Some questions for Sri Lanka’s Minister and Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Posted on September 7th, 2013

Shenali D. Waduge

There is little doubt that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (now re-named as Ministry of External Affairs) plays an important role in the way the international community looks at Sri Lanka. Similarly, it falls upon the shoulders of the Ministry to conduct foreign affairs of the country in a manner consistent with the mandate given to the Government by the people at the elections while not compromising on the National Constitution of the country. We are concerned as to the current direction of the Ministry, the nature of the message being carried and would like to have the Minister and Ministry respond to the following direct questions.

Ignoring foremost place of Buddhism in the Constitution

1.    Why is it rarely if never that the Minister or Ministry mentions that Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist nation or never says anything on the significance of Article 9 in the Sri Lankan Constitution? Given that the place of Buddhism is significantly endorsed in a separate chapter in the country”‘s Constitution should the Minister and Ministry not unhesitatingly declare at various official functions both within and outside the country that “…”Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist nation with an indigenous culture and unique Buddhist civilization but respects the multi-religious and multi-ethnic character of its society”‚.

League of Buddhist Nations

2.    A suggestion to form a League of Buddhist Nations initiated by Sri Lanka and bringing together all the Buddhist nations of the world against the political incursions they are facing has been totally ignored while think tanks are being formed by the Ministry all over the world. Is there a particular reason why the Ministry/Minister has completely ignored the traditional links Sri Lanka has had and continues to have with the Asian Buddhist nations the zenith of which was seen during Mrs. Bandaranaike”‘s time which brought international respect and prestige to Sri Lanka? Why is the Foreign Ministry not advising President Rajapakse from achieving similar popularity amongst the Buddhist world and take up the leadership in ushering in an Asian Buddhist Renaissance in this century that has been clearly identified as the “‘ Asian Century”‘?.

Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute subtly pushing ideologies and agendas meant to displace Article 9 of the Constitution

3.    Why is the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute being glaringly used to push a bogus fancy for Human Rights, Re-conciliation and multicultural themes and agendas instead of using it as a platform to steer the policy of Sri Lanka using the traditional links we have with the Asian nations first. Buddhist Diplomacy was a corner stone of Sri Lanka”‘s foreign policy under our Buddhist Kings in the pre-colonial era. Why is this area being neglected? All we see are servile attempts to copy “‘liberal”‘ themes drawn exclusively from Western and Christian traditions that are proven failures in the very countries that have experimented with multiculturalism. We are well aware that the baggage of thinking dumped on us like “‘multi-culturalism”‘, pluralism, secularism and the like are embedded with hidden agendas meant to de-throne Buddhism, weaken the hold of the Sinhala Buddhist majority on the power structures, instill a guilt complex for being the pre “- dominant ethnic and religious group and force them to transfer their power to minorities for the sake of achieving communal harmony that would in turn undoubtedly destabilize Sri Lanka. It must be borne in mind that not a single Muslim country has embraced secularism and publicly announced that all other religions will be treated on par with Islam. A look at the subjects handled by the Institute and the speakers invited reveal the subtle methodology at play.

Reluctance to have a Buddhist Desk at the Ministry

4.    Why does the Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Ministry not have a Buddhist desk at the Ministry to handle International Buddhist affairs which are now becoming increasingly significant. The Ministry of Buddha Sasana is unable to give competent leadership in this important area. Both China and India have realized and appreciate the soft power of Buddhism in the international arena. But this appears to be sadly overlooked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Not a day passes without an International Buddhist Conference being held in China and India, and other Asian Buddhist countries.  When there are desks catering to all other religions e.g. Vatican, and regions that are exclusively non “- Buddhist why has a Buddhist desk being omitted? We must renew Buddhist diplomacy in the manner of our former Kings and re-connect ourselves to our unique Buddhist heritage.

