21 September, 2020

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Sri Lanka Needs Deliverance From The Destructive Divisive Politics! 

By Mohamed Harees –

Lukman Harees

Politicians often refer to themselves as not having a “racist bone” in their bodies. And yet in many instances, past and present, it is fact that racism has been a rational choice for them, particularly at election times. Already, the mainstreaming of prejudice and racist particularly anti-Muslim politics has commenced as an election strategy. The dog whistle politics by vested interests with the involvement of the regular hate monks, being played at the grass-root levels is really worrying. As demonization of minorities in general and Muslims in particular is evident on the ground, as part of an election campaign in gaining votes, marginalised communities ask; ‘where will this trajectory lead us, as a country especially after elections? 

Whatever our position on the political spectrum, the weaponising of racism as an election strategy is absolutely disgusting. It makes a mockery of anti-racist activism and the very real racial injustices which affect ethnic minorities every day. There should be no place for racism and scapegoating in our political discourse. In this regard, all political leaders, media outlets, candidates and campaigns should refrain from the scapegoating of minorities and Muslims and take responsibility for halting the rise of racism and Islamophobia. It is the role public activism to create the pressure for them to do so. 

Whether as Tamils, Muslims and majority Sinhalese who view fair play and justice as hallowed pillars of governance, we knowingly or unknowingly, play into the hands of the these political opportunists when we allow our marginal positions to be played off against each other, and in doing so we fail to imagine those ideals of collective solidarity which have been the foundation of global movements for justice. Opposition to racism and hate must be unconditional. Practices such as playing one against the other, inflame tensions between these groups and in doing so mutual solidarity becomes strained and difficult. And solidarity is a beautiful thing. Recognising the unitary nature of struggles to stand up against social injustice and racism on both a domestic and international scale has so much transformative power. We fail to realize this reality! Governments and politicians fear this solidarity across racial and religious divides.  

The public must be more vigilant to the ways media and political establishments attempt to play one against the other, particularly during elections, to keep real, impactful protest at bay. When we disguise or undermine the racism of one party to speak of the racism of the other, we disguise incidents where both parties are guilty. When we attempt to play the establishment’s games of divide and rule, we only play ourselves. And in doing so we fail to allow ourselves to imagine a position where the oppression of all people come to an end – instead, we only selfishly imagine our own liberation, which ends in joining the ruling classes to oppress the other. 

Sadly, Sri Lanka which is renowned for its beauty, has become equally defined by its hate. One of the worst legacies of the decades-old civil war in this island country is the culture of hate, violence and impunity that many fear and violence have become ingrained in Sri Lankan society – once known for ‘serendipity’ and respect for Buddhist virtues. With Digana anti-Muslim communal violence two years ago and the tragic Easter Sunday attacks primarily on Christian churches a year ago, while some believe that the country is currently going through yet another periodic cycle of violence and uncertainty, others think that the situation has reached a nadir. Can Sri Lanka be delivered from this ingrained fear and hate culture, which has engulfed this Paradise Isle in violence and terror?

With the Post-Independence governments reluctance to address schisms within a nation cleaved by more divisions: ethnic, religious and class., every violent episode breeds fear that the nation will fracture in new and unexpected ways, leading to yet more bloodshed. The New York Times called the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks as ‘A New Enemy but the Same Hate’.  Ironically, there is mutual suspicion everywhere which has led to mainstreaming of hate in a society ‘nourished’ by four world’s religions. Politicians asking for people’s votes talk with their tongues about peace, but their hearts are not in it, because their survival lies in divisions and mutual hatred among people; so the history has taught them. Media hype has made hate normal in society. 

Communal violence has been an ever-present part of life in Sri Lanka since the country gained independence from Britain in 1948, with sporadic conflicts breaking out between minority groups and the government. 1983 Anti-Tamil Riots, 30 years of war, terror and violence, Post-War anti-Muslim Attacks(2012-2018)and Christian churches and 2019 – Easter Sunday terror attacks followed by anti-Muslim attacks are examples. The cycles of violence experienced in Sri Lanka’s recent history thus may be distinct, but they are connected by a thread of state failures, impunity, lack of justice and disregard for human rights. There must be accountability for all groups who have suffered atrocities in recent decades: Christians for 2019 Easter Sunday’s attacks, and also Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese for the violations they have faced through the years. The basis for hate/ violent culture which appear to have invaded the public psyche goes beyond racial and religious hatred, like what we saw during the 1971 and 1988 JVP insurrection. Violence it appeared was contagious. It was like a horrible epidemic. The insurrection for example, also changed the mind-set of many people, alas negatively, both in the authority and those who almost naturally opposed it, on both sides of the ethnic divide. 

