“Israel ! Israel ! When will your thirst for Palestine blood end?” (Sunday Times, Mauritius, Sept. 25, 2018)
Sri Lanka is in the grip of an economic crisis and political turmoil seen as likely to tear down the country’s fabric. The population at large is seething with discontent and boiling with anger. “GotaGoGama” campaign has gained renewed momentum. Gotabaya-Ranil administration may soon grind to a halt. Country is officially bankrupt. In the face of impending starvation and famine, UN has launched a worldwide appeal for Sri Lanka humanitarian assistance. Looming in the horizon is a huge humanitarian catastrophe.
In this backdrop, some of the ‘Aragalaya’ activists may think this is not the time to discuss divisive and distractive ethnic or sectarian issues. But then, even during better times and propitious circumstances the Sinhala Buddhist (SB) intelligentsia haven’t ever had the inclination to dispassionately discuss / deal with pressing ethnic issues. On the other hand, SB ethno-nationalists have no such compunction in continuing their racist rantings. Rain or shine, it’s business as usual for them.. Come what may !
‘Black July’ to Mullivaikkal
This month, the Tamil fraternity living across the globe will painfully commemorate the in 39th anniversary of the orgy of violence – bloodbath and brutality of ‘Black July’ 1983 – killing, maiming, rape, arson, looting and assorted acts of savagery, including theofficially-orchestrated Welikada massacre of 53 Tamil prisoners, committed by a legion of lynch mob led by saffron-robed brigands in liaison with sections of the police/security officialdom. ‘Black July’ pogrom was by no means the first of its kind perpetrated against the Tamils in this blessed isle. Neither was it the last.
Commencing June 1956, initially in Colombo and Gal Oya locales, periodical anti-Tamil pogroms enacted by virulent racists have become part of Sri Lanka’s ‘proud’ heritage!
Sri Lankan landscape bears the ravages of such recurring carnage and pillage and the soil is soaked with lot of Tamil blood. Recently, our people commemorated the 13th anniversary of the slaughter of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians at Mullivaikkal in May 2009.
They perished in the “No-Fire zones” at the hands of the Sri Lanka ‘War Heroes”. Feeling unsatiated, it appears that the SB bigots again want to see more butchery and bloodletting.
Weerasekara’s war cry
Warning issued to Tamil National Alliance (TNA) recently by ex-Minister Sarath Weerasekara, sounds like a war cry – a clarion call issued to the rabid SB nationalist forces to re-enact the horrors of 1983 ‘Black July’.
“Weerasekera warns TNA not to test patience of Buddhists”
“Former Minister Sarath Weerasekera today warned the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) not to test the patience of Buddhists. Speaking in Parliament today, Weerasekera said that the TNA was making defamatory statements towards Buddhist monks and Buddhist teachings…..The former Minister of Public Security said that there is a limit to the patience of Sinhalese Buddhists.” (Colombo Gazette, 21 June 2022 )
The Rear Admiral has rarely chosen his words carefully and has earned a reputation for firing from the hip. When delivering the warning Weeraekara did not spell out what would happen if the “Sinhala Buddhists” lost their patience. Will it be anything worse than what the Tamils have hitherto experienced / endured — and which a discerning world had distressingly witnessed –or will it be anything new? At the end of their patience, do they – Sarath and the SB Terminators – intend doing something more dramatic and devastating like waging a nuclear Armagedden to destroy the entire Tamil humanity? Further, were their past acts of barbarism targeting Tamils, including the burning of Jaffna Public library (1981), the outcome of ‘Sinhala Buddhist’ impatience?
Oh, come on Mr. Ex-Minister, are you thirsting for another “Black July”?
For over 70 years in the post-‘Independence’ milieu, Tamils have faced up to State terrorism, oppression, unmitigated violence and persecution and have endured traumatic experiences and tragedies. Despite all the trials and tribulations, they have demonstrated their steely resolve to resist majoritarian domination and repulse SB bigots’ onslaughts on our peoples’ legitimate rights/ claims.
The mainstream media owned / operated by SB nationalists has not carried any report on Weerasekera’s war whoops or belligerent noises. Why? Not due to any concern that the contents would be offensive to Tamil sensibilities; but, in order to cover up and suppress the whole nasty narrative of ongoing aggression and encroachment at Kurunthoor Malai in Thannimurippu , Mullaitivu district, involving the army, police, monks and Archaeology Dept. officials.
