20 October, 2017

National Reconciliation: Preservation Of Religious & Ethnic Harmony

By Mass L. Usuf

Mass L. Usuf

Mass L. Usuf

The idea of national reconciliation embraces the citizenry of the entire nation. The path to reach this consensus is through aligning the nation to the theme of Mankind. If there is one thing which can catalyze the bonding of people of different hues, it is this basic social structure – Man and woman. Allow the nomenclatures of race, religion and caste orbit on their own field forces. Let the differentiations serve only as identities for the purpose of knowing and understanding the diversity.

This alignment is a process by itself. There is a huge national and social responsibility that has to be shouldered by the government, civil organizations, religious institutions, educational institutions and the citizens. The greatest responsibility lies with the government. It must commit itself with courage, steadfastness and a determined will to engineer this social change. A redirection of the trajectory of traditional notions towards a more inclusive social structure should be on the anvil. To live with 18th century thinking in the present cannot be more disastrous to the nation. The reality is, whether we like it or not, we must take cognizance of the potpouri of different cultures, heritages, languages, religions, ethnicities and their evolutionary processes. The mutually exclusive elements of this mix nevertheless are inclusively linked by a simple basic structure – Man and woman.

Testing sincerity

As part of the powers and duties presently exercised under Article 33 of the Constitution, the President shall also promote national reconciliation and integration. A powerful personality has been appointed as the Chairperson to the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), Ex-President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Her task inter alia is to ensure and facilitate the preservation of religious and ethnic harmony.

Maithri Jaffna 23 march 2015A mere extension of the President’s powers to embrace these areas may arguably be critiqued as a cosmetic embellishment. In fact, if the President decides he can ignore or go slow on the promotion of national reconciliation and preservation of religious and ethnic harmony. Who can question him in this regard? Therefore, from a Presidential power point of view, in this instance, there is the concentration of power in one authority with the choice for elective usage. This nation has seen the good, the bad and the ugly. President Maithripala Sirisena is a good person but Article 33 will survive him.

History is pregnant with the germ of political opportunism, nationalism and later Sinhala Buddhist nationalism conceptualizing and institutionalizing it in the Constitution. Many Scholars have argued that the rise and institutionalization of Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism in post-independent Sri Lanka bear much responsibility for today’s protracted ethnic problems between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Sri Lankan Tamils – now seen spilling over to other racial and religious minorities.

Empower ONUR

What is the assurance for the continuation of the true spirit of national reconciliation and the preservation of religious and ethnic harmony? To ensure that our progeny inherits a nation reconciled, there has to be an effective mechanism now with all the entrenched provisions guaranteeing its protection. The ONUR must be institutionalized, funded, strengthened and empowered to function as an independent body. Its status must be elevated to be on par with line Ministries to enable it execute its responsibilities with efficiency. A Commissioner for ONUR may also be considered. The sincerity of the President and the government will be put to the test on their promise to forge national reconciliation.

Article 9

The European Court of Human Rights in a case involving the Turkish government observed that:

“The Court has frequently emphasized the State’s role as the neutral and impartial organizer of the exercise of various religions, faiths and beliefs, and stated that this role is conducive to public order, religious harmony and tolerance in a democratic society.”

This statement clearly explains the role of a modern State towards its democratic society. Gladly, our Article 33 (1) (b) is in consonant with this thinking. However, something else is staring at the face of national reconciliation and the preservation of religious and ethnic harmony? That is, Article 9 of the Constitution:

“The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e)”.

Scant academic or public discussion has taken place on the impact of Article 9 on the scope of right to religion. Its ramifications on a pluralistic society and, from the perspective of international treaties have largely been ignored. If Buddhism is given the foremost place and it shall be protected and fostered, the same should apply to all the other religions too. To grant Buddhism some special place and only give an existential position to the other religion is not equality before the law. This may be viewed as a taint on democratic principles and as a barrier to national religious reconciliation. In fact, during the belligerence of Bodu Bala Sena they often quoted this Article and accused the then government for not protecting Buddhism.

