20 August, 2019

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Geopolitical Framings: On The Appearance Of Apparently Religious Violence In Sri Lanka

By S. Lakshmi –

The bomb attack on St Anthony’s Church, in the heart of Colombo’s old city, which is a famous multi-religious site and a church with a long history of attracting believers of all faiths – Buddhist, Hindus and occasional Muslims– is an attack on multi-religosity, religious amity, and tolerance in Sri Lanka. 

This Easter Sunday attacks are NOT merely and should not been seen merely an attack on a single, minority religious community of Christians in Sri Lanka at this time. Rather these bomb blasts in churches are attacks on the very heart of the county’s plural, multi-religious social fabric and ipso facto an attack on all religious congregations in the country.

Simultaneously, that attacks on three five star hotels where tourists gather is an attack on the country’s already debt trapped and currency manipulated economy.

How we frame the narrative to explain this apparently religious violence as well as will be most important to how soon these latest wounds inflicted on this already beleaguered nation may be healed and the country as a whole may or may not recover from this latest attack on its diverse and plural public culture and economy. 

Today’s attacks targeting the multi-relgious cultural fabric and social mosaic of the entire country as well as the economy appear to be meant to sow discord, confusion and more violence, as well as, to distract people from other on-going geo-political developments and external engagements in the country. 

Ten years after a the war between the state and LTTE ended, we are clearly witnessing what may be termed the ‘Weaponization of Religious identity politics’ and the fanning of religious conflict in this clearly vulnerable island nation which is caught in the cross-hairs of wider geopolitical tensions between big powers and their increasing competition in the Indian Ocean where Sri Lanka occupies a very strategic location. 

The Island of Sri Lanka that has historically been home to 4 great world religions – Buddhism, Christianity Hinduism,  Islam has a long history of multi-religosity, but religion like ethnicity has been periodically weaponized by local political actors who use and politicize religion, whom may term  ethno-religious entrepreneurs, but there are  clearly external interests working in collusion with local political actors in order to divide, distract, rule and advance external  geo-strategic interests in this strategically located country at this time. External parties have geopolitical interests in Sri Lanka to divide, distract, loot and set up military bases in the island as there is a Cold War and increasing militarization of the Indian Ocean at this time, with Sri Lanka being visited by many war ships of big powers and their allies countries. 

Ravana Senai and Ravana Balaya emerged in the post-war period, the former a Hindu organization and the latter a Buddhist Outfit in the predominantly Tamil northeast and Sinhala Buddhist south, seemingly, also targeting Muslims and Christians. 

1983 REDUX

Sri Lankans must be united and act with circumspection as these are dangerous times, also as political transitions and elections loom, even as we are seeing 1983 redux as geopolitical tensions increase. Then too there were external interests at play as ethnic tensions and civilian riots were militarized and weaponized.

Critical researchers on religious co-existence and violence who look at deep structures of conflict and amity between multi-religious communities are increasingly convinced that the bomb blasts at 2 churches blasts are part of a wider systematic post war weaponization of religious identity politics by external parties to Divide, Distract and destabilize this strategically located Indian Ocean island which is in the cross-hairs of a Cold War between the United States, India and its allies on the one hand and China on the other. 

Small countries are often instrumentalized and identity politics weaponized in Cold War proxy wars. These are dangerous times in Sri Lanka as in 1983, when external parties promoted internal conflict and weaponized ethnic tensions during the Cold War.

Ravana Senai and Ravana Balaya were set up to attack Muslims and Christians by external parties with geopolitical interests in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan must be united and act with circumspection.

Crucial information on the Bond Scam was to be revealed as we life of t President next week, after the end of the Sinhala-Tamil New year. There is a pattern of religious riots happening when pro-western leaders are in peril. We recall that the anti-Muslim riots in Digana ad Kandy happened when the Presidential inquiry into the Bondscam report was released to distract from calls for impeachment of those responsible. While those that are being protected with violence my not have known of the attack they are complicit in so far as a proper investigation into the Digana Attacks were not carried out.

