15 November, 2018

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Is The Sinhalese Community Rising Up Against Racism & Violence?

By Mass L. Usuf

Mass Usuf

There has always been this uneasy feeling among the average Buddhist clergy and the Sinhala people in relation to racism and religious extremism. This embarrassment is not surprising because it reflects the teachings of the Buddha himself – metta (loving kindness). Therefore, the general assumption that anything to do with racism is confined only to an insignificant number of people is very correct. However, the havoc they can wreak can be devastating. The 1983 riots provide a good historical study.

The pogrom on the night of 24 July 1983, was not planned but spontaneous. Only small numbers, those who were related to the deceased soldiers, had gathered that day at the Kanatte. They were angry at the government’s decision to directly handle the funeral arrangements without handing over the remains to the families. Wild rumour spread fast and thousands from the nearby Wanathamulla slums kept coming. The crowd rioted with the Police. This cocktail of rumour, anger and sadness exploded into attacking some Tamil shops in the vicinity of Kanatte and Borella area. Later it spread beyond control like wild fire. Different estimates place the death toll between 400 and 3,000 and economic loss of the riots at US$ 300 million.

Ramadan And Aluthgama Riots

The build-up of acts of violence and arson against Muslim places of worship and commercial establishments in the past two months were alarming. Around 28 incidents had been recorded and several Police complaints made. Sadly, The Minister of Law and Order and his law enforcement machinery were in a deep state of coma. The month of Ramadan (the month in which Muslims devote themselves to fasting) was approaching so was the third anniversary of the Aluthgama riots in June 2014. The highly charged turn of events greatly disturbed an insecure Muslim community. They made several representations at all levels of the political spectrum having discussions with the Minister for Law and Order, the Prime Minister and even the President. There was apparently a lack of will to implement the rule of law which was the only request the Muslims were making at these meetings.

The failure both institutionally and in the due process were signs of a disaster in the offing. The writing was on the wall. If a man made planned destruction was disposed of by a vis major in the form of devastating floods and landslides that took place in May 2017, is anybody’s guess.  The loss of lives, destruction of properties and the suffering of the people in the floods were of course, tragic and unbearable. 

Sinhala Society

During this month, the voice of the Sinhala society was being heard. The clergy and the laymen; The intellectuals and the Artists. To be fair, it must be mentioned that among the politicians the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna also voiced their concern at the breakdown of the law and order. These developments reassured the Muslim community that there is still hope in this country. The majority which consists of respectable and right-minded Sinhala people had decided, enough is enough. They would not permit a handful of criminals and thugs to take this country down the path of death and destruction with the tacit blessings of opportunistic politicians and a section of the clergy. This signalled the rise of the silent civic minded Sinhala majority.

The Puravesi Balaya joined hands with the late Venerable Maduluwawe Sobhita thero’s Sadharana Samajayak Sandaha Vu Jatika Vyaparaya (National Movement for Social Justice) (please see this writer’s article in Colombo Telegraph of 08 -11 -2015) and entered the fray ably supported by other civil bodies.  They met with the Inspector General of Police on 11th June 2017, to express their deep concern on the increasing number of attacks on Muslims. Also, to question the hide and seek game played by Ven. Galagoda Atthe Gnanasara who had appeared to have transformed himself from being a monk to a fugitive.  He was wanted on a contempt of court case and has been avoiding the courts with what the pubic considers as lame excuses.  Sick on one date and claiming a threat to his life on another date at the court.  The Appeal Court has now given three dates for the inquiry that is 17th, 18th and 19th of July with the warning that warrant will be issued if he does not appear in court.

“Last week, the Fort Magistrate issued an arrest warrant against Gnanasara after he failed to appear before courts, despite two summons over a contempt of court charge. Incidentally, it was the second arrest warrant issued against the monk within less than a month, the first was issued on May 25, 2017 on charges of inciting racial hatred and for hate speech against the Muslim community.

The police claimed that they had deployed several units to arrest Gnanasara in May, however as he was in hiding they were unable to apprehend him”. (Colombo Telegraph: 21 – 06 – 2017)

Despite Frightening Confession

Meanwhile, the arsonist who attacked a Muslim owned leather Store in Wijerama Junction, Maharagama on 22nd May 2017 had been arrested due to mounting pressure. The IGP, Mr. Pujith Jayasundara had said in this meeting that he was horrified at a confession made by this arsonist. The suspect had said that he planned to attack two Buddhist temples in order to trigger a backlash on the Muslim community. This gives an idea as to the extent of radicalisation of the youth through misinformation and misperception about another community. The Police investigations have now established that he is a member of the Bodu Bala Sena organisation whose Secretary was the fugitive monk Ven. Galagoda Atte Gnanasara, who surrendered to the courts on the 21st of June.

