A reply to ‘Governing Council National Peace Council’/Lankaweb/December 02, 2016
Posted on December 3rd, 2016

By Rohana R. Wasala

The piece inserted in the Lankaweb under the title ‘Immediate deterrent action needed to eradicate inter-community violence’  by a so-called ‘Governing Council National Peace Council’ on December 01, 2016 is a scurrilous attack on the helplessly beleaguered Sinhalese Buddhist majority of Sri Lanka. The Sinhalese are a global minority of a mere 14-15 million overwhelmingly outnumbered by over 100 million ethnic Tamils originating from Tamil Nadu. The Sinhalese have no other homeland than their island home of great antiquity (borne out by recorded history and archaeological remains found throughout the length and breadth of the country including epigraphic evidence). The ‘peace council’ article is a deliberate falsification of the true situation regarding the current inter-communal relations between the majority and minority communities.

After a two year lull that followed replacement of the former government through the electoral process, public manifestations of inter community tension have increased in recent months.”

The factual situation is that, after a peaceful six years of political stability and economic growth ushered in by the previous, genuinely national, government of Mahinda Rajapaksa (because all communities were democratically represented in it; even former separatist Tamil rebels such as Karuna Amman of the LTTE and Douglas Devananda of the EPDP held responsible cabinet posts), the progress and pacification achieved (particularly in the north and east provinces) is now being maliciously discounted, degraded, and denied by separatist propagandists backed by America and India, global and regional powers respectively, driven by their own geopolitical interests. Rajapaksa was ousted through an electoral conspiracy, as admitted by the conspirators themselves. It was only a few days ago that the US state department revealed that America spent $585 million for similar (destabilizing) operations in a number of countries including Sri Lanka. The popular Rajapaksa could never be defeated in any democratic election. So, he was demonized by massive, well funded, misinformation campaigns, which it was humanly impossible for him to counter. The electorate was deliberately manipulated. The separatism that the defeat of terrorism was only successful in sending into effective hibernation, is now being revived and the aggressive activities and utterances of Islamic and Christian fundamentalist elements have increased over the past two years of yahapalanaya.

 There are indications of political maneuvering behind these efforts to disturb the peace in the country and to bring ethno-religious nationalism to the fore.  Video footages of religious clergy engaging in vitriolic attacks on those of other ethnic and religious groups have gone viral on the social media.  Ethno nationalist organizations have been engaging in hate campaigns and intimidating those of other communities at the local level.  Most notably in the North and East, there are clashes being reported on inter religious grounds.  There are many incidents of religious clergy getting involved in expansionist projects, such as religious conversions, destruction of ancient sites or building places of worship in areas where they are less numerous.”

The people who make such statements do not seem to understand any Sinhala. If they did they’d realize that the activist monks and the more numerous young lay persons who have joined them in their legitimate protests are not saying anything against other ethnic and religious communities. In fact, there are young Muslims and Christians among these Buddhist activists. These Sinhalese Buddhist protestors are only expressing themselves against the few extremist elements who are pursuing an anti- Sinhalese Buddhist campaign. There are no clashes between groups on religious grounds in the north and the east, or elsewhere. If sometimes there are noisy confrontations between Buddhist and Muslim groups, they are triggered by Muslim encroachment of archaeological Buddhist sites, or their advocacy of religio-cultural or legal norms  that are likely to lead to friction between communities.  Buddhist monks are only reacting to such Muslim encroachment of ancient Buddhist places of worship in the north and the east. The eastern dry zone was the historic seat of the glorious hydraulic civilization of the Sinhalese that flourished up to 13th century CE. Some of these ancient sites are over two thousand years old. The Buddhist monks are not launching expansionist projects. They are only opposing the expansionist projects of others against Buddhists  Buddhism, as anyone knows, is not a proselytizing religion.

It is due to the generosity of the Sinhalese Buddhist king Senerath of Kandy (1604-35) that there are Muslims in the east today. The king, on humanitarian grounds, settled in Batticaloa in the eastern province about 4000 Muslims persecuted and evicted from the western seaboard by the Portuguese.

It is the majority Sinhalese Buddhist community who are the victims, rather than the perpetrators, of aggressive acts ‘such as religious conversions, destruction of ancient sites or building places of worship in areas’ where the ancient Sinhalese Buddhist heritage is indelibly marked and where it needs to be preserved for posterity. The few Muslim and Christian fundamentalists who do these things disturb the peace, not these monks who are only reacting to them. So-called hate campaigns allegedly launched by ‘ethno nationalist organizations’  (meaning Sinhalese Buddhist groupings) are mere fabrications.

There is no political manoeuvring behind the agitation campaigns of Buddhist organizations. In fact, they make relentless criticism of present and past politicians, who, when in power deliberately let these problems fester because of their pusillanimous attitude of political correctness that prevents them from containing aggressive minority groups, which they are empowered to do by law. For politicians votes are more important than national good.

It is high time that ignorant and insensitive NGOs stopped passing judgement on matters relating to the internal affairs of the sovereign nation of Sri Lanka that they know nothing about. They are a massive roadblock to the existing communal harmony in the country.

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