The Bomb at 2 churches blasts appear to be part of the weaponization of religious identity politics by external parties working with local political-religious small groups to Divide, Distract and further external interests in this strategically located island nation, even as the current regimes days are numbered and elections due next years. Ironically, but perhaps not co-incidentally, the worst cases of ethnic and religious violence in the island have happened during neo-liberal governments – as with the anti-Tamil pogrom of July 1983, the anti-Muslim riots of May 2019, and now the current attack on multi-religion, religious tolerance and co-existence. There is clearly and economic dimension to these attacks

It is important that all communities to keep calm and understand some of the deeper patterns and issues that underlie these terrorist attacks on religious diversity and tolerance in Sri Lanka at this time.

The book by Yale University academic Eugene Ford, titled “Cold War Monks: Buddhism and America’s Secret Strategy in Southeast Asia”, during the height of the Cold War helps us recognize deep structures and histories that configure religious violence in South and Southeast Asia’s diverse and multi-religious polities. Sri Lanka and Burma were both part of the US strategy to use Buddhism in Southeast Asia to fight Communism at the time. At that time Islam too was weaponized in Afghanistan and the Middle east against communism and its own communities including Sunni-Shia conflict.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    33

    The Caption should have read:

    Buddhist in Lanka go on a rampage on Easter Sunday.

    • 23
      2

      Not at all, Burt. there are no riots. this is terrorism planned beyond the Lanka’s shores.
      There is a foreign party involved in this co-ordinated operation which is an attack on Sri Lanka’s Economy and citizens.

      • 13
        0

        Dead on Shane dude
        Lets see the RAW_CIA bots reveal themselves here!

        • 9
          0

          Surprise, surprise, after the “Shock and Awe” attack in Colombo, the FBI and Aussie intelligence is already in Colombo, less than 12 hours after and too soon to board a flight from USA, no doubt, to craft the narrative and investigation as stated on CNN..
          War ships were also conviniently visiting.
          The plot thickens and the anti-Muslim narrative emerges, but the million dollar question is: did the Islamic Jamat or other Muslims to be scape goated have links with Hollywood’s empire operatives..

          • 8
            0

            CNN is claiming that ISIS and or Islamists are involved in the attacks but Govt of Sri Lanka is asking NOT to spread RUMOURS

            Very strange – CNN and US experts know ahead of the investigation who is to blame!

            • 2
              1

              Some of these Western journalists have no clue about Sri Lankan history, and show their ignorance when they cover our country.

          • 0
            1

            One of the Targetted High end tourist hotels had one Sri lankan Individual, most probably a Christian, and he is supposed to be the head of the National Security analysis organization of Sri lanka. It looks strange.This is some what similar what happened in Nicaragua, and Venezuela. EU was in a hurry for asking a UN Security council meeting saying it is the Religious Terrorism. That was for “Intends to be a Super power” is very strange.

      • 9
        0

        Sri Lankans, one and all, must unite and be aware of external interests is promoting confusion, Fake News and violence.
        Act with thought and caution at this time, when religious conflict is being weaponized.

        Lets make sure to defeat the strategy of external parties to divide, distract, rule and loot small and vulnerable countries..

      • 0
        0

        This is an effort to devastate our economy, and take our country backward again, just when tourism was booming, and things were improving. This may also prevent foreign investors from coming here.
        A cowardly act, and the people must make sure we do not fall into the trap, and attack each other.

    • 3
      0

      There is a phenomenon that the Sri Lankan population is not given breathing space to build this country. The Ruling Elite Mafia has tried and tested many methods to cause damage to the prevailing peaceful environment right the moment. Sirisena suddenly brought in the crisis by appointing Mahinda Rajapakse as the Prime Minister. Then it dragged on for few months, which means there is a plan to bungle the newly experimented “Yaha Palanaya”. They saw in the Yaha Palanaya period that the people becoming more and more free and have lot’s of free time focus on issues the country is facing. Then they saw the 70+ years rule by the GOVIGAMA RULING ELITE clans as the only problem which is blocking the growth of the nation.Then they also saw that there is a dearth need for a candidate who is un corrupted to field as the next President. Gota was their choice but he is corrupt to the core. So, there is a total chaos within the camp. It must be then that they have planned this carnage to happen. All the govt., institution is under their full control. So, they can frame anyone outside of their clan as the culprit for this covert operation. The Global Agenda of the Zionists is to plunge world in killings and mass murder. Rajapakse clans are the ideal choice for this Zionist game plan designed for the Indian ocean region. In India it is MODI.

