18 September, 2019

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A Rational Approach To Countering Extremist Violence Is Needed 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The 10th anniversary of the end of the three decade long war that pitted the Sri Lankan state against the LTTE passed by uneventfully and without mass mobilization of people to mark the day. The period of May 18 and 19 in which the final battles of the war were fought has been one of contestation within the country. There are those who would celebrate the war victory and those who would mourn the heavy human toll that occurred at the war’s end. Since the change of government in 2015 the middle path of marking the day as one of remembrance was adopted in which both aspects were taken into account.

In the past two years, however, with relations within the government souring between the President and Prime Minister and their associated political parties, the trend was to give more emphasis to celebrate the war victory. If the war victory had been over a foreign country then a celebration would be appropriate. But Sri Lanka’s was a civil war, an internal one within the country, in which those who fought and died lived in the same geographical space. There has always been a political motivation celebrate the war victory. This is to highlight the achievements of the political leaders who were in power at the time the war was won.

There is no question that to the vast majority of Sri Lankans the end of the war was the best thing that happened despite the heavy price extracted from a minority of people. This year at the 10th anniversary, this triumphalist tendency would have gained in strength for the reason that decisive presidential elections are around the corner. Now as the time for elections comes, those in the forefront of saying that the country is in danger of being divided through constitutional reform of all things, and their services are needed again are on the ascendant. The recent Easter Sunday bombings and the sense of uncertainty that grips the country, has given a boost to this sentiment. But if this focuses only on security issues and not on political reform it will be counterproductive to the interests of national unity and reconciliation.

Major Setback

Prior to the Easter Sunday bombings the government was dealing with the problems of political grievances and human rights violations that came from the period of the three decade long war. But now it has to contend with a problem that is unfolding and its ability to engage in political reform is likely to be limited. The most important challenge is to ensure that in dealing with the present problem of Muslim extremist violence that the larger Muslim population is not alienated. The actions of the anti-Muslim rioters who killed one person and burnt down 500 or more properties could drive disaffected members of the Muslim community to the extremist camp. This is also what happened in the post-July 1983 period when there were large scale anti Tamil riots in many parts of the country, including the capital city of Colombo.

The Easter Sunday bombings will make the challenge of addressing post-war reconciliation issues more difficult. In the aftermath of the bombings the priority is to ensure that further attacks do not take place. There is now heightened prejudice and uncertainty is all sections of the population and in all parts of the country. There is a build-up of anti-Muslim sentiment due to the bombings and to political rivalries in the face of upcoming presidential elections at the end of the year. Ethnic and religious polarization is likely to escalate in this context and efforts to engage in political reform that promote ethnic, religious and minority rights will become more difficult to sustain.

There is a widespread belief fed by mostly by the electronic and social media that the Easter Sunday bombers are not a fringe group of Muslim extremists but have significant support from the larger Muslim community. There is misinformation that large stocks of swords have been recovered from several mosques. But in reality there were swords found in only two mosques as stated by President’s Counsel Ali Sabry speaking to the media along with other prominent Muslim leaders including former minister Mrs Ferial Ashraff. The suicide bombers themselves came from only three families. This suggests that those who planned the bombings and carried them out were few in number and the whole of the Muslim community cannot be blamed for the acts of a few.

Strict Action 

The No-Confidence Motion in parliament against Minister Rishard Bathiudeen is another example a partisan political action. The selective use of the No-Confidence Motion against some Muslim politicians who side with the government as against other Muslim politicians who might be friends of the opposition only serves to create further polarization and mistrust amongst the communities. The tendency is for most people to look at one-sided accusations and to believe them wholesale. It is unjust to accuse people about charges without having sufficient evidence to back them.

Amidst these uncertainties parents countrywide are still weighing the wisdom of sending their children to school for fear of attack by suicide bombers. There is a need for rational thinking. The army commander has epitomized this good sense. He has asked the president to caution the media not to be alarmist and given specific examples where they exaggerated incidents and gave them a twist. This is a time of introspection for all Sri Lankans and especially for the political leaders on both sides of the divide, who failed to see the signs of things to come, and for whom ethnic and religious identity, money and votes mater more than protecting the national interest and the human rights of all the people.

Those who organized the anti-Muslim riots were especially oblivious of the larger national interest and humanitarian considerations. People living in the vicinity of the riots have confirmed that the outsiders led the attack. The victims have also stated that some of the mob attacks were reported after curfew was imposed. The police have arrested many suspects. The truth about the organization of the riots can be ascertained from them. For Sri Lanka’s future stability to be ensured there is a need to ensure that the culprits and masterminds behind the recent riots be apprehended, exposed and held to account swiftly by applying the Rule of Law without any political or other influence.

