka ». Ce travail dirigé par Professeur Tertrais à été réalisé dans le cadre du Master Recherche « Gestions de crises et Problématiques identitaires » de l’université Paris-I Panthéon-Sorbonne. Blanche Mattern est actuellement chargée de mission Asie du Sud pour l’ONG InMaLanka.

Mémoire Blanche Mattern


Référence: Mattern B., 2010, « Impact des décisions politiques sur la population civile à Sri Lanka », mémoire de Master de sciences politiques, Paris, Université Paris-I Panthéon-Sorbonne, p.113

CFP Perspectives on South Asian Poetry in English, volume of essays

Perspectives on South Asian Poetry in English: A Collection of Critical Essays
Edited by Mitali P. Wong and Waqas Khwaja

This anthology of critical essays will cover the English-language poetry of South Asians both in the subcontinent as well as in the globally distributed locations of the South Asian diaspora from the early nineteenth century to the second decade of the 21st century. The essays may cover literary movements, poetic manifestoes, genres of poetry, style and language in South Asian poetry in English, the contributions of individual poets, comparative studies of poets and their poems, transnational poetics, poets and poetry from specific countries/regions, the influences of South Asian vernacular literary traditions, and other related topics. (There is an interested academic publisher in the United States.)

*The anthology is expected to cover the following areas:
The beginnings of English-language poetry in 19th century India
The poetry of the colonial period
Postcolonial poetry in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh,Nepal
The poetry of the South Asian diaspora in the U.K., U.S.A., Canada,
the Caribbean, Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Fiji

Deadline for abstracts: December 1, 2012 (The editors will provide details of length and formatting for accepted papers.)
Deadline for final drafts of essays: July 15, 2013
Please send abstracts of 250-300 words to the editors:
Dr. Mitali P. Wong
Professor of English
Department of English and Foreign Languages
Claflin University
Orangeburg, SC 29115

Dr. Waqas Khwaja
Professor of English
Agnes Scott College
Decatur, GA 30030

*(Please email the editors if you have questions about specific topics and/or poets to be covered.)

Global Perspectives: Islam, Spiritualism and Radicalism, Yogyakarta, Nov. 22-24, 2012

In this era of globalization and trans-nationalism religions and religious communities confront challenges of social and political modernization. Ever increasing levels of inter-connectivity of capital, commodities, images and ideologies are among the defining characteristics of globalization.  Globalization brings new understandings of space and time and of a tightly interconnected world in which people are no longer limited by space and time. The world becomes ever smaller and time ever shorter (Jonathan Xavier Inda & Renato Rosaldo).

Modernization is the set of social and technological transformations that gave birth to globalization. Science and technology are the dominant forms of knowledge in modern societies.  This has led to the marginalization of religion and particularly the spiritual dimension of religion that is difficult to observe or quantify. The marginalization of religion and especially its spiritual aspects is often mentioned as pre-conditions for the emergence of modernity (Roxanne Euben 1999, 21). Put another way, as rationality becomes the form and substance of modernity revelation becomes increasingly insignificant (Bruce Lawrence, 57).

Fundamentalism is a reaction to the secularity of modernity and a response to the intellectual, social and political hegemony of secularism. Fundamentalism is the product of modernity but denies its authenticity and aims to replace the secular order with a religious one (BassamTibi, 1998). Fundamentalism has the potential to give rise to radicalism that often do not oppose or actively support violence in the name of religion.

In Indonesia the end of the Suharto regime in 1998 led to democratization, and at the same time was a breath of fresh air for fundamentalists endorsing textual literalism. Indonesian fundamentalism is often associated with organized trans-national and global movements. As Greg Fealy (2004) has observed, the portrait of Islam emerging from research conducted in the Post-Suharto Reformation Era is one of Muslim Radicalism.

State Islamic University (UIN) Sunan Kalijaga is a qualified higher educational institution that integrates a non-violence-based curriculum and learning process. UIN community members come from many different regions of Indonesia and diverse schools of Islamic thought. The university vision is to excel and outstand in integrating and developing the study of Islam and modern sciences for the betterment of civilization. One of its missions is strengthening the participation of the University in solving national problems, bringing together the insights of Islam and sciences in order to build civil society.

This conference will be held as part of an attempt to realize the university’s mission. It is also intended as an effort to and to contribute to the development of a highly spiritual society and nation that rejects violence committed in the name of religion.


Retour sur l’indépendance de l’Inde par Blanche Mattern

©Blanche Mattern

Le 15 août, l’Inde fêtait le 65e anniversaire de son indépendance. Le Pakistan fêtait, quant à lui, l’anniversaire de sa création le 14 août.

C’est l’occasion pour moi de renouer avec des articles un peu rédigés en proposant un petit retour historique sur un évènement qui contribua largement au niveau international au remaniement de la carte géopolitique du monde.

L’indépendance de l’Inde et la création du Pakistan en 1947 marque en effet un tournant dans un processus de décolonisation enclenché au XIXe siècle. L’Inde fait figure d’étape décisive dans la chute des empires coloniaux. Son indépendance a en effet lieu à une période associée à une tentative de maintien de la domination coloniale européenne avec, par exemple, l’Indochine française ou encore la Malaisie Britannique.

Dès le début du XXe siècle, la couronne britannique a de plus en plus de mal à écraser les agitations nationalistes. Les lois Rowlatt de mars 1919, sont par exemple mises en place afin d’autoriser l’arrestation arbitraire et le jugement des « agitateurs ». Gandhi, très associé à l’indépendance de l’Inde, appelle un hartalgénéral (arrêt du travail) et lance le Rowlatt satyagraha, mouvement de protestation non-violente contre les lois Rowlatt. Ce mouvement entraîne une répression très violente avec un événement majeur: le massacre d’Amritsar.

Connu sous le nom du Jallianwala Bagh massacre, il a lieu dans un jardin public d’Amritsar le 13 avril 1919 à l’initiative du Brigadier-Général Reginald E.H. Dyer. Ce jour-là, Dyer, convaincu qu’une insurrection majeure se met en place, interdit tous meetings dans la ville. Mais 15 à 20 000 personnes sont déjà réunis dans le jardin public de Jallianwala Bagh: des enfants, des femmes, des hommes, des personnes âgées… Il ordonne alors, sans sommation, de tirer dans la foule. Des tirs qui prennent place pendant environ 10 minutes, jusqu’à ce que le stock de munitions soit fini… ce qui résulte en le massacre de plus de 379 personnes, majoritairement sikhs (entre 1200 et 2000 personnes sont également blessés). Ce massacre est un des épisodes décisifs contre les lois britanniques en vigueur et amène une réévaluation du rôle de l’armée et la mise en place d’une politique de contrôle des foules ainsi qu’une utilisation minimale de la force. Mais il marque principalement une rupture sans retour possible dans le dialogue entre les nationalistes indiens et le gouvernement.

L’année suivante le premier Asahayog Andolan –mouvement de non-coopération- se met en place. Supporté par le parti du Congrès National Indien, fondé en 1885, il prend place de 1920 à 1922 et est considéré comme le deuxième événement majeur dans la lutte pour l’indépendance, après la révolte des cipayes*, de 1857, également appelée 1ere guerre pour l’indépendance.

Gandhi prône alors un mouvement contre les anglais au travers de la non-violence – ahinsa -. Le mouvement appelle au boycott des produits britanniques. Plusieurs facteurs amènent à la création de ce mouvement: l’oppression grandissante des britanniques envers les indiens avec comme exemple majeur le massacre d’Amritsar, une économie inégale entre les anglais et les indiens mais également un ressenti d’injustice face au nombre de soldats indiens morts pendant la première guerre mondiale, dans des batailles qui ne concerne pas l’Inde. Ce mouvement de boycott a un impact sérieux sur l’assise politique et économique britannique sur le pays. Des violences entre certains protestants et la police locale entraînant la mort de 25 personnes (3 protestants, 22 policiers) le 5 février 1922, Gandhi estime alors que le mouvement a perdu son caractère non violent et appelle à cesser le mouvement de désobéissance civile. Le mouvement prend fin en début d’année et Gandhi est arrêté le 10 mars pour une durée de 6 ans. Il est soutenu par plusieurs leaders du Congrès alors que de nombreux nationalistes estiment que le mouvement de non-coopération n’aurait pas du cesser.

En 1929, le parti du Congrès inscrit à son programme le Purna Swaraj, indépendance totale, après avoir ajouté en 1920 sa première revendication d’indépendance, le Swaraj.

De 1930 à 1934 prend place le second mouvement de désobéissance civile. Le 2 mars, Gandhi relance le mouvement de désobéissance civile en appelant de nouveau au boycott des produits britanniques et en réclamant la suppression de l’impôt sur le sel ainsi que la fin du monopole britannique sur sa production et vente.

Selon les lois britannique, seul le gouvernement britannique est autorisé à vendre ou produire du sel. Le 12 mars débute la salt satyagraha –marche du sel- de Gandhi, face au monopole britannique du marché du sel et à la taxe sur le sel. La marche commence à l’Ashram de Sabarmati, près d’Ahmedabad, et reçoit un soutien de masse. Des milliers de personnes se joignent à elle. Elle s’achève le 6 mars au Gujarat alors que le mouvement de désobéissance paralyse l’administration par les démissions massives de fonctionnaires indiens. Le 6 avril au matin, Gandhi ramasse une poignée de sable et de sel, fait bouillir de l’eau de mer et produit du sel, ce qu’aucun indien n’est autorisé à faire et encourage la population à faire de même. Cet acte symbolique marque le mouvement de désobéissance civile au travers de tout le pays. Gandhi est arrêté le 5 mai 1930 pour avoir enfreint les lois sur le sel. Son arrestation provoque des vagues d’émeutes dans le pays. Le mouvement contre la taxe sur le sel s’éteint sur toute l’année et près de 80, 000 personnes sont arrêtées.

Le 12 novembre, la conférence de la Table ronde se tient à Londres sur le statut des Indes britanniques et est boycottée par le Congrès. Les indiens musulmans se tiennent à l’écart de ce mouvement et les premières émeutes intercommunautaires entre hindous et musulmans ont lieu.

Le 5 mars 1931, le Pacte Irwin-Gandhi est signé entre Lord Irwin, vice-roi des Indes, et le Mahatma. Cet accord prévoit que contre la libération des prisonniers politiques (hors ceux accusés de violences) et l’utilisation libre du sel, le mouvement de désobéissance civile sera supprimé et que Gandhi participera à la seconde table ronde à Londres. La signature de ce pacte est peu appréciée en Inde et créée des divergences au sein du Congrès. La table ronde de septembre est un échec dues aux divisions entre les britanniques et les leaders indiens mais également aux divergences d’opinions au sein même des partis indiens. Gandhi démissionne du Congrès en 1934 ne trouvant pas de terrain d’accord qui le satisfassent avec les principaux dirigeants du parti.

Dans la fin des années 30 et suite à la signature en 1935 de la Government of India Act, première constitution dans le sens d’une future indépendance de l’Inde, la couronne fait une suite de concessions visant à l’autonomie du pays. Concessions qui ne rendent pas le pays plus autonome, le gouvernement de New Delhi restant subordonné à Londres via l’India Officequi conserve le contrôle de la justice, de l’armée, de la police et des douanes. De plus, les britanniques peuvent compter sur le soutien des 565 Etats princiers, administrés par des souverains indiens, jouissant d’une autonomie locale et sous protection britannique, et qui restent à l’écart de l’agitation nationaliste. Les britanniques arrivent à contenir la situation en jouant également sur la division des communautés religieuses et la réorganisation de la Ligue musulmane dans les années 30, avec à la direction Mohammed Ali Jinnah qui adopte une ligne très hostile au Congrès. Enfin, toute l’Inde garde bien en tête au moment de la lutte pour l’Indépendance la large force militaire britannique qui a possibilité à tout moment d’écraser le moindre soulèvement armé.