At the instance of Buddhist prelates, the Archaeology Department has declared 500 acres of land surrounding Kurunthoor Malai and the vicinity, including 63 acres of cultivated lands belonging to Tamil villagers, as archaeological sites, a.k.a., Buddhist heritage sites. Militant monks covetously set eyes on Kurunthoor Malai in 2018 and initially planted a Buddha statue on the Hindu Aathi Sivan Iyanar temple site, which was in ruins by end of the war.
Acting in concert, SB warriors continued to invade the place, vandalizing idols of Hindu deities and wiping out religious symbols and relics on the hillock. Local villagers who protested against the intrusion and Tamil journalists were forcibly shut out from the site while the construction of a massive Buddhist Stupa proceeded without any letup.
Mullaitivu Magistrate’s Court and, subsequently, Colombo High Court had made Orders prohibiting construction of any structures on the site until the Courts made final Orders on applications pending before them. In defiance of the Court Orders, in May 2021 in the presence of State Ministers, monks and police/army personnel. the site was consecrated as a Buddhist shrine named Kurunthavasoka Rajamaha Vihara.
Last month, elaborate arrangements were made to ceremonially install a large Buddha statue at the site on 12 June 2022. The huge gathering included the military/police men, busloads of monks and ‘pilgrims’ brought down from the South for the occasion. Scores of Tamil protesters from the locality led by two Tamil M.Ps were present with placards denouncing the aggression and attacks on their religious rights. Archaeology Department officials also were present. The scenario gave the uneasy feeling that battlelines were drawn for a mini-Kurushetra war, with the army and police personnel, militant monks, Buddhist ‘pilgrims’ and Archaeological department officials arrayed on one side and Tamil villagers led by two M.Ps on the other. The confrontation would have likely caught global attention with a negative message further sullying Sri Lanka’s image. It appears that on instructions from Colombo, police and the officials have negotiated a temporary truce between the rival parties and put off the evil day of a final showdown.
TNA M.Ps had quite legitimately raised the matter in Parliament and demanded compliance with the Court Orders. Weerasekara and the jingoists of his ilk expect the Tamils to shut up and meekly put up with SB incursions into and take over of Tamil places of worship and their habitats. Weerasekara’s allegation against the TNA is based on his own garbled version of the views expressed by TNA M.Ps in Parliament.
It may be the Rear Admiral’s rearguard action intended to stir up ethnic tensions and deflect the mounting pressure from the “aragalayas”. Tamils haven’t ever had any quarrels with Lord Buddha and the good Lord knows it. Buddhism had once flourished in the Tamil kingdoms of South India, under Pallavas and Cholas and we cherish our heritage. Of course, we have problem with the local brew, ‘Sinhala-Buddhism’, a toxic mix which is abhorrent!
BTW, who said Sri Lanka is bankrupt and the people are under threat of starvation? Who said “No food, No fuel, No gas, No medicine, No electricity, No transport, No schools ” etc.. etc. ? Thanks for the munificence of the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, the elaborate and spectacular ceremony organized at Kurunthoor Malai on 12 June belied all claims of an economic crisis in Sri Lanka.
It is not strange, that the “aragalaya” activists have made nary a murmur about SB aggression against Tamils. After all, the protestors have rallied round the Lion Flags, seen fluttering all over !. Incidentally, let us hear the pious platitudes of Dayan Jayatilleka:
“A New Sri Lankan society and consciousness is being born in The Aragalaya. It is non-racist, indeed anti-racist; it is mutually tolerant and pluralist; it is solidaristic and inclusionary…..There is a new Sri Lankan family, multiethnic, multireligious, multilingual, multicultural that has come into being in and through the Aragalaya…. On this island, there’s no “these people” and “those people”. There are only the Sri Lankan People. An authentic Sri Lankanness has been born in the vortex of the struggle, the Aragalaya.” (The Island, 27 April 2022, “The Aragalaya, North and Sumanthiran’s stereotyping” ). Excellent ! But, what is your track record Dr. Jayatilleka? “Physician,
Heal thyself” We won’t believe a word you say until you take care of what ails you.