    • 10
      1

      Burt

      Stop leveling baseless accusations and hate-mongering.. we don’t need that right now

    • 3
      11

      No one wants to admit we are witnessing the birth of Sinhala Buddhist Terrorism! The state is failing to take action against them and this has given them the confidence and made them resort to even more extreme attacks…

      Fresh after the attack on a Methodist Church in Anuradhapura.

    • 7
      11

      Burt,
      Buddhists have never done this kind of things. Christians, Muslims and Hindus have a track record of doing this kind of barbaric acts.

      • 5
        1

        Blind eagle
        No, Buddhists have never done this, except in 1958, 1977,1971, 1983, 1989……….

        • 1
          2

          L A Buddhadasa Alias Sham May be the Master behind this attack. supporters May be Amila one who came from Dubai very recently and Amarasiri he may be theoretician of this clan. Now comment here like Shane.

          • 0
            0

            My dear sparrow,
            Isn’t your real name Singappulli Pukerislage Ranjit Rohana Wijemuni ?
            I asked my pet pooch Ranji, you see.
            Why does this sound so Malabari?

            • 2
              1

              Pa king Idiot my name is SOORIYA PATABANDIGEI RANJITH RAKSHASAKULA WICKRAMASOORIYA There are YAKKASHAKULA WICKRAMASOORIYA as well. we use RAKSHASAKULA as our ancestors were the promoters of KING RAVANA’s sorcery system alone with YAKKASAKULA sorcery system here. Not like you Fa..king Idiots who are refugees grand children. Refugees from south India. ISIS Idiot. Talk history after learning it.Idiot. we never kill people in whatever the way to get 70 odds virgin from almighty like you all. We do not have almighty. Our god is Ourselves. Nobody can change my destiny. It is up to me only. Get lost pa..ing Muslim Idiot.

              • 0
                0

                Ranjith oh Ranjith,
                A good Sinhala Buddhist like you should not get so angry! Now you have revealed your South Indian ancestry. Say, the toilet operative at my grandfather’s Lewke Walauwa was a Patabendige . Isn’t that interesting?

      • 4
        4

        Buddhist in Sri Lanka , including you now living the good life in Australia , thanks to your Tamil wife’s relatives, have committed untold atrocities and war crimes on the island’s Tamil population , since independence in the name of Sinhalese Buddhist Fascism and will keep on committing more and more atrocities. Look at the track record of so called Buddhist predominating countries. Japan( world war two) , China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Burma, Mongolia, Thailand. All well known human rights violators and abusers. Hindu Lord Budda will weep.

      • 5
        1

        Eagle Eye,

        Similar acts, 1958, 1971, 1977, 1983, 2014, 2017, similar but criminal acts, many with state supervision.

        Sinhala Buddhists are not angels.Ask any Tamil.

        Neither are the Japanese Buddhists angels. Ask the Chinese and the Koreans, who are Buddhist as well.

    • 4
      1

      S. Lakshmi –
      From your name it is obvious you are a Hindu but I take issue with some of your quotes. Yesterdays attack was barbaric and blame lies with the Majority and this was waiting to happen. Since the end of the War BBS was on the rise and MS & RW failed to bring those guilty of War |Crimes to justice.
      1) The bomb attack on St Anthony’s Church, in the heart of Colombo’s old city, which is a famous multi-religious site and a church with a long history of attracting believers of all faiths – Buddhist, Hindus and occasional Muslims– is an attack on multi-religosity, religious amity, and tolerance in Sri Lanka.
      Rather these bomb blasts in churches are attacks on the very heart of the county’s plural, multi-religious social fabric and ipso facto an attack on all religious congregations in the country
      *** Before you make any comments about religious tolerance you should relect of the comments by the Bishop of Mannar ( I might be wrong with who exactly it was) about a Hindu Shrine. .
      2) Simultaneously, that attacks on three five star hotels where tourists gather is an attack on the country’s already debt trapped and currency manipulated economy.
      *** It is only natural that the aggrieved will hit where it hurts. The fault lies with the majority for their intolerance in allowing the attack by BBS on Muslim owned businesses and places of worship.
      3) How we frame the narrative to explain this apparently religious violence as well as will be most important to how soon these latest wounds inflicted on this already beleaguered nation may be healed and the country as a whole may or may not recover from .