En 1939, le vice-roi des Indes déclare la guerre à l’Allemagne au nom de l’Inde. Le Congrès estime alors que, bien qu’hostile au nazisme, l’Inde doit rester à l’écart du conflit et ordonne immédiatement aux gouvernements provinciaux de démissionner.

Bien qu’elle soit rester à l’écart du conflit, l’Inde se retrouve en ligne de front après l’entrée en guerre du Japon (1941) et sa conquête de la Birmanie (1942). La Malaisie et Singapour sont pris en 1942 et 60 000 hommes des troupes indiennes sont capturés par les Japonais. Churchill envoie le leader travailliste à la Chambre des Communes, Sir Stafford Cripps, pour négocier l’adhésion des leaders indiens à la cause des Alliées contre le statut de dominion pour l’Inde. La mission Cripps est un échec, l’Europe se déchire, les leaders l’ont bien compris et comme le dit Gandhi cette proposition est « un chèque en blanc sur une banque en faillite ». Le Congrès adopte alors la Quit India Resolution et…. ses leaders sont arrêtés et le parti est déclaré illégal. Nous sommes en août 1942.

Les dirigeants du Congrès n’ont pas eu le temps de s’organiser, le 9 août les masses indiennes se lèvent réclamant une indépendance immédiate: manifestations, boycotts, grèves, la police tire sur la foule. La situation est hors de contrôle, le soulèvement populaire tourne à la violence dans plusieurs régions et on assiste à la destruction de tous les symboles du Raj: bureaux de poste, gares de chemin de fer mais également bâtiments publics, lignes électriques, ponts.

La répression est immédiate mais il faut six semaines pour mettre à mal le soulèvement, elle est accompagnée de la mort de plus de 1000 indiens, tués par la police et l’armée, cent milles personnes sont arrêtées.

A la sortie de la seconde guerre mondiale, alors que la Grande-Bretagne était désireuse de rester en Inde avant la guerre, notamment en vue du remboursement de la dette indienne, la guerre renverse la situation et la couronne se retrouve débitrice suite à ses nombreux emprunts auprès du gouvernement de l’Inde pour financer ses dépenses. La couronne doit revoir ses ambitions à la baisse, les Américains sont favorables au processus de décolonisation et Londres doit accepter leur leadership. Enfin, les rapports entre les communautés sont dans une impasse totale, la Ligue musulmane exige depuis la résolution de Lahore en 1940 la création du Pakistan et les troubles intra-communautaires se font de plus en plus fréquents et de plus en plus violents. L’Indépendance est devenue inévitable et tout s’accélère.

En 1946 Pethick-Lawrence propose au Congrès et à la Ligue Musulmane de diviser le pays en trois groupes de provinces: à majorité hindoue, à majorité musulmane (Penjab, Sindh, provinces du Nord-Ouest, Baluchistan) et musulmane (une partie du Bengale). Ces groupes resteraient dépendant du pouvoir central. La solution n’est pas applicable, les sikhs du Penjab réclamant également un état indépendant. Jinnah et Nehru accepte tout d’abord mais les plans de partage se concluent sur un échec. Jinnah et la Ligue musulmane les rejette. Le Congrès les accepte partiellement.

En août 1946, Calcutta entre dans une grande vague de violences hors contrôle suite à l’appel à la protestation lancé à Calcutta par la Ligue Musulmane. Les protestations dégénèrent totalement et font près de 10 000 morts. En octobre, la Ligue Musulmane se sent trahie par l’accord signé entre le Congrès et le Raj qui prévoit un gouvernement de transition dirigé par Nehru sans la Ligue.

En mars 1947, l’arrivée de Lord Mountbatten, nouveau vice-roi, annonce le retrait de la couronne en juin 1948, Londres espérant gagner un peu de temps pour trouver un compromis avec les leaders. Mais, rapidement, il conclut qu’une partition du pays est inévitable. En juin 1947, le Congrès accepte une division de l’Inde mais à la condition que le Punjab et le Bengale soient également divisés arguant sur le fait que ces régions comprennent non seulement des musulmans mais également une communauté hindoue et sikh. En juillet 1947, l’Indian Independance Act est votée par le parlement britannique, elle doit rendre la partition effective dans la nuit du 14 au 15 août 1947.

Le 14 août 1947 marque la création du Pakistan comprenant le Pakistan occidental (Pakistan actuel) et le Pakistan oriental (Bangladesh actuel) séparés par des milliers de kilomètres. Jinnah, leader de la Ligue musulmane, devient le gouverneur général du Pakistan où la république n’est proclamée qu’en 1956. Le 15 août 1947, l’Union indienne acquière son indépendance Au moment des indépendances, la frontière n’est pas encore fixée. Elle est tracée le 17 août par la commission Radcliffe, présidée par le juge britannique Sir Radcliffe, et entraîne un éclatement de colère dans la communauté sikh, les lieux saints étant placés du côté pakistanais.

Mais la frontière Radcliffe et la partition du pays entraîne également l’un des plus grand drame du XXe siècle. Les mouvements de population de sikhs et d’hindous qui fuient pour l’Union indienne et de musulmans pour le Pakistan sont accompagnés d’affrontements sanglants entre les diverses communautés. On estime que la partition et l’expression des haines intercommunautaires entraînent à l’époque de 180 000 à 2 millions de victimes dans les provinces du Punjab et du Bengale nouvellement divisées. A une période où l’eau des rivières coulait rouge, les réfugiés sont souvent tués à l’arme blanche, victimes d’attaques de trains circulant sur des voies ferrées sabotées à l’explosif. On compte environ 14 millions de déplacés, dont 10 millions pour le Punjab. Les sikhs et hindous pris de panique à la peur d’être réprimés quittent le nouveau Pakistan, environ un million d’hindous partent de la province pakistanaise du Sind. Alors que les muhajir musulmans, souvent originaires de la classe moyenne, quittent l’Inde pour des raisons idéologiques.

Autre drame de la partition: le conflit indo-pakistanais du Cachemire. Les accords d’Indépendance laissent le choix aux 565 Etats princiers de rejoindre le dominion de leur choix ou de devenir indépendant. Le nouveau gouvernement indien réussi à convaincre les princes des Etats situés sur son territoire de rejoindre l’Union, à l’exception du Cachemire, d’Hyderabad et de Junagadh.

Le Jamu et Cachemire, créé au milieu du XIXe siècle, devient sujet de discorde entre les deux nouveaux pays. Bien que l’Etat connaisse une existence calme avec une historique de maharajahs hindous régnant sur une majorité musulmane, il se voit imposer l’obligation, comme tous les Etats princiers, de se rattacher à l’Inde ou au Pakistan. Mais comment faire lorsqu’on est hindou et qu’on s’appuie sur une élite de Cachemiri pandits très hostiles au Pakistan alors que la majorité de sa population est musulmane et que ses principaux liens économiques sont avec le Punjab occidental pakistanais? Devant cette question, le Pakistan tranche: il envoie des guerriers tribaux envahir l’Etat princiers et ceux-ci sèment la terreur. Le maharajah appelle l’Inde au secours, l’Union négocie alors son intervention contre le ralliement du Cachemire à l’Union indienne. Le maharaja n’a plus le choix mais c’est sans compté l’intervention de Mountbatten! Le rattachement ne peut être confirmé que par un plébiscite sous contrôle des Nations Unies. Tout ce micmac débouche sur la première guerre indo-pakistanaise qui s’inscrit dans un contexte militaire singulier avec un chef d’état-major général britannique, un chef d’état major de l’armée indienne et un de l’armée pakistanaise et surtout deux armées subordonnées au même chef d’état-major. Le 1er janvier 1949 un cessez-le-feu est conclu sous l’égide de l’ONU, l’Inde annexe la partie qu’elle contrôle et le Jammu et Cachemire devient officiellement un Etat de l’Union indienne. S’en suivra deux nouvelles guerres pour le contrôle de l’Etat et la mise en place d’une ligne de contrôle qui n’est toujours pas réellement fixée. Le Pakistan quant à lui continu de réclamer l’organisation d’un plébiscite, comme prévu par l’accord de cessez-le-feu, et l’ancien Etat princier pacifiste est aujourd’hui une menace pour la paix de la région.

Quant au Junagadh, il décide de rejoindre le Pakistan alors que son territoire est enclavé dans l’Union indienne. Population majoritairement hindoue dirigée par un prince musulman, le plébiscite de décembre 1947 le fait rejoindre l’Inde.

Pour la principauté d’Hyderabad, la situation est encore différente. Le Nizâm refuse d’intégrer son Etat à l’Union indienne, bien que celui-ci soit totalement enclavé. Il fait appel aux accords pour l’Indépendance et exige la création d’un Etat séparé pour les 18 millions d’habitant majoritairement hindou (ici on a la situation inverse du Cachemire: un prince musulman et une population hindoue). L’armée indienne s’empare de la principauté après une guerre éclaire du 13 au 17 septembre 1948. Le Nizam cesse officiellement de régner en 1950.

La création du Pakistan et l’indépendance de l’Union indienne marque le début du démantèlement de l’empire colonial britannique et Nehru devient l’un des leaders du mouvement de décolonisation. Nehru place l’Inde sur le devant de la scène internationale comme une puissance politique forte notamment par sa politique de non-alignement à l’heure de la guerre froide.

*Le 10 mai 1857 une mutinerie des cipayes -soldat indien servant pour la couronne britannique- débute contre la Compagnie anglaise des Indes orientales, elle entraîne un soulèvement populaire violent en Inde et menace le pouvoir de la compagnie. Elle est écrasée le 20 juin 1858. Elle est accompagnée d’une grande période de représailles et de répression de la part des britanniques.

A la base je voulais écrire quelques lignes, puis je me suis emballée… au résultat j’ai tout de même essayé de résumer les grands événements mais sûrement en faisant quelques raccourcis, et bien entendu sans sourcer (en même temps une partie est écrite de mémoire…). Si jamais quelqu’un voit une aberration, merci de me le signaler!


Secret of Ceylon: What happened to the Jews of Sri Lanka? by Andrew Harris (Asian Jewish Life)

We warmly thank Asian Jewish Life online journal’s ( editors to have kindly allow us to republish Andrew Harris’ article on Jews’ presence in Sri Lanka
Secrets of Ceylon
What happened to the Jews of Sri Lanka?
by Andrew Harris
Photo credit: Andrew Harris
Carved wooden secondary entrance to an old merchant’s house

Shabbat at Chabad Colombo. Ceiling fans whoosh languidly overhead, muffling the crowd of us individual daveners; four men – me, a backpacking Israeli father and son, and Rabbi Mendie Crombie – not even half a minyan, working our way through kabbalat shabbat, concluding roughly together. On the other side of the loungeroom mechitzah are the rebbetzin and my wife, Naava. At the only synagogue in the country, this, Rabbi Crombie later tells me, is an above-average turnout.

Rabbi Crombie’s Chabad House is set up to serve the needs of a transient trickle of Israeli backpackers and Jewish businessman who pass through Colombo. It is the only synagogue (and mikvah) in the country. And yet, over many centuries, Sri Lanka has almost certainly had a Jewish presence of some sort – in fact, the southern port of Galle is believed to be the biblical city of Tarshish, from where in 1000BCE King Solomon once shipped elephants, apes, peacocks jewels and spices.

