By Thambu Kanagasabai –
President Gotabaya’s latest Presidential Task Force headed by a convicted, jailed and pardoned Gnanasara Thero who is the founder of Bodu Bala Sena is entrusted to “Make a study of the implementation of the concept of “One Country One Law” within Sri Lanka and prepare a draft Act for the said purpose, to study the drafted Acts and amendments that have already been prepared by the Ministry of Justice in relation to this subject and their appropriateness and if there are suitable amendments to submit proposals for this purpose and include them in such relevant draft as is deemed appropriate, aiming to secure the highest proposal for Sri Lanka”. Accordingly, Gnanasara Thero, a Buddhist priest ordained to preach Lord Buddha’s teachings is entrusted with political tasks of national importance.
If one focuses on these entrusted tasks, there is no an iota of doubt that Ganasara Thero has assumed the roles of a legal draftsman, constitutional expert and an expert possessing the deep knowledge of the laws, customs and traditions which with passage of time evolved as laws binding on them as valid which were later recognized as laws for enforcement by the courts. It is to be noted that England has neither a constitution nor any written laws but only laws enacted in Parliament by legislation to deal with conflicting issues and controversial disputes as and when they arise.
As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, it is a plain fact and truth that there is only one country and one law which is in existence and in operation being implemented in accordance with its constitution and constitutional amendments.
However, to preserve the customs, culture and traditions practiced by the Kandyan Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims, legislations were enacted to codify the Thesavalamai for the Tamils and Muslims Laws for the Muslims [Sharia] included. These laws reflect the values, traditions and cultural practices of the particular communities without any infringement and conflict with the constitution and other communities’ laws.
It is crystal clear that this Task Force, a brain child of the President who brags himself as an exclusive Sinhala/Buddhist President is targeting and threatening to wipe out the Muslim Laws particularly Muslims Marriage and Divorce Act and the Thesavalamai of Tamils.
The ulterior motive of the Government is to erase and obliterate the thousands of years old adopted and practiced traditions, customs, habits of Tamils and Muslims and force them to follow one law while striking a knockout blow for their accepted and community traditions including their age long habits and practices, most of them being religious based.
This sinister move is nothing but the part of the agenda of Sinhalisisation and Buddhisisation initiated in 1948 to achieve the ultimate extinction of minorities paving the way to reach the goal of a PURE SINHALA/BUDDHIST STATE while removing any voice of dissent and calls for accountability and justice.
Undoubtedly, this Thero has assumed the role of a king maker of Sri Lanka, a law reform commissioner, a final authority to vet and delete recommendations of the Ministry of Justice and substitute his own recommendations thereby assuming the roles of legislature to enact statutes executive to oversee their implementations and judging to determine the appropriateness of his recommendations. The fact that this Task Force deliberately omitted to include any Tamil member is the writing on the wall for anyone to comprehend the sinister designs of the Government through Gnanasara Thero who earlier openly called for the erasing of Muslim identity, traditions and customs.
The implications and fallout from this Task Force spell disastrous consequences for the entire population of Sri Lanka. During a videoconference on September 30, 2021, he said “there is no minority race in the country. The race Sri Lankans only exists in this country.” It has to be pointed out that Sri Lankans cannot be categorized and described as a race and in Sri Lanka three races are in existence for thousands of years, they are the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims with each race possessing its own distinct traits and characteristics. Furthermore, Thero’s statements indicate his aim ’to secure the highest protection for Sri Lanka.” But he has not detailed the dangers facing the country.
It has to be stated that Sri Lanka having ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1982 has continued to engage in racial discriminatory policies against the Tamils and Muslims by violating this Convention blatantly and openly while acts of cultural genocide as part of the agenda of structural genocide which are being pursued by the Sri Lanka Governments from 1956:
1. Pogroms against the Tamils in 1956, 1958, 1971, 1977, 1983 – Genocidal war from 2006 – 2009 More than 70,000 civilians killed as per UN’s estimate
2. The burning of Jaffna Library in 1981 in the presence of senior Sinhalese Ministers – while the Police just watched this crime. The Government [UNP at the time later accepted this crime and apologized].
The only dangers facing the country are the entrenched chauvinism, communism and majoritarianism which open up the channels to breed this harmony, conflicts and hostility among Sri Lanka’s peaceful races. If all Sri Lankans have been treated equally with the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedom to practice their religions, language, culture and traditions including their customary laws, Sri Lanka will prosper as a nation with splendour fostering and promoting coexistence without suspicion and fear.
In conclusion it has to be stated that the said ‘One Country One Law’ is adopted, it will only promote and breed communal disharmony, hostility, ill feelings with polarization among the different Sri Lankan races. Furthermore, the proposed concept will tarnish the image of Sri Lanka internationally when it is grappling with punitive actions from UN and UNHRC Resolutions and Recommendations. Furthermore the ‘One Country One Law’ is also breaching the UN Conventions on Fundamental Human Rights and Protection of Minorities which have been accepted and endorsed by Sri Lanka.
*Thambu Kanagasabai – Former Lecturer in Law, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka & President- Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights Org.