25 September, 2020

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Inter-Religious Harmony: Mr President, Moving From Rhetoric To Action Is Vital And Urgent

By Jayantha Dhanapala and Professor Savitri Goonesekere –

Jayantha Dhanapala

The Friday Forum has, in several earlier statements, drawn attention to the breakdown of law and order witnessed in Sri Lanka in the recent past.  We have pointed to the escalation of grave crimes committed even in public places. Recent campaigns by women activists have highlighted a serious problem of gender-based violence and child abuse.  The failure of the police to act swiftly and effectively in enforcing the law has encouraged individuals and groups of people to take the law into their own hands.  The environment of impunity has provided opportunities for gang and mob violence and caused a growing sense of fear and personal insecurity.

Acts of mob violence have increasingly targeted religious minorities and places of worship. Several groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena and the Sinhala Ravaya, some led by Buddhist monks have engaged in campaigns which can seriously undermine communal and religious harmony and peaceful coexistence among our diverse communities.  The Friday Forum has already expressed its concern regarding the attack on the Dambulla mosque in April last year and the more recent anti-Muslim campaign. This campaign has become increasingly strident and has resulted in acts of mob violence against Muslims. Muslim commercial enterprises have been the target of attacks. Currently there are alarming reports of Muslim women and girls being publicly humiliated and even physically attacked on account of their attire. Several Christian places of worship and private homes have also been targeted. The burning of the Mother Mary statue in Avissawella early this year and the reported mob attacks on a Christian religious centre in Kahatagahapitiya a few days ago are two among many such incidents. It has also been reported that private residences in Nawala and Weeraketiya were attacked by mobs, interfering with the rights of the occupants to engage in religious activities. Some monks have joined groups of persons who have sought to assume the role of law enforcement agencies, engaging in a dangerous trend of “policing” supposedly in the interest of the majority Sinhala Buddhist community.

The Friday Forum unequivocally supports the right to freedom of religion and speech enshrined in our Constitution.  We recognize the rights of all citizens to peacefully express their opposition to what they disagree with, for example by boycotts.   However, such rights do not extend to perpetrating acts of intimidation and violence against anyone. Statements and actions which arouse racial and religious tensions inciting violence cannot be tolerated as freedom of religion, speech and expression.  Vigilantism and mob rule must also be unequivocally condemned, and those who attempt to engage in such activities must be dealt with under the law.

The Friday Forum urges all responsible citizens including religious leaders to actively oppose and counter acts of racial and religious hatred.   We also call upon the government to act swiftly to prevent people taking the law into their own hands in the name of these destructive campaigns.  While acknowledging the constraints under which the Police carry out their duties, the Friday Forum urges the Police to take immediate and firm measures to enforce the law and safeguard personal security of citizens who are victims of these campaigns.    We welcome the recent statement of the Inspector General of Police reported in the Daily Mirror of 16 March 2013 where he warned that some elements appeared to be making a subtle attempt to disturb racial and religious harmony. The IGP declared that the police department is committed to ensuring the safety and security of everyone belonging to all races and religions and will treat everyone equally.  Any opinions, he said, must be expressed respecting the law of the land, and solutions must be found to problems through negotiations. We urge the Government to ensure that the IGP and the Police are given the space and support they need to carry out their functions and duties.  Implementing the recommendation of the LLRC that the Police be delinked from the Defence Ministry and the independent Police Commission be reinstated has become a critical need in the current context.

It is encouraging that some politicians, at both provincial and national levels, have voiced objections to racist organizations in the strongest terms. It has also been reported that two Ministers of the North Western Provincial Council have taken firm measures, together with the Police, to prevent these groups from carrying out campaigns of intimidation and harassment against minority communities. While expressing our appreciation of these individuals for their responsible leadership, the Friday Forum again calls upon the President to act immediately and decisively to effectively counter these campaigns.  The government has a responsibility to foster communal harmony, to maintain law and order, and to ensure peace and security in the country.  Moving from rhetoric to action is vital and urgent if we are to avert a tragic escalation of violence.

