By Latheef Farook –
On Tuesday 11 September 2018, the Cabinet endorsed the “Counter-Terrorism Bill” (CTL) to be enacted by the Sri Lankan Parliament repealing the Prevention of Terrorism Act, PTA, applied during the wartime in dealing with the LTTE.
The draft bill was presented to the Cabinet by Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana with Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Minister Champika Ranawaka, both known for their hostile mindset towards Muslims reportedly grumbling at the Cabinet meeting that the law was not tough enough!
President Maithripala Sirisena, known for his indifference towards Muslims had agreed to the amendments proposed by Mr. Rajapaksa.
I do not want to go into details of the draft Bill. However it is proper to ask why now this bill, as Ministers Champika Ranawaka and Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe possibly believe that this law if enacted can be used against the minorities and keep the communities divided to achieve their political objective, though it has already been pointed out that in Sri Lanka CTL must necessarily be enforced against Sinhala Buddhist extremists. It is well known that Muslims were subjected to frequent extremist attacks both under the previous and also under the present government.
Ever since the LTTE was militarily defeated in May 2009, terrorism was crushed. Right now there is no terrorism in the country and there is no sign of LTTE raising its head. The only terrorism is the organized Sinhala racist attacks on Muslims involving some elements from the police and Special Task Force-STF- while the government turned a blind eye.
The question is under such circumstance what is the need for CTA? This is because the country passing through a period of worst political and economic crisis while numerous burning issues which deserve urgent attention and solution remain ignored.
Muslims were subjected to violent upheavals under former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Muslims island wide trusted and voted for President Maithripala Sirisena after he assured the restoration of law and order, justice, security, peace and harmony to all. However within months, Muslims, to their shock, began to realize that the two governments were the same.
For example dismissing the sentiments of Muslim here and abroad and peace loving people worldwide, President Sirisena visited the Jewish holocaust museum, during his official tour to Germany, at a time when the real holocaust world- wide were against the Muslims! The visit means rewarding Israel’s barbarity towards Palestinians who have the support of peace loving people everywhere.
Srilankan Muslims were shocked and deeply disappointed. Adding insult to injury the government invited as guest of honor the war criminal former British Prime Minister Tony Blair who, together with US President George Bush, invaded under false pretext and destroyed the ancient country of Iraq, killed millions of innocent Iraqis and destroyed the entire infrastructure besides looting the country from its oil resources to museum.
Of course Muslims have not forgotten that pro-western Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was perhaps the only third world prime minister who refused to condemn the US-UK invasion of Iraq. He has even reported to have told Muslim parliamentarians who wanted to condemn the invasion to leave the government and do so.
During the visit, Blair also met President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the darling of US led UK, European and Israeli war mongers
Shameless state of affair was such that Blair was even given the honor of addressing the Lakshman Kadirgamar International Centre demonstrating that the country has no care for human values. It is no more the fearless respected country with a fiercely independent foreign policy of the 1960s and early 1970s.
In the midst there began sporadic violent attacks on Muslims. When these attacks intensified, a joint delegation from the Sinhala and Muslim civil society led by Prof Sarath Wijesuriya met President Sirisena, during latter part of Ramadan in June 2017, and appealed to him to stop these attacks. President Sirisena dismissed their plea saying these attacks were the works of Mahinda Rajapaksa to topple the government.
However months later in March 2018 Sinhalese Buddhist mob descended by the hundreds, screaming at the top of their lungs and carrying sticks, stones and petrol bombs, on the hill town of Ambatenna in central before spreading to Ampara,Teldeniya,Digana and Akurana.
Many columnists said violence against Muslims did not occur in a vacuum, but backed by an ideology and a political program. Some even went to the extent of exaggerating that it was a deliberate act of the government to create turmoil to divert people’s attention from the prevailing political and economic instabilities.
Dr. Deepika Udagama, Chairperson, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka said: “These sporadic incidents of violence are occurring in the backdrop of sustained hate campaigning against certain religious groups on social media. Hence, we call to take decisive action under the law to bring to book elements which are responsible for instigating religious hatred and violence in the Kandy District and also in other areas. We emphasize the need to take action not only against those who directly participated in such violence, but in particular, against those who instigated and provided organizational strength for such violence.”
The Commission is firmly of the view that if swift and decisive action is not taken against those responsible for sectarian violence, such incidents will not only continue but will escalate. There is a growing feeling within the Muslim community that the government, despite all promises of good governance giving hopes of a peaceful future, had allowed racist forces to attack them.
A number of persons were arrested, however no one was prosecuted, found guilty or sentenced. This was the disgusting state of affairs. President Sirisena did not find it fit to visit the victims, but rushed to New Delhi to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This hostility continues up to date while racist elements were creating tension in the Ampara district due to government decision to build a temple in the Irakkamam Mayakkal area.
Almost three and half years later today the government has miserably refused to fulfil its pledges and failed in all fields.
The repeated attacks on Muslims have made them realize that to them there is no difference between Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government and the Maithri-Ranil government as racist attacks continued.
On the other hand in one of the most disastrous foreign policy decisions the government failed to condemn the genocide of Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar’s military which is the real power there.
The government has also been hostile to Muslims in all Muslim related issue worldwide. For example all international anti- Muslim forces, from America and Israel, who together with Britain, France and Russia, bombed and destroyed nine Muslim countries, killed more than eleven million Muslims and rendered more than 50 million Muslims refugees, are here in the island with their own anti-Muslim agenda as part of their global conspiracy against Muslims. The government is trying to arm these elements with the Counter Terrorism Law.
They enjoy government support. Many suspect that they have penetrated the mainstream media and knowledgeable Muslims fear that these evil forces certainly plot and conspire against the island’s Muslims.
This fear is further buttressed by the government being absorbed into the Washington-Tel Aviv-New Delhi anti-Muslim axis with its agenda of extreme hatred and violence towards Muslims.
This axis of evil emerged in the aftermath of the collapse of former Soviet Union which brought the three strange bed fellows together in keeping with the age old saying that “in international relations there are no permanent friends but only permanent interest”.
During their recent visit to India, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a strong Evangelical Christian and extremely anti-Muslim war monger, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and rabid pro Zionist John Bolton, the new National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, sealed this growing alliance.
It is an alliance involving evangelical Christians, Zionist Jews and Hindu terrorist Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh-RSS-with a common anti-Muslim agenda.
The three have one common agenda against Islam and Muslims. The island’s government has thrown open the doors to all these forces and their local mercenaries in the island.
Unless responsible elements among the Sinhalese community rise up and take measures to deal with these global destructive forces the country turning into a killing field again to the detriment of all may be inevitable.
However, it appears, that there is some silver line of hope following President Sirisena’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly when he said no need of foreign interference in the island and his support to the just struggle of Palestinian suffering under Israeli barbarity.