The Word On The Streets

This monk who did not present himself at the Appeal Court claiming a threat to his life, on this day, simply walked in to the Fort Magistrate Court to surrender. As the well-choreographed drama was unfolding, people on the streets were asking, “what happened to the so called hyped up death threats of this monk”. “What happened to the so called four Police units deployed to arrest this monk”?  People were also questioning, “who was harbouring this monk all these days”?  “Why did the Police soft pedal the gravity of the offences of this suspect monk when questioned by the Magistrate?”

The civic minded people feel disillusioned and greatly insulted by this stage-managed saga. They asked, “do these people think we are fools? One rule for the monks and another for the lay person”. Many were also mocking at the fast track bail calling it eligible for an entry into the Guinness book of records. The public is heaping blame also on the corrupt and opportunistic politicians, the Rajapaksas, the Police, the justice system and the government.

Is there a lack in strong Statesmanship and Leadership on the part of both the President and the Prime Minister?

  • “All persons are equal before the law…”  (Constitution:12 (1))
  • Wither the RULE OF LAW! 
  • Whither goest thou, my dear Lanka?
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Latest comments

  • 6
    5

    Gnanasaraya wants a genocide in July 23-27. The mahanayaka have given the blessings. A militia is being created. Already a under ground boycott of Muslim owned businesses are being carried out.another war is coming. Ranil and sirisena seem to be a sleep or want another civil war to be in power.

    • 10
      1

      Yes the lack of a Sinhala Buddhist movement or voice against Sinhala Buddhist Extremism/Terrorism is a huge concern.

      Why is there no such voice?
      If you ask any Buddhist he/she will say Sinhala Buddhist terrorism is in a minority and majority of Buddhist in this country don’t support or stand by their views.
      So where is this majority voice agains Sinhala Buddhist Terrorism!!?

  • 21
    3

    The pogrom on the night of 24 July 1983, was not planned but spontaneous.

    I suggest the author read the booke By Hoole. It was planned well ahead of the actual events. Please don’t re-write history due to ignorance or malaise.

    • 14
      1

      As usual he is trying to down play what happened to the Tamils in 83 while highlighting the grievances of the Muslims.
      I have no issues in him highlighting the grievances of the Muslims without brown-nosing the Sinhalese. I do not know which clergy he is referring to, there was no real protest from the Buddhist or Catholic clergy against the injustice done to Muslims.

      JVP cares less about what is happening to Muslims, Hindus or Tamils, its just playing a political game. Has anyone including the Muslim really protested inside or outside parliament that Ganasara was given bail?

    • 9
      1

      The statement that the pogrom on the night of 24th July 1983, was not planned but spontaneous is a blatant lie. I am a witness to the incident as a resident of Borella. I was working on that Sunday till 8pm in General Hospital Colombo, and drove past Borella junction to my residence in Cotta Road. There was news in the morning that an army truck has been bombed with over 10 dead. Other than that there was no tension among employees or visitors to the hospital. When I passed Borella junction at about 8pm, there was absolute tranquillity with no signs of impending violence. The dead bodies were deliberately brought to Kanatte for a mass funeral in order to create trouble by rousing up the people. Violence started from the cemetery and proceeded in all directions till about 2am. DIG Gaffoor who was present at Kanatte shot in the air to disperse the unruly crowd, but was prevented from taking action. None of the perpetrators were relatives or friends of the dead, but thugs arranged by the then government. The plan was to have the violence on that night only to teach Tamils a lesson so that no future attacks on troops will occur, but it went out of hand from Monday onwards. Since 24th was a poya day, no person was killed, but only properties destroyed. Killing started from next day with people on the street with iron rods and petrol cans. Had JR imposed a curfew on Monday morning nothing would have happened, and he deliberately delayed it till 2pm. When IGP Rudra Rajasingham went to JR’s house to meet him and bring the situation under control, he was stopped at the gates by army guards. However most of the killings took place on black Friday (Kottiya day), instigated by JVP. It appears that there is more than ignorance in that statement to cover up the crime.