Jayantha Dhanapala                                                          Professor Savitri Goonesekere

On behalf of Friday Forum, the Group of Concerned Citizens consisting of;

Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, Professor Savitri Goonesekera, Rt. Rev. Bishop Duleep de Chickera,      Professor Camena Gunaratne, Professor Arjuna Aluwihare, Professor Gananath Obeysekera,                 Ms. Shanthi Dias, Professor Ranjini Obeysekera, Mr. Lanka Nesiah,  Rev. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris,                     Ms. Anne Abayasekara,  Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda,  Dr. A. C. Visvalingam, Dr. Devanesan Nesiah,           Mr. J.C. Weliamuna,  Dr. Deepika Udagama, Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne,  Mr. Ahilan Kadirgarmar, Mr. Ranjit Fernando, Mr. Javid Yusf,  Ms. Manouri  Muttetuwegama,  Mr. Daneshan Casiechetty,          Mr. Faiz-ur.Rahman, Mr. Prashan de Visser, Mr. C. Jayaratne.

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    Jayantha,
    sinhala budhism never aloow people live in peace, only way let tamils rule them and let them look after them self…i will advice you are former un man use your influence and punish who commited crime against my people. as you know sinhala budhism all ways looking for blood and violence, curse for srilanka and world peace..

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    Is this Friday Forum funded by the Muslims?

    They send out press releases only on behalf of the Muslims

    [Edited out]

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      Shiva, you are wrong. Everything need not be religious or race related. Friday Forum always gives a balance picture. Keep up the good work Friday Forum.

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      SHIVA,

      Jayantha Dhanapala is a former United Nations under secretary-general for disarmament affairs (1998-2003) and a former ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United States (1995-7) and the UN in Geneva (1984-87). Dhanapala is currently the 11th president of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs; vice chairman of the governing board of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and member of several other advisory boards of international bodies. As a Sri Lankan diplomat, Dhanapala worked in London, Beijing, Washington D.C., New Delhi and Geneva and represented Sri Lanka at many international conferences, including chairing the historic nonproliferation treaty review and extension conference of 1995. He was director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research from 1987-92. Dhanapala has received many international awards and honorary doctorates, has published five books and several articles in international journals and lectured widely. He speaks Sinhala, English, Chinese and French. He is married and has a daughter and a son.

      HE IS A A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD, SERVED AS AN INTERNATIONAL CIVIL SERVANT. HE IS NOT SPEAKING FOR MUSLIMS BUT FOR JUSTICE

      SAVITRI GOONESEKERA- HERE IS HER BACKGROUND

      Savitri Goonesekere LLB Cey., LLM Harvard 1963 D Litt. Honoris Cansa Open University of Sri Lanka, LLD Honoris Cansa . University of Colombo Sri Lanka. She was appointed as Professor of Law in the Open University of Sri Lanka in 1983 and initiated and developed the University’s LLB programme. She was appointed as the first woman Professor of Law in the Faculty of Law, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1995 and became the first woman to hold the Post of Vice Chancellor (President) in 1999.

      She has held research fellowship in several universities overseas, and served from 1999 to 2002 as an expert on the UN CEDAW Treaty Body. She has published extensively in the areas of gender and development, human rights, including women and children’s rights, family law and legal history. Her publications include a book on the Convention on the Rights of the Child titled ‘Children Law and Justice: A South Asian Perspective’. She is currently Professor Emeritus at the University of Colombo a member of the Editorial Board of the UN Secretary General’s study on violence against children. She continues to serve as a member of the Board of several national, regional and international organizations.”

      IT IS NOT NECESSARY FOR ME TO ADD ANYTHING

  • 0
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    I have seen many many repeated requests for good governance coming from the Friday Forum.A man who is deaf and blind cannot foresee dangers untill it comes to his door step threatening him and his family.What is needed at this moment is street action on one hand and political action carried out by the learned, principled and distinguished group of people like the Friday forum on the other hand.Members of the Friday Forum should link up with FUTA,Professional Organisations,Lawyers collective,Womens’ Organisations and Trade unions and come out with an agenda called 2048 the year we will celebrate as the centenary of Independence.

  • 0
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    The regime seems unwilling to reign in these religous fanatics. The minorities are been exposed to their obscene actions, violence and abuse. What kind of governance is this? Law of the jungle.

