By Dayan Jayatilleka –
Having come out of the war, a war which I for one am glad the Sri Lankan State won, Sri Lanka as a State and a society had one of several directions in which it could go. Whilst being happy that the war ended with a certain outcome, we could have asked ourselves why we had the war in the first place. Why thirty years of conflict? What needs to be done to prevent such conflict? To the extent that that question had been asked, it seems to me that the answer –and I do not mean only within the Government but outside in civil society as well– has been that the way to prevent another cycle of conflict is to tighten up, to pre-empt, and to securitize. I am Realist enough to admit that, that in certain areas it is necessary to be more vigilant in security and strategic terms– but the fundamental lesson has not been learned, and that lesson is that we have not been able to formulate, forge, construct, call it what you will, a social contract among the constituent components of our citizenry.
The topic of discussion this evening is “The dilemmas of diversity, reconciliation and post-war nation building”. The term dilemma implies that the matter is not simple. Why is the matter not simple? Because there are certain specificities, certain exceptionalities, that have to be taken into account. One such specificity is that the island of Sri Lanka is indeed the only place in which there are Sinhalese, those who speak the Sinhalese language in any significantly large number. We do talk about better ordered and fairer societies such as Singapore where there are 75% of Chinese but then there are a billion Chinese in China. As far as the Sinhalese are concerned, this island is home and this is the only place they can call home. This is a reality.
What does this mean? Does this mean that the island belongs solely to the Sinhalese? Does it mean that it belongs primarily to the Sinhalese and that everybody else has to put up with being second class citizens, whether it is legally, constitutionally or in actual fact? Is that the nature of the only social contract that can issue from the specificity that I spoke of? I do not think so, not only because it is wrong but also because it won’t work and because it is not desirable.
Much depends on how one views diversity. This is almost a commonplace: the idea that diversity is a resource. The more variegated we are, the richer we are. But this is not an idea that has been propagated successfully among the masses of our people. It is an idea that is been limited to an urban hothouse as it were. But this is an idea that has to be disseminated because the flip side of that, which is the attitude and practice of considering only one’s own ethnic, ethno-lingual or ethno-religious community as the nation, has the same result as inbreeding has in any family. What has been going on is cultural inbreeding and an advocacy or upholding of cultural inbreeding as some form of authenticity or purity. The consequence of this has been cycle upon cycle of conflict issuing from a sense of mutual alienation.
If one is able to recognize that diversity means richness and richness is a resource, then one would look very differently at the matrix or the mosaic that is Sri Lankan society. This is yet to become the preponderant view.
So the war having ended in a victory over separatism, the spirit of separatism still lives –and I do not mean in the form of what Government spokesmen inelegantly call “the LTTE rump”. What I mean is that the spirit of separating ones connectivity from The Other continues. When I came upon the propaganda against the Muslim community in recent years and months, I was reminded about that old joke “it’s déjà vu all over again” because it is exactly the same stuff that was out there before July ‘83. So the comparison is not today with July ‘83, it is with what led to July ’83, it is the run up to July ‘83. I refer to the years from ‘77 to ‘83, a period covered by the Sansoni Commission, the violence of ‘77, ‘79, ‘81 and finally the massive explosion of 1983. The road to July ‘83 was paved, prepared, though perhaps not intended in that form, by anti-Tamil propaganda. At the time, it came from within the Government. You had anti-Tamil propaganda with illustrations being sent out in envelopes with a stamp of the then Minister of Industry, Mr. Cyril Mathew. It is the same kind of toxic waste material that is being put out today against the Muslim community, though not officially, not from within the government. I am not saying that it would have the same result, but it could.
I am particularly worried, anxious, that the current wave of the anti-Muslim propaganda is on population growth rates. Why this makes me worry is that violence in such a context would not be preeminently anti-property but anti-persons, because if the name of the game is numbers, and rates of population growth, and the number of children that the Other has, then any violence is bound to seek to address that particular problem. In other words, the solution would be seen as one of an ethnic cleansing or ethno-religious cleansing.
I am happy just as Rajiva is, that President Rajapaksa did what he did and said what he did on the subject. Then again I also remember that in 1981, not ‘83 but ‘81, President Jayewardene condemned the violence that had taken place in the Hill country. I remember his speech in which he talked of a “crisis of civilization”. This was in ‘81 not in ‘83 but it could not and did not stop the slide to violence. So as John F. Kennedy use to say “Never mind what he says, watch his hands”. It can be said that there are no majority and minorities, but then watch their hands. Is that the way policy is formulated and implemented? Is it really the case that there are no majority and minorities? I am quite unconvinced of this.
I am not going to continue in the vein of a normative sermon of what is wrong or right because I am not the person to tell you that. Why would one listen to my view of what one should do? I will content myself by talking about what is strategically and diplomatically prudent and what is strategically and diplomatically suicidal. There are certain things that should not be done, not only because it is the wrong thing to do, not only because it is morally and ethically abhorrent but because it is also stupidly counter-productive to do. Similarly there are certain things that should be done not only because it is the right thing to do but because it is a strategic imperative.