During the Constituent Assembly Debate in 1972, a Federal Party member, K.P. Ratnam, criticizing the formative document that led to Article 6 of the first Republican Constitution and now Article 9 of the Socialist Democratic Constitution of 1978, prophetically stated:

“I wish to tell you that this position will be a cause of continuous strife for this country.”

Courage

For true reconciliation there must be a fundamental transformation. Everyone should feel that he is a Sri Lankan. He should enjoy equal rights and freedom as every other fellow citizen. The constitution should be a neutral document embracing all its citizens in unison. All are aware that this clause was first placed in the 1972 Republican Constitution. The 1978 constitution followed suit. Now there is a chance to amend it in the proposed constitutional reforms. Courage it takes to undo the mistakes of the past prejudices and, resolve, to march forward on the simple theme of Mankind.

This writer asked the former President Madam Chandrika Kumaratunga at a recent event organized by the International Centre for Ethnic Studies and Equitas for the release of the report, ‘Post War Religious Violence in Sri Lanka’, what her views were on Article 9 of the Constitution. She emphatically stated that she holds the view that it has to go. “This would reinforce the secular nature of our Constitution”, she said. Many admired her bold reply. Her experience and international exposure has moulded her to appreciate that in today’s world a singular identity be it race, religion or culture has become untenable with the emergence of pluralism.

This reality has to be humbly understood, recognized and accepted. Based on this broad outlook the minorities in the future will cease to think only about themselves. Similarly, the majority will cease to be obsessed with its dominant position vis a vis the minorities. Each will begin to think from the angle of the nation and mankind.

Suggested amendment

The best is to remove Article 9. The alternative is to amend it as follows:

“In the Republic of Sri Lanka it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Dhamma and all religions, while assuring to both the Dhamma and all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e)”.

Note the word Dhamma used in place of Buddhism. Dhamma is a better word in order to give it the proper identity. It is sometimes even thought if Article 9 befits the Dhamma. Its universal principles can never go extinct and cannot go extinct. To continue having this Article also creates an undignified inequity on other major religions, which the Dhamma never perpetuated.

In relation to Article 9, Dr. Nihal Jayawickrama has been very critical: “If Buddhism had survived in the hearts and minds of the people through nearly five centuries of foreign occupation, a constitutional edict was hardly necessary to protect it now.” Cited in ‘Fundamental Rights and the 1972 Constitution’ by Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne.

A deeper analysis of Article 9 and the other related Articles follow with a comparative look at neighbouring constitutions and jurisprudence.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    1

    Dhamma is a better word in order to give it the proper identity. It is sometimes even thought if Article 9 befits the Dhamma. Its universal principles can never go extinct and cannot go extinct. To continue having this Article also creates an undignified inequity on other major religions, which the Dhamma never perpetuated.

    Wow! what an excellent suggestion by Usuf! Bravo Sir!

    • 0
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      USUF:

      Don’t you think people of other religions are hilarious. Don’t you think when the devotees of other religions come and say behave as 100% budddhists. Have you ever read how muslims killed hindus and buddhists in greater mahabarhatha during their conquest ? Buddhists university library, Nalanda had burned for three months

      Do you know both christianity and Islam are political religions which fight for power.

      Politics is for power. Buddhism is not for power. What Sinhala Buddhists are doing is for power that is to hold onto the culture. Otherwise, Buddhism and politics have no connection.

      • 1
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        Jim Stupidity

        “Do you know both christianity and Islam are political religions which fight for power.”

        Have you ever seen any religious leaders engaging in politics other than the Buddhist monks?

        Buddhism is nothing but politics and Buddha was a politician, that is why his disciples, the Sangha contest election and enter parliament.

    • 1
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      RE: National Reconciliation: Preservation Of Religious & Ethnic Harmony

      Mass L. Usuf

      Religious Harmony?

      Let’s see what kind of Religious Harmony Christianity and the Bible.

