By Kamal Nissanka –
Statement Issued by the Liberal Party of Sri Lanka on the Hate Campaign against a Minority
People should not to be misled by religious fanatics.
The Liberal Party is concerned about the ongoing multifaceted campaigns by few self proclaimed organizations in Sri Lanka against religious minorities. A clear sinister campaign is also launched by these organizations to boycott commercial establishments run by Muslims. Liberal Party understands that the demands by these extremist organizations cannot be practically followed by the general public owing to the unpredictable behavior of the market forces.
Liberals feel that the ongoing hate campaign against Muslims is now directed at their culture including dress codes, eating habits etc. However we feel that the prime cause of the recent resurgence of this majority extremism is business rivalry. Muslims who have benefitted from open economic policies since 1977 have a greater share in capital for development and investment opportunities in the post conflict period with their inborn skill in trade. Others should not be jealous about this historical phenomenon.
Liberals understand that prior to the advent of Europeans since the sixteenth century Muslim from various parts of the world supplied much important commodities such as clothes to the island. Almost all the port cities in Sri Lanka including Colombo were historically inhabited by the Muslims. During the Kandiyan period useful commodities to the Kandyan kingdom were also supplied by the Muslims and further they settled down around the kingdom in places like Mavenella, Galagedara, Akurana and Gampola forming those places as commercial towns.
Liberal party would also like draw the attention of the citizens to post independence politics that affected the minorities severely as present trends of extremism are somewhat parallel to the past. In the post independence power politics it was the plantation Tamils who were victimized first by the Sri Lankan state through disfranchising them by legislation. However it was in 1956 and after that the forces of “Popular Sinhala Buddhism” felt that they have a duty in state formation and a share in government of the day through elections. In 1972 they were able to incorporate one religion, a foremost place in the constitution, making Sri Lanka a mini theocracy as against notions of secularism.
Although the conflict of Sri Lankan state with the traditional Tamil minority had different dimensions it is no doubt that religious extremism had also played a greater role in the conflict formation.
Having won the war against terrorism in 2009, peaceful Sri Lankan citizens always yearn for a tolerant, free society and it is prime duty of all political leaders to create such conditions to grant the future generation such a society.
However it is evident from some ugly events since the end of war, forces of majority extremism have firmly rooted in the political and social landscape in Sri Lanka. Liberal Party firmly believes that this type of majority extremism will definitely lead Sri Lanka to a much wider conflict that would hinder the economic growth and development of the country. Further if this sinister campaign against ethno religious minorities continues it will definitely make way to lose some of our traditional friends in the Islamic world.
Liberals know that under our basic law agencies of state whether executive or administrative cannot violate the fundamental rights of the citizens protected by the constitution and in such a situation citizens can go before Supreme Court for redress by way of a fundamental rights application. If a nongovernmental organization violates the fundamental rights of people guaranteed by the constitution there should be a procedural provision in law to bring them before a court of law.
Another dimension of the ongoing hate campaign is that the law enforcing authorities are also not firm in their dealings with the culprits who take law unto their hands. Even according to government’s own LLRC recommendations words hateful to communal harmony should not be allowed
Therefore, Liberals urge the government to take a firm decision against those who violate the fundamental rights of fellow people while urging the common masses of the country not to be misled by the religious fanatics.
Issued by Kamal Nissanka