      • 5
        0

        Typical Sri Lankan Muslim. Just look at him and the rest of the so called Sri Lankan Moors who post articles here, all look like typical South Indian Tamils that they really are but will deny this and claim that they are all Arabs or Moors with some Sinhalese blood thrown in but will keep on denying their more than 95% immigrant Indian Tamil origin and heritage. They will claim every other heritage under the sun other than their actual Tamil origin and heritage, as they feel this will disadvantage them in the island. They will come here and at every other forum and highlight the real and imagined grievances of concerning the island’s fake Arab low caste immigrant Indian Tamil converted Muslims at the hands of the Sinhalese racists but will downplay what happened to island’s Tamils at the hands of the Sinhalese racists and establishment and will also join with the very same Sinhalese racists to kill murder loot and ethnically cleanse and commit war crimes on the island’s Tamils, for petty benefits and advantages and to steal land for their immigrant community from South India.

      • 4
        0

        One Muslim minister whose family originated from Nagoor in Tamil Nadu organised Muslim thugs and hooligans to kill and rape Tamils and loot burn and burn their business and homes in July 1983 and later in 1985 in Kalmunai in the east. Another started standardisation during the 19070s to deny Tamil students higher education and now another on the pretext of settling displaced northern Muslim IDPS is trying to use funds obtained from certain Gulf Arab states to settle thousands of out of area Muslims from the south who have nothing to do with the north in the strategic northwestern coast around Musali. 60000 Muslims were displaced from the north and most of them do not want to return but now these Muslim organisations claim 200000-300000 were displaced and want to return. How did 60000 become 200000-300000 in 19 years? Even 100000? Humanly impossible. Now the abuse/insults against me by certain Muslims elements will start, for daring to remind them of their actual South Indian origin.

    • 8
      3

      This is an article coming from a typical Thoppi-Pirati ( hat switcher) type.
      One should be extremely careful of having any dealings with them.
      It is good that there are people like Galagoda Gnanasara’s to counter their likes, otherwise they will take over the whole country.

  • 6
    3

    When he thinks the Sinhalese are a community, it shows the nature of the problem. Mr. Usuf, in Sri Lanka, Sinhalese are not a community, but a people, because they are not a sub-section of some other people, like the Muslims or the Tamils.

    And the people from Wanathamulla slums are so poor, they couldn’t care less if the govt was going to handle the funeral or not. Many of the attackers in the 1983 riots were Muslims. Horrendous as the 1983 riots were, it was not so damaging nor the casualties so large as the Tamils claim. These type of riots have happened and is still happening in many places – in India there have been a few riots against Tamils and Muslims and also Christians.

    Muslims must not alienate yourselves from the general public, by changing the way the Muslim community has lived here and adopting new norms and rules of dress code and behaviour from outside. Until recently there were hardly any Muslims who wore the burka, but now there are many. Its plain and pure, frightening and disgusting to see, although most people quickly look the other way and go past these sheet clad ghosts, these things make the general population think that the Muslims are aliens, and they will not come forward to defend the Muslims from the likes of Gnasara.

  • 9
    3

    The day Muslim respect Sri Lankan laws not barbaric Sharia .
    We will respect you. O

  • 2
    4

    I have been getting on with many nationals in the UK and I have worked with people of many nationalities and I have been interacting with many people …

    I have not seen any race better than sinhasles people in term of kindness, friendship, helpfulness, mercy , sympathy and empathy and hospitality and cooperation that Sinhala people….I may be wrong but any sinhasles readers could tell me if this description is wrong ..
    You can not generalise this .there may be some bad apples …we have there are some bad people in each communtiy but my own observation is 95% Singhalese are good people…
    My heart consciousness tells me that..
    I may be wrong but please tell me if I’m wrong ..only people like Ganasara, Ranawaka and some few are bad apples among them.but the almost all of them are good people compared many other nationalities..but problem is with poltics…for some cheap politics…some people use them …they do not care what damage these Radicals have done ..how many shops they have destroyed?
    It’s is Sri Lanka that pay the price ?
    If you destory Muslim shop it means you are destory economy of SL..
    If you are destroying any one shop it means you are destory national property of this country ..
    Wealth of nation belong to all and nation building process needs support of all and yet, these extremist do not think like that..

  • 10
    3

    Why don’t Muslims in Sri Lanka condemn Muslimization of Sri Lanka and Muslim terrorism in the world?????

    • 5
      4

      Johnny Baby ———-“Why don’t Muslims in Sri Lanka condemn Muslimization of Sri Lanka and Muslim terrorism in the world?????” ——————–Its a good idea. Will you condemn the spread of Sinhala/Buddhist fascism in this island and Virathu in Burma?

    • 4
      1

      Come on, SL Muslims = selfish. It is too much to expect, when they care nothing about others in their own community.

