21 September, 2020

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Apiva Marannepa Api Marakkalayo: A Nation Which Stepped Into A Post-Parzania Stage

By Avanthi Kalansooriya

Avanthi Kalansooriya

Once again it was the same feeling that went through my mind, which has been ever present in my mad young age thoughts that I want to restructure this world, smash it into pieces and reconstruct it according to my wishes rather according to human feelings. I am quite aware of the fact that I have to get out of these utopian thoughts which would only make me feel miserable. Nevertheless there is push factor that propels me to move to the battlefield of discussing about peace.

This time, it was Parzania (Heaven and Hell on Earth), the movie by Rahul Dholakia that discusses on the disappearance of a Parsi boy Parzania during the communal riots in Gujarat 2002. The movie was screened in International Centre for Ethnic Studies with an anecdote to 1983 riots in Sri Lanka that occurred in a similar vein of brutality, inhumanness and agony. It was Minna Thaheer, a senior researcher from ICES narrated her own experiences with 1983 riots and how her house at Borella was burnt by the marauders who came in search for Tamils. She talked about her insecurities she, herself as a Tamil speaking Muslim lady had to face as a member belonged to an ethnic minority in Sri Lanka where she sometimes had to give up speaking in Tamil for self-protection.

A Tamil boy stripped naked and later beaten to death by Sinhala youth in Boralla bustation |pic by Chandraguptha Amarasingha

We, as a nation has stepped into a post-Parzania stage where mothers still weep for their lost and disappeared kids and fathers wander in streets with the hope of seeing their kids again. What is more important to understand at this point is that we all have suffered enough and it is high time to reach out of this stage. As Mr. Seelan Kadiragamar highlighted what is prominent in our society is “state of denial.” All ethnicities deny that they have committed grave mistakes in the past. They are very keen on accusing each other and wiping the dirt from the hands. However, it is high time that we share the blunders of the past and think of a way forward.

I was also stricken by one dialogue that Minna recalled from her Grandmother. She said that when the evil groups approached their house, her Grandmother started screaming “apiva marannepa api marakkalayo” (Don’t kill us, we are Muslims). However, I am quite unhappy with the terminology that has been used so far in Sri Lanka to describe the ethnic minorities. At present the commonly used term to call Muslims is “hambaya” (no hard feelings) and it is clear that nothing has changed within 30 years period; it has only been a replacement of the term from Marakkalaya to Hambaya which is used in a very offending and derogatory manner in the emails, facebook pages and images. In fact we still have not reached out from the process of “othering” where we fatally fail to accept minorities as human beings.

Meanwhile, as human beings we have determined certain criteria under which we qualify to be human beings. Yet, what is apparent is that when it comes to matters of race, religion and language, human beings tend to forget such borders of morality. Several times, I have noted that Sinhalese devotees pray in front of Hindu Gods and Goddesses such as Ganesh, Luxmi, Saraswathie pleading for blessings for education, wealth and aesthetics respectively. However, at times due to racial prejudices they forget that it is unethical to take up arms against their own brethren whose God has been their God too. As realists have been pointed out human beings are inherently selfish. They want the Hindu Gods and Goddesses but not the people who believe in that faith.

Hence, it is high time that we choose between hell and heaven to test our moralities.

*Avanthi Kalansooriya – An Intern at International Centre for Ethnic Studies – Graduate of International Relations, University of Colombo 

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    Avanthi,

    Self preservation is the strongest inbuilt mechanism that all humans are endowed with. So, facing iminant death the old lady cries out, ‘Apiva Marannepa Api Marakkalayo’. Though all life is sacred first and foremost comes self preservation.

    The tragedy in Sri Lanka like you say is ‘where we fatally fail to accept minorities as human beings.’

    Due to time contraints I will cut and paste a previous comment I made on CT.

    ‘Real reconciliation is between two parties who can stand side by side on an equal footing. No reconciliation occurs if one party thinks it is superior to the other.