Deriving from the specificity of the Sinhalese and their situation on the island of Sri Lanka, you can go either way: either an exclusionary solution that imposes itself on others or comprehension that the strategic imperative is to avoid isolation. If you start off by saying that we Sinhalese are just 15 million people and that there is nowhere else where there are such concentrations of Sinhalese, no other country but this, then certain other things have to follow. It has to be recognized that there are 70 million Tamils in Tamil Nadu and another 10 million elsewhere, there are one billion adherents of Islamic faith in the world, and there are two billion Christians around the world. Of course it is not the case that one billion Muslims or 70 million Tamils are going to invade Sri Lanka, but a shift in stance of even 0.1% of those very large numbers out there in the world would make Sri Lanka’s situation and that of the Sinhalese, strategically untenable. This is my contention as a Realist, but this reality is sadly not understood.
Domestically, those who conduct the anti-Islamic propaganda are also those who are opposed to devolution, but they do not seem to understand that if Muslim sentiments were to shift away from the Sinhalese, there would automatically be a shift to a Tamil speaking majority in the Eastern Province. The anti-Muslim elements do not seem to understand that in the diplomatic arena Sri Lanka has always counted on the support of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and that those States constitute a very important factor in many UN and multilateral fora.
Look at the neighborhood. We already have a problematic relationship with India to the extent that it voted against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC in Geneva last year. A drive against the Muslims, perhaps not on the part of the State, but on the part of Sinhala extremists, would hardly contribute positively to our relations with Pakistan, which stood by us consistently during decades of war. I am not sure how intelligent it is to have troubled relations with two of our neighbors. Of course there is also the factor of the revenue that comes in from the Middle East job market.
Even if for pragmatic, strategic reasons, it has to be understood by the State and by society that the anti-Muslim surge is profoundly counterproductive and almost suicidal. It will only lead to further isolation of the country and of the majority Sinhalese. The minorities who are seen by Sinhala extremists as Trojan horses are in fact the bridges between the Sinhalese and the outside world, given that there is no other collectivity or concentration of Sinhalese elsewhere (except in the Diaspora in relatively insignificant numbers). The Muslims, the Tamils, the Hindus, the Catholics, all of these are the points of intersection between the Sinhala Buddhist majority of Sri Lanka and the world outside. They are the bridges and if those bridges are burned the Sinhala heartland will find itself isolated– which ironically, is exactly the situation in which those hostile to Sri Lanka want to place the State and the Sinhalese!
In conclusion, I would like to pose a question: which way can we go? It is not very helpful to see this as a struggle between the bad State and good civil society because the political history of Sri Lanka –certainly post independence – has been one in which elements of civil society have played a far more retrogressive and reactionary role than the State itself, and when the State has taken those positions it has been due to the pronounced and prolonged pressure from the most chauvinist elements within civil society. Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike did not advocate Sinhala only when he founded his party in 1951, nor did he do so when his party contested elections for the first time in 1952. He did so only in 1955 when the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress set up the Buddhist Commission to coincide with the Buddha Jayanthi, and put out a report ostensibly on the rights of the Buddhists but actually made pronouncements on the status of the Sinhalese Buddhists and the Sinhala language.
It is from within civil society that these ideas have sprung and it is also within civil society that the battle will have to be waged– and not only, not simply, against the State, or against a political leadership. This is a battle of ideas, of consciousness, that has to be waged within the State and within civil society. Both State and civil society have to be viewed not as antipodes but as terrains of contestation.
I return once again to the reality of Sri Lanka being the only place on the planet where the Sinhala language is spoken by a large collectivity and where those who consider themselves of Sinhalese ethnicity constitute a majority. That is axiomatic. If so what are the solutions?
One is that of equal rights in every sense, constitutionally and legally. Certainly I am for it because I find it abhorrent that there should be any form of discrimination. What we have today in our constitution, which is something that was introduced in ‘72 and retained by Mr. Jayewardene in the ‘78 Constitution, is structural discrimination, where one language and one religion, in a multilingual and multi-religious social formation, are given a privileged place. Would the populace be ready to level that playing field, to return – or go forward– to what I call Soulbury Plus, that is the Soulbury Constitution with a stronger safeguard against discrimination? I would like to think that it would be the case, but I doubt that it would be so.
If that is not a viable option, then we have the solution of the autonomy at the peripheries. There again, there is the fear of a centrifugal motion where by an autonomous province would or could secede over time.
I was one who was very skeptical about this domino theory, or this theory of an escalation ladder, until recently when the issues of Scotland and Catalan independence in Spain came up, where even within a non-federal system, devolution has over time not stopped separatism but actually fed into demands for a separate independent State. I am not saying that devolution automatically does so, but we have to recognize that there are problems, dangers, legitimate threat perceptions.
