By Latheef Farook –
President Maithripala is destine to save the country; Despite racist elements trying to oust him
In his address to the nation on Thursday 23 April 2015, marking the completion of his government’s 100 days in office, President Maithripala Sirisena described Sri Lanka as a multi racial, multi religious, multi cultural and multi lingual society where all should live in peace and harmony with dignity.
This was a historic speech .For the first time in the independent history of Sri Lanka a national leader boldly said in this highly corrupt, criminalised and commercialised political environment that this country belongs to all communities. This is the reality which the Sinhala leaders refused to recognise to promote and exploit Sinhala chauvinism for their own selfish political ends-to either remain in power or to gain power.
Had President Sirisena’s wisdom dawned on the Sinhalese political leaderships, since the early days of independence, Sri Lanka could have continued as an enviable paradise as it was during the independence when it was a shining example for political, economic and social stability in the entire Third World?
The country could have also averted the unwanted destructive ethnic crisis which caused untold misery to all while politicians and their cronies flourished making money in the form of commissions in weapons purchasing.
However this long felt need was filled by President Maithripala Sirisena who has destined to become the hope of the country. He was people’s choice. Yet Sinhala racist outfit Bodu Bala Sena’s General Secretary Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Theo had the audacity to say that “it is time for President Sirisena to pack his bags and leave”.
It appears racist elements which flourished under the previous regime were hell bent on toppling President Sirisena’s government.
This is the message of the unruly supporters of previous regime when they protested, before the bribery commission office, against summoning former Defence Secretary Gotabya Rajapaksa for questioning as if he was above law.
This protest, on the day President Sirisena made his speech on April 23, was naked lawlessness insulting peoples’ verdict aimed at discrediting the democratically elected President Maithripala Sirisena.
These racists, suspected mercenaries of local and foreign forces, have nothing to do with the interest of the country, Sinhalese community or even Buddhism which they claim to follow while violating all tenets of Buddhist principles.
This is not something new. The evil of racism began rising its ugly head in the 1930s when some Sinhala politicians began to promote the interest of the Sinhalese for their own selfish political interest. They openly equated Sinhalese nationalism with Sri Lankan nationalism and Buddhism not realizing that they were plunging the country into a bloodbath.
For example even before independence DS Senanayake as Minister of Lands and Lands Settlement initiated the colonisation scheme of Sinhalese in Polonnaruwa, Padaviya and Inginiyagala in the East which were claimed by Tamils and Muslims as their traditional home.
Realising the racist mindset of the Sinhala politicians, the British colonial government, before granting independence, enshrined in the Soulbury Constitution a special provision, section 29A as a security valve in the hope of protecting minority rights.
However, racist politics was accelerated since independence on 4 February, 1948 dismissing the rights of minorities. For example;
*The Citizenship Act No 18 of 1948; Indian and Pakistani Residents (Citizenship) Act No 03 of 1949 followed by the Parliamentary Elections (Amendments) Act, deprived a large number of Indian Tamil residents in Sri Lanka of their citizenship rights and franchise.
* JR Jayewardene moved in the United National Party annual convention the Sinhala only resolution which was seconded by Mr Ananda Tissa De Alwis.
* SWRD.Bandaranaike called for “Sinhala Only within 24 Hours” and faced elections on communal slogans. Adding fuel to fire the politicians encouraged Sinhala chauvinism with frequent violent attacks on Tamils, killing and causing damage to their property.
*In 1970 Prime Minister Mrs Srimavo Bandaranaike removed Section No 29A of the soulbury constitution in her Republican Constitution and made Buddhism the state religion. This gave birth to Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), an umbrella organisation of Tamil political parties, which demanded equal rights.
*President Jayewardene’s draconian 1978 constitution paved the way for a democratically elected all powerful dictator, not accountable to parliament or anyone, virtually turned the country into a “ One Man Show” and made minorities voiceless and helpless.
*In July 1983 his party thugs attacked and killed Tamils besides burning their properties under a very well organised anti Tamil pogrom. The result was the emergence of the Tamil militancy which called for the creation of a separate Tamil state in the north and east of the island. This plunged the country into a three decade long war causing immeasurable sufferings, mayhem and murder besides blocking economic growth.
*There was death and destruction all over. The situation was such that womenfolk at home were not sure whether their husbands who went to work or the children who went to school would return alive. Those were the days when people went about only for essential work as they did not know when and where a bomb would explode.
Then came the military defeat of the LTTE in May 2009 changing the situation overnight.
There was hope all over and all thought, quite rightly, that they could look forward to a future where minority grievances would be redressed.
However, it didn’t take long for Tamils and Muslims to realise the shocking reality when, instead of addressing minority grievances, defeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime turned out as the worst ever racist regime in the known history .
A senior minister in the government told me that “the Rajapaksa government has written off the minorities-Tamils and Muslims. They know the Tamils and Muslims will not vote for the government. They are banking on Sinhala vote and thus working only for the Sinhalese. This is the reality now”. Overall Sinhalisation was underway in full swing forcing even UNP leader Karu Jayasuriya to state that the government is “anti minority”.
Since then Sinhala extremists, often led by monks with state patronage, began a vicious and violent campaign to annihilate the island’s Muslim community. They openly attacked mosques, religious schools, burnt and destroyed Muslim owned business establishments, street demonstrations with posters of pigs with the Arabic word Allah on its face, posters of Holy Ka’ba with a dog on it, attacking girls wearing hijab and abaya and many more.
Betraying his racist mindset Mr. Mahinda Rjapaksa, addressing an election meeting said that “this is Buddhist country and we cannot dance to the tunes of minority Tamils and Muslims”.
Lashing out at politician for the present state of affairs in the country at a book launching ceremony veteran Sinhala journalist Siri Ranasinghe urged them to abandon their short sighted and destructive communal and racist politics and help save the country. He lamented that, despite different races, religions, languages and cultures, a minority member could become a president or prime minister in India. However this is not even a distant dream in Sri Lanka due to communal and racist politics.
It was in this environment there came the meticulously planned and executed to military precision the Killing of Muslims, looting of their belongings and the burning and destruction of their properties in Aluthgama, Dharga Town and Beruwala following the highly inflammatory speech by demagogue Gnanasara Thero.
The Aluthgama anti Muslim pogrom and the VVIP treatment to Myanmar’s fascist saffron thug Ashin Wirathu, described by TIME magazine as Face of Buddhist Terrorism, was the peak of Rajapaksa brothers’ hostility towards Muslims and racist arrogance.
Muslims did not turn to guns. Instead they raised their hands above seeking protection from God. We can see the results today with perpetrators of these crimes being exposed of their true faces of crime, corruption and lawless arrogance.
It was under this circumstance that the people voted for President Maithripala Sirisena hoping that these criminal elements would be brought to justice and the county would be saved from racist lawless elements.
However this was a shock for Mahinda Rajapaksa and those who ruined the country together with him. This is people’s choice and there is nothing they could do about this. Those who flourished under him are desperate to regain power. Their desperation is understandable.
Now the question is why do they wanted to bring Mahinda Rajapaksa to power despite his role, as president, in turning the country into one of the most mismanaged, corrupted and lawless countries in the world.
All what President Sirisena is trying to do is to bring back the country to where it was and ensure cherished human values were restored.
People have woken up and racist elements should take a note of it.