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  • 4
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    “For Sri Lanka’s future stability to be ensured there is a need to ensure that the culprits and masterminds behind the recent riots be apprehended, exposed and held to account swiftly by applying the Rule of Law without any political or other influence”.

    Rule of Law only in our dreams !!!

    • 2
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      Jehan Perera,

      What you see as riots and terrorism are the effects. The cause is the lack of the rule of law. Ask any Tamil Citizen, Christian Citizen, Muslim Citizen and en the tourists.The Monks do not even apply the Vinaya, the Monastic rules. The same with the Ulama. Both get away, as their audiences comprise idiots, mean IQ 79.

      Has reason prevented the state and politicians to uphold the rule of law and the constitution? Occasionally , No.

      Why did they do it? Self-Interest and hegemony. If it was Not Reason but Racism and religion that got them there, will reason get them out of it? Para-Sinhala Buddhism is NOT Buddhism.

      For the Wahhabi Salafies and clones, it was not reason that got them to be terrorists. It was the Wahhabi Islamic Ideology. Here, Islamic means, Submission, Submission to the Devil, Satan, Iblis, per prescient Hadith of Najd.

    • 5
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      JP seems to have forgotten about the foreign forces and experts behind the Easter Carnage, and the need to hold them accountable accountable!
      After all the ISIS hooded villains photos like the IS Caliphate in Sri Lanka Fake news story produced by Dr. Rohan Gunaratne were meant to provoke anti-Muslim riots and spread fear psychosis. Rohan Gunaratne seems to know Mr. Al Bagdhadi’s plans better than he knows himself?!
      Rohan Gunaratne should be arrested for spreading Islamophobia and fake stories about IS Caliphate in Sri Lanka leading to spread of fear psychosis and attacks on Muslims.

      • 0
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        Don, Rohan G and Al Bagdhadi are 2 sides of the same coin – IS/CIA with Saudi in the middle. They get their inputs from Trumpland’s terror experts at Rand Corporation which choreographs and makes the IS videos, audios fake news to cover up the CIA.

        Now they say that IS is a franchise and the Sri Lankan bombers sought out IS and not the other way round!
        The KFC or Mac Donald-ization of terror with IS behaving like a multi-national corporation is the new narrative. Lets watch for more tall stories!

  • 5
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    Terrorists are created by the states,through the state sponsored terrorism in the past against minorities in Sri Lanka. if Buddhist Mobs/Thugs/terrorists continue their atrocities against minorities,there will be no peace in Sri Lanka. it’s simple that “no justice no peace”

  • 0
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    rule of law is okay if cases are disposed of quickly
    unfortunate in this country it takes several months if not years
    because of this some people say it would have been better if they had been bumped off

  • 2
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    what about police and army supporting all these thugs.. why no one speak about it.. Jungle law of Sri Lanka.? one law for Tamil and one for Sinhalese.. One for Muslims and one for sinhalese.. All this violence took place while police protecting these thugs.. What a joke. Sri Lankan police will go into Genus book

  • 1
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    As such he may be aware of details of 1600 ltr. of deadly dangerous .poisons found in Matalay from a Muslim shop. As per report reached so far those are to be mixed with tea dust.Export quality ones or local quality lot ???. not known as yet. That means killing of nonbelievers I suppose.Person comment here under LA Buddaasa here may be the culprit I suppose. He is Muslim man by the name of Siam Rasak I heard. Dear writer. [edited out]

  • 0
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    Jehan Perera: Sri lanka does not have any extremist violence or GLobal Terrorism. Some countries in the world has almost daily violence. Their guns kill people almost daily. They still do not accept the there is gun violence instead they say it is the people who kill and not the guns. Some stupid Muslims blew up because heavy pressure from the handler. It is people like you who support extremism by writing to those people. It is the Ancient Middle eastern HATRED and pressure because of the Indian OCean occured.

  • 0
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 0
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    Jehan PhD washing white Rishard this time. But it is not terrorism or copper factory is the only case against him. His old boss said “one ministers has captured 5000 acres land in Vanni. Even we don’t have like that. ” The Media is reporting that he is one of the 10 richest men in Asia. That needs an explanation while without any real business, Rishard who calls him a refugee boy ran out of North with empty hand, how he managed to get that kind of name? Is Jahan PhD is explaining that politics in Lanka is such a lucrative business? Why the Old Royals suppressed the accusation of Rishard that he was flying on Navy helicopter and directed the Mannar Court destruction? Gnanam is inside in Hotel Hospital. Reshard outside.

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