If so, then I think what we need is a hybrid or mixed solution where if we cannot guarantee absolute equality of citizenship in the Constitution, we should build in very strong anti-discriminatory legislation. I think it is easier to do that than to say that we are going to remove the privileged place of Buddhism. It is easier to set up institutions which have teeth and which would be a watchdog (hopefully a pit-bull or bulldog) against discrimination. We can also defend notions of provincial autonomy which are centripetal and not centrifugal. One really must have a policy mix. To me, it is the only ethically appropriate and strategically prudent way to go.
justice / February 13, 2013
Firstly,the militarisation of the country – the northeast in particular – should be removed.
Then,the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,which Sri Lanka has approved,should be enforced by legislation.
Only then,will citizens feel free and equal.
Joahn Wayne / February 14, 2013
Trying to redeem himself and crawl back into the good books of liberals and western donors, Dayan Jayathillake now finds talking ethnic conflict and its solutions an easy way to avoid addressing the MAIN problem in Lanka which is Rajapakse’s military dictatorship and DIVIDE AND RULE policies.
Whenever the things become too hot, Dayan starts talking ethnic politics and ways of tinkering with the constitution to solve the problem of the fractious natives. Like the Orientialist scholars who coded the world in ethno-racial terms to legitimize DIVIDE AND RULE POLICIES, Dayan reproduces the “ethnic discourse” to distract from the main problem which is the Rajapakse regime dictatorship that he continues to support.
NB. NOTE WELL. Ethno-religious differences is NOT NOW and NEVER WAS the root cause of Lanka’s misery; it always has been rotten political leadership and party political culture.
K Tilak / February 13, 2013
The answer seems to be a common Language, like English, which is a World Language. What is happening now is that each Ethnic/Religious group is being fed, with information, that is Biased. Each group behaves like a frog in a well, and has no access to the Wider world, and the concept of globalisation. The GOSL seems to prefer to keep it that way, because their voter base is the Majority Religio/Ethnic group.
r.kovian / February 13, 2013
Bedrock Barney / February 14, 2013
Safa / February 14, 2013
If the tamils were targeted because they took to arms there is no such reason to target the muslims. What seems to be the case is that a section of the community feels that only they have a right to live in this country and no other.
The govt would do well to take action against such elements who rouse racial and communal hatred even if they wear robes. The sangha council should take action against priests who go against the vinaya code and bring disrespect to buddhism. We see the police taking action against tourist and hotels but no action against these imposters.
K.A. Sumanasekera / February 14, 2013
One thing is correct.
That is Sinhalese have one and only one place that is Srilanka, although the elite seems oblivious to this fact.
We would have more judges, more SPs, more Captains more Brigadiers ,and even Major Generals if not for Prabakaran and and his overseas funded LTTE.
Majority of Colombo inhabitants are Tamil origin.
Most of them didn’ t go to LTTE land even for holidays.
Srilanka has three streams of education from primary to uni catering to all three communities.
Where is discrimination here.?.
Can the same people who cry foul educate their children in the mother tongue in their adopted Homelands?.
India hung two Muslims both Mohammeds for Bombay attacks.
But the persons who killed her ex PM are guarded by HR activists , lead by AHRC and the UN HR Commisioner.
And they reckon Srilanka is bad.
Muslim inhabitants who had no problem with their Sinhalese neighbors for nearly one hundred years give or take five are the new target for the anti Sinhala , anti Rajapaksa front.
The leader of the biggest block of Muslims is working with the Govt to lift the country from the bog which was created by the separatists.
Are they that dumb to allow rabble rousers lead by recalcitrant UNP dissidents and bankrupt JVP ex insurgents to dupe naive monks to stir shit?.
These Professors and Doctors should get a reality check and let the inhabitants to continue their development which have become legendary over the last three and a half years, in insurgent war affected nations in the Developing World.
JANGO / February 14, 2013
MOST COMMERCIAL CAPITALS ARE MULTI ETHNIC, HUGE MINORITY PRESENCE, TAKE LONDON FOR EXAMPLE
ANYWAY, VADDHAS WERE DRAVIDIAN.
Aney Apochchi! / February 16, 2013
To say your b.s. is tiresome would be the understatement of the year! In addition it is comprised of blatant untruths and manipulated half-truths. You are, probably without equal in this field!
Incidentally, did you check your OED for the meaning of “recalcitrant” before you used the term? (If you own an OED, that is, and know how to use it)
Native Vedda / February 16, 2013
“One thing is correct. That is Sinhalese have one and only one place that is Srilanka, although the elite seems oblivious to this fact.”
Being Aryans, has thrown up many opportunities for the Sinhalese to live elsewhere particularly in the Northern and Eastern parts of India. Since the Sinhalese closely share their DNA with the South Indian Tamils, they can always live in Tamilnadu.
Yet you live in looted property, any self respecting person would have returned the land to the rightful owners (my people), gone back to their homeland without being asked do so. Of course you would take your Tamil brethren with you.
premalal / February 14, 2013
A thought provoking speech made by Dayan.It has to be said that it was mainly a section of Buddhist priests who paved the way for Sinhala Only and ’83.Now again the same tribe is paving the way for another pogrom.There are Buddhist priests who are for ethnic harmony and equal rights for all ethnic communities.The civil society leaders have to convince them of their role at least in preventing another massacre.The Muslims also have a responsibility in not choosing the path that leads them to isolation from the others.
