By Laksiri Fernando –
We have an ‘analysis’ of all in one basket. I am referring to Dayan Jayatilleka’s (DJ) article in The Island (21 June) perhaps incorrectly titled “The issue is incitement: The BBS, Champika & the Gota factor.” The ‘family proposal’ does not appear in the title for some reason. It was previously published in the Colombo Telegraph as two articles, then they became ‘two in one’ in The Island. Let me try to dissect.
While ‘extremism’ and ‘incitement to violence’ are not the same, there is no great wall between the two despite what the author claims. Extremism from any side could easily evolve into violence or incitement to violence. It is true that those who paint the BBS or the behaviour/utterances of Gnanasara Thero as just extremism or equal to other extremisms, misses the point of ‘incitement to violence.’ But in political debates all extremisms should be discouraged, condemned or denounced.
Hate speech and extremism should not be defended under freedom of speech while only ‘incitement to violence’ is condemned. Punishing is a matter for the judiciary and the law enforcement. However, we can point it out or even agitate for it, if it is absent or the law enforcement is defending the culprits. Freedom of speech entails social responsibilities. Ultra-nationalism, chauvinism, Islamophobia and extremism in general breach these social responsibilities. It is true that any one indulging in such extremist propaganda should not be punished off hand, unless there is a direct connection to violence or hate speech. We have hordes of them in our country.
DJ says he learned to distinguish the two, ‘extremism and incitement,’ through his experience at the UN and more precisely by chairing the Intergovernmental Working Group (IWG) on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration. The Durban Declaration (2001) was ‘Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance.’ It was titled as such. In that context, it is incomprehensible how come that a person who chaired the IWG on those issues claims, “Nor is the main issue Islamophobia. While Islamophobia is in and of itself reprehensible, what should be focused on is incitement to violence.” In the Declaration, there is nothing particularly about ‘incitement to violence’ as the crucial issue, of course because it is a declaration. But Article 61, highlights Islamophobia as a crucial issue as follows.
61. We recognize with deep concern the increase in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in various parts of the world, as well as the emergence of racial and violent movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities;
DJ was not only the Chair of the particular IWG in 2008, but also the Rapporteur of the sessions. The report of the sixth session (A/HRC/10/82, 26 February 2009) that he has reported does not talk about such a distinction, while it is true that there were divergent views and frictions within the discussions and he was admirably trying to moderate them as far as possible. Most of the debates were on the future agenda of the IWG, the African Group suggesting five themes as follows and the EU delegate expressing objections or reservations. “The suggested themes [were]: (a) effective remedies, recourse, redress, compensatory and other measures at the national, regional and international levels to victims of human rights violations resulting from racism; (b) incitement to racial and/or religious hatred; (c) racial profiling; (d) restoration of human dignity; (e) racism and refugees, migrants, asylum-seekers.” This is in paragraph 33 of the report.
What was proposed in terms of ‘incitement’ was “incitement to racial and/or religious hatred” which in fact goes against what DJ is suggesting for Sri Lanka. (Or is he trying to confuse the Sri Lankan readers arrogantly believing they are ignorant?) It may be the case that he suggested to the EU delegates (during informal discussions) to isolate ‘incitement to violence,’ but what appears in the report is not that. If I am mistaken he should clarify.
Incitement can be for violence or incitement can be for racial or religious hatred, as the African group seems to have maintained. In the latter case, the distinction between extremism (ultra-nationalism, xenophobia, racism) and incitement becomes thinner and thinner. When the African group proposed the above, their intention was to counter Islamophobia spreading in Europe; the EU delegate objecting to it.
When ‘incitement’ is linked only to violence, Islamophobia escapes. This is exactly what DJ is subtly doing in Sri Lanka today. Gnanasara is culpable, but Asgiriya escapes. To fudge the whole effort, he also defends all other extremists including himself. The following statement epitomise his ideology or enterprise.
“It is with this experience and achievement that I make the point that what we should focus upon is not Sinhala and Tamil racism, chauvinism or extremism, but precisely and specifically the incitement to violence, i.e. the rousing of mob violence or individual attacks.”
To him, Sinhala racism, Tamil racism, chauvinism and extremism are all fine, what is wrong (or should focus upon) is only incitement to violence and rousing mob violence. He cannot understand the connection. He cannot or pretend not to understand the cause and effect, or the root causes behind violence and incitement to violence.
