By Mass L. Usuf –
Our country shamelessly adds one more dark day in its march towards creating an anarchist society. On the one hand it boasts as upholding the noble teachings of Buddha while on the other acting exactly contrary to the Dhamma. Innocent civilian Muslim population was viciously attacked indiscriminately on 05th March 2018 in several places of the Central Province of Sri Lanka including the villages of Digana, Teldeniya, Udispattuwa and Medamahanuwara. The extent of damage has yet to be assessed. So far, the death of a Muslim youth has been reported. The place resembles a war-torn area with business premises and houses totally burnt down others half burnt. Muslims mosques vandalised and desecrated. The well organised and planned pogrom was apparently executed in coordination with the support and logistics of a multitude of Sinhala racist organisations.
The presence of several monks who in the past have had the notoriety of being the architects of violence and disharmony were very conspicuous. The presence of these monks was a harbinger of what was to come in the evening of 5th March. It may also be technical to ask if their presence was tacit approval for anything that followed. One of such persons was the Venerable Galagoda Atte Gnanasara who has close links with Wirathu the terror monk of Burma. Gnanasara thero is widely believed to be the instigator of the death and destruction brought upon the Muslim people in Aluthgama in the South of the island. The BBC headline on 16 June 2014 the day of that massacre was, “Sri Lanka Muslims killed in Aluthgama clashes with Buddhists”. By the way there are several criminal cases pending against this monk and he is presently on bail.
It may be of interest to refer to a news item in the website of President Maithripala Sirisena. It says, “all must unite together to conquer the challenges against the peace and reconciliation.” It is indescribable that in the face of a bold and determined statement like this, the President had failed to act decisively on an easily preventable spree of destruction perpetrated yesterday. Funnily enough in the aftermath he issues the bureaucratic statement that he has called for an independent investigation.
Back to Back Attack
As for the Prime Minister, there is no scarcity for his proclamations. In his Independence Day Message last month, he stated, “Since being elected to power, our Government has consistently focused on creating the right social and political climate needed to build a society that is indeed free and stable.” What we witnessed in the past few months hardly reflects on his message. His statement can now be termed as empty rhetoric.
What is incredible is that these events did not take place between long intervals. The attack of 5th March was back to back to the attack in Ampara on 27th February which is in the Eastern Province. Police inaction was reported in the Ampara violence. Also, Police had underplayed the seriousness of the crimes committed by the suspects, in their report to the courts. So much so that the Prime Minister ordered a probe into the matter. (Please read my article in the Colombo Telegraph, “‘Wanda Pethi’ My Foot!” of 02 March 2018).
Connecting The Dots
The grave crime abstract of the Sri Lanka Police for the year 2017 reported the number of homicides in Sri Lanka as 452. An average of 1.2 deaths every day. In how many of these funeral houses did we see Gnanasara Thero, Ampitiye Sumana Thero and several other theros visiting to pay condolences except those who belong to that village temple?
On Jan 16, 2018, the local newspapers reported of a 14-year-old girl gang raped by three young men in Tissamaharama. The following day, the victim’s family found her hanging from a tree. Did any of these theros come to pay their last respects to this 14-year-old little girl?
On Jan 17, 2018 Police discover the body of young woman from Hambegamuwa sewage pit as reported in one newspaper. The victim was a 23-year-old woman who is believed to have been killed by her husband. The body had been recovered from a sewage pit in the Kandiyapita area in Hambegamuwa. Gruesome indeed are the circumstances. Did any of these theros come to offer their sympathies on the death of this young 23-year-old woman?
On Feb 27, 2018, the body of a nine-year-old boy from Iranawila, Chilaw, who was missing for two days, was found in a jungle area. The boy was a grade 04 student from the Iranawila Vidyalaya. He had been identified as Juwan Jedige Susin Nirmal. The body of the child had been sexually abused before the murder. Did any of these Theros come to commiserate with the parents of this nine-year-old whose pervading brightness was extinguished by this criminal?
Common And Uncommon Denominator
An analysis of the above clearly indicates that the perpetrators of these ghastly inhuman acts were all Sinhalese people. Therefore, it does not matter whether it is a woman, a young girl or a little nine-year-old angel. Since the crimes were committed by Sinhalese irrespective of the type of killing, the age of the victim and the grisly circumstances of the killing are all of lesser consequences. No Gnanasaras thero, no Ampitiye Sumana thero and no several other theros. Also, no ‘patriotic’ Sinhala Buddhist racists and other good for nothing jobless fellows.
What happened in Theldeniya was that it was the Muslims who had assaulted the victim who later succumbed to his injuries. The victim happens to be 41-year-old Sinhalese man. It has to be emphasised that it was not a racially motivated attack. The reason was related to a traffic issue – an accident or deliberate obstruction of the right of way as variously alleged. Whatever be the reason these Muslims have no right to take the law into their hands. By their criminal act an innocent man’s death was caused. From an Islamic point of view, they are answerable to God for this crime which is considered as one of the gravest crime. In Islam it does not matter if the deceased is a Muslim or non-Muslim, wanton taking of another innocent human being’s life is a crime for which among other legal consideration the punishment is death. Anyway, the matter is under investigation.
Any form of violence in a country is a national issue and naturally will concern everyone. Jathika Vimukthi Peramuna Leader Hon. Anura Kumara Dissanayake’s spectacular speech in Parliament literally put to shame those in authority who are dragging their feet. He said the National Intelligence Bureau and the Criminal Investigation Department both are under government control. How could the government plead ignorance that they did not foresee the possibility of a carnage? It is necessary that the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa also comes out with a strong statement condemning this violence. The Pohottuwa Party also should also express their displeasure at the continuing violence. It is at a time like this that the Venerable Mahanayakes have a great responsibility to voice their concern and preach to these misguided youths to stop behaving like lunatics. The venerable Mahanayakes must necessarily emphasise to the Sinhala masses not to follow the gross musa vada (falsehood) that these criminals are spreading on the social media. By this they incite innocent Sinhala youth towards violence and poison the minds of the people.
Sambandan Aiya of the Tamil National Alliance for the first time made a statement after the Ampara attack. One more is required for the current situation too. The list does not end there. There are several civil rights movements, non-governmental organisations and artists groups etc. you cannot afford to remain silent. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka cannot simply be a spectator on the face of criminal activities taking place. A Godly message of love from the Catholic Archbishop would be welcome too. Most importantly the educated Sinhalese people. Are you all prisoners of conscience, imprisoned by these racists and their false propaganda? Surely you all are intelligent enough not to be sucked into the blatant false these unsocial elements are propagating. Come out of your cocoons and tell these misguided youths that you do not condone their acts.
Arrest Them, Even If It Be a Thousand
The commitment towards peace, reconciliation and co-existence of the President, Prime Minister cum Minister for Law and Order and, the Inspector general of Police are questionable. They are collectively wearing three stars for their stellar performance in Gintota, Ampara and now Digana. They must take full responsibility for not taking decisive action to prevent an easily preventable disaster. This is a dereliction of duty. These incumbents must address this issue seriously and take real positive steps towards eliminating the curse of racism.
Most of these activists who are creating chaos are on conditional bail. They have already violated their bail conditions and could be easily taken into custody. Why is that not happening? How come despite the curfew these thugs are going around various places and causing damage to properties? The Muslims are asking if the curfew is imposed only for the Muslims. First and foremost, urgently establish the RULE OF LAW. If a thousand people have to be arrested, arrest them. The law of the land is supreme.
Save this country and its people from going down the slippery slope.