Furthering Community Self-Interests and Undermining National Interests: The Primary Objective of the Tamil and Muslim Non-Indigenous Settler Communities of Sri Lanka
Posted on March 29th, 2018

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

HISTORY OF THE TAMIL COMMUNITY OF SRI LANKA   

Tamils and Muslims living in Sri Lanka, amount to a total of about 24% of the country’s total population. They are descendants of groups of individuals, exclusively males, who initially arrived in this island at different times in the past for various purposes, and later settled down among the Sinhala people who were inhabitants of the island for over 2500 years. The Tamils came from southern India and observe the cultural traditions of their homeland- Tamilnadu where the Tamil culture and Tamil language originated. Initially Tamils came to the island as invaders and mercenaries and later, especially in the 19th century and thereafter, the British brought Tamils from South India to Sri Lanka to work as labourers in British-owned commercial plantations. This was the time when our country was under the British invaders. Most of this Tamil labour community stayed behind and were accorded citizenship in later years after the country attained political independence. Tamils in general, therefore are settler communities in the island.

Since the 3rd century BCE, there were seventeen Tamil-speaking Dravidian invasions of the Sinhala kingdom when Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa were the Sinhala royal capitals. These invasions were associated with extreme forms of violence and destruction. During a good part of the past four decades, Tamil terrorists of the LTTE, took away from the indigenous Sinhala majority, what they valued and cherished most as a nation – their freedom and peaceful life. During this time, most Tamils living within and outside Sri Lanka were openly or discreetly supportive of terrorism and separatism propagated by the racist LTTE terrorists under Prabakaran, their ruthless leader. The large majority of Sri Lankan Tamils living overseas, were helping, both directly and indirectly, often using deceitful means to the Tamil terror movement in Sri Lanka thereby promoting gruesome, hideous, and horrifying terrorist activities against the nation, its Sinhala leaders, Bhikkhus, military and police personnel. They helped bomb and destroy reputed historically significant Buddhist monuments and sites in our country, and other public property of value and acted to disrepute and undermine the legitimately elected government of our country.

The nation is eternally grateful to the Ranaviru Sinhala sons and daughters for eradicating Tamil terrorism, the treacherous racist extremist menace, in the year 2009. Sinhala leaders at the time realized the fundamental importance of preserving the territorial integrity and sovereignty of their motherland and that there can be no compromise with terrorists and their cohorts both local and foreign. Thousands of true sons of the soil sacrificed their precious lives while serving in the military forces and the nation is grateful forever for the sacrifices they made to bring peace to the island.

Both during the conflict and thereafter, our heroic military personnel who were making untold sacrifices to protect our people and the territorial integrity of our country were subject to extreme forms of indignity, insult, and disgrace by the Tamils, especially those living overseas, both during the period of conflict and thereafter, using deceitful and dishonest accusations. Also, our illustrious national culture and our Buddhist Sangha community responsible for nurturing, promoting, and uplifting our outstanding national culture for some two thousand three hundred years, were subject to debase and disrespect by these treacherous Tamil racists and extremists. Buying over and using the international media and other means, these overseas racist Tamil extremists were involved openly in a widespread campaign, using the basest forms of falsehoods and blatant lies of unimaginable proportions, to demean, discredit and destroy the good image of our country.  They continue to propagate extreme forms of deceitful and divisive propaganda against Sri Lanka and resort to deliberate misinterpretation and distortion of historic facts pertaining to our motherland. These actions display the treachery, deceit, and gruesome anti-national attitudes of these extremist elements.

THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS  

It is noteworthy, that throughout the period of conflict and thereafter, more than half the Tamil population of Sri Lanka were living in predominantly Sinhala areas, among the Sinhala people without any harassment.  Since the end of the conflict in 2009, the number living in Sinhala areas of the south have shown a striking increase. Most of them are either businesspeople or professionals, some working for the government and others lucratively self-employed. The Sinhala people of the south have been their growing clientele and patrons. Most Tamil businesses are primarily dependent on the Sinhala market for their survival. In other words, they earn their living using Sinhala hospitality and Sinhala clients. However, despite this accommodative spirit of the Sinhala people, what is clear is the fact that the Tamil employers rarely employ Sinhala employees in their establishments.