    I don’t believe that the Sinhalese have any idea what reconciliation is. For them Tamils and other minorities are not equal. They believe that being Sinhalese, imbued with mythological fare such as having the blood of lions, endowed with the sacred sanctity of Buddha, makes them far superior to any other race in the world, leave alone Sri Lankan races. For them a Muslim is a ‘thambiya’, a Tamil is a ‘para demala’, a Burgher is a ‘lansiya’, all derogatory terminology.

    A point in hand is the disdain with which they denigrate the Muslims at present just as they did with the Tamils. The impunity with which they can mount attacks against minorities – the belief that Buddhism is far more superior to any other religion – the belief that Sinhala culture is far more elevated than any other cultures permeates all Sinhala psyches. Denigrating and annihilating all minority cultures is the force that bonds Sinhala people together.

    So how can reconciliation be possible?’

    So Avanthi, can we choose between hell and heaven? The answer is, in Sri Lanka – No.

    • 0
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      gonbella:

      what is you are talking is REVERSE DISCRIMINATION.

      100 million Tamils, Two billions Cchristians and Two billion are are the minorities in Sri Lanka who wants to subjugate the LESS THAN 17 million Sinhla – buddhists.

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      I don’t believe that the Sinhalese have any idea what reconciliation is. For them Tamils and other minorities are not equal.

      Gonbella:

      You don’t know the world. first go around the world and live in a few different countries. then think about Sri Lanka.

      right now, You are just a selfish idiot.

    • 0
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      Voters go in long queues and elect them, once elected they kill the voters . voters go again and elect them then they kill the others who vote for them as well. You elect them they kill you at the end. Others go and elect them again. All the others who voted them to power will be killed.

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    It breeds in our history, been written, rewritten and re-re-written by Our blokes to suit their whims and fancy.
    In 1980 when JR Jayewardene came to power, He shouted Out Loud & Clear, “Justice in this Country will return to the days of Elara”.
    I don’t have the quote other than my Memory, reading it in the Daily Mirror in 1980. Please Search and find this Avanthi K as you may not have been born or a kid then.
    Yet, on this disgraceful day of the incident in this photo; JR packed up several thousands of Our Sri Lankans abroad as Refugees to India, Europe and North America and Internationalised our Internal Problem.
    I was Part and parcel of this process where by, being a responsible, senior Government Official, blindly decrying the reality of the killing, arson and Rape of our fellow Sri Lankans or to Stand Out and get killed or to be labelled a Traitor?
    You know, which option I chose but am still here to Voice the “Sri Lankan Cause.” I’m glad that I didn’t choose the latter. I’m here to haunt JR & His Memory. I did vote for him but what he did to our Sri Lankans in 1983 is unforgivable.
    Now, we are accusing India and the West for meddling in our internal affairs. It was we who sent our Sri Lankans in droves to their Country and burdened the West and India and we still don’t want to make Our country Safe enough for several thousands of Sri Lankans to come home from India.
    Avanthi K, You are great and I sincerely wish you the very Best in Journalism. Our Country needs Journalists like You to form a United Sri Lanka for ALL SRI LANKANS. Good Luck Avanthi K.

    • 0
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      Ellison Jayawardene

      “I did vote for him but what he did to our Sri Lankans in 1983 is unforgivable.”

      JR’s 1983 pogrom was a footnote in the shameful history of this island. The story contains thousands of years of narratives, most were brutal in nature.

      JR was not the first one nor would be the last. Since JR we have witnessed many footnotes and chapters.

      The shameful and sad saga continues.

  • 0
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    this shows how much of history you know… if u dont know save the trouble and dont write… u r just embarassing urself

    even the basic terminology used u have no clue about

  • 0
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    Avanthi:

    Ever since my earliest childhood, it has been my misfortune to hear a range of derogatory terms used by Sinhalese, in all parts of Sri Lanka, against all of the minorities who inhabit this land. As you say, nothing has changed. Sadly, as more Sinhalese are forced to make their homes in other lands, many of them will encounter discrimination themselves. That discrimination will increase as the news spreads through the global village of the discrimination that the Sinhalese practice at home. A wry smile creases my face when I hear a Sinhalese of the Diaspora complain of racial discrimination. Full circle!

