By Latheef Farook –
Buddha preaches love and compassion. If the Buddha is there, he will protect the Muslims whom the Buddhists are attacking- Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama.
While the Sinhala Zionist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS),gangsters were killing Muslims, looting and burning Muslim owned properties in Aluthgama, Dharga Town, Beruwala and the surrounding areas on June 15 and 16, 2014 in Colombo an all out effort was made to cover up this carnage with a media blackout.
This was a disaster for the local mainstream media which, by and large, had become tool in the hands of the government and Sinhala racist elements.
However, within 24 hours, media become a laughing stock as throughout the curfew hours on Sunday 15 June 2014 and Monday 16, people were kept informed of the barbarity unleashed with minute by minute comments by several sources including mobile phones, sms, face book and twitters.
As a result, the overall policy of local media showing indifference towards Muslim issues and promoting racist elements became almost irrelevant.
Only on the third day, Tuesday 17 June 2014, news started trickling out from the media providing some details of the Sinhala extremists’ shameful violence on helpless and voiceless Muslims supported by the Special Task Force, STF, and the police.
Even on the third day the media failed to highlight the scale and seriousness of the atrocities. There were noon the spot reports. There were no detail articles or photo features of the destruction.
In one of the most shameful developments in the history of the island’s mainstream media, wide publicity was given to news and views of politicians and others trying to hide the crime and put the blame on the victims.
However, foreign media covered the carnage with all the details exposing local media hypocrisy.
Now the question is who imposed the media blackout? Who gave the order to the media not to publish anything related to the carnage? Who wanted to cover it up? Why did they want to camouflage and protect the Sinhala extremist mob? Why did the mainstream media, predominantly private owned, obediently complied with this order?
It is obvious that the order was to help facilitate the murderous thugs to ensure smooth implementation of their pogrom. This is an indirect effort to wipe out the Muslim community, a community that has been living for more than 1200 years in the island.
In Colombo racist neo fascist outfit JHU, self declared guardian of Sinhalese and Buddhism, was in the forefront trying to hoodwink the country by diverting attention with blatant lies such as the presence of Al Qaeda, so called Muslim extremists and the myth of threat they pose to the security of the country.
Minister Champika Ranawaka was in the forefront in spearheading this campaign defending his BBS friends. He came out with interviews after an interview vehemently defending BBS barbarism. This implies his hostility towards the Muslims.
Media virtually sold its soul when these malicious interviews were given wide publicity.
Time and again top police and army officials have clearly denied of any presence of Al-Qaeda or any such organizations here. The National Shoora Council, an umbrella organization of numerous Muslims organizations, has asked JHU and others to produce any evidence of the Al Qaeda presence here.
So far JHU failed to substantiate their allegation. However, both Minister Ranawaka and his JHU colleague Udaya Gammanpila continue to frighten the innocent Sinhalese by trying to sell their bogey of Muslim extremist presence here.
Al Qaeda is an organization of Afghans, founded, trained, funded and built up by the United States and its stooge Saudi Arabia in the 1980s to fight Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Since the collapse of former Soviet Union, US ,UK and Europe invaded Muslim countries one after the other and destroyed their modern infrastructures and killed millions of innocent people besides driving many more millions into refugee camps to languish there.
People who had seen how their countries are being destroyed and their loved ones being raped, tortured and slaughtered joined Al Qaeda to fight against US-European atrocities. It was this Al Qaeda described by the predominantly pro Jewish Western media as terrorists. Third world countries like Sri Lanka depending on western media for their international coverage always get the distorted version. Thus people word wide does not know the correct picture of who the terrorists are and who the freedom fighters are.
There is no question of al Qaeda indulging in petty crimes such as robbery, looting, arson and murder as the BBS had done.
Displaying his ignorance, Minister Ranawaka even accused Jamaathe Islami and Tabligh Jamaath of being extremists. Jamaathe Islam confines to intellectual activities while Tabligh Jamath, a non political movement, spread the message of Islam through peaceful means. Thuggary, violence, attacking innocent people, looting and burning their properties and causing immense sufferings to innocent people have never been part of the agenda of any Muslim organization in the island. That is the exclusive privilege of Sinhala extremists who virtually ruined this beautiful country.
These groups within the Muslim community had been there for decades and have never posed any threat to anyone. If there was such a threat as Minister Ranawaka falsely claims he can get his government to probe and bring them to book.