Some of the largest wholesale and retail businesses in Colombo are owned and operated by Tamils. Most jewelry establishments, travel agencies, telecommunications outlets are owned and operated by them. The rich Tamils in Colombo and other urban areas in Sinhala areas are owners of high-valued property including land, houses, vehicles, and other luxuries. They are constantly involved international travel.  They have their religious and cultural organizations, their ‘kovils’ and related activities with no restrictions placed on them by the Sinhala community. The ‘thoosa kade’ and other the Sinhala community heavily patronizes the Tamil food outlets.  In addition, they have their Tamil newspapers, magazines, videos, music audios, films and are free to intermingle with others in Sinhala neighborhoods without being harassed.

The average Sinhala person has nothing against anyone who wishes to shed extremist feelings and joining them to build a nation that is peaceful and prosperous, a nation which shuns extremism and terrorism. The Sinhala people want all other communities to join them, just the way how minority communities are expected to do in other countries of the world, especially Canada, Australia, USA, and UK.  The Sinhala people want others who live among them to help build the country as one nation, a nation founded on the noble principles of non-violence, tolerance, compassion, where peaceful co-habitation has been the cornerstone from historic times.

HISTORY OF THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY OF SRI LANKA  

The Muslim community in Sri Lanka is a small non-indigenous minority settler community amounting at present, to about 9% of the island’s total population. They are the descendants of small groups of individuals, exclusively males, who came to the island initially in the 15th century and thereafter, basically as traders. In Sri Lanka, as everywhere they went, the Portuguese made a special point of ruthlessly persecuting Muslims, their business rivals and as a consequence, many Muslims fled the western littoral which had passed under Portuguese control and settled in the north and east of the island. The Dutch were no different during their period of occupation of the coastal areas. During the Portuguese period, Muslims had to seek refuge in interior areas among the Sinhala people. Sinhala kings such as Senerath and Rajasinghe-II, provided safety and shelter to Muslims in the Sinhala kingdom among the Sinhala people. Large numbers of Muslims were settled in the hill country and in Eastern Sri Lanka, saving them from harassment by the Europeans and providing opportunities for them to improve their livelihoods and practice their religion.

SPECIAL PRIVILEDGES AND OPPORTUNITIES 

After the country attained political independence, the Muslim community continued to benefit from various forms of special opportunities privileges made available to them by the Sinhala-led governments. Not only were they given opportunities to improve their commercial activities but were accorded important Ministerial and professional positions in the government. Also, although forming a small segment of the nation’s population Muslims were accorded special privileges, such as Muslim religious holidays being declared as public holidays in our country, the representation of Muslims in the national flag of the country and permitting Muslims to establish mosques and exclusively Muslim institutions such as madrasas anywhere in the island. This is although no Muslim country permits even the display of a Buddha image, let alone building Vihares.

Muslims are well known to be running successful businesses in predominantly Sinhala majority areas with the Sinhala people as their customers. They are involved in wealth generating employment connected with tourism and travel. The per capita income of the Muslim community is far higher than that of the Sinhala majority community. A good part of buildings and land in most urban areas in the country, especially in predominantly Sinhala areas are owned today by Muslims.  In Mosque activities such as prayers using load speakers in predominantly non-Muslim neighborhoods, the Muslims are causing a great amount of discomfort and irritation to non-Muslims. The Sinhala people have been overly tolerant about this unhealthy situation.

No comparable minority in any major country in the world have been given such preposterous benefits, which are not rights but ridiculously high privileges enjoyed by the Muslims and Tamil settler minorities. Since the privileges of one person can only be had at the expense of the rights of another, this shows that, in fact, it is the indigenous Sinhala who account for about 75% of the population, who are discriminated against in Sri Lanka.

