23 May, 2022


Restoration Of Muslim-Tamil Relations In The North

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof.  S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Saturday 31 Aug. witnessed the gathering of a few hundred persons at Trimmer Hall at 3:30 PM. The event was chaired by Ahilan Kadirgamar for The Forum for Tamil Muslim Relations.

Proclaimed the banner on the stage, “Forum for Tamil Muslim Relations – Justice, Equality, Relations,” drawing our attention to the need for concerted efforts at justice for the displaced Muslims, and help to resettle them. Senior Lecturer Dr. Ms. S. Krishnakumar of the University of Jaffna read out a statement by the Women’s Forum on Tamil Muslim Relations which will go into a book. Kadirgamar and other speakers lamented how the return of the displaced refugees to their original homes had been abysmally slow. Many had been living as refugees for 25 years, i.e., almost a generation, and their return to Jaffna was a return to a strange place for their children who see their areas of refuge like Puttalam as their real home now. Out of an estimated 8,000 refugee families originating from Jaffna, 2,200 have registered their desire to return, and out of these, only 600 are living in Jaffna amidst difficulties.

How wide the gulf has grown was seen when Ms. A. C. Jancy, the Principal of Khatheeja Girls’ School, described in her speech in perfect Tamil, how a Tamil had asked her if she spoke Tamil. It reminded me of an incident in my own life of how separate communities living together can be so ignorant of each other. In Nigeria in 1979 or so, I was invited to a function at the home of a former Hindu Mayor of Jaffna. All were seated on the floor for their lunch just like at Tamil Christian functions. Yet, just for me, a table was laid out with cutlery.

What moved me to write this piece was TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran’s speech which responded to that by Professor S.H. Hasbullah of Peradeniya University who asked for an official response from the Tamil National Alliance to the enormity visited on the Muslim people. Mr. Sumanthiran made some points I have rarely heard expressed by elected representatives of the Tamil people. What he said needs to be placed on public record and widely heard. He said, among other things, that

  • The Muslims are a separate people with their own traditions and way of life
  • Tamil attempts and assertions to declare Muslims who are Tamil speaking as Tamils like the Tamil-speaking Hindus and Christians who comfortably call themselves Tamil, are wrong. It is for Muslims to say who they are and choose what to call themselves.
  • He is an MP from the Federal Party which in its constitutions loudly proclaims the right of Muslims to self-determination
  • When the Muslims of the North were asked to vacate within 48 hours leaving behind their homes and all their hard earned savings and property, it was indeed ethnic cleansing.
  • It is self-serving rhetoric to shout for the army to vacate the lands they occupy and make way for displaced Tamils to return, when we ourselves will not lift a finger to help Muslim refugees return to their homes in Jaffna.
  • We Tamils cry about genocide over what happened in 2009, but so long as we Tamils deny that what was done to Muslims was ethnic cleansing by us, no one will listen to us.
  • Justice and the right to assurance of non-recurrence for Tamils must go hand in hand with the same for Muslims.

That far greater attention than given now, is needed to settle the problems of the refugees once and for all was clear from things said and unsaid at the meeting. After speaker M.A.C. Moubin described how before their exodus, Muslims were taunted at school by derisory phrases like Choni and Kaakaa, another Tamil speaker instead of showing any sympathy denied that and asserted how well Tamils had treated Mulims and what happened was an aberration. As one who schooled entirely in Jaffna at mission institutions, the fact that I never had a Muslim classmate till I went to university, shows how well Muslims were treated and what little access they had to good schools, and that Tamils have much to gain by being exposed to Sri Lankan institutions. Not only did my world expand through new Muslim friends after I moved South, but I also witnessed in the South far worse descriptions of Muslims by my new Tamil friends such as Mukkaal (three quarters) which were outside the genteel speech of mission schools. Denying how badly Muslims were treated is to pour oil on fire, and takes us back to our more primitive origins.

The Sri Lankanness of these problems was forcefully made by Mr. C. Maliyadde (Director General of the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation at the Presidential Secretariat) who had come all the way from Colombo at the insistence, he said, of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge. He was accompanied by his colleague Ambassador D. Casie Chetty. Mr. Maliyadde said that if we substituted Hambantota for Jaffna and Sinhalese for Muslim, the same problems can be seen elsewhere and that we should treat this as a Sri Lankan problem and seek a common solution. The point is very valid in that we do need each other to expand our horizons and vision. Yet it needs to be balanced with the fact that Tamils and Muslims have a history of atrocities against them and preservation of identity is not only a cultural right but also affords safety. Hitting the balance will take political commitment, astuteness and daring as done by Mr. Sumanthiran

The evening showed on the positive side that much needs to be done as seen from the fact that only one TNA MP was present and no Chief Minister or provincial minister. The presence of former Chief Minister A. Varadaraja Perumal was a pleasant exception. Many who should have come and thrown their weight behind the problems faced by Muslims if they really cared, instead sent excuses to be read out. Worse, in the city of Jaffna where there are hardly any Muslims after the evil visited on them on 30 Oct., 1990, there were more Muslims than Tamils present at the function. The Jaffna Muslims are therefore indeed still alone and Tamils need urgently to do something about it.

The evening ended with a short, moving skit by Red Face Performing Group highlighting how returnees are sent from pillar to post as they seek to register themselves and claim what is only theirs.

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Latest comments

  • 10

    “”The Jaffna Muslims are therefore indeed still alone and Tamils need urgently to do something about it.””