Minister Ranawaka visited a Sinhalese family in the affected area around Aluthgama. During the same visit ,as minister of the government ,did he visit the burnt Muslim areas and looked at the face of the two month old baby whose father was killed allegedly by the STF while defending the mosque from the BBS thugs.
However his human feelings run dry when it comes to Muslims.
The English language daily “Daily Mirror” devoted a full page write up and pictures of Minister Ranawaka’s visit. How many pictures this daily published on the carnage in and around Aluthgama?
Reiterating the pro racist policy of Daily mirror the website Colombo Telegraph had this to state;
“The Daily Mirror which took an extremist Buddhist position on the riots in Aluthgama and Beruwala in June continues its streak of promoting Buddhist nationalism and racism in the country, has distorted the statement issued by the venerable Dalai Lama the spiritual leader of Tibet and Buddhist icon.
Under the heading “Dalai Lama statement misleading: PNM” the Daily Mirror said that while expressing displeasure on the statement issued by Most Ven. Dalai Lama on Sri Lankan Buddhists, Patriotic National Movement (PNM) Chairman Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thera on Monday said Dalai Lama has been misled on how Muslims were being treated in Sri Lanka.
“There is a conspiracy against Sri Lanka. These sinister motives are to discredit and tarnish the image of Sri Lanka and if possible to destroy it,” Gunawansa has said according to the Daily Mirror report.
Shockingly the newspaper has failed to carry the statement of the Dalai Lama in full anywhere in the newspaper although almost all other newspapers in Sri Lanka have printed the Spiritual Leader’s remarks. The Dalai Lama’s statement however appears on the Daily Mirror news website.
Liyanarachchi’s actions to turn the Daily Mirror newspaper which is widely read by minorities in Sri Lanka as the country’s largest daily English paper into a nationalist pro JHU pro Sinhala hardline newspaper remain unaccounted for”.
Equally in the frontline to cover up the Aluthgama pogrom was JHU provincial councilor Udaya Gammanpils who distorted facts in his weekly column “The Guard Post” in the Ceylon Today on 6 July 2014 under the title” Dharga Town-A Post Mortem” to mislead the people.
This was absolute lie to save the BBS thugs and put the blame on Muslims.
It is not an easy task for Muslim point of view to find some space in the local media which played a crucial role in poisoning the Sinhalese minds against Muslims and creating today’s unfortunate climate of hatred between the two communities. It was the media which built up racist elements such as BBS and JHU to the detriment of the country.
The pathetic plight of once proud media is such that English newspaper Ceylon Today came out with a poster campaign to promote its July 6 issue titled ‘Sri Lanka under “Al Qaeda Threat bearing the image of a masked, black-clad terrorist wielding a gun.
Describing the JHU’s disastrous racist policies and threat posed to the county, in his 10 July 2014 interview with “The Island” , Vice President of the United National Bhikku Front and the Chief Incumbent of the Khettaramaya Temple in Godagama, Ven Malabe Seelarathna said“ Gnanasara Thera as disaster to the Sasana”.
He added that; “In the context where the government is losing support among the Buddhists, they have created these extremist organizations to shore up their support by portraying the minorities as enemies. Today, the government does not have the minority vote. I think these people are going to contest the next election on the ruling party ticket. Before this, we saw the Hela Urumaya coming forward, selling our Buddhist flag, and our Valampuri. They created a situation where bhikkus in this country were referred to as ‘hakgedi’. The Hela Urumaya destroyed the respect the people had for the robe and the Buddhist flag. After going into politics, what have these people done for the Sasana? They only ended up enjoying the perks of office and are today leading luxurious lives. The Bodu Bala Sena is also trying to get into parliament and enjoy all the perks. It is to defend this corrupt government that they are doing all this”.
Meanwhile adding insult to injury the External Affairs Minister Prof G.L. Peiris accused the victims as extremists when he said “extremists on “both Sides”.
Later briefing a group of ambassadors and high commissioners on Monday 23 June 2014 Prof Peiris said” disruptive elements consisted on an extreme fringe on both sides, and it was necessary to be balanced in any proper appraisal of the situation”.
Here Prof Peiris put the blame on the victims, Muslims, too. He knows very well that it was Sinhala mob attacked the Muslims. It was only the Muslims who suffered.
Perhaps Prof Peiris at least should have listened to the speech of United National Party parliamentarian Palitha Thevarapperuma who had been an eye witness and whose eye was injured by the mob, when he said this heinous crime was committed by Sinhala mob with the complete backing of STF.