Whenever Muslims held or hold ministerial positions, they made sure that members of their community were accorded preferential treatment in employment, education, housing, business development, industry, and commerce etc. That accounts for the large number of Muslim employees in Ministries and related public agencies such as Education, the Ports Authority, Justice, Foreign Affairs, postal, etc., which had/have prominent Muslim Ministers. At present, five important cabinet ministers and three deputy ministers are Muslims.

The highly important Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka was held by Muslims Ministers for many years under different governments. During this time, Muslim children and youth were given preferential treatment in education and admission to universities.  Also, it was during this time that several well- equipped exclusively Muslim schools were established.  After securing so much from the country, and from the majority Sinhala community who had all along provided them with hospitality and generosity, it is disappointing to see many Muslim leaders and Muslim people of today, especially those associated with the Eastern and Northwestern provinces having the audacity and ingratitude to claim autonomy for the lands that they are occupying.

FURTHERING COMMUNITY SELF INTERESTS                                                   

There was much media attention in recent months, to the undue exploitation and destruction of the country’s natural resources by Muslims under the direct initiative of a Muslim minister. This involves the illegal clearance of a part of the Wilpattu National Wildlife Sanctuary for a housing scheme exclusively for Muslims. Similar illegal and anti-national actions on the part of Muslims have been reported most recently in the Yan Oya valley, Thiriyaya and Pulmuddai national forest conservation and in Kalpitiya. These are instances of encroachment and illegal development of exclusively Muslim housing schemes, with funds from Muslim countries and Muslim INGO’s operating in this country. Muslim leaders and community leaders in general, appear to show a greater interest in furthering the interests of the Muslim community rather than the welfare of the public in general. It is a well-known fact that Muslim establishments refrain from hiring non-Muslims for responsible positions in their establishments where the main clients are Sinhala people.  Also, the media has highlighted several allegations of various covert practices by Muslims to increase their population at the expense of the Sinhala population. The direct involvement of Muslims in the illicit drug trade has often been reported in the media.

ENCROACHMENT OF HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT BUDDHIST SITES                            

There is clear evidence of disregard and disrespect for the Buddhist cultural heritage of the country. During the past two decades, Muslims have illegally and forcibly encroached upon land that rightfully belongs to Buddhist temples on the eastern and southeast coast, THE Pottuvil region. It was not long ago that Islamic fundamentalists and armed Muslim extremists were inciting violence against legitimate Buddhist activities in the East – Pottuvil region.  Muslims were forcibly encroaching upon land that rightfully belongs to Buddhist temples on the southeast coast. In addition, Muslim encroachment of Kuragala archeological site near Balangoda which is one of the oldest Buddhist historic sites of Sri Lanka has led to serious confrontations in recent years. Also, in more recent years sites in the Northwest have been deceitfully encroached upon by the Muslim community, and archeological remains and ancient Buddhist monuments in these areas have been destroyed. It was not long ago that the exclusively Muslim, racist political party – the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and several Muslim civil society groups opposed the construction of Buddha’s statues on the southeast coastal areas which have long been places inhabited predominantly by Buddhists.

THREAT TO THE NATIONAL UNITY AND CULTURE                                                      

From their attitude and actions, it is noticeable in recent years, that the Muslim community in the country has posed a threat to national unity and territorial integrity of the country. They have resorted to actions that undermine the national cultural heritage and to the way of life of other communities, and in a covert manner to democratic principles and rule of law of the country, especially with the adoption by them of the Sharia law. These Sharia rules of Islam appear to govern politics, marriage, and the day-to-day lives of its followers. Islam is associated with a political ideology where the church and state are not separate. Under the circumstances, one cannot expect Muslims to develop a sense of patriotism and national pride in a predominantly non-Muslim country such as Sri Lanka. In recent years, it is well evident that most Muslims do not appear to be interested in integrating with other communities, perhaps because assimilation is not permitted under the Islamic Shariah law. They rarely if at all participate in national events. They do not participate in the singing of the National Anthem in public events. They do not observe the traditional way of greeting by placing both hands together in the form of worship. Muslim children are taught not to worship their teachers which is a common practice among other non-Muslim school children.