Championing the cause of Dalits

5. When Tamil Nadu with the explicit backing of the Central Government of India believes it has a right to interfere and plead the cause of the Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka, why does Sri Lanka remain silent and not demand better treatment for the 165 million Dalits in India (1/6th of India”‘s population) most of whom are Buddhists and sympathetic to the cause of Sri Lanka?  

13th Amendment  / PC system

6. Much as the Minister may not like to hear this, it must be accepted that there is a huge question mark hanging over the loyalty of the Minister to the “‘Mahinda Chintanaya”‘ and the indivisible unitary status of Sri Lanka.  The Minister”‘s political track record and shifting loyalties from party to party is well known even among school children of this country. Therefore given the previous records of drafting legislative agreements that have proven detrimental to the nation, speaking at international podiums in the past on behalf of these detrimental agreements we now need to have a public declaration on one”‘s standpoint because we are all the while in doubt and concerned that personal ideologies and pre-existing connections to Western funded NGOs will obstruct what the Government was voted in to do and that is to free the nation of terrorism and now to do away with the stranglehold that India has on Sri Lanka through the 13th amendment.

Reparation for Colonial Crimes

7. The awarding of compensation recently by the British Government for colonial crimes committed on Kenyans in the Mau Mau rebellion encourages all former colonial nations to seek similar reparations for the crimes committed by Colonial rulers that include in Sri Lanka”‘s case the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. These crimes would include murder, plunder of resources, destruction of Buddhist temples upon which destroyed sites Churches have been built, demarcation of land that has given rise to ethnic tensions, special privileges to minorities discriminating against the majority and the acceptance of their crimes which ideally equates to mean reconciliation of any kind must start with these colonial power accepting their crimes primarily on the Sinhalese Buddhists who were mostly subject to persecution, torture, murder and plunder. We would like to know the Minister”‘s view on this and what he proposes to do about presenting Sri Lanka”‘s case to the British seeking an apology and due reparations.

Diplomatic dialogue on ill-treatment to Sri Lankans

8. Do we make our case with foreign nations: In India, Buddhist monks were attacked, Bodh Gaya was bombed, in Maldives Sri Lankan nations are forbidden from even taking Buddhist statues whereas over 300,000 Maldivians are allowed to work, live and gain education in Sri Lanka, in the Middle East hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan labor are illtreated, forbidden from worshipping and even their applications are altered to remove their Buddhist identity but how much of these ill-treatments have been taken up at diplomatic level and during negotiations by the Foreign Ministry and followed up? Issuing a brief statement has resulted in nothing.

Lakshman Kadiragamar never saw merit in appeasement or in adopting a servile approach to handling foreign affairs of the nation. It is to him that we attribute the banning of the LTTE in 32 nations and declaring Wesak as a UN holiday. He became the moral voice of Sri Lanka prior to his death. His loyalties never shifted for political opportunism and we all respect him profoundly and continue to mourn is absence in the much needed diplomatic debate today. Honoring his name by opening a statue is not enough but his ideals must be followed. Had he been alive he would have handled the international NGOs, the mainstream media, the attacks upon and against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka with sincerity and commitment.

Nevertheless, as the nation faces diplomatic hurdles which can only be overcome by diplomacy we feel a void and eloquent speeches alone has not delivered any results post-conflict for Sri Lanka. We continue to face one embarrassment after another. We do not meet accusations with facts, we have not promoted our achievements and we have not gathered our friends. What does the Minister and the Ministry of External Affairs proposes to do to reverse the status quo?

7 Responses to “Some questions for Sri Lanka’s Minister and Ministry of Foreign Affairs”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    Bravo, Mr. Defence Secretary …. Don’t budge ONE INCH from the TRUTH of what you said!

    INTOLERANT Religious ideologues of various hues (Islamic Fundamentalists and Born-Again Evangelical Christians among them), are seeking today to brainwash and convert people to their faiths, targeting Buddhist and Hindu countries, pitting their converts against people of other faiths, destabilizing and undermining national governments in the process, in a vast INTERNATIONAL CONSPIRACY of Rich Muslim, and Neocolonialist Western, Nations.