Sri Lanka’s long history of democracy has also been marred by electoral violence and periodic misuse of government power to suppress political dissent. Since independence, political power has alternated between two main political parties, the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Violence among political parties has become a common occurrence since the mid-1960s, particularly during election periods. In 2018 and 2019, when there was violence in the Parliament, our reactions to such violence—we reacted with surprise and shock, implying that such behaviour was uncivilised and an aberration, not a permanent fixture in our society, thus, allowing us to distance ourselves from any responsibility for it. We overlook how the different types of violence ingrained and normalised in our society are deeply interconnected with the violence we witnessed in Parliament. Parliamentary violence also mirrored the behaviour of university students and authorities during ragging. Ragging is a form of violence as it involves verbal and physical abuse that dehumanises a human being. Recent case of J’pura university student Pasindu Hirushan is a case in point. Even left-wing groups who control the university student population show a passive attitude towards ragging, thus violating the principles of human freedom and dignity, the very essence of socialism.

No society can expect to end violence and bring closure to those suffering from memories of violence when it condones violence based on ethnicity, race, religion, and ideology. The denial of transitional justice to those who demand it is a form of violence, as it entails the exercise of power over the victims of war, families of those murdered and disappeared journalists, civilians, and politicians of all communities. 

Many politicians, and social and religious institutions, continue to keep it alive and exploit it in their quest for state power, avoid public accountability for their anti-social actions, evade justice, and obtain popular legitimacy for violence in the Parliament as a ‘patriotic’ act; even if such an act violates the country’s laws. Recent justification of the violation of country’s constitution by the President, Maithripala Sirisena and the spate of violence that followed, is a good example of how ethno-nationalism in Sri Lanka has hijacked ‘true patriotism’. Ten years after the war ended in 2009, it is clear that Sri Lanka remains in a state of conflict. This is the time for national reckoning. We need to rise above the narrow nationalistic and extremist positions held by all ethnic and religious groups, and build a peace premised on justice and equality for all. We have to look inwardly and all of us must find release from the cyclical force of racism and hate and tackle this period of chaos, with a sense of maturity without falling prey to the political opportunists in both sides of the divide. 

We should all be conscious of the dangerous effects of negative stereotypes, whatever the rank they have in religious institutions or religious chapters, especially when they have the potential to misinform millions. It is horrific to hear such people at such highest places spew racist rhetoric and degrade the ‘other’ and minorities for their own political gain. Regardless of party affiliation, racist rhetoric is unacceptable. Not only are such negative stereotypes harmful, but they are wrong.

Identity politics has also become a phrase of common currency in recent years, yet it is often painfully, and badly, used. Generally, it is wheeled out in a negative context. Now, Sinhala nationalist identity politics has been fully activated specially in the wake of last year’s Presidential elections and sadly it has gone towards subordinating the minorities. US political scientist Ashley Jardina in her book White Identity Politics, drawing on a decade of data from American National Election Studies surveys, claims that white Americans — roughly 30 to 40 percent of them — now identify with their whiteness in a politically meaningful way. Importantly, this racial solidarity doesn’t always overlap with racism, but it does mean that racial identity is becoming a more salient force in American politics. So is identity politics in Sri Lanka as well! 

When groups feel threatened, they retreat into tribalism. When groups feel mistreated and disrespected, they close ranks and become more insular, more defensive, more punitive, more us-versus-them. In Sri Lanka today, every group feels this way to some extent. Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, men and women, liberals and conservatives – all feel their groups are being attacked, bullied, persecuted, discriminated against. one group’s claims to feeling threatened and voiceless are often met by another group’s derision because it discounts their own feelings of persecution – but such is political tribalism. This – combined with record levels of inequality – is why we now see identity politics on both sides of the political spectrum. And it leaves the country in a perilous new situation: almost no one is standing up for a Sri Lanka without identity politics, for a Sri Lankan identity that transcends and unites all the country’s many subgroups.