    Stupidity has no limits even for a professor.

    Why do the Muslims need a fighting northern village when for the past 70’s years they have had all the ministries they wanted to take the country backwards with standardization and sinhala only. except for defense. Muslims were the primary looters of Colombo’s 83 riots and the folk who purchased 1/2 price or no price land of the victims. Suma should know that well like most traditional Colombo elite.

    Even with your education you are taking about caste/class problem as if it does not exist in the west. The west before India has tested the pros and cons of caste reservations- enough is enough because everyone wants `quality of life` not stupid politicians importing/exporting migrants.

    • 3


      Are you saying that the Jaffna Muslims ought to take responsibility for enforcing Sinhala only language policy, Standardisation, backwardness of this island, looting in Colombo, purchasing land at a discounted price, …….. all the sins, ….. ?

      “Even with your education you are taking about caste/class problem as if it does not exist in the west.”

      Even if caste/class problems do exist in the west, aren’t they their problems and not ours? Or are they Muslim problems?

      • 3

        Suma has clearly pointed out that the muslims must say who they are? all religions are emotions. so are they waha bela that it effects you?
        Baddurdin introduced standardisation for his idiots to become equal via his politics.For them to be in power at center for 70 years on any sinhala platform speaks for itself. (how much are they paying you as commission)

        It is important to expose international terror Muslim than a knee jerk village operation called LTTE to bring disgrace on 70 million tamils or Asians by gutter snakes of sri lanka.

        If not for 83 attack on colombo you wouldn’t have got this far with jaffna.
        Imagine the number of boats unable to reach the west. But in 83 Maggie Thatcher had open doors for residents of Colombo which was stolen by the jaffna travel agents operating at colombo.

        Villager are RAW jackals.

        In anycase I prefer if the Sinhalaes take that space left vacant by Muslims- it would add a lot of confidence to both the warring than have your unfair trading partner planting bombs in south india and jeopodorising an unstable relationship. Suma and Mangala should see the positives.

  • 0

    Paul and by implication all the others who congratulate Paul who claim to fight for justice, insult Muslims by calling them low-caste. That by itself shows flaws in Paul’s thinking that he is all for justice.

    Caste insults are hate speech. Period! Besides, do these hate-mongers really think they are high caste? Would the caste-mongering Indians accept Jaffna Tamils as high-caste? Would they accept Jaffna Christians with the name Paul as high caste? Mmhmm that’s what I thought.

    Colombo Telegraph I thought has a policy of disallowing hate-speech. Or is CT also into caste propaganda by spreading hatred?

    Editor, please do something about this!!

    • 2

      “Caste insults are hate speech. Period! “

      That is your twisted mind of the frog in a well.

      Why do Rich Educated Anglo Saxon American’s want to be identified as
      `Boston Brahmins`??
      Why do they have exclusive clubs at Harvard or Cambridge?
      they are all to do with the class of power and wealth even the dielectric Karl marx did not understand `their way of doing things`

      remember beggars cannot be choosers as at India. The only rich people at Saudi are the royalty and extended family of Muslim.
      Why are all the Muslims seeking refuge in infidel Europe- so that they can belch and fart at will with infidel freedom and run through the resources like mice??

      Have you heard that `cleanliness is next to godliness` it has nothing to do with the christian priest or god but much to do with personal hygiene which we learn at home only. however poor a north Indian Brahman is he is supposed to be clean(for over 500 years during the European period there was sharia law and Brahmans became poorer- see there are no toilets in India like what the British left behind at Ceylon having imported the concept of Potty from China)

      The English call themselves tolerant people because of tight upper lip but they do comment and laugh about your class behind your back with people of their class- they are firm believers in Midas has donkey’s ears. English are like the octopus with tentacles in their brains to grab food using bad logic as a tool. While the Germans and Japanese will tell you are smelling of fish and run away from you even today at London.

  • 0

    It is the Muslim minister Badiudin Mammood who first brought discrimination against Tamils by introducing “Standardization”.Muslims never supported Tamils in the last several years of murder,rape and kidnapping that were inflicted on the Tamils. Now they understand the true nature of Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony.Once the Tamils are finished they (Muslims)will be next. The Jaffna “resettlement” of Muslims is taken up by the government to distract attention of human right activists from their own war crimes.

  • 3

    “”It is self-serving rhetoric to shout for the army to vacate the lands they occupy and make way for displaced Tamils to return, when we ourselves will not lift a finger to help Muslim refugees return to their homes in Jaffna.
    We Tamils cry about genocide over what happened in 2009, but so long as we Tamils deny that what was done to Muslims was ethnic cleansing by us, no one will listen to us.””

    The arrogance of a stupid professor who could not become a dean at university- because he did not come the proper way with `bad logic` like the English.
    FP SJV Chelva, was a christian crusader and this is not the time to follow idiots like him who lived for his time in asia.

    Take the distribution of wealth and employment by USAID at Jaffna. The 3 garments factories are owned by Hindu Guajarati, Lanka Muslim, and Italian. The biggest buyers of garments of the world are Jewish and they don’t need house-maids for Muslim export. (your church has taken its share all the way from pedophile headquarters)

    Sometime back a Jaffna Tamil taylor won Canada’s biggest lottery(over $100 million) and went into to study and build his garments factory at Canada. He can afford to buy all 3 but where are the orders for export?? clenched fisted multinational politics.

    Smart material graphite available down south is the new wonder- can Lanka produce the tech materials slims and supply the world than export raw? No it never can because of content and protest.

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