    Keep them, their money, and their activists … religious and non-religious …. out of Sri Lanka by Whatever Means Necessary!

    Sri Lanka for Sri Lankans ONLY …. not for Foreigners to practice their WATUSI dances …. meddling where they don’t belong …. to transform and remake our moderate Sri Lankan society in their own image of vicious fanatical discriminatory beliefs.
    ………………………..
    Gotabhaya reiterates concern over extremism

    By Shamindra Ferdinandoa
    Island.lk
    September 6, 2013

    Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday reiterated that extremism posed a severe threat not only to post-war Sri Lanka but many countries in the region as well as the industrialised world.

    The war veteran was responding to a statement issued by Justice Minister Hakeem, who is also the SLMC leader, in the wake of Rajapaksa’s address to the Defence Seminar in Colombo early this week. Minister Hakeem was obviously blind to the ground situation, he said, adding that the world was in turmoil today partly due to extremism.

    The Defence Secretary said: “We are working closely with many countries to tackle extremist acts. In fact, it is an ongoing process involving intelligence services and other relevant agencies. Due to vigilance on the part of those fighting extremism and terrorism we were able to thwart plans to cause mayhem.”

    The Defence Secretary said Minister Hakeem shouldn’t have dragged Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia into the debate as he never mentioned those countries. “The SLMC failed to comprehend what I have said”, he said.

    Extremism fueled by a few threatened all countries including the Muslim world, Rajapaksa said. “Minister Hakeem’s reference to Muslim countries backing Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council is irrelevant. At the recent Defence seminar, I discussed the threat posed by Muslim extremists as well as Sinhala hardliners.

    There is absolutely no suggestion that Muslim countries are in anyway responsible for the situation. Regrettably Minister Hakeem had misinterpreted facts.”

    The Defence Secretary said that the government had cooperated with many governments in the region as well as the US during Ranil Wickremesinghe’s tenure as the Premier. “Sri Lanka handed over an extremist wanted by the US intelligence during the UNP-led administration in which Minister Hakeem was a senior member. The present administration too acted on information furnished by foreign intelligence services to intercept wanted extremists.”

    Responding to a query by The Island, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that Minister Hakeem had misconstrued his assertion that there were some foreign groups bent on encouraging misguided local Muslims to identify themselves more with the extremist global Muslim community, thereby reducing the community’s integration with the rest of the population.

    The Defence Secretary said: “It is a known fact that Muslim fundamentalism is spreading all over the world and in this region. This is a situation that our law enforcement agencies and security forces are concerned about, particularly as there have been instances where extremist elements have been in transit in Sri Lanka prior to arrest and handing over to appropriate authorities. The possibility that such extremist elements may try to promote Muslim extremism in Sri Lanka is a cause for concern.”

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Egypt’s prosecutor begins probe into political activists: source

    September 6, 2013

    CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s public prosecutor is looking into legal complaints against a group of prominent democracy and rights activists, a judicial source at the prosecutor’s office said on Saturday, adding to fears of a widening crackdown on dissent.

    Confirming a story on the Web site of state newspaper Al-Ahram on Saturday, the source said the prosecutor received complaints from private citizens against 35 political figures, many of them important figures in the 2011 uprising against ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

    They include activist Ahmed Maher, blogger Ahmed Douma and liberal politician Amr Hamzawi, the source said.

    The complaints accuse the activists of accepting money from the United States and other countries, and say that diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks support their claims, the source said.

    Hamzawi denied on Twitter the allegations in Al-Ahram. “Claims that I got foreign money are completely untrue, the campaign of fabrication and distortion must immediately stop,” he said.

    It was not clear which WikiLeaks cables the complaints referred to, but some cables talk about the then-U.S. ambassador meeting or having dinner with activists in 2007 and 2008.

    The prosecutor’s office was not available to confirm the report or comment.