Gnanasara Thera and BBS
Let us take the central issue of Gnanasara Thero (GT) and the BBS. At present, that is one of the central issues, I agree. Because many Muslim mosques and shops have been newly attacked. The BBS press briefing first addressed by Dilanthe Vithanage on 15 June did not categorically deny that Thero was involved in violence. What he said was “if to some extent (yamkisi pramnayakate) he was involved, that was because of Champika and Rathana Thero.” He also said, “If he was given some contracts (yam yam conthrath) those were given by Champika and Rathana Thero for their political objectives.” Of course, Vithanage was referring to the past and not to the present. Champika however is clearly implicated.
Even without Vithanage’s revelation, it is well known that Gnanasara was bred and brought up within the JHU political movement. JHU was/is an outright ultra-nationalist movement. Gnanasara contested to the Colombo district as a JHU candidate in 2004 at the parliamentary elections. When the BBS was formed in 2012, under his leadership it was an offshoot of the JHU. Therefore, the connection between the BBS’ ‘ethno-religious fascism,’ and the JHU’s ultra-nationalist extremism is clear. It is not merely a personal connection but an ideological one. One has led to the other.
In terms personal patronage for this movement, there have been several political leaders other than Ranawaka who have patronized and curry favoured with this movement. Gotabaya Rajapaksa is one who inaugurated the BBS training academy in Galle in March 2013. He was the Defence Secretary at that time. When Azath Salley was talking against the BBS, he was arrested under the PTA in May, two months later. Completely correct or not, Gotabaya was implicated in the September 2011 demolition of an Islamic shrine at Anuradhapura. It is well known how he treated Frederica Jansz in 2012, forcing her to leave the country. Gotabaya-Champika connection also was very clear those days whatever happened thereafter. None of these persons could be trusted to lead the country in the future. While in the opposition or out of power, they may appear not so extreme, allowing others to do the job. But when they are in power they almost certainly would emerge as near fascists.
Features of Right-wing Extremism
Writing on ‘Contemporary British Fascism’ (2004), Nigel Copsey said, “…the extreme right should be viewed as a broad ‘political family’ which possesses an ideology of common constituent parts.” “Adopting this approach, the core defining features of right-wing extremism turn out to be: (ultra) nationalism, racism, xenophobia, anti-democracy and the strong state.” He came to the above conclusion after investigating 26 definitions and at least half of the authors agreeing.
It may be all right as an academic exercise to try and distinguish between different segments of right-wing extremism, including the BBS. But it is dangerous to do so projecting Sri Lanka’s political future based on such distinctions. Because our choices should be democratic and for democracy. It is within such a futile exercise that DJ wants to see a reformed Gotabaya Rajapaksa, from the position of “Right of Mahinda and Right of the regime” to a reformed man, saying “Gotabhya is not the most reactionary, right wing figure in this country.”
The right-wing does not constitute only of ‘ultra-nationalism,’ ‘racism’ or ‘xenophobia.’ It also constitutes the features of ‘anti-democracy’ and ‘advocacy of the strong state.’ Gotabaya qualifies on both counts. He is a former army man. He was the Defence Secretary even after the end of the war, culpable for or overseeing many atrocities including Rathupaswala. As a proposed candidate for the presidency in 2020, his chances would be extremely dim unless he gets an overwhelming majority of the Sinhala votes. To obtain such a vote, he logically must align with ultra-nationalists, racists and xenophobic forces. Anti-Indian xenophobia is already propagated by his supporters! This is the impending danger, not necessarily the present government. With these credentials, it would be an outright scoundrel who could trust him as “the last best hope to deal with this dangerous phenomenon on incitement or any of the myriad of other daily crisis.”
DJ has already started this ultra-right-wing campaign. That is why he has now written on ‘Politics After Asgiriya.’ He is not Alt-Left, but Alt-Right.
Proposal for Rajapaksa Family Rule!
The present government is undoubtedly weak, lethargic and inefficient. There are also extremists within it. Economic policies are largely erroneous and neo-liberal. Many promises given to the people have not yet been fulfilled. There are no signs of fulfilling them either. Therefore, there should be a better government at the next election through the democratic process. There is no need to bring back the past monsters however. The country should move forward and not backwards. The present government however has kept the democratic processes moving whatever the shortcomings. That is the benefit of the 2015 change. The formation of the Joint Opposition was natural and a good development in this respect. Whoever the ‘official opposition,’ the government also should interact with the JO properly in parliament in addition, and should listen to the just demands of the students and the trade unions.
