21 September, 2019

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Mawanella Incident: Nation Should Be Wary Of Racist Cat-Paws At Play!

By Mohamed Harees

Lukman Harees

What happened in Mawanella involving the destruction of Buddhist statues is extremely tragic and should be severely deplored with all the emphasis at our disposal. Further, this act goes against the religious teachings, our people hold sacred. Impartial investigation should begin without any delay to identify if this is a lone wolf attack or the attackers are mere cat-paws of and part of a greater machination. Those involved in the dastardly act should be subjected to the severest punishment under the law. Even if is a lone wolf attack, a danger lurks where there are always possibilities that forces with self-centred vested interests and ruined political ambitions may exploit the emotions of the affected people to exasperate communal tensions and re-create another ‘Digana’ or bout of communal violence, in pursuance of their own agenda even at the cost of much needed communal harmony. The positive development has been the laudable manner in which the religious, political and civic leaders have approached this issue and have sat down around a table to discuss and extinguish these inflammatory issues is most praiseworthy at least for now.

Sri Lanka no longer can afford to go through any more periods of communal tensions and violence, on the heels of a continuing political crisis arising out of a constitutional coup initiated by the Head of State. Already the country’s economic progress has had many setbacks in the Post-war era with a galloping debt burden, chronic political corruption and an increasing cost of living while national reconciliation has become a distant cry. Post war era Sri Lanka has been sitting on a communal volcano and a powder keg exploding from time to time.

It is therefore imperative that the Police and the law enforcement authorities act both firmly and even-handedly to ensure that these types of vandalism and explosive issues do not explode into serious ones, by undertaking a thorough impartial investigation and identify if any possible cat-paws of conspirators hell-bent on creating mayhem in the country already wounded by 30 years of a bloody war and regular bouts of communal violence. Action of individuals should not be allowed to be amplified as actions of an entire community and tarred with communal colours, thereby allowing goons and hooligans to launch attacks on them, commit arson and loot their properties at will. Digana should serve an apt reminder and a bitter lesson.

The role of the Police in these types of communally tense situations in the past by and large has been controversial and their impartiality called into question. Police were blamed for not taking instant action to nip them in the bud, and for failure to conduct proper investigations, sometimes at the behest of some political higher-ups too. They were even accused of complicity in the riots by turning a blind eye, allowing perpetrators to indulge in mischief under the cover of curfew, and also by taking part in the acts of arson and looting. Even the good image of STF was tarnished recently. Both the government as well as the Police higher-ups should therefore treat these as serious issues and take preventive action in instances of this nature, as these types may not be the last. The President as the Minister in charge of ‘Law and order’ (despite our reservations of his credibility to hold this post) should take full responsibility to ensure that these types of incidents are properly investigated ,culprits identified and action taken against them irrespective of the race they belong to or positions they hold.

The communal riots and violence seen in this country are not spontaneous outbursts of violence between two communities; rather they all carry hallmarks of being meticulously planned and executed. It is necessary for the Police to make this distinction as the role of law and order machinery depends very much on whether the riots/violence are planned or is spontaneous. If it is well planned (as they are in respect of communal violence in our country), then it assumes a different character and requires more motivation and determination on the part of the Police to control it. These are usually pre planned by anti-social groups with pseudo patriotic labels or frustrated political elements with their own agenda or to serve the interests of their political patrons. After this planning phase, an appropriate atmosphere or scenario has to be created and this is often done with a view to raising the communal temperature by spreading atrocious rumours (Wanda pethi), an altercation causing serious or fatal injury (Aluthgama or Digana trishaw incident) or staging attacks on religious symbols ( like many ‘engineered’ incidents of destroying Buddha statues in Trinco, Colombo areas and in this case Mawanella). This greatly helps in spreading violence and justifying it. In other words, violence acquires legitimacy in the eyes of the affected community and difficult to control specially if the issues at hand involved are religious or historical deeply embedded in the emotions and psyche of the people and when political higher-ups act as patrons. The law enforcement and the government therefore have to take these perspectives and historic lessons into account when inquiring into and dealing with the incidents which happened in Mawanella.

Sri Lanka has been an unfortunate nation, despite being endowed with enormous natural resources and friendly, talented people, where communal tensions have been occurring at regular frequency since Independence. This governments of the day since the British left our shores, virtually ignored or turned a blind eye to the racist hate speech, dog whistles, hush talks , vicious barks at the grass root levels, in parliamentary corridors and also in open spaces and since of recent times, in much powerful social media as well for cheap political reasons, and allowed even minor issues to snowball into uncontrollable racist violence. The unfortunate consequence has been that much bitterness, rancour and ,mutual mistrust were created among the friendly Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims thereby diverting their attention away from working together for their mutual progress and also tarnishing the international image of the country in the process. Even the courses of action taken by the governments whenever the communal tensions showed signs of aggravation, were too little and too late as well, whether 1983, Aluthgama or Digana.

