By V. Kanthaiya –
Sri Lankans were being well entertained by the Jagath Jayasuriya “issue’ during the last two weeks. First it was the foreign media who reported it, then the Lankan media picked it up and increased the hype, as if there are attempts (or conspiracies) to take the general directly to Hague, where the International court is located, and right after that to the so called electric chair.
The typical ending for this kind of sensation would have been that the Joint Opposition (JO) trumpeting that ‘Yahapalanaya’ government is betraying the war heroes and Mahinda Rajapaksa jumping up and down saying that he would sit on the electric chair and sacrifice himself (or his butt) for the war heroes and after another week Sri Lankans being entertained by another hyped up news. But what makes life interesting is the unexpected twists it hides from us. Nobody has expected that Sarath Fonseka would make a public statement that he would testify against General Jayasuriya on the war crimes allegations. For the JO this was like getting all four aces in the card game and they really played it well.
The above paragraph is also the summarized version of the future history stating how Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka became a traitor of the motherland.
Meanwhile in the same motherland, there were four war heroes being tried by the court of law. They obeyed the order from their superior officers and fired upon civilians protesting for clean water in Rathupaswala. But the JO patriots never utter a word about these war heroes of Rathupaswala. Even Mahinda Rajapaksha or Gotabaya Rajapaksa who were responsible for the defence ministry at that time, never say that they will volunteer to be hanged instead of the Rathupuswela war heroes.
Smart patriots Wimal Weerawansa, Dinesh Gunawardena and Udaya Gammanpilla, smart patriotic intellectual Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka and the Maha Sangha, everyone has never expressed their concern against the Rathupaswala war heroes.
Why even the war heroes are subjected to discrimination? Again, they acted against the terrorists who blocked the main road and undermined the rule of law in the country.
I discussed about this strange phenomena with some patriotic Sri Lankans. They said they too don’t know the reason for this strange phenomena.
No. Everybody knows the answer. The Sinhalese people accept that the army personnel involved in the Rathupaswala shooting which killed three innocent civilians should be tried by the court of law and punished. On the other hand, they don’t accept that the security forces alleged to have committed indiscriminate shelling on civilian concentrations, abductions, extortions, sexual assault and extra-judicial killings of journalists and opposing politicians should be tried by the court of law and punished.
After the war, several Sinhalese friends of mine used to ask me one question. ‘Now the war is over. You can go to your places and live happily’. Why are you grumbling so much about the war crimes?’.
The answer is simple. Not all those killed are terrorists. There are thousands of people simply disappeared after surrendering to the security forces. Their relatives need the answers. Above all the victims are Sri Lankans, like the victims of Rathupuswela. They need the same justice like the residents of Rathupuswela. Both Isai Priya and Premawathi Mannamperi are Sri Lankans. But why no justice is being delivered to Isai Priya that was served for the brutal rape and killing of Mannamperi? , even though both are Sri Lankan citizens.
Why the legal system of the country is biased? Why the justice is being ignored to the Tamil community of this country? With the end of the war, the problem of the Sinhalese community, the LTTE has ended. But the problems of Tamils still continue.
Now there has emerged another dangerous precedence. The silence of the international community to the killings of Thousands of Tamils and the subsequent failure to prosecute the perpetrators by the UN have paved the way to the other states persecuting its own minority communities without much of a hassle. Myanmar, another predominantly Theravada Buddhist state has adopted the same terror strategies adopted by the Sri Lankan State. Initially, it was the mobs organized by the Buddhist monks especially by Venerable Ashin Wirathu involved in the violence against the Rohingyas. Now the Myanmar military itself is directly involved in persecuting the minorities in the name of fighting Islamic terrorism.
What is more horrific is the justification by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace prize laureate and the present de facto leader of the country denying the atrocities committed by the mobs and the military. The stark irony is that Suu Kyi was imprisoned by the former Myanmar junta for two decades due to her struggle to bring the democracy to the country. Well, this is why some people say, the devil himself was once an angel.
Both Sri Lanka and Myanmar use the same propaganda to justify their persecution against the minorities that is fighting terrorism. It was much easier for the Sri Lankan regime to brand the legitimate demands of Tamil community as terrorism and separatism due to the atrocities and the terror tactics used by LTTE. Myanmar government try to justify its actions as war against terrorism, the only reason being the Minorities are Muslims.
Most non-Muslims believe that Islam is promoting violence and hatred, given the number of lone wolf attacks against the civilians in the western countries by the radicalized Muslims. Now the Myanmar state is attempting the use the same brand image that the country has a Islamic terrorism issue.
Even though, it is the state that persecute the minorities both in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, it is well known that the Theravada Buddhist institution which is behind it. The acts of several individuals made Islam to be branded as a religion of hatred and violence, despite its claim that it is a religion of peace. In future, it can happen to Buddhism also. Despite its core principles of nonviolence and tolerance, the religion can be branded as violent and ruthless.
Now the question is what is the Buddhist institutional hierarchy trying to achieve through this? Their continued dominance on the politics and the society?, the very own existence and dominance of the religious elite?
The sole achievement by these religious institutions so far is that they have effectively trained the people to hate others for the reason they don’t practice the same religion and take pride in accomplishments that they have never achieved.
Some people may find this article as one sided opinion. Well, the problem with the modern society is that it continues to fail to point out the evil as evil. You cannot treat the victim and the aggressor as the same and ask them to give up violence. You have to ask the aggressor to stop it. However, the society partly blames the victims for the violence, when the try to defend themselves. On the other hand, this helps the aggressors to justify the violence as a fight against terrorism.
The world has witnessed so many massacres and it continues to do so. No matter how much technological advancement is achieved by humanity, until it clinches the religion and nationalism, the civilizations will always be barbaric.
*The writer can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org