Sri Lanka is an island 432km at its longest, and 224km at ats widest. The Sinhalese overwhelmingly Buddhist majority is almost three-quarters of the 20.4-million population, the Tamils – overwhelmingly Hindu; some are Christian – just under a fifth, the Sri Lankan and Indian Moors, who are Muslim, are just under a tenth. About 50,000 Dutch Reform Burghers and 2000 indigenous animist Veddah balance the equation.

Rabbi Crombie, as I, was aware of only one self-identifying Jew, the poetess Anne Ranasinghe, and he couldn’t put me in touch with anyone who could tell me about the synagogue I had heard about in Colombo, long since vanished. He did point me towards a Queenslandbased researcher, Dr Fiona Kumari Campbell, whom I’d already tried to contact before going to Sri Lanka.

Tracing Hidden Jewish Roots

A couple of days later I sat down with JB Müller, a journalist during the turbulent ’70s and ’80s, who has devoted himself to researching the history of his own people – The Burghers – many of whom he believes to have Jewish roots.

Over the course of a long afternoon at the Dutch Burgher Union, a social club, central meeting place, and genealogical storehouse for the Sri Lankan Burghers, JB told me that, fleeing persecution in Europe across two centuries of pogroms, from the 16th century to the 18th century, many Jews had ended up in the Netherlands, particularly in Amsterdam. When the Dutch needed labour to send off to far-flung lands with the Dutch East Indies Company, the Jews were only too happy to go – and much earlier, he argues, the same happened with the Portuguese colonisers, and the surfeit of fled Spanish Jews on Portuguese soil.

As a consequence, he argues, a huge number of Burgher families with Portuguese or Dutch ancestry have Jewish roots. As evidenced, he posits, by their surnames – a list of which he has published in his book, The Burghers, which contains a chapter on the subject, ‘Semitic Ancestors’.

Fiona Kumari Campbell’s mother’s maiden name is ‘Van Dort’, one of those on JB’s list – a ‘nonsense’ surname he explains these as. ‘Van Dort’ means ‘Over There’.

I caught up with Fiona on my return to Australia. It turns out that an illustrious Jewish ancestor of hers, Leopold Immanuel Jacob Van Dort, was professor of Hebrew at the Christian Theological Seminary in Colombo 1758 to 1760, the year Hebrew was removed from the curriculum. Ultimately forced to convert under Dutch rule in Ceylon, he established a strong relationship with the Cochin Jews, from whom he copied scrolls of communal record.

Jacob Van Dort also translated the Koran into Hebrew (from a Dutch translation of a French translation from the Arabic) – a copy lives in the New York Public library. Although Fiona hasn’t converted to Judaism, she and her daughter keep a kosher home, and live what she describes as a ‘pretty Jewish life’. She hasn’t undergone the process because of the difficulty of obtaining any certifiable proof of descent. « ‘Van Dort’ is a well-known Jewish name. Some of the Van Dorts went to a colony in South America; to Suriname, and retained their Jewish identity. » Fiona’s own ancestors ended up in Sri Lanka with the Dutch East Indies Company. They stayed, and apparently lost their Jewishness. Many generations later, Fiona says her daughter doesn’t know any reality other than being a Jew.

Fiona says JB Müller was the first to put Jews and Burghers together in the Sri Lankan media. « He is to be commended, » she says. Although he tends to work not with hard evidence, but with inferences, Fiona freely admits that hard evidence is difficult to come by.

Roadblocks in the Path

As an academic pursuit, uncovering the Jewish history of Sri Lanka has been fraught. From social and political sensitivities; separating unverifiable stories from documented proof; a number of roadblocks have stood in her path.

« Sometimes the stories that people tell, are conflicting and they’re hazy, » she says. « Remember that these recollections are of people who’ve had very little visual and physical exposure to Jews. That’s a problem in itself. »

Photo credit: Andrew Harris
The legacy of Israeli assistance to the Indian Ocean Tsunami on a T-shirt

The well-known Sri Lankan writer Cecil V Wikramanayake, now in his 80s, published an essay entitled ‘Jews of Old Ceylon’, in which he recalled, « I remember, as a child, seeing many Jews in this country, always dressed in the customary white robe, head covered and kept in place with a phylactery tied around the head. »

Who really knows what he was remembering – both Fiona and the poetess Anne Ranasinghe note that many Sri Lankans think a ‘Jew’ is some kind of Christian. Additionally, an expat Sri Lankan Burgher in Melbourne had told me that what I found later to be a South Indian Muslim sect, the Bohras, were Jews.

The overarching issue with uncovering evidence of Jews in Sri Lanka is the tumultuous history of the island itself, and its successive waves of Portuguese, Dutch and British colonisation over hundreds of years, followed by a brief, relatively trouble-free period after independence in 1948, and, most recently, three decades of civil war. Every new administration and new strife meant the destruction of documentation, mass flights and displacements of population. « That’s the whole issue with colonisation. They were there to wipe out religious sentiment that they didn’t agree with, » she says. « People lose their connection, their identity. »

Since Fiona published her article ‘A Historical Appraisal of Jewish Presence in Sri Lanka’ on the Chabad of Sri Lanka website, she’s had a trickle of enquiries from people who think they have Jews in their genealogy. « At least it’s opening up a conversation for people who maybe haven’t thought there was some kind of Jewish descent, to start exploring those issues. »

When Chabad of Colombo was first established, Fiona asked whether or not tourists and businesspeople was the entirety of their mission; whether or not they were looking to reconnect those in Sri Lanka who had lost touch with their Judaism, or if they’d work with the descendents of those who were forced to convert. The answer was not in the positive. « I think it’s a moral responsibility; with colonisation, these people didn’t say, oh, I want to convert to another religion, » she says. « They are the legacy of tyranny. »

« I am the Only Sri Lankan Jew »

The poetess Anne Ranasinghe (born Anneliese Katz in Essen, Germany) was initially concerned about the establishment of the Chabad presence; that it would bringing too much attention to bear on Jews in Sri Lanka.

Over a very crackly phone connection, Anne Ranasinghe was resolute. « I am the only Sri Lankan Jew, » she says. « I am the only Jew with a Sri Lankan passport. » And it’s true.

Anne survived the Holocaust after being sent to England as a child. She grew up in London, where she met her Sri Lankan obstetrician husband. On starting a family in Sri Lanka, she decided to raise her children as Buddhist – not as Jewish. According to an essay published in the Jewish Quarterly, ‘Our Beginnings Never Know Our Ends’, Anne explains she had no option. She was culturally and spiritually isolated.

Meanwhile, Anne kept up contact with the few Jews on the island of whom she was aware. One of her Jewish friends, who had married a Sri Lankan, towards the end of her life made it clear to her that she wanted a Jewish burial. In Sri Lanka, most people are cremated, in accordance with the predominant Buddhist rite; otherwise they’re buried in privately owned Muslim or Christian cemeteries.

The Christian owners of the cemeteries that may have had plots refused to have a Jew buried in the ground. Anne was never able to find a plot for her friend to have a proper Jewish burial.

The Search for Something Concrete

Fiona confirms that there was, indeed, a synagogue in Colombo, as does JB, who mentions that it was known as ‘The Rotunda’, after its rounded architecture, a site now known as Rotunda Gardens, a few hundred metres south of where Fiona believes there was a synagogue. Along with many other historical buildings across the country, it did not survive three decades of civil wars and urban development. « There’s not that kind of archaeological sensibility, » Fiona says. This location also doesn’t corroborate with any other evidence.

In the course of our brief conversation, Anne Ranasinghe though confirms that she remembers a synagogue replete with a mezuzah at the site at which Fiona believes it to have existed, opposite the Cinnamon Grand Hotel on Galle Road, in the upscale Cinnamon Gardens neighbourhood, on the grounds of what is now a Japanese cultural hall. The current Chabad House is an art-deco villa not far away.

« They come, and they disappear »

Photo credit: Andrew Harris
Magen David carved into a pew in the Anglican Church

Fiona is quick to point out that not only is there no surviving synagogue of the original community, no surviving Portuguese churches and only a few original Dutch sites stand today. « They come, and they disappear. »

In her essay for the Jewish Quarterly, Anne Ranasinghe mentions that Jewish serviceman, in the British army, used the synagogue, and that it was demolished not long after her 1952 arrival in Sri Lanka. She recalls no actual Jewish community, and names in her essay the handful of Jews she was aware of – also mainly the European wives of local men.

Still, despite the question of this vanished synagogue building, there is written evidence of an historical Jewish presence in Sri Lanka – Benjamin of Tudela estimated 3000 Jews in Sri Lanka in 1130; a famously open-minded 9th-century Sinhalese king is recorded as having four Jewish advisers to his court of sixteen in total; a 16th-century Portuguese trader recounts a 50-day trade fair in which he specifies Jews participated; the Jewish de Worms brothers, cousins of the Rothschilds, established the first coffee, and then tea plantations in Sri Lanka; a handful of Jews were senior in the colonial British administration – what happened to their descendents?

« In 1948, » JB Müller tells me, « with the establishment of the State of Israel, they left for Israel, and Singapore. »

Of the permanent, original Singapore Jewish community, only 300 members remain. It’s such a small community, so important in the region; it seemed odd that they wouldn’t know about this. And yet, via email, Rabbi Mordechai Abergel of Singapore’s Jacob Ballas Centre stated clearly, « To the best of my knowledge, there are no Jews in Singapore who migrated from Sri Lanka. »

« I think it is forgotten for those people, it’s gone, » Fiona says of the Singapore Jews. « I think for others, it’s about reawakening the memory. »

Fiona puts the number of self-identifying Jews at about 60, including a Jewish monk of Buddhist descent, and a couple of Sri Lankan writers other than Anne Ranasinghe. No more are willing to be visible, she remarks. « People don’t want their graves dug up because of religious intolerance; people don’t want their houses burned down because of religious intolerance. »

Sri Lanka maintains no diplomatic ties with Israel. An Israeli Legation was set up in 1957, but was expelled by the government in 1971 with the promise of massive Arab aid money as a reward. The Charge de Affairs was dismissed, but no aid arrived. During the initial Israeli tenure, though, Anne Ranasinghe renewed her ties with the Jewish world.

In 1984, needing military hardware to help combat the Tamil insurgency, President Jayawardena established a non-diplomatic Israeli Interest Section at the American Embassy in Colombo. This was later also expelled, at the whim of incoming President Premadasa.

« Eighteen, from memory »

In 2007, Fiona and her daughter spent six months in Colombo. It so happened that the Kanatte (or ‘Borella’) general Christian cemetery was next to the school Fiona’s daughter was attending.

With a hunch that there may be some Jewish graves among the sprawling plots, Fiona, armed with photographs of Jewish graves in lieu of speaking decent Sinhala to explain herself, and images of Hebrew script, marched in, and approached the old caretaker.

« It was like something out of the movies – he went hysterical, » she says. « ‘Madam, madam, madam!’ He grabbed the paper, and went off on his bike. He went flying down the middle of the cemetery. ‘Follow me. I have been waiting for someone for years – tell me, what is this writing?' » Fiona told him what the script was, and amid a gathering crowd, the old caretaker took her a scattering of Hebrew- and Yiddish-inscribed Jewish graves, all of which she photographed. « Eighteen, from memory. »

Article and photography by Andrew Harris, a writer and photographer based in Melbourne. See his work online at


Appel à contributions : Revue PolitiQueer no1 – Dimensions francofolles

Qui sommes-nous ? Cette nouvelle revue est une initiative de PolitiQ – queers solidaires, un groupe affinitaire désirant ouvrir des espaces de discussions sur les enjeux politiques des sexualités et des genres.