Dr.Rajasingham Narendran / February 14, 2013
The choices for Sri Lankans,the Sinhala polity and the current government are quite simple and straight forward. Is it going to be the path to ultimately absorbing all the identifiable minorities within the Sinhala/Hela identity or learning to live with and manage the diversity that exists?
The trend set in inexoerable motion is towards establishing a monolithic ‘Sinhala/Hela’ identity and equate it with the Sri Lankan identity. Does this mean that Sri Lanka become equivalent to Sinhala/Hela, and if this is accepted the Tamil and Muslim identities can co-exist with the Sinhala identity? Is this a unifying trend or a divisve trend as many perceive? To make it simple, if Sri Lanka is renamed the ‘Democratic and Socialist republic of Sinhala or Hela’, would it satiate the so-called minority complex of the majority? This is akin to saying a rose is a rose, whatever the name it is called.
However, for this to happen what it takes to be a ‘Sinhala/ Hela’ should be defined. Would it mean that anyone who is a citizen is a ‘Sinhala /Hela’? Would it mean that only those who adopt the Sinhala language, Buddhism and related culture, can be a ‘Sinhala/ Hela’? Should the Tamils develop an identity completely different from those in Tamil Nadu, to be counted as Hela? Should the Muslims change their religious beliefs to be counted as Hela? Should the Sinhala Christians forsake their religion to be counted as Hela? Should the Buddists even foresake Buddhism an adopt an idegenous formulation to become true Hela? Would being literate in the Sinhala language, in addition to Tamil, be the only requirement to be considered Hela, for the Tamils and Muslims? Specified requirements to be a Hela, will lead to further divisiveness and greater dilemmas. The only choice is to contain our diversity within an overarching Sri Lankan identity.
I reproduve below by reply to Navin on another thread:
Thanks. The Sinhalese are almost one third of the population in the east and they are playing a significant political role. As to the north, Sinhala numbers should not be increased by state intervention or by deliberate design. This will be counterproductive. The economic development of the north and the demand for skills and personnel should be the primary forces that should drive Sinhala migration to the north. The Sinhalese will then be a much sought after people in the north. This will be win-win situation for both communities. This may also reduce the Tamil presence in the South, as many Tamils will also return to live there.
Unless you trust the Tamils they will not trust you. If devolution is the answer to share power, evolve mechanism to forestall any separatist tendencies. India has done so quite effectively. Further, permanent armed forces bases that are being set up all over the north as in the other provinces, would help control any attempts at separation in the bud.
The other option is to create mechanisms to effectively share power at the centre with the minorities. This would eliminate any chance of separatism using its ugly head.
Most importantly , if the minorities are made to not only feel , but experience equal rights in every way and are provided equal opportunities, they will not even dream of separation. There will be nothing to forestall in that scenario.
Solutions are simple and easy to find, if we set our minds to it.”
Dr. Rajasingham. Narendran.
Bedrock Barney / February 14, 2013
There does seem to be a trend to mould all minorities into the Sinhala culture. Yet Sinhala culture is not defined and there are many versions of it. What is occurring is that a vocal group of Sinhala Bhuddist extremists have struck an agreement with a politically connected criminal element and both use each other as props to be the most vocal and achieve that which is important only to them.
The vast majority only care about making a decent living and the future of their children. The reject extremists hence their rejection of the JHU,JVP etc in favor of centrist parties like the UNP and the SLFP.
What we have today is leadership that is reactionary and no clear policy. Only the extremists have a clear policy. So they seem TALL.
w.m.k.Samarasekara / February 15, 2013
‘Solutions are simple and easy to find, if we set our minds to it.”
Muslim’s norms of HALAL products must be OK for them only,hence why non Muslims aught to buy them. No biscuits in the market without halal, No powder milk in the market without halal, and there are so many.
What to do is simple and easy, there should be halal products for Muslims in the market and non halal products for non Muslims in the market.
Dr.Rajasingham Narendran / February 15, 2013
‘ Halal’ in terms of food items only means that the meat is from animals ( other than pigs) that have been slaughtered according to Islamic requirements and other food items are free of pork and non-Halal ( Haram) other meat. The Jewish people also require the animals be slaughtered in a manner that ensures they bleed to death. This method of slaughter ensures that most of the blood is expelled and the meat is better and longer preserved. This was important at a time when there was no refrigeration available. Many areas of the world yet do not have refrigeration facilities and refrigerators in every home. This method of slaughter is a good practice especially in hot climes.
Further, the prohibition against pork( Haram) in Islam arose as a result of pigs being the intermediate hosts for tape worms. Those who ate pork in a time gone by had noticed that people who ate pork died of tape worm infestation. Pigs are scavengers and eat human excreta where available along with tape worm segments. These segments get embedded in their muscles and when eaten, lodge and grow to become several meters long in the human gut. Even today, many In Sri Lanka – particularly the Buddhists and Hindus-, in addition to the Muslims do not eat pork. It is however important to note that pigs raised in modern piggeries are free of tape worm infestation.