  • 6
    2

    Lately, on CT and elsewhere non-Buddhists have stared preaching Buddhism to Buddhists

    • 5
      6

      Johnny ————–“Lately, on CT and elsewhere non-Buddhists have stared preaching Buddhism to Buddhists” ————————Probably its Buddhism for Dummies, the Sinhala/Buddhists fascists. You should welcome their effort.

    • 1
      0

      And they should be thankful. Because in Sri Lanka most Buddhists don’t have a clue what Buddhism is.

      Its a way of live and not even a religion but for sure its not the way they are living it.

  • 5
    3

    Sinhalese as a community should be help accountable for the state of this country today, for blindly following the like of SWRDB , JRJ as well as elements like Wijeveera and BBS. 83′ riots were NOT spontaneous. Remember the burning of the Jaffna library? JRJ and the then UNP leadership was planning an the attack on Tamils for a while. The landmine attack was the perfect excuse for the UNP led mobs to actively incite. Attacks on Tamil were systematic and not just spontaneous.

    • 4
      4

      Really? Should the Tamils as a community be held accountable for what the LTTE did to this country?

  • 6
    1

    Another Muslim writer , trivializing the Black July pogrom against Tamils and bending over backwards to gratify the base instincts of Sinhala-Buddhist racists.
    Propitiating and Appeasement are their stock-in-trade. To him and many other appeasers, Gnanasagara is still “venerable”. It is a crying shame that Hakeem and Co ganged up with Rajapakse racists and went to Geneva to campaign against Tamil victims and Geneva Resolution. They only wanted to curry favour with the Sinhala racists.
    Mend your ways man and learn to call a spade a spade. Learn to raise your voice and fight injustice committed anywhere -against anybody-regardless, Muslim, Tamil, Sinhala or aboriginals. Don’t sell your soul.

  • 5
    1

    It seems like this Gnanasara ( I shall refuse to call him Venerable – because he is NOT), is just a tool being used by some political faction on a “as-needed” basis. His antics start and stop as if someone pushes a button to activate and de-activate his violent outbursts.

    Who is/are the puppet-master/s? What is their agenda? Why does the president – who probably knows the mastermind – condone/put up with and/or support extremist buddhists? What is there to gain for the Sinhalese by this kind of violence? What is to be gained for Muslims and for Tamils?

  • 8
    3

    Mr who ever, you nicely pointing the finger at Sinhalese, we should have annihilate the bloody Arabs when they arrived here in SL. As long as the last Sinhalese live, we will not let you turn this country in to another, Indonesia, Afghanistan, or a Bangladesh, you better (if you have the balls) preach to your own Wahhabi extremist in here than teaching us about Mettah. Whether you moderate or extreme, you all believe one god damn thing, that is all kaffir should be convert or be exterminated. Let’s see, when the whole world ( sane) turned against your stupid belief. What will happen

  • 8
    1

    Dear Mr. Usuf, Where would you fit in disasterous contributions made by minority racists? Are we being played by ethno-religious opportunists like Wahabi Hakeem? Cheers

  • 0
    1

    “During this month, the voice of the Sinhala society was being heard. The clergy and the laymen; The intellectuals and the Artists” . Another useless piece from the author. Where is the voice of victims, in this case the Muslims? More than 20 shops burnt and many mosques attacked, still there is not a single non-violent peaceful protest organized. I am sure these typical selfish Muslims who might be waiting for someone else to come in their brethren’s rescue, because they are worried about losing the wealth they have been accumulating all these years

    • 0
      3

      Well analysed by this writer. What concerns the Tamils most is the motivation that led to July ’83 riots, whether it was spontaneous or pre-planned. What irritates the Buddhist/Sinhalese is that in all instances (attacks on Muslims, Christians and Tamils), they stand-out as the aggressors and instigators. In now seems that people who have lived most of their young lives in the midst of a ravaging war, now don’t know how to appreciate the peace. They want to re-live their addiction to the ‘high’ of war, which can only be explained by their irrational behavior to unleash a devastating pogrom on the Muslims. It surely is an indictment on the majority of the populace for not speaking out against this tribalism and knock some sense into these mongrels, before they start regretting, saying ‘and when they came for me, no one was there to speak for me’.

  • 0
    0

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  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 4
    2

    No Usuf, They are rising against Islamic terrorism and brutal killings.

  • 1
    0

    Mass L. Usuf: “Is The Sinhalese Community Rising Up Against Racism & Violence?”
    The Lankan problem is NOT racism but is language/religion based. Mass is interested in maintaining that Lankan Muslims are a separate race governed by separate laws.
    Maas is over-simplifying the Black July 1983 to “was not planned but spontaneous”. It started at Welikade Prison and a Tamil MP on remand was one of the victims. Maas does not want to know this. What are all those books behind his portrait for?