Si les théories queers ont émergé dans les années 90, leurs analyses semblent s’articuler principalement dans les milieux anglo-saxons. Relativement peu de textes ont été écrits, pensés ou traduits en français. Pourtant, de nombreuses pratiques se sont inspirées des théories queers dans les pays fra…

ncophones. Cette nouvelle revue veut donc aider à la diffusion des réflexions queers de langue française. Elle se veut un lieu de rencontres et d’échanges pour les personnes intéressées par les approches queers qu’elles soient académiques, militantes et/ou artistiques. La nouvelle revue PolitiQueer pourrait ainsi servir à rassembler les forces queers francophones, à organiser des résistances, à partager avancées mais aussi reculs politiques et sociaux, à comparer nos façons de faire et de penser, les lieux où nous vivons. Toutefois, cette revue n’a pas pour but d’étudier cette production académique, artistique et militante en ignorant les inspirations queers anglophones et d’autres langues. Dans ce
sens, nous espérons traduire des textes de référence et nous apprécierons les passerelles qui peuvent être faites avec les théories et milieux queers du reste du monde.

Nous tenons au fait que chacun-e puisse s’exprimer selon sa sensibilité. Pour cela,plusieurs moyens de transmettre les réflexions seront proposés : de l’article académique aux
témoignages militants, en passant par des formes d’expressions graphiques ou filmiques, des entretiens… Vous pouvez donc laisser aller votre créativité.

Mais PolitiQueer n’est qu’un moyen, la revue n’existera que par la volonté de créer quelque chose ensemble. Si vous voulez participer à cette aventure collective de quelque manière que
ce soit (comité de lecture, mise en page, graphisme, révision, traduction, etc.), contactez-nous!


Le premier numéro portera justement sur les particularités potentielles des théories et milieux queers francophones (Québec, France, Belgique, Suisse, Afrique francophone, DOM-TOM etc). Nous suggérons quelques axes de réflexion non exhaustifs :

– Y a-t-il une pertinence à parler d’une particularité des théories et/ou des milieux queers francophones
– Quelles approches politiques propres ?
– Nous aimerions également partager les directions de nos luttes actuelles, les actions qui nous inspirent, mais aussi parler des lieux et places où il est possible d’exprimer des sensibilités queers
Quel que soit le type de contribution, une perspective intersectionnelle et réflexive est vivement encouragée.

Forme des contributions :

– La soumission classique d’un article (35 000 à 50 000 caractères), d’un essai (minimum 15 000 caractères), d’un entretien ou d’un compte-rendu de lecture. Les contributions
artistiques et littéraires sont aussi les bienvenues.

– La co-écriture : si vous désirez partager des idées mais qu’il vous paraît difficile de rédiger un article en français, nous pouvons vous proposer une aide éditoriale et rédactionnelle en réponse à l’envoi de votre projet.

– Si vous ne souhaitez pas écrire mais que vous souhaitez témoigner d’une expérience, nous pouvons aussi procéder à un entretien que nous retranscrirons.

Date de soumission : avant le 11 novembre 2012.

Les textes et contributions seront à envoyer à

L’organisation des Tigres de Libération de l’Eelam Tamoul: Naissance, vie et mort d’une insurrection identitaire par Sophie Gerbaut

Nous avons le plaisir de partager un lien pour télécharger le mémoire de Master en relations internationale de Sophie Gerbaut qui porte sur « L’organisation des Tigres de Libération de l’Eelam Tamoul: Naissance, vie et mort d’une insurrection identitaire ». Ce travail, dirigé par Professeur Cumin, à été réalisé dans le cadre du Master Recherche « Relations Internationales, Sécurité internationale et Défense » à l’université Jean Moulin Lyon III. Sophie Gerbaut est actuellement doctorante en droit international public à Lyon III et le sujet de sa thèse porte sur « le droit de l’insurrection ».


Référence: Gerbaut S., 2009, « L’organisation des Tigres de Libération de l’Eelam Tamoul: Naissance, vie et mort d’une insurrection identitaire », mémoire de Master de Relations Internationales, Lyon, Université Jean Moulin Lyon III, p.13

Malay Minority of Sri Lanka: Defending Their Identity by Suwarn Vajracharya

We might stand up for our community, but it cannot be said that we have stood against the interest of the country as a whole. I have always said, and I repeat it today, that I consider the interest of the country as a whole, to be paramount.

(Dr. T. B. Jayah1) , 1937)

1. Introduction

The Malays2) of Sri Lanka would have been a long forgotten minority, had they not maintained their mother tongue, the Malay at least in a colloquial form. The Malay community is a distinct ethnic group. They are Muslim by religion. The present population of Sri Lankan Malays counts only a 5% of the Muslim population, which is also an 8% of the whole population3) of Sri Lanka. Except for slight changes in numbers, the percentage of the Malay population remained unchanged. While the present number of Malay population stands at 60,000 persons, one third of them live in Colombo, others are scattered out in several districts of Sri Lanka. Among them, the largest number is 1% of the population of Hambantota district in the southern Sri Lanka.

Despite its small size in number, the Malays have maintained their language, and culture distinct from other communities such as Sinhala, Tamil and Moors of Sri Lanka. They have also contributed joining hands with other communities towards the nation building of a united Sri Lanka. One time they had represented in the National Council, Parliament including in the first cabinet of Independent Sri Lanka and engaged in wider range of professions including Public and Educational service, in the armed forces, judiciary, medical and engineering etc. However, as a community, the Malays have not achieved much progress due to several factors including the indifferent policies of the past governments towards their plight and dilemma.

Although a three fourth of a century has passed since Edward Reimers, a renowned archivist first shed lights on Malay community in Sri Lanka, only a handful of papers were written on the subject until some of serious scholarly research papers of Dr. Hussainmia were published in 1987 by the Institute of Malay Language, Literature and Culture (IBKKM) of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Then his doctoral thesis ‘Orang Rejimen, the Malays of the Ceylon Rifle Regiment’ published in 1990 by the same university in Malaysia, turned out to be a prime source for study and research on Malays in Sri Lanka.

The purpose of this paper is to study about the Malays of Sri Lanka, their history and how they formed a distinct ethnic group in Sri Lanka. It will examine their share of contribution towards the nation building of Sri Lanka and their present plight and dilemma how to preserve their distinct identity in parallel with their religious identity as Muslims in a multi-ethnic Sri Lanka. The Malays assert they are Muslim by religious identity. But they are a distinct ethnic community with their own language and culture different from others. Less has been written about this socio-political aspect of the Malay community that has focused on their distinct identity. Hence, this is an attempt to fill that long due gap at least in some way.

To complete this paper, I have mainly depended on interviews with many Malay gentlemen of different socio-political calibre and informants at the fieldwork on my several visits to Slave Island in Colombo, Galle, Matara, Kirinda, Hambantota in Sri Lanka. Several reference materials at the Public Library in Colombo and borrowed materials from several Sinhala and Malay scholars and friends in Sri Lanka were indispensable for the purpose.
2. The Background: The Arrivals of Malays in Sri Lanka

The Malays of today’s Sri Lanka are said to be the ‘descendants of the 17th century Malay Kings, Princes and Nobles exiled from Java by the Dutch and of the Malay soldiers brought in by the British in the 18th century from the region including Malay Peninsula4), then known as Suvarnabhumi’5). However, the origin of the Malay community of Sri Lanka goes far beyond the 17th century A.D. It is impossible to say the exact date of the original arrival of the Malays to Sri Lanka. But references in Chulawamsa about an invasion by a Malay King named Chandrabhanu make it presumable that the Malays had contacts with Sri Lanka earlier than the Dutch period. According to Edward Reimers, there are also references to the Malays in other historical works of the Sinhalese of the 13th and 14th centuries A.D. that King Parakramabahu, the Great’s Admiral and captains were Malays and King RajasinghaⅠis said to have had Malays in his service. This may suggest that there were Malays before they were brought or arrived during the Dutch and the British colonial rules in Sri Lanka. Therefore, the arrivals of the Malays can be categorised into three periods. What are they?

The Early Period (1247-1640 A.D.):
The earliest arrival of the Malays we have known took place in the middle of the 13th century A.D. with the invasion of Chandrabhanu, the Buddhist King of Nakhon Si Tammarat in the Isthumus of Kra of Malay Peninsula. Culawamsa, a chronicle of Sri Lanka has recorded the incident:

When the eleventh year of the reign of this King Parakramabahu II6) had arrived, a king of the Javaka known by the name of Chandrabhanu landed with a terrible Javaka army under the treacherous pretext that they were followers of the Buddha. All these wicked Javaka soldiers who invaded every landing-place and who with their poisoned arrows, like (sic) to terrible snakes, without ceasing harassed the people whomever they caught sight of, laid waste, raging their fury, all Lanka. (Culawamsa LXXXIII, 36-51).

The term Javaka used in the chronicle is a well-established name for the Malays of the Peninsula7). Chandrabhanu attacked the Sinhala kingdom twice and failed both times. In the second attack, he himself got killed. But Chandrabhanu had succeeded taking over the northern part of Sri Lanka and become the ruler of the Javanese Kingdom8 in Javapattanam (present Jaffna). This Javaka King of Sri Lanka who is mentioned in the inscriptions of the South Indian Pandyan King, Jatavarman Vira Pandyan (A.D.1235-1275) has been identified as Chandrabhanu (Sirisena 1977, 14).

The Yalpanam Vaipava Malai, the chronicle of Jaffna mentioned of two local names such as Chavakaccheri9) (Javakaccheri-Java settlement) Chavakotte or Ja Kotuwa (Javaka Fort) confirming the Java/Malay connection with Jaffna. It is presumable that these Javakas may have moved towards the Kandyan kingdom at a later part of the history and worked for the King of Kandy, who is said to have a garrison of army consisted of the Malays. There is a well-known story that a Malay captain named Nouradeen and his brother were beheaded at the order of the King of Kandy because the brothers declined the royal offer to head the Malays in the service of the king but chose to remain loyals to their British master, the King of the Great Britain.

Beside these Javakas who arrived in Sri Lanka as Chandrabhanu’s army or servicemen during the reign of King Parakramabahu II, there were seafarer freight careers, and the merchants ventured in ambitious maritime pursuits around Madagascar. They often called round the coastline of Sri Lanka, which suggests that many of them may have settled in areas near the harbours such as Hambantota and around the coastline. According to one of my Malay informants at Kirinda Malay settlement10), Hambantota was named after Sampan, the seafarers from the Indonesian archipelago, who called to the natural harbour in the past. These seafarers, and the freight careers of the East, after their conversion to Islam at the beginning of the 16th century A.D. relinquished their ambitious maritime pursuits in favour of their co-religionists, the Arabs. The visits of Malays became lesser and ceased visiting Sri Lankan waters at the beginning of the 16th century A.D. when Arabs and Mohammadians established themselves in the seaports of Sri Lanka and gradually took over the entire trade of the Island into their hands. (Edward Reimers, 1924)

The Dutch period (1640-1796 A.D.):
The second arrival of the Malays in Sri Lanka took place during the Dutch administration, which ruled the coastal area of Sri Lanka for a period of more than one hundred and fifty years. Having driven away the Portuguese, who were ruling the coastal area of Sri Lanka, the Dutch established the full control of the coastal area in 1640. They brought hundreds of Malays from all over in Malay Peninsula and Indonesian islands. Those who were brought to Sri Lanka consisted of two categories. One being the political exiles from Indonesia including other deportees expelled by the Batavia11)government and second group consisted of all other classes of Malays who were brought to serve the Dutch government in Sri Lanka. This second group included those recruits for the Military and other services, too.