The prohibition against pork, is similar to that against bead among Hindus. Many Buddhists too do not eat beaf. The prohibition against beaf eating and the elevation of the cow to divine status, is probably more move to preserve or conserve an animal that is a very vital part of Indian life. It is a ‘ Kamadenu’ that gives everything to man .
whywhy / February 15, 2013
Dr.Nar,true most of what you are saying except that
the “Kamadenu” gives you everything.Why don’t we
make it that “we take everything” from it? You see
Dr.Nar,the innocent poor animals come to us thinking
they are safe with us.Coming to Haram and Halal,local
bodies all over the country issue licence for meat stalls
by calling tenders and in the entire south it’s muslims
who run these stalls of meats and these are all Halal
stalls.Areas where there’s no Muslims also have meat
stalls run by Muslims because Buddhists are not in this
animal killing business.But majority of them like meats.
They are not bothered about how the animal is killed.
The general Budhist or Sinhala public is not concerned
about this Haram Halal issue.If it’s an issue of laity
then it should come from them.If it’s coming from the
clergy,after waiting for centuries,then the laity has the
responsibility to question the role of their clergy on
the life style of the general public in a democratic
environment.It’s time that the peace loving Buddhists
take serious,the role of their clergy in their society.
Dr.Rajasingham Narendran / February 16, 2013
Thanks. The point is taken about the Kamadenu concept. The cow and the bull give so much to man, expecting very little in return. We end up eating them finally, after taking everything from them , in a disproportionately. Paraphrasing age ogre Bernard Shaw, I can only wish man could be like them!
Dr. Rajasingham Narendran
kattakarawala / February 15, 2013
But why are non-meat food items also halal? Is this a marketing gimmick?
Dr.Rajasingham Narendran / February 16, 2013
Even non- meat foods can be ‘ Haram ( non-Halal )’ because they may have components that do not comply.
The gelatine used in many products, including some yoghurts in Sri Lsnka, are of animal origin. Please study the labels list of ingredients) and what you will find is bound to be interesting. Even in the EU horse meat has been sold as beaf. Recently, the goat meat my wife hand bought was highly suspect and had to be discarded after cooking. The Halal certification may be a blessing in disguise, despite the many tricks the butchers are up to.
Dr. Rajasingham Narendran
aj / February 14, 2013
I read in recent SInhala news paper ( Lanka) that
the cost of maintaining the Ministerial Cabal( The MPS and the co-horts) is 5.39 Billion Rs. whereas the annual budgetary allocation for Agriculture is 5.29 Billion Rs.
I am reading the diaries of Leonard Wolf ( Hambanthota GA during British Rule). I can see the lean mean Administrative body that ran this country really did the smooth running of the Government not becoming a burden to the Country.
What we need is the same.
Instead of the President we shall call him the Governor General and every 10yrs the Country can vote for the right person.
The individuals who would fit for the post should have impeccable track record of Professionalism( like ex Army Chief, Ex Chief Judge, Ex Governor of the Central Bank( for sure None of the current Holders of these positions will be suitable !!!!)).
So the small country like ours has been run very smoothly , just society with rule of law and very minimal burden to the general public in the past!!!( exactly 65yrs ago).
Let us forget about westminister style democracy and the socialist ( hypocrisy again)!!!
Let us get back to basics.
The Governor General ( appointed by the Popular Vote of the Citizenry)
Term of Governor 10yrs.
The Government Civil Service will be more than enough to run the country.
We can basically dust up the English (CSS – Ceylon Sivil Service Act)
The three forces will maintain the Law and order.
All three major languages be maintained in all media on equal basis.
Anybody can live anywhere of the country with equal right.
All the ills of current society and the demise of peace and harmony is due to the Vulgar Politics !!!! and the Political power corrupts.
So let us put and end to it.
Food for thought.
Should I say ‘Thinking outside the Box!!!)
kattakarawala / February 14, 2013
There is no difference between what JRJ did in July 83′ and what MR did when the BBS attacked the Muslims. They both looked the other way when their constituents were being attacked.Except for two different reasons.
JRJ looked the other way because he was a racist and MR looked the other way because he didn’t want to upset his Sinhala-Buddhist vote base by setting the police on the miscreants who were in this case Buddhist monks.
Both these leaders failed their constituents- the Tamils and the Muslims.
Kapila / February 14, 2013
The Bodu Bala sena operates with the blessings of the GoSL.
They are housed in a state building, on the 5th floor of the Buddhist cultural building (Havelock Road renamed Sri Sambuddhi Jayanthi mw at Thunmulla junc) owned by the Ministry of Buddha Sasana with no rent paid and funded by the ministry.
The lack of police interest in preventing some of the acts of violence (they stood watching) and the general apathy points to state complicity.
Hussain Fahmy / February 14, 2013
Turning a Blind Eye policy is practiced by the authorities and a lack of sincerity is visible to stamp out racial and religious tolerance. Social harmony is a precursor to economic prosperity.
Jim Hardy / February 14, 2013
Unless this is nipped in the bud sooner the better.