  • 4
    1

    S Lakshmi,

    So, who are behind these cowardly massacres?

    Sinhala ‘Buddhists’
    Tamil ‘Hindus ‘
    The Rajapaksa Clan
    The West in weaponizing Religion, before the elections , so that West leaningUNP will be elected
    Devil following ISIS and it’s clones.
    Christian evangelists, as the victims are Catholics in the churches
    The Indian RAW
    Mossad, the Israeli spy agency. They do not Jesus , for theological and historical reasons.
    Any other group.

    Hopefully, time will tell.

    • 3
      7

      It seems that CT is infected with a virus. It’s name currently is S.Lakshmi, but previously was K.Ganesh , an expert on satellites. The virus also goes as Don Stanley, Shamil, Lanka Rani, Brain master, Dinuk, and many more. It has no apparent purpose, except to insert jargon such as Bondscam, Cold War, Big Data, Trumpland, Millennium Challenge, Weaponized, into totally unrelated discussions.

    • 0
      0

      So many suspects, and anyone is highly possible. It is a shame that Sri Lanka has to watch out for so many culprits.

  • 8
    2

    This too well organized to be local. It has all the fingerprints of the RAw, CIA, Mi 15.

    • 3
      6

      Why not racist Sri Lanka army of war criminals

    • 3
      0

      niro ,

      “This too well organized to be local.”

      Yes, the locals do not want to damage the local economy, and most likely there is a geopolitical footprint here. They are bringing their ideologies and geopolitical conflict footprints to the local arena, a very sad situation for the locals.

      Whose self-interest is being served?

  • 5
    6

    NONSENSE!!!!
    /
    Is the writer implying that Sinhalese are being it?????????????????
    /
    Digana riot was started by Muslims killing innocent Sinhala-Buddhist man.
    /
    There are no attacks on Christians. But lots of TRUE Christians oppouse NGO-Christians and there so called priests who have become priests OVER NIGHT. These NGO priests claim that they can make the crippled walk again. Also these days lots of Muslim money is flying all over Sri Lanka.
    /
    Now it’s not a secret anymore that imperialists who wanted to protected their interests and wealthy NON-Buddhists did SWRD’s assassination and Sirimawo’s failed kidnap plot.

  • 3
    1

    We are not going to find out the true culprits behind this murder because our country’s politics is such a way uses religious fundamentalism to achieve their objectives. This country is in bloodbath in frequent intervals since 1958 and so far none of them were brought under justice. The early indication points the fingers towards International Islam terrorism. The question is why Srilanka? Why Easter? Why Christians?. Why Hotels? So the target seems to be towards West!

  • 4
    2

    The bombs and deaths have dealt a cruel blow to the island’s religious harmony and to its economy. That will take a long time to to heal.The easy option is to blame foreign elements. That way we can find excuses and buy ourselves forgiveness. But the reality is that this happened within our shores, obviously organised and carried out by extremist factions of our own society. There’s no getting away from such facts. So get real. Work together to find out the culprits and deal with them mercilessly.

  • 8
    1

    The signs have been clear for all to see. But those who should have, and could have, stuck their swollen heads in the sand, scratched their itchy balls, hoped the threats would simply go away, and in the end did nothing about it. Now, it has come to pass, what was foretold for some years now. First the Tamils, next the Muslims, and the Christians. Now will come the cover-ups at the very highest. Ours truly is a land like no other.

  • 3
    0

    Do not spread rumours and find the truth .
    punish the culprits whoever they are ?
    This is a true barbarism.
    any one who did it must be punished .
    So sorry to see this beautiful ISLAND descend to this level of barbarism .

  • 8
    4

    Radical Islam is hitting Lanka and this author is writing mumbo jumbo about non-existent, nonsensical threats while not mentioning Islamic terror once! This is the surreal case of the elephant in the room. For the sake of its people Lanka must follow the Chinese example of full surveillance of all mosques and monitoring of all Moslems between ages 12 -65. Otherwise there will be more and more attacks like this and Lanka will eventually become a fully radicalized Islamic republic.