As Oberlin professor Sonia Kruks writes, “What makes identity politics a significant departure from earlier [movements] is its demand for recognition on the basis of the very grounds on which recognition has previously been denied: it is qua (That group, qua this group etc) that groups demand recognition … The demand is not for inclusion within the fold of ‘universal humankind’ … nor is it for respect ‘in spite of’ one’s differences. Rather, what is demanded is respect for oneself as different.”. Once identity politics gains momentum, it inevitably subdivides, giving rise to ever-proliferating group identities demanding recognition.

Ultimately, identities are the images that we have of ourselves. Having that self-image challenged is incredibly disruptive and it can be very difficult for us to adapt that image in light of the challenge. Most identity changes occur over longer periods of time, and with less tension and conflict.. If anything, therefore, identity politics whether Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims, should call on us to reflect on what it is about what we do that angers others so much, and how we can reconcile the different aspects of our identities in a way that produces mutually beneficial settlements. It should be a means to see a vital aspect of all politics, and how it plays a key role in shaping how people respond to us.

Ultimately, hate tears society along racial, ethnic, gender, and religious lines. Activists from all communities affected by racism should therefore join forces in a drive to put equality and anti-racism at the centre of these elections. We need to move towards a shared future where our safety, opportunities and outcomes are no longer affected by race or other identities. In the face of rising racial prejudice and violence in Post-war Sri Lanka, the parliamentary elections should be a decisive moment to unite our efforts for a nation that is inclusive and eliminates structural inequalities.

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Latest comments

  • 9
    1

    Mohamed Harees,

    Have you heard about cause and effect?

    You are describing the effects of racism, Para-Sinhala Para-“Buddhism”, against the Para-Muslims after many centuries of peaceful co-existence. What were the causes?

    1. Distortion of Buddhism and insulting the Buddha by the Para-Monks, to maintain the monk hegemony, exemplified by the lies and imaginations in the Mahawamsa by Monk Mahanama, as a result of the attack by the Brahmins and the Guptas in India against Buddhism, that was eating into Hinduism.

    2. The funding by the Satan following Wahhabi-Salafies from Saudi Arabia , their intolerant version of Wahhabism, and changing the cultural and religious practices of the more peaceful Sufi Muslims, and alienating the Sri Lankan Muslims from the rest of the communities, and identifying the Muslims, as Aliens, Paradeshis, Paras, in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho. This is one of the causes, but not the sole cause.

    In the Hadith of Najd, Prophet Mohamed, PBUH, prescienty and succinctly predicts that the Horn of the Devil will come the Riyadh area, where the Wahhabisam- Saudisam originated.

    PS. COVID 19 virus does not care about any of the beliefs promoted by the monks, Priests, Ulama, Racists and Politicians. All it is is looking for is a host to keep propagating, just like the monks, the priests and the Ulama are looking for imbeciles and suckers, for their hegemony and unproven beliefs.

    • 3
      7

      Amarasiri,

      It’s true that the Wuhan virus does not care whether one is a Christian, Buddhist or a Muslim. But I don’t know if you have noticed, the Wuhan hasn’t impacted any Soldiers or members of an armed force.

      As soldiers we don’t care about this Wuhan nonsense and we will not be afraid of this. Over 150,000 civilian monkeys have been affected. But not a single Soldier world over. Take that Amare.

      We soldiers are immortal.

      • 0
        1

        Rtd. Lt. Reginald Shamal Perera

        The goverment is giving all free for protection by pre Medical test on the tax pay of Over 150,000 civilian monkeys have been affected.

      • 2
        0

        “Over 150,000 civilian monkeys have been affected”

        Aggression & child like thinking are common consequences of traumatic brain injury (TBI) survival…

      • 2
        1

        Shamal Perera,

        Two more coronavirus patients have been identified in Sri Lanka, increasing the total number of confirmed cases to seven, Director General of Health Services Dr. Anil Jasinghe said.