Senguttuvan / February 14, 2013
Hussain Fahmy, quite rightly says, “Social harmony is a precursor to economic prosperity” It is so true as it is today as it was in 1983. Then Tamils did so much for the production of economic prosperity but they were hounded out, attacked and plundered. Few came to their defence openly then – but many prospered from their unfortunate and defenceless plight. Everyone should have been vocal from then – but this did not happen. But now as – Pastor Nelimoller noted – “they now come for me” Let us not make a mistake again. It is the Rajapakse Govt that is in power. It is comforting, unlike JRJ’s patently and racially inviting remarks “now the Tamils must take care of themselves” – that was the signal for the Dogs of War to get ready. Fortunately, President Rajapakse and the Bros tell the Muslim delegation, the country and the world they will protect the minorities. They must. That is what the Constitution is all about – which was not available to Tamils in 7/83.
D.B Adikari / February 14, 2013
Tamils are more chavanism than Sinhalese race.Tamils are lving in Tamil-Nadu India over 70 million population.Sri Lanka out of 21 Milions 16 millions are Sinhalese.Major Tamil Political were not in and out Main Stream politics,since 1948 they that adopted policy of Sepereated from Island for Eelam State.
The All Celyon Tamil Congress Fedreal Party,Tamil United Liberation Front and Tamil Natioanl Allaince are Tamil-chavansit base parties.
Latter part Muslims are also seek a seperate reagion for Muslims in East province.
More or less Majorty of Tamils political parties including LTTE and other Tamil terrorist out-fits did not accpect Sovergenity,Terrotioal Intergrity Independenec and democracy order of Sri Lanka.
The SL-helped finance after end of war virtually every stage of development of the critical infrastructure of 2009 May. As well as subsidize the many projects NORT AND EAST opportunities that flowed form redeveloped Tamils and Muslimes reagion of it.
The expenditure of govt, funds to activate,deploy and maintain the rehibilitaion several system amounted to billions of ruppes-the biggest public investment in the post-war in all of RECORED history.
Even after bring peace and stsbility for those who doubt the critical role of some Muslims and Tamils has played in anti-Sri Lankna success,in West and India.
One could not develop without a such relationship with Sinhalese.
They (Tamil and Muslims) also relized that the new era being created after end of PEACE AND STABILITY by this convergence would fundamentally reconfigure the temporal and spatial orientation of our society,new ways to organize and manage socitey activities and living patterns of Sri Lanka.
Senguttuvan / February 14, 2013
You say Tamils are the majority community in Colombo. This is patently untrue and calculated both to mislead and create social unrest. It is the Sinhalese who are and have been in the majority. The Sinhala extremists (JHU/PNM and the like) took the Muslim and Tamil numbers together and tried to make a point the Sinhalese are in the minority. That is their predictable trickery that shall not withstand the test of scrutiny.
Mayya / February 15, 2013
I do not see any fault on campaign against the Halal Foods.
Halal is not a quality standard such as ISO or SLS. It is merely a religious customary of Muslims and the rest do not want that. Nothing is gain by the average customer owing to Halal. However because of the Halal , normal customer , other than of Muslim, contribute to a another’s religious activity indirectly without his consent
This issue is aggravating as this Halal does not come freely but with a price. Every food manufacturing or selling company who incorporate Halal certification have to pay a big sum to a Muslim religious Organization and we do not know what this fund is used for. Whatever of its uses, the fact remains that monies of non Muslims are used for beneficiary works of Muslims indirectly, without their consent of non Muslims. This is a deprivation of rights of the customer in a free market. The majority of the market does not wish to have the Halal. So why market stick to Halal if customer do not wish to have it.
Based on this point ,I do not find any fault on campaign against the Halal Foods.
whywhy / February 16, 2013
Mayya, do you have any evidence that Halal comes to you
at an extra cost?
Mayya / February 17, 2013
The Muslim organization that issues Halal certificate does not give that certification for free. It charges minimum of Rs 175,000 per year. But depend on the size of manufacture , the charge may be higher. there are approximately 4500 of Halal brands. so 4500 x 175,00 = Rs 787,500,000 /= per year. ( 787.5 miilon/per annum)
Therefore in macro picture , SL market pays at-least of Rs.787.5 million unnecessarily , without gaining nothing , but paying to perform others religious customer.
Anyone who likes this they can pay. But there are segment of people, segment of market, who do not like to pay. please respect their choice ..that is free market all about…
cornucopia / February 15, 2013
This is a response to Mayya
So what if you are participating in a religious practice of another? You live in a polity with many other religions I would have thought that is what coexistence would require, that you live with the presence of these various differences in your world. That, that is in fact what makes your everyday experience richer and more positive. Just as your urban architecture incorporates all the religions through the temples churches and mosques, the social landscape has halal and vegetarian restaurants and roadside pork stalls Not just halal, but the azan, the pirith from temples, Christmas, hindu Vel celebrations that we used to participate as children were all part of our everyday experience as was everything shutting down for ever between Sinhala new year and Vesak. It is not just the Sinhalese who go through all this. We all do. I actually think it is one of the nicer things about living in SL. So why dont we all be a little tolerant of that halal mark on your biscuit packet. Why does it have to jump up and smack you? Let it be.
