14 April, 2024


One Country One Law: A political Weapon To Polarize The Communities & Achieve Political Mileage

By Thambu Kanagasabai

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.

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Latest comments

  • 6

    The writer very clearly exposed the dangers of this Task Force, A convicted Monk to head this Task Force is a disgrace to the judiciary of the country and will polarize the communities still further and will lead to foreign intervention.
    The country is already bankrupt, protests over fertilizer, essential food items along with protests on the streets in thousands ignoring the Covid-19.

    It is high time for the educated youths to rise up and correct the prevailing situation where the country is heading.

  • 6

    Agree with what you state. However, there are some inaccuracies. First of all, other than the Vedda, almost all the other people living on the island belong to one race. DNA has also proven this fact beyond doubt. We are all South Asian, South Indian Dravidians who largely originated from the ancient Tamil country in South India and migrated to the island from prehistoric to recent times. There may be minor genetic input from others amongst various people on the island but this is only minor. We have two ethnicities native to the island. Sinhalese and Tamils. The former is predominantly Buddhist and the latter predominantly Hindu, with a significant Christian minority amongst both people more amongst the Sri Lankan Tamils. Followers of Islam are called Muslims and they are not a race or ethnicity. It is a religious identity. Muslims can belong to any race, ethnic or linguistic group. People within the same ethnic group can belong to different faiths, just like people within the same family can. I know of many families where some of the siblings are Hindu and others are Christian. I also know of a few Sri Lankan families in Australia, where the father is a Sri Lankan Muslim the mother is a Sri Lankan Tamil Christian and the children identify themselves as Tamil Christians. Sri Lankan Muslims are ethnic Tamils who are Muslim by religion.

    • 4

      They have not lived on the island for thousands of years but a significant amount of them started to migrate from South India from the early 14Th century, with the fall of the Islamic Delhi Sultanate in Madurai. The vast majority of their descendants now live in the east, and some in the central province. However, the bulk of them started to migrate from what is now modern Tamil Nadu during the early British colonial rule and most of these southern Muslims belong to this category.
      It is only the Sinhalese and native Sri Lankan Tamils who have an ancient history on the island. However, even these Tamil Muslims started to live on the island for around 700-800 years and now have an ancient history and are as indigenous as the Sinhalese and the Tamils and their traditional religious laws with some reformation, should also be respected and protected just like the Thesavalamai law of the native Tamils. Not just the traditional laws of the Sinhalese. Sinhalese majoritarianism and extremism have only ruined the country. Even the vast majority of the Sinhalese have not benefited from this Sinhalese Buddhist racism. Just a few families who whip this up to rule and ironically are largely of recent South Indian immigrant origin,. now playing the Sinhalese Buddhist card to loot and rule.

      • 2

        Siva Sankaran Sharma,
        “It is only the Sinhalese and native Sri Lankan Tamils who have an ancient history on the island.”
        No question that indigenous Sinhalayo have documents that contain their history running into more than 2000 years. Tamils do not have any documents or any other evidences to support their claim that they lived in this country from ‘Dawn of Time’. Eminent Tamil historians S. Arasaratnam, K. Indrapala and Sinhala historian K.M. de Silva say Dravida settlements in Yapanaya started after 12th century AD. Indrapala took a ‘U Turn’ after he faced threats from separatist Tamil politicians and started playing a different tune later.

        Tamils are bogged down in ‘Vadukkodei Resolution’ mud-hole that contains a manufactured history of Sinhale by separatist Tamils.

      • 2

        Siva Sankaran Sharma,
        “…just like the Thesavalamai law of the native Tamils.”
        How come ‘Native Tamils’ have Thesawalamai Law’ which is a customary law of Malabar people in Hindusthan?
        Why colonial rulers called Dravidians who lived in Yapanaya ‘Malabars’?

    • 1

      Siva Sankaran Sharma,
      “First of all, other than the Vedda, almost all the other people living on the island belong to one race. DNA has also proven this fact beyond doubt.”

      Which DNA research?
      DNA research tell Sinhala race has got mixed with other races. That does not mean all the people in Sinhale belong to one race.

  • 2

    “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…”
    If minorities can talk about their aspirations, indigenous Sinhalayo also have a right to talk and try to realize their aspirations.
    Before Europeans colonized Sinhale, this was a Sinhala Buddhist country. At the time British took over the whole country after signing the Kandyan Convention, they gave a commitment to protect Buddhism but they did not keep their promise. Sinhale became a multi-ethnic country because colonial rulers brought millions of foreigners of different ethnicities and left leaving them in Sinhale. After British left, instead of asking the foreigners brought by colonial rulers to Yapanaya and Central Highlands to work in their plantations to return to their ancestral homeland, indigenous Sinhalayo accommodated them in their country. It is high time that minorities face the truth and learn to live in harmony with indigenous Sinhalayo without trying to dictate Sinhalayo how to rule their country.

  • 2

    This appointment of Gnanasara is a clear shot to the SC of the country. It’s metaphorically hinting to the SC, saying the dear court, be away from my projects. Ganasara is my man who works for me and for my projects and I pay him. You thought to punish him for what he did to fulfill my order. So I promoted him and he is more loyal to me than you all.

    The poor court can do nothing in this regard and our constitution of Sri Lanka, itself places the judiciary as a subordinate entity of the executive.

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