    • 0
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      So true. A sad indictment isn’t it?

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    ‘Apiva Marannepa Api Marakkalayo’ – the cry resonates, ‘You are killing the wrong people’. ‘Apiva Marannepa, Api Sinhalayo, Api Thamai Hamudawata Le Dan Dunne’.

    To kill the wrong people?. Why kill anyone at all?

    • 0
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      Now
      Every body should cry

      APIVA MARANDA EPA, API SEARAMA MINIUSSU.

      API THAMAI UMBLA SERATAMA, DESPAALUWANTAH EKKA KANDA DENNE, LE DAN DUNNE.

      [ DO NOT KILL US, WE ALL ARE HUMAN BEINGS.
      WE, ARE THE PEOPLE, WHO ARE FEEDING YOU ALL, WHO GAVE BLOOD FOR YOU . EVEN FOR POLITICIAN TRAITORS].

  • 0
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    Dear Ms.By Avanthi Kalansooriya.

    Thank you for bringing up these issues to the surface. In order to cure an alcoholic, the alcoholic needs to accept that he has a problem. The core problem. Sinhala Buddhist racism, that has nothing to do with the Enlightened Buddha’s teachings.

    1. ” As Mr. Seelan Kadiragamar highlighted what is prominent in our society is “state of denial.” All ethnicities deny that they have committed grave mistakes in the past. “

    Facts speak for themselves.

    2. “As realists have been pointed out human beings are inherently selfish. They want the Hindu Gods and Goddesses but not the people who believe in that faith.”

    Yes, Sri Lanka has a major problem. The major problem is with Sinhala Buddhism, Theravada Buddhist Monk catalyzed racism, and Politician catalyzed racism, that is getting in the way of forming an Egalitarian Nation.

    Was Lanka better off without Theravada Buddhism? Fast forward to 21st century and post independent Lanka. Ask the question again? Turkey? Scandinavia? France?

    Then the Monk Mahanama Myths are added to make it worse. Vijaya’s grandfather was a lion etc.

    The fact remains that Bali Indonesia is 944 Hindu and peaceful, and Lanka with Theraveda Buddhists is not peaceful. Why? Monk Hegemony.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abhayagiri_vih%C4%81ra

    Before the arrival of Bhikkhu Mahinda, who brought Buddhism to the island, Brahmins held the highest place in society. After the establishment of the Buddhist sangha on the island, however, they lost their supremacy, and were replaced by the sangha. Some Brahmins converted to Buddhism, while others revolted. Tiya(Tissa), who enjoyed the support of his community, lived both in and outside of Sri Lanka, and was therefore very powerful. Read on..

  • 0
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    Ms or Madam Avanthi Kalansooriya:

    [Edited out]
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    • 0
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      What a shame you can not follow a simple code of ethics of writing this column you are real Dehamanya, Deshabandu and Deshappremi 3rd class and low class inhuman creature. You are a piece of fire wood in the hell.

    • 0
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      Jim Softy
      What a shame you can not follow a simple code of ethics of writing this column you are real Dehamanya, Deshabandu and Deshappremi 3rd class and low class inhuman creature. You are a piece of fire wood in the hell.

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    Come to think of it Muslims don’t have a derogatory descriptor for the Sinhalese!

    Yet the Sinhalese seem to be masters at concocting derogatory names against us Muslims like thambiya ad Hambaya etc.,

    this is what — Khalil Gibran, the well known novelist says about people who think they are superior

    ““To belittle, you have to be little.”

    I know, I know I am being deliberately provocative!

    Nabil

    • 0
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      Nabil

      “Come to think of it Muslims don’t have a derogatory descriptor for the Sinhalese!”

      I grant you permission to call them and their Tamil brethren descendants of Kallathinies.