Sri / February 15, 2013
Dayan says that he is happy that SriLankan state has won the war.
I beg to disagree
This victory has within itself the seeds of its own destruction.
Dayan you know your dialectic why not apply rather that using the word Dialectic to show off?
This victory has given the government other ideas to go back on the promises already made and dismantle institutions already built and to build up a unitary Sinhala BuddhistState and assimilate all nationalities and to ensure that there is not a single district where other nationalities are in a majority!
If only Sri Lankan state has not won the war.
It is true that LTTE was intransigence organization and they should be taught a lesson.
But actually they are not the organization to learn lessons.
However victory of Sri Lankan military of the entire east and a part of the North would have brought LTTE to their needs and made them irrelevant and then negotiation with all the stakeholders including TNA, SLMC,CWC and a political solution based on say 13A plus would have been a solution which would have been acceptable to the international Community and all communities in Sri Lanka.
Dayan again repeats a false theory that the island of SriLanka is indeed the only place in which there are Sinhalese, those who speak the Sinhalese language in any significantly large number.
It is false!
Why you are repeating an old squabble which is false, for example you need not go far, just look at India and the Indian languages like Assamese • Gujarati • Hindi •Kannada • Kashmiri • Malayalam • Manipuri • Marathi •Mizo • •Rajasthani • Sanskrit • Telugu ,
the only place in the world they live in significantly large numbers is India.
All these people find expression to meet their aspirations within the linguistic states in the quasi federalist of India.
Dayan words, words and words without meanings to show your academic credentials – just to confuse and postpone like what happened to Palestinians and to their two state solutions.
Now both the two state and the one state solution are not viable?
What the government is doing is forced colonization in the occupied territories that is the political solution the government is offering.
Dayan Don’t you see a parallel in Israel settlements.
what we need is action, just give space for other nationalities to live in a united Sri Lanka!
Peace Dove / February 15, 2013
I think Dayan’s concept of “Soulbury Plus” is brilliant. The question is
even if the populace is ready for a level playing field, are the politicians?
Dr. N. Satchi / February 16, 2013
“ First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me. “ …Martin Niemöller
Yes they had come for the Tamils & now for the rest one by one – perhaps with great vigor as they are prescribed a diet of balaya fish in ambul Thyial to improve their intelligence. What an admission?
It is interesting that the thrust of Dayan Jayathilake’s argument is that these elements were and are, prepared to commit genocide given the opportunity…. This much for the Buddhist culture or the Ariya Sinhala savagery of a few that tarnish the meany. Yes they gunned down Joseph Parrarajasingham when he was celebrating Christmas mass in his parish church.
Dr. N. Satchi UK
Dr. N. Satchi / February 16, 2013
There are many interesting aspects in D.B. Adikaris Comment. Yes the Sinhalese and Tamils bifurcated after thousands of years of mutuality and amity.
The Tamils did not appreciate the ruthlessness, poverty, and depravation that followed the introduction of the Tea, Rubber, and other commodity crops on their Sinhalese brothers when their ancestral lands were taken from them.
It is also true that the Tamils polity led by S.J.V. Chelvanayagam was did not empathize with the Sinhalese at all whether it was the nationalization of Trincomalee or the privatization of the Bus service.
If we were to revisit ourselves as we used to be throughout the centuries it would be desirable to see these more demonstrable gestures of goodwill from the communities.
It is vital that these development are taking place is brought to us by the Tamils for it to be more credible and no attempt is made to patronize them. What is important is the friendship between the communities. Funds are mainly from donors – who want to help the war torn areas.
It would be a great day to see the fruition of Adikaris wishes. I for one will relish this outcome of both siblings of this great Land march in unison, together to make this Country of our birth glow in prosperity. I was from a Hindu village in Jaffna; I lived in Kurunagala and Matara among my Sinhala brothers and never felt any discrimination. I enjoyed the warmth as in my village. Don’t be alarmed by my earlier comment. It if not directed at the likes of you.
Dr. N. Satchi UK
Senguttuvan / February 16, 2013
Dear Native Veddah:
I often like your timely, apt and satirical rejoinders.
I am afraid you are out of your tree when you told Sumane “Being Aryans, has thrown up many opportunities for the Sinhalese..” This is a load of bull. To start with this Aryan thing has been under the microscope whenever and wherever it comes up – including the German intellengtsia when the good Fuhrer clung on to it to justify his
lunacy (he was made, as it turned out later) From Historian Dr Colvin R. de Silva, as Sinhalese as they come, to highly respected scholars
like Prof. Gananath Obeysekera, Shiran Deraniyagala, Sudarshan Seneviratne and many others we appear to be – genetic-pool wise – more associated with neighbouring South Indian States of Tamilnadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Certainly, in the recent centuries. If you want to bring in Bihar, Orissa – as some of our folks have a tendency to identity more with what they think is North India, the people there are mostly dark-skinned, some darker than even Tamilnadu (Remember top-notch politician Jagjivan Ram “Bapuji”) – whereas the emotional image of Aryanism is associated with lighter skin of people who came to India from ancient Persia and the Caucasian lands.