Among the first category, it also included princely exiles from various parts of the Indonesian islands and the Malay Peninsula. The Batavia government banished the Javanese including the nobles and many other eastern kings, princes as well as the chiefs and the dignitaries of the region for rebelling against the Batavia rule. In 1709, Susuna Mangkurat Mas, the King of Java, was exiled to this country by the Dutch with his entire family and followers. This was followed in 1723 by 44 Javanese Princes and Noblemen, who surrendered to the Dutch at the Battle of Batavia, were exiled to Sri Lanka12). All these lived in the four main coastal towns under the jurisdiction of the Dutch, namely Colombo, Galle, Trincomalee, and Jaffna (Hussainmia, 1990, 40). Others including the slaves were confined to quarters on the Slave Island surrounded by Bere Lake in the center of Colombo. The majority of people living in the area even today are the Malays. The Dutch is said to have stocked the lake around the island with crocodiles, preventing the slaves’ escape. Those who escaped were flogged and branded for a first offense, hanged for a second.

The Dutch government also established a first settlement for the Malays, who served them, in an area close to the Slave Island. A Dutch report dated 25th June 1681 indicates that a piece of land 13 Morgen (about 28 acres) in extent was granted to the Javanese Malays situated at Wolvendahl. There were 196 houses and had coconut and jak trees planted.

It is not known the exact number of exiles brought to Sri Lanka during the Dutch period. But by the end of 18th century A.D., it appears that at least 200 members of eastern nobility were resident in the Island. With their families, the number of Malay people amounted close to 2000 people.

The British Period (1796-1948 A.D.):
It was the British who brought the third category of Malays to Sri Lanka. Many came from the Malay Peninsula and became the permanent source of providing military manpower and to serve the British in the island. The British drove the Dutch away and took control of the coastal area in 1796. Frederic North, the first British Governor of Sri Lanka, at first, did not like the idea of incorporating the Malays, the soldiers who fought against the British during the Dutch rule over Sri Lanka and had become prisoners of war after the Dutch fell to the British, into his military. But he agreed to take the 300 Malay soldiers under custody of the British when the Dutch surrendered. The Dutch had stipulated that the Malays should be sent back to Java Island at the cost of the British, who in turn first sent them to Chennai, India and later incorporated into the British military in Sri Lanka. This was the starting point that recruited hundreds of Malays into the British military service, thereafter.

Governor North was also the first British Administrator, who initiated reforms in the military and formed Malay Corps raising their salaries resembling to those of the native Corps. As a result, these Malay Corps were admitted into the King’s service on 23 April 1801 forming a Malay Regiment for the first time outside Malay Peninsula. The Malays became the first Asians to hold commissions from the British Sovereign. By this time, the strength of the Malay Corps amounted to 1200 soldiers.

During North’s time, he established several Malay colonies in Sri Lanka starting from Mahagampattu region, in the southern part of Sri Lanka. The first one was opened in Hambantota, which is now a major Malay invalid settlement in the south. Later, two other settlements were established in the villages of Kirinda and Palatupana. The settlers were assigned to different kinds of work including in the saltpans found in the region and farming and fishing etc. The region at the time was a jungle and not even a coolie from other community wanted to work in the area. Having seen the Malays were enduring the hard life, Governor North was pleased with the Malays and wrote that ‘they were hard workers and courageous and not easily terrified with little dangers and inconveniences’ (Hussainmia 1990, 63) in one of his dispatches to the Home Government.

Thereafter, Governor North decided to recruit Malays to enlarge his forces. His recruitments largely came from Malay Peninsula as he set up recruiting agency for the first time in Penang (Prince of Wales Island) around 1800. He also tried to bring Malays from other British colonies like, Cochin in India, Island of St. Helena etc. But larger number came from Malay Peninsula with their families to settle in Sri Lanka to serve the British military. The Malays were periodically brought to Sri Lanka until the recruitment was halted in 1803 after the British lost to the Kandyan kingdom in the war against Kandyan Kingdom on 24th June 1803. The defeat was largely attributed to the desertion of Malay soldiers who formed the main strength of the British garrison.

The desertion of ‘British Malays’ had occurred mainly because of the ‘Kandy Malays’ who were in the Kandyan King’s service and offered security and protection to the Malay soldiers in the British side. 700 Malays deserted to the Kandyan side leaving only 250 Malay soldiers behind. Governor North was so furious that he immediately ordered the halt of recruiting the Malays. But he later changed his mind and resumed taking the Malays into the service. He changed his mind in consideration of the loyalty of Captain Nauradeen who led the Malays in the British force and the assurance and « invariable attachment » shown by the Malay exiles living in Sri Lanka to the British government. He then rebuilt the Malay Regiment, which was left with only 600 soldiers by recruiting more from the Malay Peninsula and other east islands. North continued his effort to strengthen the Regiment until his departure from Sri Lanka at the end of 1805.
3. Formation of Malay Community in Sri Lanka

The Malay community of Sri Lanka is formed of a number of people arrived in Sri Lanka at different periods of time, on different reasons and from a diverse region of eastern islands that included Malay Peninsula, Java and other Indonesian islands. They are popularly known as « Jaminissu » among the Sinhalese community and « Jamanusar » among the Tamil community meaning « People from Java » in both languages. The term « Javaka » we found in the Culawamsa also has a similar meaning: « Person from Java » (Java+ka) (Java+person) while the Malays call them « Melayu » in Malay language. How did they form the Malay community?

There are several factors that helped form the Malay community of Sri Lanka. Firstly, the formation of a separate regiment for Malays in the British military played an important role towards the formation of the Malay community. By the time of Governor North’s departure from Sri Lanka, he had laid a foundation for a future Malay community of Sri Lankan style. During his tenure of 10 years as Governor, he persuaded 75% of the Malays that included exiles of various class and people come from different islands in the East living in Sri Lanka to join the British military service. During his administration, North recruited Malays from all over including locals and those from the Malay Peninsula. He set up a separate military regiment for Malay soldiers, formed a Boy’s company to give prior training to the children of the Malay soldiers and formed an Invalid Regiment to help them find alternative jobs. North set up Malay settlements and provided jobs. He even looked after the children and wives of those soldiers who died in the battle. The Malay regiment played a central role in promoting welfare for the Malay soldiers and communicating with other Malays and settlements in cities and villages in the island. On top of that, the Malay Military mosque, primarily set up to serve the spiritual need of the soldiers, also attracted the Malays living around the area. The mosque served as a center promoting friendship among the Malays came from different places of origin.

Secondly, the Malays themselves played a formidable role in maintaining their language and customs. Although they came from same region of the East islands, they spoke variety of dialects spoken in Malaya and Java islands. During the time of the Dutch rule over Batavia, the people living in the area had developed a separate dialect called « Batavia dialect » which is a form of simple spoken Malay. As the majority of people came from this area to Dutch Ceylan13), it is possible that they retained the « Batavia dialect » and got mixed with local languages in Sri Lanka. This was only natural because of their long absence from their native land. Further, there was no proper learning and teaching of standard Malay language in Sri Lanka neither in the past nor even at present. This may have contributed to the creation of a Sri Lankan styled « Malay » language. In fact, Malay and Sinhala languages share a common root of Sanskrit language. The Malay language, like Sinhala has a strong influence from Sanskrit language as Java, Sumatra had Buddhist and Hindu empires in the past. A close look at some examples below give us a better picture of the fact.

Sanskrit Sinhala Malay 14) (Meaning)
   Agama    agama    agama/igama    – religion
   Bhasha    bhashawa    bahasa    – language
   Bhumi    bhumi    bhumi    – earth
   Devi    devi    devi    – goddess
   Dosa    dosa    dosa    – sin
   Grahna    grahna    grahna    – eclipse
   Guna    guna    guna    – use/benefit
   Guru    guru    guru    – teacher
   Jeeva    jeevita    jeeva    – life
   Labha    laba    laba    – profit
   Manusya    manusyaya    manusia    – human being
   Megha    megha    megha    – cloud
   Mukha    muhuna    muka    – face
   Puja    puja    puja    – worship
   Pustaka    pustaka    pustaka    – book
   Pustakalaya    pustakalaya    pustakalaya    – library
   Sadhu    saadu    saadu    – priest
   Sawari    sawari    sawari    – tour/journey
   Senapathi    Senapathi    Senapathy    – army commander
   Sisya    sisyaya    siswa    – student/pupil
   Sundari    sundari    sundari    – pleasant
   Swarga    swarga    swarga    – paradise/heaven
   Wanita    wanita    wanita    – lady/woman
   Warna    warna    warna    – colour
   Warta    warta    warta    – report
   Wangsa    wangsa    wangsa/bangsa    – race/tribe
   Dharmawangsa    Dharmawansa    Dharmawansa    – religious tribe
   Jayawangsa    Jayawansa    Bangsajayah    – victorious tribe
   Sinhawangsa    Sinhawansa    Sinhawangsa    – lion tribe
   Weerawangsa    Weerawansa    Weerawangsa    – warrior tribe

Above are some of many Malay words that have derived from Sanskrit words and similar to Sinhala language, which show that not all words are corrupted in today’s Malay language as some suggest as the language has become corrupted and left to a mere Creole language. The Malays have not lost their attachment to their linguistic identity nor to their ethnic identity of « Malays ». The Malays of Sri Lanka has developed their own distinct features to an extent that Tunku Abdul Rahman, a former Prime Minister of Malaysia commented on the Sri Lankan Malays in the following:

      The only difference is that their features have changed. They look more like Indians (the Kelings) than Malays and their language is strongly influenced by the Indian dialect. What’s more they have lost touch with adat and custom, but still they call themselves Malays…
       But these (Malay) soldiers who went there without their womenfolk married into the families of the Indian Muslims. These Muslims were known as the Moors and after generations of intermarriages, it is hard to pick one from the other, Malays or the Moors, except when they themselves announce their racial identity…(Rahman 1983, 195)

15) However, there is no argument about the fact that the Malay language accorded a stronger support in forming the Malay community of its own outside Malay Peninsula and Indonesian archipelago.

Thirdly, the religion of Islam was another force behind the formation of a Sri Lankan Malay community. Islam played a constructive role to keep them distinct from other religions. However, the Islam that Malays had embraced was not the orthodox Islam of Arabia. When the Arabs introduced Islam into South India and Indonesian islands, ‘they merely wanted the new religion to be accepted by the people.’16) And the Malays who were brought especially during the Dutch period to Sri Lanka were not all Muslims.