There are schools that operate with government assistance, where not only the Principal and academic staff, but all students are Muslim. Some of these schools have been elevated as National Schools enjoying special privileges. Muslims have established many private International schools in several towns, where the student population and majority of staff are almost entirely Muslim. The most threatening of all is the recent establishment, with heavy Saudi Arabian assistance of the so-called Madrasas or Islamic schools, like those found in Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Here,  the curriculum is focused on the teaching of the Koran and Shariah law. Saudi Arabian sources have funded the establishment of most of these Madrasas. Here, the younger generation of Muslims are being strongly exposed to the Saudi Arabian fundamentalist Wahhabi form of Islam imported from Saudi Arabia. Scholarships are awarded to Muslim youth of these schools to continue their Wahhabi Islamic studies in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries such as Pakistan, where Wahhabism predominates. This type of exclusive Islamic education and indoctrination is having a well-evident divisive effect in our nation and is beginning to disrupt national efforts to bring about overall unity and togetherness among communities that have made Sri Lanka their home. Their new male and female attire displays the desire of Muslims to look different and to be exclusive and separate from the nation’s mainstream. This polarization tendency and divisive spirit of the Islamic community is self-imposed. It is not because they feel marginalized. The Koran forbids Muslims to closely associate non-Muslims.

The long-term implications of these extremist trends are highly undesirable for the maintenance of peace and stability in the country. What is well evident from the several Muslim instigated, disruptive, illegal and often violent incidents that occurred in some places in the country in recent times, is how these extremist trends are impinging upon the traditional cultural base and integrity of this country, in particular on the wholesome Sinhala norms and principles upon which this nation is built, and also on the rule of law of this country. One should not overlook the fact and take for granted the long-standing opportunity for peaceful cohabitation of different communities, provided by the traditional cultural foundation established by the Sinhala people of this nation.

“HALAL” PRACTICE AND ANIMAL WELFARE                                                           

There has been much discussion in recent times about the deceitful and exploitative nature of the “halal’ business venture of Muslims. Halal is a most repulsive and horrendous practice that involves extreme form of abuse and cruelty towards animals?  It is a gruesome method where animals are tied down and their throats slashed, letting their blood ooze out slowly from the animal’s body and making animals die on their blood, a slow, lingering, and agonizing death.  What is most horrendous is that this torturous practice takes place while the animals are desperately struggling for their lives. It is a well evident fact that these animals are conscious of what is happening to them. This is a most sickening and inhuman way of killing animals. It is a practice that should not be tolerated in any civilized society.

In a society such as ours where Buddhists predominate, and where non-violence       towards all living beings is a fundamental tenet, criminal practices of this nature cannot and should not be tolerated under any circumstances.  Animal welfare has been a tenet of the rulers of our nation from very early times, from the 3rd century BCE.  It was at this time that the world’s first bird and animal sanctuary was established in Sri Lanka. From ancient times, the principle of animal welfare prevailed in our country until the arrival of European colonial powers, starting with the ruthless Portuguese invaders, at the beginning of the 16trh century. Besides hunting animals as a sport, the slaughtering of animals as a vocation started with the entry of Christianity and Islam to Sri Lanka.