        He told media that both of them had returned from Italy recently and one of them was staying at Kandakadu Quarantine center and the other one was from Nattandiya area.

        They may not be from the Military, because most military people stay in the barracks, and do not serve or congregate in hospitals where the COVID-19 infected go to.

        The virus is very egalitarian. It will not discriminate the Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheists, Agnostics and others based on their beliefs, and the Lords and the Gods they believe in is letting nature to take its own course.

        You May still prostrate to the monks, but it will NOT make any difference, but make sure you wear masks and wash your hands, in case the monk and those around are infected with COVID-19.

        Social distancing is better than prostrating to monks these days. Keep to yourself.

    • 3
      5

      Amarasiri,
      The problems faced by ‘Para’ Demalu and ‘Para’ Muslims who live in the Land of Native Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo are the effects of misusing the freedom they enjoyed under the system of Government imposed by British colonial parasites.
      ‘Para’ British who considered Sinhalayo and Buddhist monks as the biggest obstacle they had to exploit this country deliberately raised the status of ‘Para’ Malabar Wellala Demalu and ‘Para’ Muslims and used them to oppress Native Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo. After British left, these ‘Para’ people failed to realize that they have to live with Native Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo in Sinhale which is a Sinhala Buddhist country and majority Sinhalayo have the right to decide how the country should be Governed.

      When Native Sinhala Buddhists gave citizenship to these ‘Para’ Stateless people, they never expected that these people will turn against them and slaughter them. Sinhala Buddhists have realized with bitter experiences they had during the past 72 years that there is no point in chanting ‘Karaneeya Mettha Suthra’ when these ungrateful ‘Parayas’ are all out to harm them.

  • 0
    1

    Civic/ social /criminal disturbances/riots are a national trait.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_riots_in_Sri_Lanka

    These have now matured into “election disturbances” and are practised by candidates & supporters.
    The police should monitor at least a few ‘election meetings/processions.
    It is their duty to prevent civic disorder.

    • 3
      4

      Justice,
      Yes, there were conflicts and riots. Do you know who started these conflicts and riots?
      1. In 1883 there was a conflict between Buddhists and Catholics in Kotahena because Catholics blocked a Buddhist procession, attacked Sinhala Buddhists killing one person and injuring several, destroyed the carts that carried Buddha statue and pierced the eyes of bullocks with sharp objects.
      2. In 1915, there was a conflict and a riot between Sinhala Buddhists and Muslims in Gampola. The conflict started because Muslims pelted a Buddhist procession and blocked when the procession passed a mosque. After the conflict a riot broke out. Using the riot as an excuse, British massacred hundreds of Sinhalayo. No action was taken against Muslims.
      These Muslims are the descendants of Muslims who were saved by Sinhala Buddhists when they faced slaughter by Portuguese butchers.
      3. After the country got independence, there were several conflicts between ‘Para’ Demalu who are the descendants of Dravida slaves brought by colonial parasites and Native Sinhalayo when Sinhalayo made changes to certain things introduced by British such as making Sinhala, the language of Native Sinhalayo the official language instead of using English, changed the letters in car number plates from English to ‘Sri’ etc.. In all these instances, ‘Para’ Demalu started attacking Sinhalayo and Sinhalayo reacted. The worst riot in 1983 was started by ‘Para’ Demalu by killing 13 Sinhala soldiers.
      4. In all the cases of Muslim Buddhist conflicts in the recent past e.g. Aluthgama, Digana Muslims attacked Buddhists first and when Buddhists reacted they very cleverly put the blame on Buddhists.

  • 11
    1

    Its all relative Mohamed Harees.
    /
    Commitment to Wahabism or any other Islamic variety is as racist to some as what you find racist to yourself.
    /
    So, learn to wear the other man’s shoe and think for a mont.