It is not known exactly since when the Malays of Sri Lanka got converted into Islam, though their homeland folks had done so at the beginning of the 16th century A.D. The Malays, who had arrived or lived in Sri Lanka after Chandrabhanu’s invasion till the Dutch invasion, have been Buddhists, Hindus or mixture of both in the present terminology of Buddhists and Hindus. It is difficult to establish the religious back ground of these Malays because they were formed from various groups that included Amboinese; Balinese and Javanese because among the Amboinese, there was a considerable number of Christians, and Balianese belonged to Hindu or Buddhist religions. Some Javanese had become Christians and were receiving benefits from the Batavia government (Hussainmia, 1990, 53). Therefore, the Malays who came to Sri Lanka before and during the Dutch administration are not known whether all of them were Muslims. An extract from the Dutch minutes by Council of 8th September 1660 shows that there were Christians among those who came to Sri Lanka:

    « Whereas the Javanese soldiers 28 in number have now for some time past offered themselves to be instructed in the Christian doctrine, have made public profession thereof, accepted Holy Baptism, and have solemnly married according to Christian rites; also seeing that they have procreated children and, further have elected to dwell in this land and to serve the Honourable company most respectfully and obediently; so has the Superintendent proposed (and they with the greatest delight accepted), to select a place within the watches of this City, a fertile spot, in order to settle them there with their families, and to found there a village according to the limits and ordinances that shall be appointed for them; further they shall cultivate rice according to their natural skill, but nevertheless, that they shall always continue in the military service, wherefore a general increase is hereby granted them and their wages have accordingly been raised as follows: to a sergeant, 8 Spanish reals, to a Corporal 5 1/2 , and to a Private 3 1/2 Spanish reals monthly. » (E. Reimer’s Translation)

There is also no historical record, which indicates that all the Malays had adopted an Ambedkar style of mass-conversion to become Muslims nor there was any Malay ethnic leader like Ambedkar of India, who got converted to Buddhism with millions of his followers of the Achut (untouchable) cast. Malays’ conversion to Islam may have been a gradual and centuries long process. It is recorded that the Malays (of the Malay Peninsula) converted into Islam at the beginning of the 16th century A.D. and ceased visiting to Sri Lanka as Arabs and Mohammadians had established themselves in the seaports of Sri Lanka and ‘had gradually taken over the entire trade of the Island into their hands. The Malays were the freight careers of the East, but after their conversion to Islam, they relinquished ambitious maritime pursuits in favour of their co-religionists, the Arabs contenting themselves with ventures nearer home, for which the numerous islands of the Archipelago and the extensive coastlines of the Peninsula and Java and Sumatra afforded them ample scope’ (E. Reimers).

This suggests that the majority of Malays of Sri Lanka may have converted into Islam after they came to Sri Lanka and through their Moor relatives. Although there is no mention about any mosques erected during the Dutch period, the British Administration in Sri Lanka built several separate places of worship for their soldiers. They built Sri Siva Subramaniam Swami Kovil for the Indian Hindu soldiers and the Military Mosque and Akbar Mosque for the Malay soldiers. What role did the Malay mosques play?

The Malay mosques catered the spiritual needs of the regiment and boosted the socio-religious cohesion of the community. The first Malay mosque was built during the British rule at Wekende in Slave Island at the request of the Malay soldiers, as they wanted to have their mosque erected closer to where they live. Otherwise, they were in disadvantage in attending the Moor mosque, where sermons were held in Tamil and Arabic, not in their mother tongue, Malay. There are several mosque built in Galle, Trincomalee, Kalpitiya, Badulla, Kirinde, Kurunegala and Kandy to cater the spiritual needs of the Malay military personals as well as the ordinary Malays, who worked on their own or worked for the British as gardeners and servants.

The mosques played very important role in the formation of a Malay community serving them with their social and cultural needs in addition to the religious service. This helped build an ethnic and cultural identity for the Malays. ‘The mosques were not only the places of collective worship, but also center of community administration, where important discussions were held by members of the community and decisions taken on behalf of respective congregations. Every Muslim settlement of some size had such a mosque which was its only public building and object of great pride.'(Hussainmia, 1990, 126-127). The mosques are also the centers of learning, where the Malay children are taught Arabic language and recital of holy Koran.

Thus the Malays arrived in Sri Lanka at different periods of time, on different reasons and from a diverse region of Eastern islands that included Malay Peninsula, Java and other Indonesian islands formed a community of their own: the Malay community with the support of British founded Malay Regiment, the Mosques erected for their sake and their own undying efforts of maintaining their lingual and ethnic identity as the Sri Lankan Malays.
4. The Malay Contribution towards Sri Lanka

The Malay community, despite being one of the smallest communities in Sri Lanka, has contributed towards the nation building of Sri Lanka as an equal partner in the multi-ethnic mosaic of the island nation. ‘They were not only daunting soldiers in time of war, but erudite scholars dedicated to their religion, cultural pursuits and contributed commendably to all walks of Sri Lankan life.’17)Muslim leaders fought shoulder to shoulder with their counterparts, the Sinhala and the Tamil freedom fighters for the independence of Sri Lanka.

Among Muslim leaders, Dr. T. B. Jayah was one of the most prominent and illustrious national leaders of Sri Lanka. He was an educationist and a political visionary. Being a Malay Muslim, he strove for freedom of all communities. He is known as a leader who put his country before community. It was his thesis that became a corner stone of the present governance as ‘One Nation ミ One Country’ in which he originated a united democratic concept of a Unitary State. Originally as a teacher, he taught at several well-known schools such as Ananda College18), Prince of Wales and as the Principal of Zahira College, he transformed a tottering elementary school to a premier educational institution in Sri Lanka. As a politician, he was deeply concerned about the welfare of the Muslims including his own Malay community as well as other communities. He was first elected to the Legislative Council in 1924 and appointed Minister of Labour and Social Service in 1947 in the first Cabinet of Independent Sri Lanka under Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake. He also served as the first High Commissioner (Ambassador) of Sri Lanka in Pakistan in 1950. He won praises from S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike19), then leader of the House in the State Council for a three hour long speech he made in 1944 in support of the Dominion Bill that paved the way for full independence for Sri Lanka.

Dr. Jayah was also very much concerned about the education. He believed that equal educational qualification would eradicate the gap among the different ethnic groups. He emphasized that:

      « The supreme need of the hour is education, not merely elementary education, not merely half hearted education, but an education that will turn out heroes and heroines, leaders and reformers, thinkers and philos-ophers, an education that will make us a progressive enlightened and powerful minority. »


1. A road in Colombo 7 area named after a java (Malay) settlement in the past.

The formation of prominent societies of today’s Muslim and Malay elites attributes to Dr. Jayah’s initiatives that promoted education among the Muslim population, which included the Moors, the Malays, and the Mehmans etc.

As indicated earlier, the Malays were primarily the soldiers, the policemen, and the fire brigades. They have a long history of service in the armed forces of Dutch Ceylan, British Ceylon and today in the multi-ethnic Sri Lanka. A police day is marked on March 21st every year to commemorate Police heroes, is the day on which a Malay PC named Sabhan laid down his life in 1864 becoming the first Police officer to die in action21). Although the number is small, the Malays continue to serve in the Armed and Police. Quite a number have made their sacrifice in the ethnic war with the Tamil separatists.

2. Members of Colombo Malay Cricket Club in Slave Island.

The Malays are also known to be impressive in their contribution to national sports in Sri Lanka. The history of Cricket in Sri Lanka records that the Colombo Malay Cricket Club founded in 1872 was the first cricket club in the island. The club has produced outstanding cricketers some of whom have represented Sri Lanka. They have also donned the Sri Lankan jersey in football and rugger. Some of them have even become captains of the national team and couched in swimming etc. The Malay sportsmen and sports women are also known excelling at other sports including Judo, Karate, Athletics and Netball bringing fame to Sri Lanka. The Malays aspire to contribute to the nation building of Sri Lanka by undertaking their share of duty while defending their legitimate rights. What rights to defend?
5. Defending a Distinct Ethnic Identity

The Malays of Sri Lanka are compelled to defend their legitimate right: a simple right to be heard. They have made Sri Lanka their home though they had originated from the islands of the East. They have lived here more than 300 years first as exiles, then as settlers and now as legitimate citizens of Sri Lanka. All the Malays except aliens or wayfarers, living in Sri Lanka are those who were born in this island. They live side by side with communities belonging to Moor, Tamil, Sinhala and Burghers as well. They fought shoulder to shoulder for freedom, made their sacrifice to safeguard the country they were born whenever they were required to do so.

The Malays in Sri Lanka are generally hard working people. The majority of city dwellers are educated and multi-lingual, competitive in business. They represent in the Public and Education Services, in the armed services and Police, in the field of law, medicine, science and technology, engineering and now in Information Technology and Computer Science. They also hold high posts in private companies. But they have no voice in the national Parliament, the highest body of the decision makers for the country and its citizens. These circumstances have deprived the Malays from the opportunity of participating in the decision making process.

It was not that they had never been represented in the National Councils. There were several Malays elected or nominated MPs including Dr. T. B. Jayah, Dr. M. P. Drahman, and Mr. B. Zahire Lye till 1960 and Mr. M. S. Ossman, and Mr. M. E. H. Maharoof in the Republican Parliament till 1994. But in retrospect, the appointment, the election or the nomination system did not secure a continued representation of the Malay community in the Parliament.

In the most cases, members from minority communities like the Malay could not win elections except in special cases. Dr. Jayah who was first appointed to the Legislative Council in 1924 as the third Muslim Member and who was an energetic and dynamic leader would espouse the cause of the Muslims, when the occasion demanded. But he lost the State Council elections he contested in June 1931 and again in the State Council held in February 1936. But this time he was appointed a nominated member of the State Council.

It was in 1947; Dr. Jayah got elected to the Parliament when he won the first Ceylon Parliamentary election. He was elected the 2nd member of the three-member electorate. He was then appointed Minister of Labour and Social services in the First Cabinet of Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake. He served the ministry and as an MP till he was offered Sri Lanka’s ambassadorial post in Pakistan by the Prime Minister. Dr. Jayah was again made an appointed MP in the short-lived Parliament of March to July 1960 on his return to the island from Pakistan. Not many Malays were lucky to be appointed or elected to the Legislative or Parliament of Sri Lanka after him. However, the Soulbury Constitution had a provision allowing the Prime Minister to choose six members to the House of Representatives. He chose all these members from the minority communities who could not otherwise get them elected to Parliament. This led to a tradition that the Prime Ministers appoint a Malay member to Parliament afterwards. As a result Dr. M. P. Drahaman and Mr. B. Zahiere Lye were appointed MPs. The tradition of appointing Malay members did not continue that long, when Prime Minister Dudly Senanayake, who succeeded his father after his death in 1952, did not appoint any Malay MPs to Parliament.

After a long gap of more than 25 years, two Malays were accommodated in the National lists of two major political parties: one was Mr. M. S. Ossman in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party22) (SLFP) National list and other was Mr. M. H. Amit in the National list of United National Party23) (UNP). Mr. Amit was appointed an MP and served until he resigned to make way for Mr. Gamini Dissanayake to reenter Parliament. At the same period, Mr. M. E. H. Mahroof was elected to Parliament from the Trincomalee District and served as the Deputy Minister of Port and Shipping during the latter part of his tenure24). Since 1993, there has been no Malay member in Parliament. In the General Election held in October 2000, there were two Malay members in the National lists of two major political parties. Mr. T. B. Abbas was in the UNP National list, while Mr. T. K. Azoor in the National list of the National Unity Alliance (NUA). But both failed to get appointed MPs. In the General Election called in after a year, none of the major political parties had Malay names in their lists of candidates or in the National list.