    Prosecutions based on complaints brought by private individuals have long been seen as a tool of political intimidation in Egypt, often instigated by government supporters. Many were brought against opponents of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi before he was deposed on July 3.

    The security forces have made no secret of launching a ferocious crackdown on Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, arresting its top leaders on charges of inciting political violence as well as around 2,000 other Islamists.

    Many activists fear the army could turn its sights on other groups who worked for Mubarak’s overthrow in 2011 hoping to establish an open civilian democracy in Egypt.

    “These are fake accusations,” rights lawyer Gamal Eid told Reuters. “(The complaint) is from people who know that it is false but who try to silence activists’ demands for the realisation of the demands of the revolution.”

    Separately, a leftist lawyer accused of belonging to a secret organisation and spreading lies about the military appeared before military prosecutors in Suez, but was later released, judicial sources said.

    Haitham Mohamedeen, a rights activist who belongs to the Revolutionary Socialist movement, a group critical of the army, was arrested in Suez on Thursday.

    The accusations against him included belonging to a secret organisation with the aim of attacking state institutions and the military, a judicial source at the military prosecutor’s office in Suez said.

    It was not clear whether the case against him had been dropped.

    In another case, Egyptian journalist Ahmed Abu Deraa remained in detention after his arrest in North Sinai on Wednesday.

    The military prosecutor accused him of spreading lies and giving military information to secret organisations, a source at the prosecutor’s office said.

    “The detention of Ahmed Abu Deraa harks back to the Mubarak era, when journalists faced formidable obstacles reporting on military activity in the Sinai peninsula,” said Robert Mahoney, deputy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

    (Reporting by Shadia Nasralla, additional reporting by Tom Perry; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Sonya Hepinstall)

  3. AnuD Says:

    If Kadirgamar Institute is promoting western values, It looks some one did not know what to do. Instead selected the wrong people. Shrewd people who knows what they are doing and how to do it should have been recruited. Most probably, politicians were involved in their and appointed their friends and friends of friends.

  4. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    To quote from the article:

    -Why is it rarely if never that the Minister or Ministry mentions that Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist nation or never says anything on the significance of Article 9 in the Sri Lankan Constitution?”

    – Why is the Foreign Ministry not advising President Rajapakse from achieving similar popularity amongst the Buddhist world and take up the leadership in ushering in an Asian Buddhist Renaissance in this century that has been clearly identified as the ‘ Asian Century’?

    -Why is the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute being glaringly used to push a bogus fancy for Human Rights, Re-conciliation and multicultural themes and agendas instead of using it as a platform to steer the policy of Sri Lanka using the traditional links we have with the Asian nations first. Buddhist Diplomacy was a corner stone of Sri Lanka’s foreign policy under our Buddhist Kings in the pre-colonial era. Why is this area being neglected?

    -Why does the Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Ministry not have a Buddhist desk at the Ministry to handle International Buddhist affairs which are now becoming increasingly significant.

    -When Tamil Nadu with the explicit backing of the Central Government of India believes it has a right to interfere and plead the cause of the Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka, why does Sri Lanka remain silent and not demand better treatment for the 165 million Dalits in India (1/6th of India’s population) most of whom are Buddhists and sympathetic to the cause of Sri Lanka?

    -the Government was voted in to do and that is to free the nation of terrorism and now to do away with the stranglehold that India has on Sri Lanka through the 13th amendment.

    -We would like to know the Minister’s view on this and what he proposes to do about presenting Sri Lanka’s case to the British seeking an apology and due reparations.

    -In India, Buddhist monks were attacked, Bodh Gaya was bombed, in Maldives Sri Lankan nations are forbidden from even taking Buddhist statues whereas over 300,000 Maldivians are allowed to work, live and gain education in Sri Lanka, in the Middle East hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan labor are illtreated, forbidden from worshipping and even their applications are altered to remove their Buddhist identity but how much of these ill-treatments have been taken up at diplomatic level and during negotiations by the Foreign Ministry and followed up? Issuing a brief statement has resulted in nothing.