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    This is not the Sri Lanka we want to live in. The present government is a terrorist government in disguise. They terrorize anyone going against their views by crushing them. Gota is best at this while Basil brings huge projects to Sri Lanka and robs the hell out of our economy. The US resolution came about because of the Rajapakshas, no one else! They are to be blamed if the disgraces are brought to Sri Lanka. PERIOD!

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    “Budda Bala Sena is saying Sri Lanka is not a multi-ethnic multi-religious country.”

    This is exactly what the Tamil Eelamists are expecting not only from the leading Sinhala-Buddhist organizations but also from the government. The Tamil Eelamists are saying the North & East of Sri Lanka is a Tamil country (Tamil Eelam) which belongs only to the Tamil nation. The Sinhala-Buddhist Budda Bala Sena is saying Sri Lanka is a Sinhala-Buddhist country and belongs only to the Sinhala nation. The Tamil Eelamists are saying Sri Lanka is separate from Tamil Eelam and the Sinhala-Buddhist Budda Bala Sena is saying Sri Lanka is not a multi-ethnic multi-religious country.

    Looks like both BBS and the Tamil Eelamists are having the same agenda, two sides of the same coin and they both are supporting/helping each other to split the country. If the so called two nations (Sinhalese and Tamils) fight for Sri Lanka (Sinhala country) and Tamil Eelam (Tamil country) as two separate states where will we Muslims go?

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    The Friday Forum’s periodic appeals to His Majesty have become nothing if not monumentally tiresome.

    Is’t there something else that you lot (Parlour Bolsheviks as Philip Gunasaredene used to call your ilk) can do other than this endless series of appeals to no earthly purpose except, perhaps, to show that you are on the side of the angels? Of will that upset upset your schedule for the rest of the week and,perhaps, cause some discomfort which you’d rather avoid? You wouldn’t want to do anything resembling risk-taking, would you?

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      Boralugoda Buruwa was the biggest Humbug that this country has seen.

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    Immediate action is required to control the BBS and Sinhala Ravaya actions against Muslims and Christian Centres, by providing access to a telephone number to a command centre. Only such a command centre can take prompt action to control these groups, as the local Police appear to be powerless. Failure to control these groups and safeguard the right to freedom of religion will open the door for foreign intervention in Sri Lanka and the growth of Muslim militant organisations. It can even fragment Sri Lanka into three or more pieces.

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    Dear Jayantha Dhanapala and Professor Savitri Goonesekere.Greate article , unfortunately BBS dont have a capacity to understand this facts as even though there is a fake DR. in BBS

    There is a good suggestion to increase the BBS community. No doubts that’s the same thing they trying to follow soon. First they accepted Islam by saying Buddhist brothers and sisters to get more than one marriage, where they cannot do soooooooooo, why can’t they be role models to get married and make children to compete china’s population, who care about it.
    Why BBS not officially declaring their children’s, as they have many more than six children unofficially. Eventually they will also get 25,000 compensation. is this 25,000 incentives for each month or only once? if it is 25,000 per month , i am going to stop working and starting a child production line.

    PLEASE WATCH THESE VEDIOS
    1)How 100,000 Britons have chosen to become Muslim… and average convert is 27-year-old white woman
    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1343954/100-000-Islam-converts-living-UK-White-women-keen-embrace-Muslim-faith.html#ixzz2LtDtYPXI
    2)Why do Western Women Convert?
    Read more
    http://standpointmag.co.uk/features-may-10-why-do-western-women-convert-julie-bindel-islam-female-conversion
    3)Women & Islam: The rise and rise of the convert
    Three-quarters of Britons who become Muslims are female. Now a major new study has shed light on the difficulties they face in adjusting to their new life.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/women–islam-the-rise-and-rise-of-the-convert-6258015.html
    4)WHY YOUNG BRITISH WOMEN Converting to ISLAM? – BBC Documentary
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPwaJSMCGTE

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    It is sad until the Government of Sri Lanka realizes what they are up against they will not learn. The second UN resolution was one step more than the first. The next one is going to have a clause re: religious freedom. This will keep on going and clauses increasing until one day we will all turn back and say “what the hell did we think”.

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