    • 1
      3

      That is utter bull. Sri Lanka will NEVER become a fully radicalized Islamic Republic. The 9 percent of minority can NEVER take over the 70 percent majority. You are obviously not good at maths.
      You are spreading fake news to cause fear among the Sinhalese, jus like those “gully” balls in the food. The majority of Muslims are peace loving, and do not agree to extremism, and terrorism. We all suffered the last time we had terrorist attacks.

    • 2
      2

      You Sinhalese were very happy when radical Islam hit the island , as you encouraged this , and the Arabisation of the island’s Muslims ,who were really ethnically Tamil and used is a tool to marginalise the Tamils , especially in the east and try to contain them. Never realised that that his monster will turn back and bite you Sinhalese too.

  • 7
    1

    A rather sloppy and amateurish piece, and coming so soon after the tragedy, it does offence to the victims, the injured and their families. They deserve due silence by way of respect and empathy and they should not be doubly victimized by anyone’s political agenda.

    • 1
      1

      Yes, a very amateurish effort, full of irrelevant jargon.
      Clearly the author himself/ herself has written many of the comments, since they contain the same jargon.

  • 2
    0

    This particular event does not benefit either of the two rival parties in SL. The economic and law & order crisis it may create is too severe for the present regime to collude in comparison to the possible distraction envisaged, especially when that could be countered with revelations as to who was responsible for the extra judicial killings and fraud during the last regime. Some in the previous regime were known associates of extremist organisations that was a cause for their downfall and it is something they seek to remedy that perhaps makes them unlikely collaborators.

    However, SL has to take responsibility for the drastic failures and carnage of the past. Then only the remedy will follow It is too simplistic to blame external actors when the star performers and instigators were our own. This is a standard 3rd world argument overlooking the actual cause, which included tribalism.

  • 2
    0

    Well said and so wise. THIS IS A CRUEL EFFORT TO SET ONE AGAINST THE OTHER IN SRI LANKA. Do not fall for this. Let the evil behind these despicable terror acts be dealt with the right way. We have experienced personnel who can handle this, and we do not want mobs taking matters into their own hands, carried away by deliberate false rumors being spread. They have used our tiny nation to spread their evil campaign, and we must reject and resist that attempt. Again I say damn these people, who dare to do this to us, and take innocent lives.
    Reject the nations that insert themselves into our affairs, and their media, that points to culprits one way or another. Many of them do not mean well, and do not care about us. Be united and do not be swayed.

    • 4
      2

      What a silly person. This is a terrorist attack you mediocrite, you are dealing with fanatical, bloodthirsty, lunatic Jihadis. Lankan Moslems are more than 50% radicalized, and in the Eastern province it is possibly over 80%. Your mumbo jumbo about being set against the other is not going to help. They are already set against every non-Moslem Lankan. Wake up silly dreamer, your romanticisms are not going to help. Moslems fanatics must be identified and eliminates on masse, and tens of thousands have to be incarcerated and watched every minute. Sophisticated technology must be used to identify every single Moslem fanatic and they should be tracked at all times.

      Get and education please and keep your silly “tiny country”, “false rumors”, “reject the nations” nonsense for another time. This is terrorism and terrorist war declared on the non-believers by Moslem fanatics. Wake up!!

      • 0
        0

        “This is a terrorist attack you mediocrity”
        So our fake Sudda has already forgotten his bana talk about not getting personal. Only when it suits the Professor of Glyphosate from Canada, maybe?
        Stuff it, I say. If you want to rabble-rouse do it as the miserable mediocrity you really are

  • 6
    2

    It is high time people of Sri Lanka approve a set of laws that prohibit religious propagation of murders and animal sacrifices in total.

  • 4
    3

    The way things go, LAter it will be clear that Military buddhism in Asia has some bearing here.

  • 2
    0

    Whoever did/contrived these blasts at places far apart must have been knowledgeable and had access to explosives, timers and means of transports for themselves, and timed these blasts to happen within a time frame less than 24 hours, and, vanish soon after.
    The few persons arrested should divulge details, knowing the ‘techniques’ of ‘extraction’ of information our law enforcement agencies possess.
    This should bare their identities – it would be then, that ‘the shit would hit the fan’.