  • 10
    6

    Muslims have the amazing capability of hiding their own violence and portray a different picture. Who did Easter attack, everybody knows. Digana was initiated by Wahhabi muslims. Wahabi muslims attacked a parked Lorry and killed the driver who was reading the newspaper. An attack with a wooden pole had made the driver fell on the ground, from the truck’s driver seat, on admission to the hosp;ital he had been dead. Wahhabis in Sri lanka for some time were acting very dominant. Muslims organizations came out and criticized Buddhist Three Jewels, attacked Mawanella Buddha statues.
    There are photos of Hakeem praying to his God and at the background is Dalada Temple of Tooth.
    Both Tamils and minorities have ethnic specific political parties. Muslims only lies about their hatred but Wigneswaran like people are open in promoting anti-Sinhala ethnic politics.

    • 3
      3

      Joker dumb (JB)

      Know your history, The kings knew the loyalty of the Muslims. They never betrayed the country, you ungrateful moron!. If the Muslims sided with the enemies during the times of kings, the history will be different. Just think if they have sided with the Tigers, ask from former navy commander, what would have happened to Sri Lanka.
      of course there are extremist elements among them and they have condemned their actions . Can you generalize.?

    • 3
      3

      JD,

      No matter how much they try, the world has come to realize that along with the COVID-19 the Moslem virus also must be eradicated.

      Look what happened in India, Iraq, Somalia and Burma. Unlike Sinhalese Buddhist cowards, the Burmese Buddhists who have a stronger spine stood up against the Moslems.

    • 3
      0

      JD,

      “Muslims have the amazing capability of hiding their own violence and portray a different picture”

      Finally the Sinhalese have understood few things about Muslims; keep them under watch, not to give too much of room. If not for this, the Muslims will take other communities for granted due to their short-sightedness, greed & selfishness. And, I am a Muslim!

  • 1
    1

    Wonder whether the fact that there is no mention of Zaharan and his Boys decapitating Buddhist Statutes like the Taliban did in Afganistan an oversight ?.

    Then the current unraveling of nexus between the the Islamic Terrorist Groups from Turkey forming Business ventures with the Muslim Political leaders in Dr Rani’s Yahapalanaya is also a noticeable omission.

    UNP’s own ex Minister Dr Wijedasa openly said that the LTTE friendly Solheim government gave BBS Monks Leadership training before the the Aluthgama Riots leading to the Yahapalana Victory…

    There is no mention of the Aluthgama Riots which the UNP heavies nicely pinned on the Rajapakasa supporters as Muslim bashing and kicked out the Podujana Government which protected the Nation from Terrorists for 10 years, after eliminating Mr Pirahaparan and his LTTE
    -.
    This writer seems to have selective memory.

    I would have been better if he told us why Muslims who did well both under Rajapakasa as well as Dr Rani and his Yahapalanaya destroyed the Catholic Church with the next Election around the corner.

    And why their Muslim Leaders are running for cover, hiding behind the Yahapalana Factions.
    And still trying to grab power hoping to keep the Cardinal in the dark.
    And also to carry on with their money making ventures and introducing Sharia Laws in their strongholds.

  • 2
    0

    Peace, cool down, be rational and understanding. We are all brothers and sisters on this little planet called Earth. Before Lord Buddha was born, there was no Buddhism. And before Prophet Mohammed was born, there was no Islam.

    We all have to “cultivate” our minds in order to see things in the correct perspective

    “Birth, sooner or later, is followed by Death”. “Life is uncertain, Death is certain”

    • 2
      1

      Reasonable Man, Earthling,

      “Before (Lord ) Buddha (Earthling) was born, there was no Buddhism. And before Prophet Mohammed (Earthling) was born, there was no Islam.”

      Buddha was no Lord, others made him to be a Lord, to establish the monk hegemony, so that the imbecile followers, per instructions from the monks will prostrate to them, and the monks can keep their hegemony.

      “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, unless it agrees with your own reason”. -Sidddaratha Gautama.

      The Ulama took over Islam, establishes their hegemony for the imbeciles to follow.

      • 1
        0

        ‘Buddha was no Lord, others made him to be a Lord, to establish the monk hegemony, so that the imbecile followers, per instructions from the monks will prostrate to them, and the monks can keep their hegemony.’
        .
        Amare, not quite. The monks are deliberately meant to be totally dependent on the laity for their needs, in return the laity are dependent on the monks for instruction in the Dhamma. What has happened is that most monks have become independent of the laity. They handle money, own property and take part in politics and lay affairs. They break the Vinaya rules and all monks get tarred with the same brush although there are many monks who uphold the Vinaya. The laity too are at fault for continuing to supporting corrupt monks.
        .
        Regarding prostration, it is no different to a salute given by a soldier, it is a sign of respect. If the laity think it is anything more than this, then they are at fault again.