The danger of DJ’s proposal is not about supporting the JO to come to power at the next election. But to bring back very clearly a much more stronger family rule, Gotabaya as the President and Mahinda as the Prime Minister this time. With such a political science knowledge and international experience, I cannot understand why such a pathetic proposal is put forward. The following is his proposal.
“This is the worst, most dangerous, most unconscionable government I have seen in my country in my lifetime. Whatever their past and present errors, only Mahinda as Prime Minister and Gota as President can get us out of this deep, stinking pit, and put us back on track.”
There is much confusion in this proposal, perhaps guided by emotions and personal antipathies mixed up with Stalinist upbringing. On the emotional side, he uses Trumpian terminology to classify the present government as ‘political evil.’ He is also not sure his personal vengeance against CBK-Ranil could really be achieved. Therefore, he also has the second alternative and says, “If Gotabhaya does not or cannot intervene to stop the spreading cancer, then even more radical methods of intervention by the people themselves—such as in August 1953— may be embarked upon.”
He also wants to supplement it with an upsurge not only like Russia in 1917 but also Iran in 1979. Would he promote, in the latter case, Gnanasara Thero or somebody else emerging as Ayatollah Khomeini in Sri Lanka? Only the time would say. There are indications of his thinking in that direction in his recent most article on ‘Politics After Asgiriya.’
Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka / June 24, 2017
Oh dear. This is naughty, silly and dangerous. The writer accuses me of saying or implying that Ven. Gnanasara is bad but Asgiriya is OK. I have clearly said that I disagree with the Asgiriya statement, BUT it does not constitute “incitement”, be it to “hatred” or to “violence”. Going by Laksiri’s logic, the law should crack down not only on the BBS but on the entire Asgiriya chapter hierarchy. Is this guy nuts or an agent-provocateur (as Trotskyists were said to be in Spain etc.)? Does he want a bloodbath? Isn’t this the very best way to create a backlash that results in an Iran 1979? This is the kind of nonsense that can be suggested from the comfort of self-exile.
For a political scientist he has been extraordinarily dense about my last sentence. Where was the Gnanasara figure in Russia 1917 or Portugal 1974-75? He should have easily been able to spot the common factor in all those historical scenarios I laid out, but he hasn’t. Low marks, I’m afraid.
Buramphisincho / June 24, 2017
DJ, how dare you to call him ” oh dear”. Comparing with the academic levels achieved by Prof. Fernando is no comparable to that of yours.
You have been btw sitting with dogs on and on but Dr. Fernando has never been sitting with anyone, but he has always shown to have guts to call a spade a spade.
You have sky -earth differences with the kind of great sons of the nation, since you have all along been boasting about your achievements, that nobody would not even describe them as such achievements.
We are so frustrated when thinking about your fall to the levels no second to that street boy-Wimal Weerawans
God bless srilanka !!!.
Ajith / June 24, 2017
We have heard more of your experience with Mahinda Family. It is funny you ask Dr. Laksisi: Does he want a bloodbath? Dr. DJ it is you who wants a bloodbath. There is no secret about how the Mahinda Family’s behaviour and their impact on rule of law, justice and corruption. The people did not forget about famous white van, grease yakka regime. We know how Sadam Hussein Family behaved during their regime. We know the use of chemical weapons under his regime. There is a close relationship between Mahinda Regime and Sadam Regime. Certainly you are bloodthirsty!
Simon De Silva / June 25, 2017
it is high time you to call the person without his title.
Now I am very doubtful about his academic achievements. Just because he served as a diplomat, why the people should listen to the man, who has been hell bent to Rajapakshes even today. It is all just becasue DJ the most [Edited out], cant get on with MY3-CBK-RW.
Always, the same, he is very against RW. But RW does not even mention the buggers name in his speeches.
Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam / June 25, 2017
The return of Mahinda Rajapakse to power depends entirely on Tamils. If they abstain from voting for a candidate contesting him as what happened in 2005, he will win. At present with the government not doing anything to alleviate the suffering of Tamils, nor to grant political rights to them, Tamils are in no mood to back a candidate of the present government. They feel that it is easier to tackle a sworn enemy than a person who is pretending to be a friend but harming them.
nalmen / June 24, 2017
the time has come as the walrus said to put dj into a deep sinking pit and save us from his diatribes
mike / June 24, 2017
nalmen – Sad to see that DJ is losing his cool!
Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka / June 24, 2017
Oh, as for Rajapaksa family rule, I didn’t suggest just any permutation and combination of members of the Rajapaksa family, but a very specific one. If that’s a recipe for family rule, what was the Fidel-Raul combination for decades in Cuba? Castro family rule?
LEELAGEMALLI / June 24, 2017
But very same cesspit of yours, was criticising Rajapakshe external affairs, as you were recalled from Europe .. remember or are u suffering from ALzheimer today ?
Mike / June 24, 2017
Leelagemalli – Alzheimer is age related. It’s untreatable, so we should leave the person alone.
janaka / June 24, 2017
Castro fought for his position the non fighting Rajapakas stole the election by paying $millions of public finances to the enemy tigers in order to stop votes for Ranil hence return of absconding psycho the arm chair war hero never ever seen at front lines?
Muhandiram / June 24, 2017
The Rajapakses Again? Hard to imagine what will be left of the country at the end of their rule, economically, internally, internationally and democratically. I don’t want to live to see that. For the country’s sake, let’s all make sure that DJ’s dream remain what it is – his dream.
Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka / June 24, 2017
So LF says I’m not Alt Left but Alt Right. Now that’s not all right, because people far more credentialed than LF can ever afford to be, have engaged seriously, critically, with my Alt Left project.
Here is his bio-data. So the choice is between those credentials LF’s.
“Dr. Roland Benedikter is Research Professor of Multidisciplinary Political Analysis 2015-17 at the Willy Brandt Center of the University of Wroclaw/Breslau, Senior Affiliate of the Edmund Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics of Georgetown University, Trustee of the Toynbee Prize Foundation Boston, Senior Research Scholar of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs Washington DC and Full member of the Club of Rome.
Previously, he was Long-term Visiting Scholar / Research Affiliate 2009-13 at the Europe Center of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, Research Scholar 2008-15 at the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies of the University of California at Santa Barbara (2009-13 as European Foundation Professor of Multidisciplinary Political Analysis in residence) and Full Academic Fellow 2008-12 of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies Washington DC. He is recipient of four international science awards, among them the Klaus Reichert Award for Medical Pilosophy 2012 (Klaus Reichert Preis für Medizinphilosophie) of the University of Karlsruhe, Germany (together with James Giordano).
Benedikter has written for Foreign Affairs, Harvard International Review, Global Policy, New Global Studies, Die Welt Berlin and Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs, and is author of half a dozen books on global strategic issues, co-author of two Pentagon and U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff White Papers on the Ethics of Neurowarfare (2013 and 2014) and of Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker’s Report to the Club of Rome 2003. “
Dr Laksiri Fernando / June 24, 2017
Dayan, why don’t you answer my questions (or clarify if I am wrong) about the IWG without again and again boasting yourself.
Simon De Silva / June 24, 2017
That is his nature, he is beating around the bush. Never would he be able to call a spade a spade. Mr Fernando.
This man is the most abusive person in lanken political decoction in SL today.
He is just refering few names to be above the others.
But for me, he is absolutely a charator that is no second to HLD.
These man has never succeeded to add his thoughts about the few hundreds billions of losses, that Rajapakshe abusive leader made to the lanken state.
There, still he would go on kissing the asses of the Rajaakshes, not just one of them, but of that brutal executioner, GOTA too. Gota is a person not seen as an educated in colombo circles. He is an animal would not know nothing but to hurt others.
BBS and other virulent elements came up with the direct mediation of GOTA the fierce dog:
This is the saddest reality of DJ ..unfortunately.
Desperate Sinhalaya / June 24, 2017
you take my word, this man would NEVER see it right. His creation and behaviours are a greater shame to late Mr Mervin Silva.
Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka / June 24, 2017
I’m boasting about Roland Benedikter…:))
Mike / June 24, 2017
Dayan – “I’m boasting about Roland Benedikter….:))”. Is this your response to the question posed by Dr. Laksiri Fernando? Thanks for being brief!
Samuel Jayaweera / June 25, 2017
you are just a CLOWN, made by yourself to CT and other readership today.
Please answer to Prof. Fernando. Or, you have no answers to them LET alone today, since you have been no second to Wimal Buruwanse. Latter is most known uneducated person, but the right hand of former MAFIA KING Rajapakshe.