CONFORMING TO NATIONAL CULTURAL NORMS AND VALUES

The non-indigenous settler communities such as the Tamils and Muslims are expected to conform to the norms and values of the Hela Nation to which they belong today. They may have brought various ethnic, cultural, and religious customs, traditions, traits and values from their original nation and homelands where their cultures evolved and consolidated. They are free to maintain these cultural norms if they do not conflict with the norms and practices of the Sinhala Nation of which they are now a part. Once the non-indigenous persons become a part of the Sinhala Nation it not only becomes their national obligation, but more importantly, it is to their advantage to become a part of the nation by learning and understanding the norms of the Sinhala nation where they now belong, and where they have been accepted as non-indigenous nationals by the indigenous Sinhala people. When a foreigner or a person not indigenous to a country migrates into the country, and decides to make it his home, it is incumbent on that person to learn about the history, norms and traits of the new country and its people. The new immigrant is expected to acknowledge, subscribe to, and integrate into the new nation of which he now is a part. The same applies to all descendants of non-indigenous immigrants, who may have been born and raised in the new nation

NATIONAL RIGHTS AND INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS

Indigenous Sinhala nationals or the Sinhala people are the founders of the Sinhala or Hela Nation, and are entitled to special national rights. Important in this regard is the promotion, protection and preservation of their culture, language, social system, and values that characterize their Sinhala Nation.  Sinhala should be restored as the sole national and official language of the country.  Promotion and preservation of the Sinhala Buddhist culture as the national culture, should receive priority attention. It should be made a mandatory subject in the school curriculum.  The national anthem of the country is sung in the Sinhala language. The minority communities are not entitled to such special privileges, because the Sinhala nation was founded by the Sinhala people and is the legitimate home of the Sinhala people. Sinhala is not the home of other cultures and languages. These cultures and languages did not originate or evolve in this land unlike the case with the Sinhala culture and Sinhala language. Therefore, the cultures and languages of minority communities cannot and are not entitled legitimately to be accorded national or official recognition at par with the Sinhala culture and language. However, these communities are free to observe and preserve their cultural activities and their languages within their communities. As far as ordinary human rights are concerned, members of minority settler communities are entitled to the same human rights as those enjoyed by members of the mainstream Sinhala community.

As a nation with a historic cultural tradition that extends to over 2200 years, where the founding principles have been freedom, compassion, tolerance and accommodation of people of all faiths and ethnicities, it is necessary that the true patriots of Sinhale, the Sinhala nation, get to the forefront, mobilize themselves and  take legitimate actions to protect and uphold these wholesome cultural traditions, and thereby reinforce the Sinhala nation  – Sinhale.  All citizens of the country who subscribe to the Sinhale Nation and respect the cultural norms and values that characterize this nation, will find acceptance as members of the Sinhale nation, irrespective of their ethnic and religious affiliations and differences. The Sinhale Nation incorporates the tremendous cultural wealth of the Sinhala people recognized the world over for its richness and uniqueness. This should be preserved and promoted for posterity. Those who undermine the nation’s cultural heritage, sovereignty and territorial integrity are enemies of the nation and should be confronted and subdued forthwith, for the welfare of the nation.

STRENGTHEN AND REVITALIZE THE SINHALA NATION

For the patriotic and caring nationals of this island, especially those of the Sinhala community, irrespective of their religious affiliations, there is one moral law that stands above everything else, and that is to do everything possible to strengthen their Sinhala Nation, their only nation, and to curb the efforts of anti-national elements both local and foreign, engaged  in violating and undermining Sinhala Buddhist national interests. It was  such an attitude that enabled our valiant Sinhala soldiers to wipe out anti-national, separatist Tamil terrorists who were hell-bent on destroying the integrity of this nation.

The present generation of Sinhala nationals has a moral obligation to protect, preserve and promote the greatest of their inheritance, their unique nation, for the survival of their Buddhist cultural heritage and for the benefit of future generations. Concerned Sinhala nationals will under no circumstances allow the sovereignty, the distinct territorial integrity and the all-pervasive Sinhala Buddhist cultural character of the island be subject to any form of disarray or disintegration. They will not permit any force, internal or external, ethnic, or religious, to subjugate or undermine the integrity of the Sinhala Buddhist culture of this island nation.

Sinhala history is replete with valor and courage in battles against overly superior forces. The struggle against extremism and the looming division of this Sinhala island nation of ours demands our full national strength. Let all Sinhala nationalists rise to the occasion, forgetting for a moment their ‘other’ differences, and swear allegiance to the unity of this country by giving unswerving support to those commendable organizations that have emerged in recent times to save the nation from undesirable elements. The renewed loyalty that is fast emerging among the Sinhala nationals, particularly among the contemporary youth, is most encouraging.