It is a reality that the Tamils are yet to get the much needed justice after the end of the war with many issues regarding settlement, compensation and missing persons still unresolved despite many promises to this effect by both sides of the political divide. Muslims in the Post war era faced the wrath of a well-orchestrated hate campaign launched by hate groups with the blessings of the political higher-ups. The main perpetrators of communal violence are still at large which has injected fear and continuously infuses a sense of insecurity into the minds of the Muslim community. Both Tamil and Muslim politicians have lost their credibility among their people, which puts the burden on the major parties to work out a consensus to make the numerically minority communities once again feel as part of the citizenry on an equal footing, while particularly building the shattered confidence of the majority community as well. It is imperative to sort out the fears and grievances of the Majority community without which nothing worthwhile will work out.

Another area which should be focussed upon is the pivotal role of the social media in spreading hate. We’ve seen social media being used as a popular tool to disseminate hate speech, especially hate speech based on religion. It is also used by nefarious elements or hate groups for propaganda-based hate messaging, in a manner whereby it often becomes viral, making it difficult to identify the source and hold the user responsible. Already many hate groups have started rolling out their venom in trying to link this disgusting incident with the never proven ‘Muslim conspiracy’. Previous experiences with the Post-violence phases have confirmed that social media plays a critical role in creating and spreading hate speech, and has been used numerous times for promoting communal and religious hate speech with a clear agenda of provoking violence. However banning or blocking social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is not the way forward, as this will be a reactionary measure which will shut out its’ useful role in highlighting hate incidents at times when State tries to curtail freedom of expression ( as it happened when Aluthgama violence took place). The social media should be regulated to shut out hate speech and vile distortions. Recently, Facebook authorities accepted guilt regarding not taking measures in deleting anti- Muslim hate speech in Sinhala, during a meeting in Singapore.

There is a decisive role to play for civic organisations too in tackling hate and to promote inter communal harmony, across racial and religious divides. There is a need undertake “counter-messaging” campaigns to promote pluralism too at grass-root levels and in the social media and to form peace groups at the village levels through the involvement of religious leaders. The positive trend is that this has begun to happen. It is heartening to see more interaction between community leaders of all faiths and people of all faiths taking part in each other’s events. This should be passionately promoted. Further, Hate speech laws will not be effective if there is no political will to apprehend the culprits. There is widespread impunity due to the effectiveness of anti- hate laws in the present law books.

Sri Lanka cannot afford to continue with this ethnic and religious divisiveness. The country has paid and still paying too dearly, both locally as well as internationally, for promoting ethno-nationalism as cure for its political, economic and social ills. All communities are equally guilty of resorting to this suicidal mania. We let emotions to rule over reason and falsehood to reign over truth. How else does one explain that a country where four great religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam lived cheek by jowl and in total amity for centuries, deteriorated into an ethnic cauldron within little over fifty years? The blame should be laid entirely at the doorstep of power hungry politicians. Unfortunately, we have allowed them to keep Sri Lanka still as a virulently polarized country.

In this context. it is important to work out a plausible mechanism to promote national reconciliation which is the bedrock of progress. Archbishop Desmond Tutu who chaired the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” in post-apartheid South Africa, at a time when there was an absolute need for reconciliation, testified that it is mandatory to have an open, honest and transparent process to deal with the past if there is to be national reconciliation. Presently, the pretence of ‘national reconciliation’ is nothing but a myth propagated by the GoSL with the sole intention of obtaining international support to keep a ‘majoritarian’ regime going. For national reconciliation to occur there are some fundamental requirements.

1. There must be a genuine intention to do so.

2. There must be regret for all that has happened, to make national reconciliation necessary.

3. The fundamental problems that caused the rift must be addressed.

4. There must be a determination to wipe out all the obstructions to this process.

Since there is no political will to make these happen, national reconciliation is still remains an election fad. Only concerted public activism can change the course of events – to change the impunity culture and to create an al- inclusive Sri Lanka where all communities can feel safe and secure and will live as equal citizens.

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Latest comments

  • 7
    1

    Now the extremists in the country would make this a big issue since they want to abuse the moment.

    We should all stand against extremists of every nature. Be them more of SINHALA buddhists, hindu or muslims or others, the harm they could all bring to this nation again is huge.

    I only know about our SINHALA extremists permannently being supported by RAJAPAKSHEs as got to seen in the parliament brawl on 14 Nov 2018.

    The country is now caught by huge chinese debt trap. Nothing can put off the payments due in Jan 2019. But ballige putha Rajakashes woudl not even utter a single word on this, because, they are fear of being pushed to corners if VERY SAME people would have been fed with the TRUTHs.