      What kind of Excuses are people come up with?

      10 questions that every intelligent Christian ot Religious Person must answer

      If you are an educated Christian, I would like to talk with you today about an important and interesting question. Have you ever thought about using your college education to think about your faith? Your life and your career demand that you behave and act rationally. Let’s apply your critical thinking skills as we discuss 10 simple questions about your religion. The answers will amaze you.

      These questions are applicable to other religions as well.

      Imaginary?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDHJ4ztnldQ

    • 1
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      Mass L. Usuf

      RE: National Reconciliation: Preservation Of Religious & Ethnic Harmony

      Religion and Politics are Intertwined.

      This was the case During the Greeks time.

      This was True during Roman times.

      This was True during Jesus times.

      Why I Think Jesus Didn’t Exist: A Historian Explains the Evidence That Changed His Mind

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwUZOZN-9dc

      Published on Mar 28, 2013

      **Special thanks to Scott Burdick for filming this lecture**
      Dr. Richard Carrier flew in from California to lecture the UNCG Atheists, Agnostics, and Skeptics on the historicity of Christ. The historicity of Christ has appeared in the public consciousness over the last few years because of such individuals such as Robert Price and Dr. Carrier. This topic deals with the analysis of historical data to determine if Jesus existed as an actual person.

      This was True over the past 2000 years.

      This is true even today.National Reconciliation: Preservation Of Religious & Ethnic Harmony. This is politics.

      Politics is Religion. Religion is Politics.

    • 1
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      Mass L. Usuf

      RE: National Reconciliation: Preservation Of Religious & Ethnic Harmony

      “The idea of national reconciliation embraces the citizenry of the entire nation. The path to reach this consensus is through aligning the nation to the theme of Mankind. If there is one thing which can catalyze the bonding of people of different hues, it is this basic social structure – Man and woman. Allow the nomenclatures of race, religion and caste orbit on their own field forces. Let the differentiations serve only as identities for the purpose of knowing and understanding the diversity.”

      Interesting Statement.

      Sri Lanka Spring or Sri Lanka Winter?

      What has happened 5 years after the Arab spring? Arab winter! [Edited out]

  • 2
    0

    “In the Republic of Sri Lanka it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Dhamma and all religions, while assuring to both the Dhamma and all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e)”

    Already, Kathankudy and Mannar Sinhala People can not move freely. Muslims obstruct the free movement via their territory and are ready for Jihad, if they are disturbed. Rishad Bathiuddin has over ridden govt gazette and is continuing the islamization. That includes resettling people who can not speak either Sinhala or Tamil.

    Amir Ali, is doing the same thing.

    Batticolaa in unreachable even for sinhala people.

    Govt must protect that by constitution before muslims start Jihad.

    • 0
      0

      Where did you obtain this news? Can you provide a link?

      Thank you.

      • 0
        0

        YOu don’t listen to news and question here and there ?

        • 0
          0

          Listen Donkey,

          If you cannot prove something don’t open you keyboard like a moron.

          • 0
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            Vibhushana,

            you are the master at concocting complete fibs! It is funny that your accuse Jim who is an emotional make-no-sense sort of a character of writing fibs!

            Man you are hilarious!

    • 1
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      Jim softy

      “In the Republic of Sri Lanka it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Dhamma and all religions, while assuring to both the Dhamma and all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e)”

      Can the Republic of Sri Lanka Guarantee those who follow the Dhamma and all religions, Nibbana, Nirvana,and Heaven, while assuring to both the Dhamma and all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e)?

      No. Nobody can.

      This is pure deception.

      The Republic of Sri Lanka is participating in a deception with their Monks, Priests and Ulema, because the control the masses.

      Notwithstanding what the Monks, Priests and Ulema say, the Earth still goes around the Sun while spinning on its own axis.