The mainstream media suffers from some kind of anti Muslim hysteria though the Muslims in the country have been the most peaceful of the three communities and Muslim countries in the world remain the best friends of the island in the world.
Sri Lanka benefits a great deal from Muslim countries than all countries, including Buddhist countries, put together.
For example almost a million Sri Lankans work in the Gulf countries and remit more than six billion dollars yearly. This is around 60 percent of the country’s foreign earnings. This employment opportunity has numerous positive economic, social and cultural elements bringing the Gulf countries and the Sri Lankans together.
These aspects were completely ignored by the mainstream media.
However the local media screams when a Sri Lankan worker was ill-treated while trying to project as if the doors of prosperity were opened to the island when few hundred Sri Lankans were recruited by Israel for employment.
To cite yet another example hundreds of articles were written dealing with different aspects of Indian vote on the issue of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ probe into alleged Sri Lankan war crimes during the last stage of the LTTE war in May 2009.
However seven Muslim countries voted in favor of Sri Lanka. This support was simply ignored as passing remarks in the local media.
This has been the pattern for years.
In yet another attempt to cover up the carnage twenty three Buddhist Organizations issued a joint statement stating that the media blackout imposed by the Information Department has failed to highlight the sufferings of the Sinhalese in the area.
They claimed that their version was the true story behind the Aluthgama clashes. They expressed disappointment over the manner in which the media reported the incident saying it was evident that a media censorship imposed by the authorities prevented the media from reporting the truth.
The organizations are: All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, Colombo Young Men’s Buddhist Association, Government Service Buddhist Association, Colombo Parama Vinnartha Buddhist Association, and Victory Association. Organization of United Buddhist Associations, Dharma Vijaya Foundation, National Bhikku Conference, Bodu Bala Sena, Sinhala Rawaya National Association, Sinhala Veera Vidana, National Association of Eminent Persons, Buddhist Power Circle, Hela Bodu Saviya, Patriotic Teacher’s Association. Swarna Hansa Padanama, Hela Deya Wadanno, Rawana Saviya National Association, Hela Yugaya National Organization, Hela Vijaya National Movement, National Movement for Protection of Historical Sites, Shanthi Padanama and Sri Lanka Maha Bodi Padanama.
It would have been better that these organizations visited the affected areas and see for themselves who did what and who suffered most before making this statement to hoodwink the people.
Meanwhile the authorities tried to cover up the killing of two Muslims who came out of their house to protect a mosque. The eyewitness accounts confirmed that the two Muslims died “due to gunfire”. However, post mortem says the deaths were caused by lethal cut wounds.
The Opposition leader Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe made a special statement in the parliament alleging that there seemed to be a cover-up of the incidents at Aluthgama.
He added that there are many eye witnesses who state that the deaths occurred due to gun fire. However, post mortem states that the deaths were caused by lethal cut wounds. These contradictory statements bring about many misgivings. These misgivings are further confounded by the interview given by Rauff Hakeem, the Minister of Justice to a newspaper on 22nd June which states that; “Although two people were shot dead in Welipitiya on Thursday, its inquiry and the post-mortem are strange. I can submit proof that bullets had been used at the spot where these people were wounded. I went to the spot. It is not the civilians who fired at them. But the post mortem report states that those two were dead due to lethal cut wounds. It is a very serious matter if even the medical reports are prepared fraudulently”.
As the Minister of Justice himself states, it is a very serious matter if even the medical reports are prepared fraudulently. I also wish to draw your attention on the Magistrate’s inquiry conducted on these killings. That inquiry had no representation from the Attorney General’s Department.
The Counsels appearing for the affected party drew the attention of the Court on an important matter where they stated that the Government Analyst had not yet been called to the locations. In particular, it is a methodology followed worldwide to summon the analysts to the locations destroyed by fire and determine their cause. However, in this instance, not only the Department of Government Analyst had not been called, but also the armed forces had been deployed to remove all the debris and renovate all such spots that caught fire so that every proof that would support such an inquiry would be rubbed out.
Therefore, the Magistrate has issued an order banning removal of debris around the spot concerning this case and the related renovations. However, I would like to bring to the notice of this House that the process of concealing proof is underway everywhere else’ stated Mr. Wickremasinghe.
This is the plight of Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority which lives in fear.