  • 2
    0

    Majoritarian systems in parliament magnify concepts liberty minority (bullied) Universal Declaration of Human Rights which distinguished to take the first step to come to a country, same the Sri Lankan citizens in other country are in minority they require Human Rights presence to solve problem

  • 5
    0

    This is a crucial election for Lanka, one of the last elections where the majority of the voters are still non-Moslem Buddhist, Hindu and other Kaffirs. It is extremely important that not one single Kaffir vote is cast to any Moslem candidate, regardless of the party they represent. The reason is Taqqia is in play at its best, and Moslems have been conspiring collectively how to handle the temporary Kaffir awakening after Gotaby became President. They have obviously got well known Taqqia masters like Lakman Harees to do their part of deception at publications like the CT whining about so called racism (when Islam is the most vile, homophobic, theology ever known to man, but does not define a race). The statistics do not lie. In all metropolis areas every second child born is a Moslem, and Islam will overwhelm firstly the cities in Lanka by 2030 and the whole country by 2040 by sheer numbers, by breeding like vermin. The docile retards in Colombo who preach passive accommodation of this barbaric religion and its adherents are either already comfortably ensconced in Western countries that they can migrate to with short notice and benefiting from Islamic commerce or are morons who are devoid of common sense. I would wish all the monks and others who are trying to awaken the Kaffir to the danger that lies ahead the very best. They should treat this as war itself, an undeclared war on the Kaffir by the Moslems, fought in all fronts including commerce, politics, diplomacy, etc. Never let the people forget Easter Sunday massacre. Let that recent memory awaken the Kaffir to the Moslem Jihadi ISIS apocalypse that lies ahead in the next 2 decades for Lanka.

  • 3
    3

    Muhammed Hares is writing nonsense. Conflicting forces are natural in democracies. In the long run they lead to productive outcomes

    • 1
      0

      So the Ranil-Sajith are such naturally opposite homo sapiens of Sri Lanka politics? must be!
      /
      Sleep tight swami.

    • 2
      1

      Shyamon Jayasinghe is very correct. But, the Sri Lankan problem because of the Foreign International-geo political needs, sri Lankan political leaders or the successive govts promoted and nourished divisive identity politics and ethnic politics. That system mus be changed. Sri Lanka is saturated with ethnic politics inside the parliament, now even trade unions, and NGOs ask for political representation. So, the govt has to decide where they must stop. Promoting ethnic or identity politics will never work. From one side they promote ethnic identity politics. From another side, they handed over reconciliation to a colombo living estate Tamil, for erasing Sinhala language, Buddhist culture and civilization (they wanted dagobas bull dozed, main road around the Temple of tooth and then promote Tamil castes, Muslim religious sects,
      Promoting minority-identity politics will never work for any country. There is no country in the who has won with that. In Tamilnadu it is always Kerala born or north -hindusthan born Brahmins that governs Tamilnadu. Even in Arab countries Sunnis dominates Shiites etc., and there is no common ground.

    • 2
      0

      Shannon Jayasinghe,

      Please read up on Plato’ Republic, to understand the Sri Lankan Republic of the Paras.

      Democracy does not work well, when there are too many imbeciles, as in SL , where the measured mean IQ is 79.

    • 0
      0

      I thought Mr Shaymon Jayasinghe retired hut after Nandasena became the President..-

      Will Mr Jayasinghe now barrack for Dr Rani and Galleon Ravi’s Eite Faction at the next Election ?.
      Or will Mr Jayasinghe barrack for Keselwatta Kid’s Dalit Faction, as a gratitude for having the privilege of serving under Keselwatta Senior, the last UNP President ..

  • 6
    0

    S.Jaysinghe..

    You come up with a strong theory. more than 100.000 people have been killed in all communities in 30 years of war, Do you want to see more blood bath to come out with a so called productive outcomes. So sorry to read this…

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