Senguttuvan / February 16, 2013
What is the guarantee Halal Certification itself ensures everything is hunky-dory. Even the highly-considered Dutch and the French – forget the Romanians for the moment – sold horse-meat marked as Beef to millions in the sophisticated West European market. In the Colombo area, dog meat has been sold as Mutton. Sometime ago in Colombo a bottler of Water was caught filling his stuff, without the expected features taken to make it pure, by water from the Beira Lake. Let’s not go into what community the bottler belonged to.
For as long as we remember, we relied on the State inspection process – that served us fairly well. Let us stay by that. I agree even this process needs closer scrutiny because – starting from the Inspector in the fish market to the men looking after health in the meat industry – have all suspect reputations. Stricter supervisory rules by honest officials is the answer.
Nabil / February 16, 2013
I want to quote from the movie Sharuk Khan made, titled “My name is Khan”, where the lead role says ““My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist”. With apologies to M. Khan, I would like to say “My name is Nabil, and I am a Muslim”, a proud one at that! To those of you, who along with Dayan want to debate the root causes leading up to the current anti-Muslim sentiment, and the evolving crisis I want to present a perspective that is different to what is discussed here; the dilemma, of peace loving Muslims.
I began by saying that my name is Nabil. Readers of CT recognize it as a label that makes me distinct. For a brief moment along with the many that were born at the same hour as I was, I was an equal. Then they gave me a label, a label that did not make me any different to you. Some may dislike the label given to me, but many could not be bothered. Many of you who dislike the label have begun to see me as different and that is offensive.
To me, each one of you is unique and the label attached to you is merely an identity. I marvel at the diversity I see everywhere and think how wonderful it is to live among such a vibrant society. To me it does not matter what label is attached to you, I respect you and treat you as an equal.
However some of you seem to think because of the label I carry I am a challenge to you, and that I should be resisted. I want you to reflect on where this resistance is leading this country.
To those of you, who are casting an indulgent eye on the provocateurs, let’s look at the Halal issue and see how this affects your interactions with your Muslim neighbor. Before the Halal controversy when my Sinhala neighbour invited me for a meal I would hop over without a second thought. Now I have to agonize wondering if the chicken he serves is Halal. Up until now I did not bother to ask him, if race mattered to him, now I have to ask him and if he says it matters and he does not endorse Halal, I have to politely decline his invite.
I will have to fret when I invite friends over, feeling guilty about labeling and grouping them as tolerant and intolerant. Perhaps some would decline to come because my beliefs bother them. The Biriyani I shared with them all these year every festival may not be welcome next year, dividing us further. And with it we would be sowing seeds of separation.
My neighbourhood boutique boasts a board which says “Sorry, Halal Items are not sold here”. I have stopped patronizing this outlet and have to walk a good half a kilometer to a shop that doesn’t have a problem selling Halal food.
By virtue of my training and vocation, I have had the opportunity to help hundreds of Sinhalese. Now I instinctively tell them that I am a Muslim and ask them if would they object to my serving them, because I have become sensitive to the idea that they dislike the “Muslim” label. Connected to this sensitizing, I did the most hateful thing recently; before I recruited an assistant I peeked into his Facebook account to see if he shared anti-Muslim sentiment.
These little experiences of mine and the future dilemna must put the “Halal controversy” in the proper perspective. Just as much as the Sinhalese have no place to go, we Muslims have no place to go either. The Muslim Muhajirs (migrants) who crossed over to Pakistan (East and West) after the partition of India learnt assimilation into another culture does not come easy. When communal violence forced many Muslim refugees in Myanmar and Thailand to cross over to Bangladesh and Malaysia they were not accepted with open arms.
So the fears of Sinhalese are shared by Muslims as well. If these fears are not addressed constructively we will widen the divide spiritually as well as geographically. There will be a tendency for Muslims to migrate to larger areas of minority concentration creating minority enclaves and ghettos where the minorities will feel safe. The silent Sinhala majority by being mere onlookers will reinforce the global perception that the islanders are an intolerant racist nation.
However all is not lost. Some of my friends say that if they had to choose between paying a little extra for a Halal product or my friendship they would gladly cough out the extra cents they have to pay. I salute them and say thank you. I have still not lost hope for this country of mine.
Mayya / February 17, 2013
Why you expect your friend to pay little instead of asking your labeling organization to issue Halal certificate for free.? sorry i do not get your rational..
monkey / February 16, 2013
No more ‘political solutions’ as the western countries want! We already have a political solution in terms of the provincial council system since 1987. Take it or leave it.
Those who don’t like it can go live in any western country of their choosing. The west do not have any solutions. The only solution they know is to go bomb any country of their choosing and grab that countries resources. That is their political solution for the world. If anyone wants to follow the west they are welcome but please don’t try to impose west’s solutions on Sri Lanka. We are fed up with these western prescriptions.