    The much higher portions that the govt has to settle within 2019 are majorly ones deliberately made by Rajakshes ILL FATED management from 2005- 2015. The sum is making up 60% out of all the loans the govt has to pay off alone during 2019. in amounts it is going to be 8000 millions of us dollars.
    The very same is the case made in Angola, Belarus and the like countries by Chinese investments.

    Not much is being gained except UNEXPECT FLOODs across the country, but THOSE huge development projects are just SHOW off projects to make the image of BALLIE putha Rajakshe.

    • 1
      1

      Lukman Harees, this is happening in Pakistan also. Listen to the interview to BBC by a Pakistani Christian, who gives details of the churches destroyed and ethnic cleansing of Christians carried out in Pakistan, where the government has turned a blind eye. So first correct your Muslim mentality before accusing others.

  • 13
    3

    Religion is being weaponized again in Sri Lanka by external parties. This incident is organized to get Buddhists to attack Muslims.
    Soon as Washington-backed Bondscam Ranil is back in power religious tensions are fanned to Divide, DISTRACT civil society and NGOs with religious conflicts, so that Bondscam Ranil and his Royal mafia can Rule, LOOT and asset strip Lanka and sell it off to their Trumpland backers.
    Attacks on ethnic and religious minorities and conflict always happen when the UNP is in power – as with 1983 anti-Tamil riots, and the attacks on Muslims when the PCOI into Bondscam Report came out. Ranil is Trumpland’s neo con, neoliberal puppet, to push the US security and business interests and asset strip and sell of lands and marine resources and transport and logistics infrastructure anddestroy Lanka’s economy and food security. Ranil and his Royal College thieves work for America First and the Global 1 percent and not for the people of Lanka.
    Today with Trumpland’s Cold War against China in Sri Lanka and Indian Ocean, Religion is once again being weaponized by CIA -Peace Co. to Divide and Distract the people from the current Economic Crisis, crashing rupee caused by Bondscam Ranil’s Financial Crimes with IMF and MCC advice–in order to loot strategic lands, transport and energy infrastructure. .

    Please read the book: Cold War Monks: Buddhism and America’s Secret Strategy in South East Asia published by Yale University Press.

    This is the pattern to DIVIDE, DISTRACT and LOOT the people of Lanka to advance the Security and Business interests of Trumpland in Sri Lanka in its Cold War against China in Indian Ocean through neoliberal economic “reforms” to crash the rupee, force sale of lands and strategic assets to US economic hit men to pay down sovereign Debt that is supposed to be the reason for the crashing rupee..

    • 1
      1

      Right on Don, The TNA and Muslim Congress is also in Trumpland’s pocket, and has been bought, and supporting Bondscam Ranil instead of working for Economic Rights and Justice for ALL Sri Lankans and particularly Tamils.

      Trumpland operatives, today are weaponizing and playing ethnic and religious identity politics, like India did in the Cold War when it set up LTTE in the 1980s, today as the economy crashed.

    • 1
      0

      Several TNA parliamentarians have foreign citizenship and hence are supporting Washington’s puppet in Lanka.
      Seems that the UNP-TNA agreement was brokered by Trumpland’s embassy in the miracle of modayas to advance their security interests and US marines logistics hub in Trinco ..

    • 0
      0

      Likman Harees,

      After the criminals lave a crime scene, they leave a lot of tell-tale and evidence behind.

      The crime scene isMaeanella, and Mawanelaa s where the UNP General Secretary comes from. That is why not Galle, not Hambantots etc.

      So, this is a False-Flag operate by the conspirators of the illegal and unconstitutional coup.

      Ask Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa as to who did it. It will save a lot of time for the CID.

  • 8
    2

    I do feel that our Defence Forces need to represent all Sri Lankan’s and not solely Sinhala Buddhists.
    They should be promoted on their merits and capability.
    The current ones need retraining in that they should give priority to Mother Lanka’s needs snd not the Political Hierarchy.
    Had they been not discriminatory in the past 65 years, SL would have been a developed country by now. I do not believe that the current politicians have learnt the sad history and are ONLY interested in defrauding our country.
    We need to CHANGE
    Starting with
    — Get only the Educated/Well behaved Sri Lankan’s to contest parliamentary elections. They should not have criminal cases behind them.
    Etc Etc Etc

    • 2
      0

      Naman ,.
      If you go through everyday reports , you will have no problems seeing
      that we are a country of headless chicken . Human quality is measured
      by the level of your greed and everything else comes after that . A
      government is formed just to fulfill that need . So , greedy people are busy
      fighting for possessions as the only purpose of life for them is just that !
      Is this not the sign of beggars ? We never sat back and checked ourselves
      of our responsibilities first as humans and then as citizens of the country.
      There are plenty of things people can do to reduce endless dependence on
      unhealthy spending that could save billions annually and divert it to
      development needs ! But where does the attention goes ? Creating space
      for troubles !
      our responsibilities

  • 8
    5

    Obviously defeated fake Prime Minister, uneducated and uncivilized GoTa, and their cohorts are behind this attack. They are trying to grab the power by instigating racial riots.

