By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
“Did the Sri Lanka government ever chase away the entire Tamil population because of terrorist pockets within them? This is like giving chemotherapy”
A Sri Lanka organisation called, “National University Teachers Association, (NUTA)” under the hand of its spokesperson, Dr Channa Jayasumana, has circulated via internet a letter they are said to have handed over to Myanmar Ambassador in Colombo. The letter is addressed to “His Excellency the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.” As an exercise in self-deception, readers should read the letter and I will bring up the poverty of the NUTA brief for all to see.
I am amused myself that I have had to critique an association of University Teachers. However, an overriding sense of humanity compels me to invade the precincts of academia.
My comments will follow the letter, which I reproduce as follows:
“13th September 2017 at Colombo
Mr. Htin Kyaw
His Excellency the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
National University Teachers Association (NUTA) Sri Lanka condemns international campaign against Myanmar Buddhists
Sri Lanka and Myanmar has been maintaining a close cultural, political and economic relationship over a millennium. Both are two of the last remaining Theravada Buddhist countries.
We are closely monitoring the situation in Rakhine State, Myanmar over the last couple of weeks. We understood that pro-western media are intentionally distributing fabricated news and incorrectly captioning pictures to purposely dis-inform the international community about Myanmar Buddhists. We are concerned that the majority Buddhist Myanmar is getting an unfair and biased media coverage.
Further we have noticed fake news posted on social media of events purporting to have occurred in Myanmar but actually happening in other places, which are now circulating via the internet. These intentionally fabricated news and photos are being used by international media, international human rights organizations, certain governments and anti Buddhist groups in an attempt to cause misunderstanding about Myanmar Buddhists.
Current situation in Rakhine is very much similar to the situation in late 1970s and early 1980s in northern part of the Sri Lanka where LTTE terrorists started their activities with the blessing of India, western governments and NGOs. Interestingly British are accountable for the unfolding tragedy in both countries through their divide and rule policies.
As a responsible Association representing university academics in Sri Lanka, the National University Teachers’ Association unequivocally condemns attempt to ostracize the Myanmar government and Myanmar Buddhists. We stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar in support of protecting Theravada Buddhism, sovereignty, territorial integrity and cultural identity of Myanmar.
May triple gem bless you,
On behalf of National University Teachers’ Association, Sri Lanka
Dr Channa Jayasumana
First, there is the unsurprising and cliched attack on the Western media for “fabricating news.” I watch everyday the BBC, Al Jazeera, and CNN bringing out video clips of endless lines of suffering humanity-starving elders, innocent infants, wounded and dying infants and pregnant mothers crossing over to the Bangladesh border upon brutal pressure by the Myanmar army. The video clips are hard evidence to the naked eyes of screen watchers. If any component of this is fabricated then we have thus far not observed any of the officials bringing that point up referencing the clips. It is NUTA’s burden of proof to show the fabrication anywhere. All three news outlets above come out with the appalling torture of innocent humans. They must all three be in a conspiracy! Maybe, but NUTA doesn’t want us to take its association seriously since it is not forthcoming in proving any fabrication or conspiracy. When one doesn’t know for sure, one calls it a ‘conspiracy,’ of the West. As if the East isn’t capable of conspiracies and fabrications!
The statement says: “Further, we have noticed fake news posted on social media of events purporting to have occurred in Myanmar but actually happening in other places, which are now circulating via the internet.” Really? Why not elaborate this allegation?
Second, NUTA draws comparison between Raklhine, where these helpless persons have been inhabiting for centuries and the days of the LTTE under India support. An extremely far -flung allegation that NUTA just lets go and goes to sleep. This is the self-described ‘responsible organization.’
Third, okay we will tentatively come to NUTA’s rescue and say they are right. If there are moves within the Rakhine community toward separation or terrorism why not investigate that and bring the offenders to book. After all, it is army rule in Myanmar and Aung San Suu Kyi is only a figurehead ‘leader.’ What His Excellency and his team of toughies should do is to enter the dens of those organising pro-Muslim secession moves, ferret the latter out and deal with them firmly.
On the other hand, the whole population of over 350,00 so far-men, women, babes, fail elders and starving persons are being attacked and chased away like cattle. Did the Sri Lanka government ever chase away the entire Tamil population because of terrorist pockets within them? This is like giving chemotherapy.
Fourth, These NUTA representatives are Buddhists and apparently they are also purportedly fighting for the preservation of Buddhism in Myanmar. That is a good motive; but if such an exercise is at the expense of crimes against humanity it constitutes undiluted hypocrisy. The Buddha was foremost among humanist religious leaders in the whole of civilizational history. This is not Buddhism.
Fifth, NUTA doesn’t seem to show any evidence of understanding the complexity of the Rohingya phenomenon. They simply and childishly tar -brush the population as ‘Muslim fundamentalists.’ The basic fact is that there is a deep-rooted cultural aversion by Myanmar people to Rohingya who are treated as “not belonging,” and as virtually subhuman. Aung San Suu Kyi cannot be blamed for her silence firstly, because her leadership is merely rhetorical and second because she cannot override the cultural consensus of aversion widespread in the country.To challenge this consensus and go on a collusion course with the Myanmar military would, therefore, be an act of political suicide.
*The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org