    Maas says: The arsonist who attacked a Muslim Store in Wijerama Junction, Maharagama on 22nd May 2017 had said that he planned to attack two Buddhist temples in order to trigger a backlash on the Muslim community.
    This is a common tactic by agent provocateurs. The SWRD B assassination was to provoke a pogrom against Tamils but did not quite work.

  • 3
    0

    Dear Pillai, you are wrong to say that the riot started in Welikada Prison. Riot started on Sunday night, while Welikada prison massacres took place with some killed on Monday and others on Tuesday. The riot was a well organised one by UNP government. In June sporadic incidents took place in Ratmalana, Kurunegala and Trincomalee. My good Sinhala friends warned me that riots are going to take place against Tamils. On Sunday night at about 2am, I heard noise of glass breaking. When I got up to see what happened, I saw the glass of a front window shattered by a stone thrown from outside. I thought some miscreants had done it and went to bed. Next morning my Sinhala neighbour told me that this was deliberately done as a marker to point out that the house belonged to Tamils. With his help I boarded up the window to cover the indication sign to attack the house. Tamil houses were marked using electoral lists. This is why houses owned by Tamils with Sinhala tenants escaped while houses owned by Sinhalese with Tamil tenants were attacked. Your statement that a Tamil MP on remand was one of the victims is wrong. Kuttimani was nominated for Vaddukottai seat but the nomination was not accepted as he was in remand and subsequently Neelan Thiruchevam was nominated. So at the time of his murder Kutttimani was not an MP. Again your statement that SWRD assassination was to provoke a pogrom against Tamils but did not quite work is also wrong. 25th of September the day SWRD was shot was my birthday, which I celebrated like any other years, and there was no anxiety among Tamils of an impending riots.

  • 2
    0

    Why the hell do native Sinhalese have to take the Muslim holiday (Ramadan) off? Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, NOT an Islamic country. So far, Muslims have been a minus point on the nation. —————————————————————————————————————————————————– If you want know what really happened in Aluthgama in 2014, watch “Wada Pitiya” program- 20/06/2017 on Derana TV [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WsnEBZU94g%5D , Kalutara District MP explains the 3 main incidences that lead to the Muslim riot . —————————————————————————————————————————————————— Cunning Usuf, — You are having problems for hero Gnanasara thero getting fast-track bail. What do have to say for the Muslim businessman who is responsible for Wallawatha carnage, appearing before a MUSLIM JUDGE, about to get the bail instantly which was objected, and then spent just a day in prison hospital without any illness?????????????????????? ——————————————————————————————————————————————————Usuf, no Muslim has spoken against Willpattuwa forest and Buddhist archeological destruction, invasion of Kuragala, Dewanagala, Digawapiya, Muhudu Maha Viharaya, culprit Badudeen, culprit Sali,etc,etc. YET. —————————————————————————————————————————————————– At a time, whole world hate Muslim for their bad behavior, you keep antagonizing and provoking Sinhala-Buddhists that will lead to dangerous consequences. —————————————————————————————————————————————————– Usuf, you are as cunning as a fox.

  • 0
    0

    July ’83 will be remembered as the most shameful period in the recent history of this country . Sadly , the whole demographic of the island was to change thereafter , and we lost thousands of good,educated, decent citizens to other countries . The LTTE grew virtually overnight from being a bunch of armed rebels to the most feared terror group in the world . It would be interesting to find out who instigated the riot at Kanatte that evening . Older residents in an around Borella would surely know .

  • 4
    0

    Nearly 300000 innocent Tamil civilians have been killed , Since the war started 145000 in May 2009. More than 96% of this in the hands of the Sinhalese armed forces and the Sri Lankan government. 1.2 million indigenous Eelam Tamils ethnically cleansed and chased out their lands, most of them have now fled to the west and are now the Eelam Tamil Diaspora, the rest are still homeless, either living a miserable life as refugees in India or living under trees or caves or with relatives , whilst the Sinhalese Sri Lankan occupying armed forces or the Muslims in the east are occupying their lands. This man like a typical Thullukan from South India , trivialises all this , since his own opportunistic community also took part in this anti Tamil genocidal dance and states it is a calamity that 40 Muslim shops were attacked. This is a calamity to this Indian Tamil Muslim immigrant but what happened to the Tamils is not. They still want to fawn to the Sinhalese racists. You can never trust these people

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