  • 0
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    Lets face reality. Every race feels they are superior to others and their religion (the form which they practice) is the best.History shows how the European colonizers treated the natives of Ceylon. To the Americans till recently, blacks were far inferior and treated a little bit better than animals.The British brought in indentured labour from South India to work in the tea estates because the Sinhalese refused to be slaves in their own country.The lands of the Sinhalese were taken by force and the Sinhalese were left destitute. The British treated the Tamils better, created the very successful divide and rule policy which is now followed by politicians of all hues in Sri Lanka.
    The majority community fears that they will be swamped mostly economically *(though they will not admit it)but say that they will become a minority race. The Tamils who employed many privileges under the British, specially in securing employment and good education)cannot come to termswith the present situation created by Sinhala Only.
    Muslims have quietly bought over large portions of major towns and own most of the big business houses, factories etc. Visit the Pettah on a Friday afternoon during prayer times ans see for yourself the extent of Muslim ownership,or see the way traffic is blocked due to indiscriminate and illegal parking of vehicles of Muslims who come to Dewatagaha Mosque near the Colombo Town hall. Muslims now flaunt their identity by wearing Arab dress/skull caps and the women in Abhayas (sometimes figure hugging and attractively embroidered). Jews who were increasingly controlling the economy of Germany made it easy for Adolph Hitler to begin the extermination of Jews and obtain the support of the German people.
    Tamils too who claim that they are not given there “rightful ” place control a large section of the export, import and manufacturing trades. Whilst Sinhalese are debarred from purchasing land in Jaffna and so called Tamil Homeland, Tamils can buy land and live in any part of the island.
    We Sinhalese too have to blame ourselves for lack of unity, not helping each other, infighting, adopting a lotus eaters attitude and refusing to work hard and smart. Today most Sinhala owned shops, groceries,houses employs Tamils simply because they work harder and smarter than the Sinhalese and ask for less.
    Its time that we really took a deep look into us and decide on what steps we should take to improve our situation and not blame others. It is a dream to think that all races will think alike. Humans irrespective of what community they belong to want riches, power and position,and only play lip service to the myth of reconciliation.

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      Shirley Silva

      Here we go again.

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  • 0
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    Mr Shirly Silva, naturally Muslims are a trading community. They give charity to the fellow community members in addition to that they give 2.5 per cent every year out of their business turn over. They are not jealous like Buddhists. They are very much attached to their religion, not like us. We have all the bad qualities like you say, we are not united, we have caste system, we don’t respect our fellow Sinhalese, we don’t give charity. We don’t have love and compassion,, we don’t visit our temples, we don’t we have religion, we don’t have a higher power to worship. We worship idols. We blocked all the ways to religious,, financial, social prosperity’s. We should blame us, our religious
    Masters and leaders. Let us look inside us before blaming our religions.
    .

  • 0
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    Duwa Avanthi K, as your father I’m proud of the language you have used in the article and the views you have made on this is highly controversial matter. When you were schooling at Badulla Vishaka you didn’t have even a teacher to teach English Literature for A/Ls. I really admire the courage you had to do this subject with immense difficulties.
    You are at the early stage of your journalism career and the criticisms will be disruptive, but you must have patience to overcome this.
    In your article you tried to describe how to avoid the donation of the heart to a bullet in the battle front and some thoughts on the donation of blood.
    “Gonbella” is a threat not only in cultivation but also in society.
    We have come to last stages of our lives, but we expect at least the new generation will live peacefully in a united Sri Lanka. Your attempt to focus the attention of this society towards this goal is highly appreciated.
    My main worry is not ethnic, but to find a match for you.
    Kapila K ( Thaththi )

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    we sri lankans after defeating tamil tigers on 2009,may removed the word
    ‘minor ethnic groups’ from our vocabulary. we’ve been suffering because of this word for
    30 years. whats the point of using it again .
    also no one can smash the world snd reconstruct it. its practical to talk about what we can do to avoid happening this again and not to point fingers at any one.
    we’ve started to think as a country after a greatly destructive war period and you are trying to mislead the society with NGO funds.

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