    Remember, how such riots were promoted by GoTa and his Sinhala Buddhist balakayas in the recent past

  • 2
    0

    An action by somebody to divert people’s attention in order to lead trouble free march for another mile.

  • 3
    1

    What the majority community should understand is how come a community which never bothered to retaliate during sinhala terrorist activities in Aluthgama, Ginthota Ampara and Digana when their properties and mosques were attacked, would attack Buddhist statues when there are no problems and specially when the government is mostly of their preference. Thus who ever the perpetrators be, they have to be cats paws of some political opportunists irrespective of race or religion.
    This incident can be reckoned as facilitating monkeys with laders as the parable goes in sinhala. As per news received some bayyos too have been arrested. But still could see them twisting the stories insocial medias tobpass the ball to the other side of the court. We have to wait and see when this series drama would come in to play and how would it end.

  • 2
    4

    Typicall bullsh1t from typically cunning lying Muslim.
    /
    That Muslim Koththu baas who is solely responsible for Ampara riot and also who tried to be a smart pig by admitting that they put stuff unsuitable for human consumption hasn’t been arrested yet.
    /
    Violence in Digana, Ginthota, Kandy, Aluthgama, etc – Muslims started them all.
    /
    It is not a secret any more that lots of Muslim politicians and Muslim businessmen are maintaining armoury to launch J1hadi attack on innocent Sinhala-Buddhists.
    /
    The whole central province is under Muslim control now. Now their mind is on the most sacred of Buddhists.
    /
    It’s time to ban Muslim political parties, terrorists breeding Madrasas, some cunning and dangerous verses of their book. Sinhalese must not vote whichever side cunning Badudeenaya, Halimaya, Hakima on.

  • 1
    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

  • 1
    2

    Muslims did it. They ahve caught it while destroying a Second Statue. One guy on the Motor bike ran away. Foreign funding Agencies need Violence between Muslims and sinhala buddhists. Muslims should be honest and not white washing.

  • 1
    1

    Donkeys on CT need not have any ‘evidence’ to formulate theories.

    Soma

    • 1
      0

      somass

      “Donkeys on CT need not have any ‘evidence’ to formulate theories.”

      I am told first one formulate theory (abstract or otherwise) then test it against evidence available to one. For example in this forum I named you somass (hypothesis). You continue to provide us with evidences such as your own stupid, clever dick, bigoted …………..typings.

      • 0
        2

        What makes you go mad is the clarity of my simple logic. My exposure of your hypocrisy is like kerocine on a serpent.

        Soma

  • 1
    1

    CT, on a different note, when will the public racist #1 and warmonger Dayan Silva be recalled? When is Dayan planning to pack his bags and meet Ranil Sir?

  • 2
    0

    I am a Srilankan next i am a Muslim. I condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms.
    These mawanella asshol..s whoever religion they belong to should be punished

  • 2
    3

    The guy who has written the article is biased. As a minority the muslims should realise they have been looked after very well in Sri Lanka in comparison to other countries where they are a minority. That is why they have been able to built mosques all over the country where as even in these so called western democracies they are unable to build mosques to their liking.
    All over the world the minorities have certain disadvantages which is a fact of life which needs to be understood by the minorities.
    If an incident like this was caused by a minority in a Muslim country the entire minority would have been wiped out.

    • 1
      1

      Channa J

      First of all , what happened in Mawanella is not officially clear yet !
      And then , just like Buddhists , Christians and Hindus , there are
      bad elements among Muslims who are ready to cause any harm
      to anyone ! Already culprits have been remanded . What we always
      demanded was just that whenever Muslims were attacked and
      their Mosques , houses and shops were vandalized or destroyed !
      All minorities have problems world over just for being less in numbers
      and are being exploited or targeted by the majority in many countries.
      There are some wild comments here by some parachute
      commentators who suddenly appear out of the blue whenever
      something racial going between communities ! They were not here
      in the last two months and they didn’t know anything about
      Aluthgama , Ampara , Gintota or Digana and how Muslims reacted
      to those difficult times . One has to put all these together before
      trying to draw line ! We Muslims are more concerned of the incident
      than many others !

  • 0
    0

    I am a Roman Catholic Tamil visiting Pompei Italy where 30!thousand tourist visit every day. All Bhikkus should visit here to see how god punished the pagans

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