Although these two gentlemen failed to secure seats in Parliament either through nomination or election, they later contested local elections and proved worthy to be nominated by the political parties. Mr. Ossman was elected in the Sri Lanka Muslim Party25) (SLMC) ticket from the Colombo District to the Western Provincial Council in the Provincial Election held in 1988. He resigned from the Party after a year. His place was then given to another Malay Mr. M. A. Ameer an ex-Sri Lankan footballer who served until 1993. In the case of Mr. T. K. Azoor, a leading lawyer in Colombo and dynamic leader of Malay community joined the SLMC in which he was elevated to a Deputy leader won the Colombo Municipal Council election held in 1997. He polled the second highest number of votes in his list and got himself elected to the Council. There are several other Malays who have been successful in winning local elections. They are also worthy of mention: Mr. Shiraz Sheriff, the Vice Chairman of the Nawalapitiya UC, Mr. Hilaly Abdeen, a member of Kandy Municipal Council and Mr. Allon Deen a member of Hambantota UC. These limited Malay positions in a few Municipal and in Provincial Councils have yet to serve as a clout to force their voice heard in the national level. But it is not an easy task to make their voice heard, for the Malays cannot elect a leader of their choice because there is no electorate, which has a Malay majority. The only way out is to create a system that elect or appoint members of minority: a Malay member to represent the Malay minority community.

3. Mr.T.K.Azoor, the president of Conference of Sri Lankan Malays (COSLAM)

Several organisations have raised the above issue asking the government to pay worthy attention to the dire need. One such organization was the Conference of Sri Lankan Malays (COSLAM) led by Mr. T. K. Azoor, an untiring activist for the Malay cause. His movement urged at a special session held on 4th May this year the Government to make constitutional provision to elect or appoint a Malay to Parliament as well as each to the Provincial Councils and its Successors of the Western, Central and Southern Provinces (see the Appendix 1). The Malays urge the government to create a system that will addrsss the plight of Malay community. What are their plights?

The first is that the entire Malay community, except those individuals, who have their own wealth, power or extra ordinary talents, are deprived of their legitimate rights: right to employment, right to abode and right to free education as equal as to other communities of Sri Lanka. The majority of Malays, who were employed in the armed forces, Police and the fire brigade in the past, have been displaced by individuals from other communities. While several housing projects were launched to provide houses for the houseless, the Malays were left out. And in the case of free education, too, the Malays had no other choice but to choose either Tamil or Sinhala as their me-dium of instruction in schools since the English stream education was abolished in 1962.

4. A family gathering at the residence of Mr. Hamin, a vice president of Conference of Sri Lankan Malays (COSLAM)

And this language policy of the gov-ernment even divided the Malays into two language streams: one those speaking Sinhala and other speaking Tamil. Generally Malays are known to be multi-lingual and are in advantageous position than those of mono-linguals in finding employments. But in reality, the number of multi-lingual Malays is lesser than one would expect in the settle-ments farer from Colombo. An example can be drawn from two Malay settlements in Sri Lanka one being Slave Island and other being Kirinda, both places, where I happened to meet a number of Malay people.

Kirinda, a historical seaside community where Queen-to-be Viharamahadevi26) is said to have come ashore after her perilous drifting voyage from Kelaniya, is now a larg-est Malay settlement in Sri Lanka, which is located in Hambantota district in the south, about 170 miles away from Sri Lanka’s capital city Colombo. Out of 300 families living in this village, the Malay comprised 95%. Malay is the main language spoken in households, shops and in the market-places. The 75% of the Malay population are fishermen and the rest are farmers. In the fish market, my informant told me that even non-Malays speak Malay when they negotiate with the Malay fishermen.

5. From left Dr.B.A. Hussainmia, the witer and Mr.T.K.Azoor sharing Malay food at a social gathering in a Malay residence in Colombo.

Kirinda also is in advantage of having a Muslim High School, that has classes from Grade six to twelve known as General Certificate of Education-Advanced Level(G.C.E A/L), where the majority of the students are Malay children from the settlement. They consist more than 95% of the student population. The majority of teachers including the headmaster and his deputy are Malay. They speak to their students in Malay outside the class. But I was told to my surprise that the medium of instruction in the school is Tamil.

The language factor is another plight of the Malay grievances. Almost all Malay children either study in Sinhala or Tamil medium as there is no choice since the English medium has been abolished. There has been no educational policy to allow the Malay students to study a language of their choice let alone receiving instruction in Malay, whereas there are schools, which teach their students foreign languages like German, French or Japanese in addition to English. Several children, whom I interviewed,

6. Malay street, the main street in Slave Island in Colombo.

study either in Tamil or Sinhala medium. An interesting story was that children at Lankasabha School in Colombo teach students Tamil in Sinhala. In another encounter with a Malay settlement, which is known as Kirula Road Malay Gardens in Colombo, there are about twenty Malay families. The children spoke fluent Sinhala and a couple of twin sisters answered me promptly when I asked their name in my broken Tamil. But the great grandfather, a retired policeman was worried about the Malay language as children will be burdened to learn several languages: Sinhala, Tamil and English leaving their mother tongue behind. Next settlement I visited was the Slave Island, the first foremost Malay settlement in Sri Lanka. The main street is named as Malay Street along with which there are government offices and private companies, where onetime in the past was Kampong Kertel, the major Malay settlement in Colombo. The Malays living on the Java Lane that directs to the present Malay Military mosque were worried about the language being used inside the mosque.

7. A Malay boy with his Moor friend in the Glennie Passage that links to free settlement along the railway line in Slave Island.

The Imam inside the very Malay mosque is no longer come from a Malay family like in the past. The priest I met when I visited this mosque was from Eastern province of Sri Lanka and was from the Moor community. He spoke no Malay but fluent Arabic, which he teaches the children and Tamil his mother tongue. My interpreter spoke to the priest in Tamil. Naturally, the mosque goers preferred the priest at the mosque speak Malay. One gentleman I spoke to was the only adult male figure of a family of three generation. He is married to a grand daughter of the lady, who was 72 year old and owns the house. His worry was also about the sermons in Malay lan-guage in the Malay military mosque. He said only once a month they are provided with a sermon in Malay language. The Malay parents of young adults are worried of their children not being interested in learning the Malay but have turned to English stream.

8. A small mosque built along the railway line in Slave Island.

The last but not least plight of the Malays of Sri Lanka is their religious identity. They are Muslim by religion not by ethnicity, they assert. But they are treated as Muslims not as Malays. This is what they emphasize in defending their identity. As indicated in the preceding pages that not all the Malays were Muslims nor they were always Muslims in the past. By the time the Malays were brought to Sri Lanka during the middle of the 17th century by the Dutch, there were large Muslim settlements in the coastal areas of Sri Lanka. They were the settlements of the Moors or those who had come from South India from the 6th century A.D. The large number of Malays particularly soldiers came to the island without their womenfolk, many were still young and single. They took women from Moor community, whose religion was similar to them, especially to those who came from Indonesian archipel-ago. The people from Java were the follow-ers of the Shafi School of Muslim religion while the majority of Indian Muslims be-longed to the same school. This must have had a stronger impact over the Malays to take Moor wives and to get converted into Muslim had they been not Muslim before their marriage. They also adopted Tamil as their lingua franca to communicate with the Indian Muslims or the Moors. Almost all Malays I interviewed in Colombo, Matara, Kirinda and Hambantota spoke Tamil in addition to Malay and Sinhala languages.

9. A Malay worker in Colombo.

The Muslim identity of the Malays is something they are proud of. Many I met were gradually accepting the orthodox Islamic teachings. Yet what was interesting was their zeal to identify themselves as ethnic Malays while being a Muslim. In Malaysia, being a Muslim is a requirement to be accepted as a Malay. No non-Muslims are accepted as Malays. In Bosnia Herzegovina, Muslim is an ethnic identity. But the Malays who are treated similarly stress that their Muslim identity is religious not ethnic. Why do they assert ethnic identity?

The Malays assert their ethnic identity because their culture is distinct. Their language is different from other Muslims’.
6. Conclusion

The Malays of Sri Lanka have remained a distinct ethnic group in Sri Lanka primarily because they have maintained their mother tongue, the Malay at least in a colloquial form. Having originated from different regions in the East islands that included Malay Peninsula and Indonesian archipelago, they have formed a Sri Lankan Malay community from a diverse origin.

Despite its small size in number, the Malays had proved that they deserve to be treated as a special class of people, some of whom lived receiving special benefits from the Dutch government, and many as military men getting established special Malay regiment and a separate mosque for the Malay soldiers. Moving from one master to another, the Malays also proved that they deserve care from subsequent masters including the governments of Independent and Republic Sri Lanka.

The Malays made Sri Lanka their home and contributed joining hands with other communities towards the nation building of a united Sri Lanka. They represented in high offices from Legislative Council to National Parliament including in the first cabinet of Independent Sri Lanka and engaged in wider range of professions including Public and Educational service, in the armed forces, judiciary, medical and engineering etc. However, there are several factors that have hampered their progress as a community, for which they have sought solutions. It is still not clear as to how the present government wants to respond. Time will tell the story.

The Malays themselves have been active in defending their distinct identity for a secured future for their community while extending their support to safeguard the country they claim to be their motherland.

"What counts is not necessarily
 the size of the dog in the fight;
 it's the size of the fight in the dog."

Dwight D. Eisenhower


1) Dr. T.B. Jayah was the first Malay Member in the first Cabinet of Independent Sri Lanka.
2) Malays of Sri Lanka have come from various parts of the Malay world that extended from present Malaysia to Indonesian Archipelago.
3) The Total Population estimated in 2002 is 19,576,783 persons.
4) Pertumuan Melayu (Malay Rally) 2002 Souvenir, Sri Lanka Malay Association, Colombo, (2002).
5) Murad Jayah, « Social Welfare issues concerning the Ceylon Malays » in Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home Silver Jubilee Souvenir, 20 July 1970, p. 70.
6) King Parakramabahu II ruled from 1236 to 1270 A.D.
7) Quoted from Hussainmiya, B.A., Orang Rejimen, The Malays of Ceylon Rifle Regiment (1990) p.33.
8 Murad Jayah, « Social Welfare Issues Concerning the Ceylon Malays » in Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home Silver Jubilee Souvenir, 20 July 1970, p. 70.
9) Local Tamil people living in this area seem to know little about this history when I asked them during my last visit to Jaffna in January 2002.
10) Kirinda Malay settlement has the biggest Malay population: 95% are Malays.
11) The Dutch name for the Government in Java and other East Islands after Batavia, the old name of the Netherlands.
12) Murad Jayah, « Social Welfare Issues Concerning the Ceylon Malays » in Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home Silver Jubilee Souvenir, 20 July 1970, p. 70.
13) Dutch name for Sri Lanka
14) Qouted Malay words and their meanings from an article by M. Farook Thaliph,  » Malays ミ their enriched culture and endemic customs »(04 Sep. 2002)
15) Quoted from Hussainmia, (1990, 18)
16) M. Farook Thaliph,  » Malay ミ their enriched culture and endemic customs’ (04 Sep. 2002).
17) Pertumuan Melayu (Malay Rally) 2002 Souvenir, Sri Lanka Malay Association, Colombo, (2002).
18) « Colleges » in Sri Lanka are equal to senior high schools in Japan
19) Father of president Chanerika Bandaranaike Kumararunga
20) Pertumuan Melayu, the Souvenir published marking the Malay Rally on 26-27 Jan 2002.
21) Pertumuan Melayu (Malay Rally) 2002 Souvenir, Sri Lanka Malay Association, Colombo, (2002).
22) Centre leaning party formed of ‘Sinhala Mahasabha’ of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, who became the Prime Minister in 1956.
23) First Political Party formed by D.S. Senanayake, the first Prime Minister of Independent Sri Lanka.
24) The Malay Dilemma, A Commemoration Issue on the 42nd Death Anniversary of Dr. T.B.Jayah, 31st May 2002
25) A new Muslim Party formed in 1988 by M.H.M. Ashraff, who became a powerful Minister in the PA Government that came to power in 1994.
26) She was a daughter of the king of Kelaniya, who cast her adrift to sea as a sacrifice for a royal indiscretion. She is said to have washed up on the shore at Kirinda and was taken as queen by King Kawantissa. They later became the parents of the great King Dutugemunu, who united the onetime divided Sri Lanka into a united under one crown for the first time.