Come with proper and constructive arguments please.
Dont mislead the nation this way.
mike / June 25, 2017
Samuel Jayaweera – Dayan has so far NOT come up with proper and constructive arguments to Dr. Laksiri Fernando other than stating “I’m boasting about Roland Benedikter….:))”. You are correct, what a CLOWN!
Samuel Jayaweera / June 25, 2017
Please check his all the articles camed in to being alone these past few days, none of them contain anything about the problems of the country today. Why SRILANKEN airline faces the kind of unexpected problems today – now with no flights to Frankfurt or any other destinations in Europe, we face all the difficulties.
But the bills Srilanken had to bear alone due to Mr Medamulana wasteful entourages incl, all his kith and kin making up to 200 parliamentarians or so.
Ballige putha NOT to have felt that he was there sucking the sums of the tax payers funds – IS A GREAT PUZZLE to us today.
DJ was well aware of all these, but him to have just ignored it since he is bitterly against RW for personal vendetta is becoming a joke today.
Mike / June 24, 2017
Dr. Laksiri Fernando – I am sure readers will look forward to Dayan Silva’s response to your questions!
Non PhD / June 24, 2017
Thank you Laksiri Fernando for standing upto the journalists and politicians who are bullies.
If SriLanka to progress or go forward senior members of the old regimes have to gracefully retire from politics and pave the way for younger , honest and sincere MONO CITIZENS to emerge as politicians and technocrats supporting the government of the day.
This will be good for clean politics and economic progress. This applies to journalists and armed forces and police personnel . This change with upright judges will result intaking the law and order to a higher level within South Asia and then Asia.
This kind of change will also bring unity among citizens so that race &,religion are not exploited by the selfish politicians.
Concerned citizen / June 24, 2017
We are very thankful that we still have sane minded good Sinhala human beings like you are in Sri Lanka ( haven’t migrated as yet as most of them)
We earnestly hope and pray that people like you will lead this country out of this false paranoia and saner counsel will prevail so that Sri Lanka as a nation will achieve its fullest potential for the benefit of everyone in this beautiful island of ours.
As someone said ” the biggest crime is when good people remain idle when they can actually make a positive impact to avoid a disaster”
Mallaiyuran / June 24, 2017
There are numerous example can be cited for these fights. Even Pot and Kettle is no bad one. But what makes me to remember is a high school days’ joke I heard.
No Changes needed,; so let me put it back just the way I wrote earlier:
Mallaiyuran / April 29, 2017 00:30
An old joke of my high school days’……. goes like this:
One day two beggars from the same road were kicking, killing, beating and hacking each other. Everyone looked at them said “rowdy buggers” and went on their way. The two poor kept continuing it for long time. Then a gentleman came that way, felt sorry for them and separated them and asked them what the fight was about.
The first one complained: “That shameless beggar is saying Birla is the richest, Thurey.”
The second one replied: “Thurey, when this beggar is saying that Tata is the richest, how can I take it?”
Two troubled kids are from the same group home maintained by the Old Royals fighting to determine whether Chitanda is the correct philosophy or Yahapalanaya is the correct philosophy to cheat the Modayas.
They both are “ this side one day and then other side… then this side… other side…”Thinking listeners are dump Modayas….
This guy prayed China when it was lending arms on loans and turned over his hat to other side after the Hangbangtota sale, to cover up that loan. That guy was caressing Sonia’s back until 2009 UNHRC special sitting now changed when he sees his master need a win. These two Chameleons were kicked out by the old royals. They both lacks shame too.
Isn’t all policy less left talkers are Chameleons like that?
Two trucks are keeping loading the Meethotamulla.
Ridiculous! Too much of freedom in CT! All these guys should be banned!
Shrikharan / June 24, 2017
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K.Pillai / June 24, 2017
Laksiri: “……….While ‘extremism’ and ‘incitement to violence’ are not the same, there is no great wall between the two………..”
Let me give an example: Just across the Strait bigotry is taking hold. Some Hindu leaders have suggested “It is the solemn duty of Hindu mothers to have ten children”. This is perhaps “extremism”. The Cow-Vigilantes say that for every cattle butchered a hundred beef-eaters must be slaughtered with the same machete. This is “incitement to violence” because two days back a young train traveler was killed because some vigilantes entered the compartment and shouted “This here man is carrying beef”.
sathsidu ganasara / June 24, 2017
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