  • 0
    0

    Will you be happier if it says Sharia and Islamic law like in places where the the majority is Malaysia and there are SIGNIFICANT non Muslim minorities at a HIGHER percentage than Sri Lanka but they ONLY HAVE ONE OFFICIAL RELIGION ISLAM? What about Chinese Buddhists? The Hindus?

    For the record the percentage of Muslims in Malaysia are only 61.3 percent of the population; 19.8 percent Buddhism; 9.2 percent Christianity; 6.3 percent Hinduism; and 1.3 percent traditional Chinese religions. Why not tell Malaysia NOT To make Islam the official religion?

    BE HONEST and respond ASAP.

    • 0
      2

      Is there any difference between a PattiGona and PulliGona

      The problem lies at birth when people start calling themselves I am a born Sinhala, I am a born Tamil and I am a born Muslim why not all those who are born say that I am a born Human came from the same canal as same as you mothers gave birth.

    • 0
      0

      What wqs the percentage of buddhists 50 years ago in malaysia ?

    • 0
      0

      Pattigona:

      Buddhism is 2600 year old. Christianity is 2015 year old.

      Islam is 1400 years old.

      How did these percentages come ?

      • 0
        0

        Forced conversions mostly. That is how ancient Hindu shrines were also destroyed in Indonesia.

  • 1
    0

    All these “. . .isms” are dangerous, the Dhamma is not.

    I agree absolutely: if it is the Dhamma that is said to be fostered, people won’t be able to talk irresponsibly: they’ll have to undertake the arduous task of studying the Dhamma – and of THINKING.

    • 0
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      Sinhala_Man

      “they’ll have to undertake the arduous task of studying the Dhamma – and of THINKING.”

      People should undertake to study the Dhamma and liberate it from politicians and crooks. Therefore fostering Dhamma is best served by the people and not by the political crooks.

      Therefore, Chapter II of the constitution should be removed for the simple reason that higher things should not be entrusted to the crooks.

  • 2
    0

    Another ‘read between the line’ article.

    Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country just as America is a Christian country, Britain is Christian country, India is a Hindu country, Pakistan is a Muslim country, Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country, Israel is a Jewish country, etc.

    Whatever the proposals or amendments to the new constitution, Sri Lanka’s constitution must protect, foster, and give first and foremost place to Sinhala heritage, Sinhala identity, Sinhala culture, Sinhala customs, Sinhala language, Buddhism, and Buddha Sasanaya while assuring other minority religions their rights.

    At a time whole world has had enough with Muslim’s shenanigans, terrorism and dishonest deeds, always compassionate Sinhalese-Buddhists are trying hard to accommodate Muslim brothers and sisters as their own, that is very plausible and deserves a specially made medal.

    In the past Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Maldives, etc were Hindu/Buddhist countries, but sadly not anymore so the new constitution must assure/guarantee that Sri Lanka would not face the fate as the mentioned countries.

    • 2
      0

      Muslims should understand that Sinhala buddhists can not go even to Maldiv Island ask to protect Sinhala culture.

      but, Sri lankan Muslims can be muslim even Maldive Island or Saudi Arabia.

      It is the Same with Tamils.

  • 0
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    Mass L. Usuf –

    RE: National Reconciliation: Preservation Of Religious & Ethnic Harmony

    The differences will be there. It is an education on toleration each others differences for Preservation Of Religious & Ethnic Harmony.

    After All, men accept that women have no penis and have enlarged breasts, thanks to evolution.

    After All, women also accept that women have no penis and have tiny breasts, thanks to evolution.

    More Differences

    Behind Stark Political Divisions, a More Complex Map of Sunnis and Shiites

    Sunni-led allies of Saudi Arabia have cut diplomatic ties with Shiite Iran, further polarizingthe Middle East along the two major branches of Islam. But while almost all of the governmentsare controlled by one sect, the countries’ populations are a mix of Sunnis and Shiites, as well asother branches and sub-sects, an important and complicating factor in the region’s conflicts.

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/04/world/middleeast/sunni-shiite-map-middle-east-iran-saudi-arabia.html?_r=0

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