Bibliography on Sri Lankan Malays

Bibliography on Sri Lankan Malays

Adelaar, K.A. 1991. “Some notes on the origin of Sri Lankan Malay.” In H. Steinhauer (ed.), Papers in Austronesian Linguistics. Pacific Linguistics. The Australian National University. Vol. I: 23-37.Ansaldo, U. 2008. “Sri Lanka Malay revisited: Genesis and classification.” In A. Dwyer, D. Harrison & D. Rood (eds.), A World of Many Voices: Lessons from Documented Endangered Languages. Benjamins: Amsterdam / Philadelphia. (Studies in Language). 13-42.Ansaldo, Umberto. 2011. “Metatypy in Sri Lanka Malay.” In Rajendra Singh & Ghanshyam Sharma (eds.), Annual Review of South Asian Languages and Linguistics. 2011. Berlin / Boston: De Gruyter Mouton. (Trends in Linguistics, Studies and Monographs, 241). 3-15.

Ansaldo, U. & L. Lim. 2006. “Globalisation, empowerment and the periphery – The Malays of Sri Lanka.” In R. Elangayiyan, R. McKenna Brown, N.D.M. Ostler & M.K. Verma (eds.), Vital Voices: Endangered Languages and Multilingualism. Proceedings of the FEL X Conference. Bath / Mysore: Foundation for Endangered Languages / Central Institute of Indian Languages. 39-46.

Bakker, P. 2006. “The Sri Lanka Sprachbund.: The newcomers Portuguese and Malay.” In Y. Matras, A. McMahon & N. Vincent (eds.), Linguistic Areas – Convergence in Historical and Typological Perspective. Houndmills, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 135-159.

Bichsel-Stettler. 1989. Aspects of the Sri Lanka Malay Community and its Language. Master’s thesis, Universität Bern.

Hussainmiya, B.A. 1987. Lost Cousins: The Malays of Sri Lanka, Occasional Paper, vol. 2. Kebangsaan: Universiti Kebangsaan.

Hussainmiya, B.A. 1990. Orang Rejimen: The Malays of the Ceylon Rifle Regiment. Universiti Kebangsaan.

Kekulawala, S.L. 1982. “Kinship terminology in Sri Lankan Malay: A contribution to the study of language universals.”Kelaniya Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Kelaniya, 1/2: 207-224.

Lim, L. & U. Ansaldo. 2006. “Keeping Kirinda vital: The endangerment-empowerment dilemma in the documentation of Sri Lanka Malay.” Amsterdam Centre for Language & Cognition Working Papers, 1: 51-66.

Lim, L. & U. Ansaldo. 2007. “Identity alignment in the multilingual space: The Malays of Sri Lanka.” In E. Anchimbre (ed.),Linguistic Identity in Multilingual Postcolonial Spaces. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press. 218-243.

Nordhoff, Sebastian. 2009. A Grammar of Upcountry Sri Lanka Malay. Utrecht: LOT (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Amsterdam). Three volumes.

Paauw, S.H. 2004. A Historical Analysis of the Lexical Sources of Sri Lanka Malay. Master’s thesis, York University.

Saldin, B. 2001. The Sri Lankan Malays and Their Language. Kurunegala: Nihon, 2nd edition.

Saldin, B. 2003. Portrait of a Sri Lankan Malay. Kurunegala: Nihon.

Saldin, B. 2007. A Concise Sri Lankan Malay Dictionary – Kamus ringkas bahasa melayu Sri Lanka. Kurunegala: Nihon.

Slomanson, Peter. 2006. “Sri Lankan Malay morophosyntax: Lankan or Malay?” In A. Deumert & S. Durleman (eds.),Structure and Variation in Language Contact. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 135-158.

Slomanson, Peter. 2008. “The perfect construction and complexity drift in Sri Lankan Malay.” Lingua, 118/10: 1640-1655.

Smith, I.R., S. Paauw & B.A. Hussainmiya. 2004. “Sri Lanka Malay: the state of the art.” Yearbook of South Asian Languages and Linguistics. Rajendra Singh (chief editor). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 197-215

Tapovanaye, S. 1986. Analysis of the Segmental Phonemes of the Sri Lanka Malay Language. Master’s thesis, University of Kelaniya (written in Sinhala).

Tapovanaye, S. 1995. Vowel Length in Sri Lankan Malay. Master’s thesis, University of Hawaii.


Some Notions about the Island of Ceylon: Late 18th century, a French naturalist discovers Ceylon (manuscript completed in 1801) by Eudelin de Jonville



We believe that this book is of a significant importance for Sri Lankan readers and scholars and for Sri Lankan History in general.

Very few first hand accounts have been written on Ceylon during the early British period (and even before at the notable exception of Robert Knox account) and definitively not by a knowledgeable and kind scholar like Jonville.

Eudelin de Jonville comes to the Island of Ceylon in 1798 as a naturalist and a member of the administrative staff recruited by Frederick North, first British governor of the new colony.

Eudelin is a man of culture, full of intelligent curiosity. During the seven years he spends in Ceylon he travels, investigates, questions, counts and measures, draws, paints, and, above all, writes an astonishing manuscript that he sends for publication (a vain hope) to his brother in Europe.

A manuscript which lays forgotten in the immense collections of the British Library; a copy, or a rough draft hidden in a chest of the Colombo Museum in Sri Lanka – a text a last published for the pleasure of today readers who will explore this tropical paradise in the company of an eager, passionate, open minded French naturalist of the late 18th century.

Most of the accounts we have come from soldiers, priests, hunters, etc.

This makes a big difference as you will see when you will read this book : Jonville studies methodically and impartially and don’t make judgement. He is a very open and curious mind and studies all fields possible as he is familiar to many : geology, astronomy, flora, fauna, mineralogy, etc.

He is an exceptional brilliant universal scholar.

He is also gifted with languages and speaks fluently many beside English and French : Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Turkish, etc.

There are also several drawings and sketches included in the manuscript and almost 200 watercoloured plates are annexed to it. We have reproduced some of them in black and white in the text and in colour in at the centre of the book.

Enclosed are some PDF images (and some .JPG images which are smaller) of the book so you have an idea of what it is.


Launching at the BMICH on the 22nd of June at 5:00 p.m.

Book title: Some Notions about the Island of Ceylon

Author : by Eudelin de Jonville

Sub-title : Late 18th century, a French naturalist discovers Ceylon

Transcription from the unpublished manuscript, introduction and notes by Philippe Fabry

Documentation, research and biography of Jonville by Marie-Hélène Estève

Format : 17 x 24 cm

Cover : 4 colours matt laminated with flaps

432 pages including 16 pages colour illustrations

In English and original text in French

28 € (euros) LKR 2,900 in Sri Lanka only

ISBN 978-955-8736-10-4

Published by Viator Publications, Sri Lanka

Available in all bookshops or contact Perera Hussein Publishing House 80 A, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 07

+94 11 485 89 72

Do not hesitate to call Philippe Fabry at any time for further information: 0777 318 918




2009 pro LTTE demonstration at Batu Caves (Malaysia) by Delon Madavan

This is the translation of an article published in french for the website Cafégéo. The website invites in its rubric “Carte postale” contributors to give the analyse of a photography. The 2009 pro LTTE demonstration, hold on 24th May 2009 at Batu Caves in Malaysia, has been chosen as case study for this exercice.


(photography taken on May 24, 2009  at Batu Caves, Malaysia)

 The choice of location is not insignificant. Batu Caves, with its large golden statue of the god Murugan, is one of the largest Hindu temple outside of India. It is from this holy place, located at 13 km from Kuala Lumpur, that Malaysian Tamils ​mobilise to condemn the genocide which affects those in Sri Lanka. Photographs of children and women victims of bombings echo the explicit banners denouncing, in Tamil and in English, the atrocities that were committed deliberately against civilians (« Stop genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka », « Punish Sri Lankan State Terrorism », « Your silence smacks of approval of genocide »). The organizers wish to attract the attention of Malaysian and international public opinion on the humanitarian catastrophe that touches the largest minority of that country. Indeed, the last phase of the conflict, which opposed the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE separatists (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), has cost the lives of 20,000 civilians. Furthermore, despite the proclamation of the victory of Colombo, 280,000 civilians still remain, after several months of fighting, locked up in overcrowded internment camps without any presence of international observers.

The Tamil Malaysian community also intends to press for his government to withdraw its support for the Sri Lankan government that seeks the support of a third of the countries to present a draft resolution, preventing the UN to open an investigation into the possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the last months of the conflict.

The portraits of the late separatists’ leader, V. Prabhakaran, and Tigers flags worn by the demonstrators leave no doubt about their commitment to the creation of an independent state for Tamils ​​in Sri Lanka: the Tamil Eelam.

In contrast, leaders of some states are clearly presented as objective enemies of the separatist cause. Several banners caricature as devils Sri Lankan (President Rajapakse) and Indian (Indian Prime Minister M. Singh and Sonia Gandhi, President of the Congress Party and wife of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassinated by the LTTE) political leaders. The head of the Sri Lankan state is compared to Hitler and is presented as the primary reason for the Tamil genocide. While the demonstrators reproach the Indian leaders for supporting the Sri lankan government for its draft resolution, which prevents the opening of international and independent investigation against Rajapakse and his army. Posters calling for a boycott of products manufactured in these two countries also express the anger of the demonstrators (« Boycott ! Boycott !! Boycott !!! Air travels to India by Indian air lines, Tours to India, Relationship and Dealings with Indian High Commission »).

To compensate for the lack of support of a sovereign state, pro Eelam militants insist on the mobilisation of the trans-national Tamil community. Several posters present it as a single and integral entity. But the observation of certain banners quickly puts spotlight its artificial nature. One can thus read on certain of them « N°1 Tamils ennemis traitors» with the portraits of two characters. The first represents Karuna, former military leader of the LTTE for the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka who broke away and joined the Sri Lankan government. The second portrait represents M. Karunanidhi, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu (India), who is accused of having done nothing to force the Central Indian state to intervene to stop the military offensive of the Sri Lankan army. Enabling the massacre of Tamils ​​as well as leading to the defeat of the Tigers. So despite the rhetoric of the demonstrators, the trans-national Tamil community is diverse and activists at the Batu Caves are not their spokesperson.

If this mobilisation is presented as a spontaneous reaction of the defense of human rights in favour of a civilian population in distress, the event is nonetheless a political instrument for the LTTE, which wants to assert its positions. For proof, many demonstrations were held across the world with the same slogans and the same staging. At Batu Caves, the pro LTTE Tamil trans-national movement gives a religious dimension to its political struggle. By organizing their protest in this sacred temple, Tigers have also called upon the faith of the faithful to believe, despite the military defeat, in the future birth of an other territory that has been sacralized, that of the Tamil Eelam. The latter would include the Northern and Eastern parts of the island, considered by the separatists as the historic homeland of the Tamils ​​in Sri Lanka. Thus the LTTE presents the obtaining of an independent state, not as the completion of the dream of the only Sri Lankan Tamils ​​but as the one of the Tamil nation dispersed across the world.

Source of the french version:

Madavan D, 2010, Carte postale de Batu Caves in Cafégéo