VIOLATION OF SOVEREIGNTY AND NATIONAL INTEGRITY 

Sinhala nationals should not tolerate any individual or community who, whilst living in the Sinhala Nation and considering it their home, deliberately misusing such a privilege by scheming, and adopting extreme means or contributing to such actions, in violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of this only nation of ours. This includes both direct and indirect efforts on the part of these extremist elements living among us, with ridiculously unfounded claims to carve out ethnic and religious enclaves within our country, merely because some of them had lived in specific places for extended periods of time. These individuals and communities with self-serving attitudes and objectives should be considered as traitors or enemies of our nation and should be dealt with accordingly. There is no place in our nation for such traitors, double crossers, renegades, turncoats, collaborators of enemies, criminals and terrorists, conspirators, connivers, schemers and emissaries, spies, secret agents, undercover agents, and double agents of the enemies of this Sinhala Buddhist Nation.

BUDDHIST MONKS, SINHALA SCHOLORS AND PATRIOTS

Most of present day monks are better educated, better exposed to the outside world, and possess a broader outlook. Despite all the challenges of recent decades, our monks continue to receive attention and respect of our people and continue to closely interact with people. Our Sinhala scholars and professionals, especially the influential professionals in education and higher education, including our lay Buddhist leaders, living within and outside Sri Lanka, have stayed too long in the background, often times being indifferent to the sad plight of their nation.  It is time they came to the forefront and initiated action, jointly with our monks, to counter more effectively the negative forces harming Sinhala culture and Buddhism, besides the territorial integrity of the country. They owe it to their children and the future generations of Sri Lankans. Buddhist cultural pursuits should be strongly encouraged and receive increased patronage and assistance. The mass media should be used to the utmost in the accomplishment of these pursuits. Actions emanating from whatever source, that have the effect of undermining the national cultural heritage should be fully exposed and legitimate action initiated to control such action.

In recent times, several movements and organizations have sprung up under the initiative of some concerned Bhikkhus and members of the Sinhala community across the country, with an increasingly large following of the nation’s youth. Their objective have been to highlight and draw attention to the vital and pressing need for necessary action to restore, protect and uphold the legitimate national rights and privileges of the Sinhala people, to preserve the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and also, to protect the traditionally and constitutionally accorded foremost place to Buddhism, which in recent times appear to be subject to threats and challenges from both local and foreign sources. There is evidence of attempts both direct and indirect, overt, and covert, to undermine these legitimate rights and privileges by extremist elements, especially within the minority Muslim and Tamil communities, evidently with the involvement of unpatriotic and uncaring politicians with their own vested interests and ulterior motives.  

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

[email protected]

2 Responses to “Furthering Community Self-Interests and Undermining National Interests: The Primary Objective of the Tamil and Muslim Non-Indigenous Settler Communities of Sri Lanka”

  1. Christie Says:

    Dear Daya;

    Our history goes back almost 130,000 years. It is our written history that is 2600 years.

    Tamils and other South Indians who arrived in the island were always kicked out by the locals. Those who remained became part of our own.

    Our island nation is similar to other island like British Isles.

    Different Europeans invaded British Isles, but the people who remained there became part of the British.

    We are not different to them.

    It is the arrival of British that changed with the arrival of Indian Colonial Parasites; mainly Tamils who changed our way of life.

    Same thing happened in other British Colonies in fact British-Indian Colonies.

    The Tamils in our country are the same as those in Malaya, Singapore, Fiji, Africa or in Guyana or West Indies.

  2. Christie Says:

    ..and putting Tamils and Muslims together is not right. It should be Indian Hindu Tamils and Sinhala Muslims.

    Remember there are other Indian Colonial Parasites like Malayalis, Boras, Parsis.

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