  • 0
    0

    this was not organized by an ethnic group as a whole.. there are extremist elements from unidentified ethnic groups and group as a whole is unaware of such underground elements . so all have to be careful in blaming any ethnic group. this element has to be isolated and controlled instead of going for the whole group.
    -dayal

  • 0
    2

    I read a ,lot about the Bomb blast. My conclusion is that the INTERNATIONAL community and Some Sri lankan, NGOS, may be INGOs, are responsible for the bomb blast. . I think it has a big political component. Sinhala people would never their own. NOTE they tolerate LTTE for over 30 years.

  • 0
    3

    Lakshmi Should be ecstatic because, Our forces, Police or STF in a panic mode did not run, as happened in the UK underground Train station, behind a Tamil or a Muslim running to the train and did not shoot him on the head.

  • 1
    0

    The less some know the more they write on such matters.
    They cannot wait for the dust to settle.

  • 3
    3

    As per all the reports came out so far this terrorist attack in more than five places including 3 catholic churches is the work of ISIS affiliated Islamic extremist group led by terrorist Mohamed Riswan All the attacks seem to be suicide attacks. Churches attacks may be due to incident happen in New Zea- land. Hotels attacks may be target of white tourists. Government should arrest all Muslims MPs in parliament & question them. without their support Importation of high explosives used in these attacks is not possible. Colombo district two MPs and their supporters like ones who comment here under the name of L A Buddhadasa may be the ones behind these attack I suppose. police should arrest them & question them. Not only that youth in the areas these leaders live & work should be arrested. In earlier time JVP & LTTE times police & security forces did this. This time too same thing should be done. High class Muslims business men may be their financiers. through investigation should be done. Otherwise repetition of these kind of incidents may be the order of the day I suppose. Very happy to see police is doing their jobs without Muslims politicians & rich business men influences Muslims Business community in Colombo city should be aware of details of these attacks & terrorists involved. Same way Colombo Muslim MPs & their close associates should be aware of A to Z details of these terrorist attacks.

    • 1
      1

      Dear Ranjith sparrow brain,
      What an apt name you picked for yourself. So, if all Muslims know the details you mention, then all Buddhists must know who started 1956, 1971, 1983, etc ?
      You don’t ? Well then, what was the name of the lokuhamuduruwo who looked after you so kindly as a kid?
      Budu saranai!!

  • 0
    0

    I didn’t work in Srilanka police department, ( in 2017- there was boom blast in Iraq Caholic church/ Otto church, 2018, in Cairo / Egypt, in church- Easter Friday, )( today 2019, in Colombo, churches) why our police not work quick, if one / two police stand front of churches , they should stopped this killing, so, sorry for foreigners, now foreigners think to come to Srilanka, what was schme for Srilanka, CNN/International news, report some people fotos, up to that now news from Srilanka media, ( the people killed in churches poor people, ) what they had done, when a Tamil person go to hotel, he checked, but ( Z.H) what was, in Shin Gri la hotel, what Security done? .

  • 0
    0

    In stressful times one speculates with limited or no facts. If these get published, things snowball. This is how fake-news and rumours spread.
    RW has warned us about this hazard. MS has gone for a three-person PCoI. Note how quiet MR & GR are! The MR team are fervent supporters/patrons of BBS.
    .
    Harin Fernando fronting up to the media, regarding what he heard, was wrong. Rajitha Senaratne may be Cabinet Spokesman but NOT on the present matter. The Police Spokesperson must keep updating reliable information to the Ministry of Defence. No point telling us blow by blow.
    .
    Should CT publish articles which are not constructive?

  • 0
    1

    Lakshmi dear.
    This piece{?!} of yours is neither Fish,Flesh nor Fowl.
    But, pl. do not despair; This is the sort of piece ,in our peaceful days that can land you with a Ph.D. in the South-Eastern University situated at Oluvil-in no mans land!

  • 0
    1

    LAKSHMI: One morning the bomb blasts occurred. by night this article had appeared. How it happened, did you write it in advance.

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