    I selected the questions and problems posed by the article and what I have realized is that unless Buddhism is made a state religion Colombo cannot champion the cause of Buddhism and be impartial to the sentiments of all the people of Sri Lanka. Most of these problems should not be addressed by the Government since the Government has not made Buddhism a state faith. In the Muslim nations Islam and the Government are one where the Sharia laws written in the Koran dictate the policy of these Theocracies.

    But Buddhism has the power inherent in the three jewels which state: I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Darhma and I take refuge in the Sanga… in the Sanga. That is the key.

    The article demanded answers to questions of a theological nature and before the arrival of the Western powers the Buddhist Sanga played that central role. Now the Buddhist Sanga has lost ground to Secularism. The Buddhist Sanga needs to regain that power to represent Sri Lanka as a predominantly Buddhist nation, to bring all Buddhist nations together in a Buddhist renaissance, to handle international Buddhist affairs, to bring to the UN the violation caused by the Caste system and like the Catholic Pope or the Dalai Lama take on the powers needed to represent the faith.

    the reason Tamil Nadu interferes into the domestic issue of Sri Lanka she is doing it by pressuring New Delhi even with threats as in the case of the DMK against the Congress party regarding how India is to vote on the human rights issues. If the Hindu Tamils can do it, If the Pope can do it and if the Dalai Lama can do then the Sri Lankan Buddhist Sanga which is the oldest unbroken Buddhist order in world can take those powers from Colombo and represent the majority of the Buddhists in Sri Lanka and be the leader of a new Buddhist movement that brings all Buddhist nations together in Sri Lanka for a new awakening.

    The Buddhist Sanga has made her case in this article. Now is the time to act on it.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    Buddhism is the main religion of Lanka. To Protect the People & the country : the Law of the Land must prevail. If the existing Laws are inadequate to Protect the People & the country, new Laws must be added on and adhered to.

    Sinhela/Buddhist groups who have been hurt such as the JVP and the Army deserters have to be brought into mainstream life again and taken under Buddhist Temple/GoSL caring and guidance. Or else they will used by unscrupulous others.

    State and religion must be kept apart, though some aspects from Buddhist thinking can be added to the Law of the Land.

    In Lanka, the ancient Agrarian Buddhist society is changing. There are nearly 21 Million people in Sri Lanka. Education must change to meet new demands, keeping to Buddhist values, but modern.

    Re Modern day Buddhism : Dhana, Seela, Bhavana is a good way to go. Unitarian Meditation Centres will help bind communities together, whatever the religions.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    The Law of any country is there to protect the People and the country.

    Does the 13-A & the PCs (imposed under Duress), serve that purpose ?

  7. douglas Says:

    Dear Sonali: You say “There is little doubt that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (now re named as Ministry of External Affairs) plays an important role in the way the international community looks at Sri Lanka”

    Very true. I would have expected you to have made a very through research (as you usually do) into the “very structure, the manning of the Ministry’s human resources, it’s policies and guide lines in relation to our country’s image and reputation etc. to have been exposed in a critical and constructive manner for discussion. Unfortunately, this time you have missed it. Perhaps, this comment could be food for thought for a future presentation.

    Look at the “TOP” man. All the foreign governments know who he is and how he has been right from day one in his political career the jactitations performed with every successive governments. Next look at the “Monitoring Minister”. The whole world is quite aware who he is and what he is. Then look at the background and capabilities of the large number of “friends and relations” appointed to the foreign missions. The other day I saw a news item of organizing cricket in Poland by the Deputy Higher Commissioner. This person is none other than the man who brought the Sri Lanka Cricket Board to bankruptcy as its interim chairman. This is only one among many ignominious appointments made to the Foreign Missions of Sri Lanka.

    So what do you expect from this Ministry of External Affairs? Can we blame the Foreign Governments for giving us such scanty recognition?

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