By Mass L. Usuf –
There are not many countries in the world that can boast about being the repository of the orthodox Theravada Buddhism. By virtue of this unique position plus its obligation to the international community in the field of human rights, it behoves the Sri Lanka government to issue a statement expressing its concern at the genocide or ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity as variously described by different organisations that is being perpetrated in Myanmar, a State predominantly of the Theravada tradition.
While the Myanmar government and the State Counsellor, the so-called Nobel Laurette and human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi hypocritically deny any abuse, Fortify Rights, a Swiss human rights organisation which investigate and document abuses in their report of 28 August 2017 states:
“The authorities evacuated 4,000 non-Muslim residents in northern Rakhine State, and not a single Muslim. This strengthens the appearance that an attack on civilian Muslims is underway. We’re receiving consistent reports that the army is opening fire on unarmed civilians and killing men, women, and children. We documented similar violations late last year, including horrendous killings of infants, mass gang-rape, and other violations.”
Suu Kyi Fuelling Violence
Commenting on the actions of this pseudo ‘beacon of Peace’, Fortify Rights further notes, “Suu Kyi’s inflammatory propaganda is fuelling anti-Rohingya and anti-aid-worker sentiment at a time when she should be doing everything in her power to instil calm, promote human rights, and open more humanitarian space. This is a pattern.” There is now a worldwide call to strip Suu Kyi of her noble prize.
Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific notes that Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to live up to both her political and moral responsibility to try to stop and condemn what is unfolding in Rakhine state.
Earlier on 24 March 2017 the Human Rights Council decided (through Resolution A/HRC/RES/34/22) to dispatch urgently an independent international fact-finding mission, to establish the facts and circumstances of the alleged recent human rights violations by military and security forces, and abuses, in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine State, including but not limited to arbitrary detention, torture and inhuman treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances, forced displacement and unlawful destruction of property, with a view to ensuring full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims. Not surprisingly the Myanmar government is not issuing them visas or access to the conflict area.
Institutionalisation Of Hate
Metta (loving kindness) is not reserved only for the Burmese Buddhist. It is a universal expression of love and kindness to all mankind which includes the Rohingya Muslims too. It is difficult to comprehend that a country in which 88% call themselves Buddhists can act in this disgusting manner. However, the institutionalisation of hate through indoctrination campaign within the governmental hierarchy is a further serious concern.
Leaked official documents obtained by Fortify Rights reveal explicit government policies imposing extensive restrictions on the basic freedoms of Rohingya Muslims. The never-before published orders and guidelines outline discriminatory policies and abusive enforcement methods plainly designed to control the Rohingya population. The documents detail restrictions on movement, marriage, childbirth, home repairs and construction of houses of worship, and other aspects of everyday life.
Amnesty International observes that the authorities have placed northern Rakhine State under effective lockdown, imposing severe restrictions on the ability of journalists and independent human rights monitors to travel there.
Bear The Hallmarks
On September 17, 2008, the CNN reported that militants disguised as security forces launched an explosive assault on the U.S. Embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, Wednesday killing 10 Yemeni police and civilians. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the explosions “bear the hallmarks of an al Qaeda attack.” This is an old report but the cliché ‘bear the hallmarks’ is the same even today when there is an explosion in the State Department’s theatre of operation.
Similarly, the Aluthgama riots of June 2014 did ‘bear the hallmarks’ of Wirathu violence. The infamous terror monk of Myanmar whom the Times called ‘The Face of Buddhist Terror’. It is reported that he sometimes calls himself the “Burmese Bin Laden”. In Aluthgama, besides looting, destruction of properties by arson, etc. on that fateful day, two were killed and two youth were rendered disabled due to injuries to their legs. One of them was Mohamed Asjal a teenager who had gone to see the riots. He was attacked and suffered severe injuries. His mother Fathima Selvia said that my son was taken to the Nagoda hospital, they had assaulted him and said this should happen to ‘Thambiyas’. They had refused to even give him some water. She alleges that due to the negligence of the hospital her teenage son’s leg was amputated.
This terror monk Wirathu has been accused of inspiring persecution of Rohingya Muslims through his speeches, although he claims to be nothing more than a peaceful preacher, despite openly referring to Muslims as the “enemy”.
Compare this ‘peaceful preacher’ claim of Wirathu with the statement of the Bodu Bala Sena’s Chief Executive Dilanthe Withanage, seen below:
“If BBS wanted to launch extremism, terrorism or violence, we have the necessary power and strength, but we won’t, and even Ven. Gnanasara always tries to find solution to issues through discussions.”
“However, despite Withanage’s claim that both his BBS group and Gnanasara have always resorted to finding solutions to issues in an amicable manner, the Colombo Telegraph possess several videos where Gnanasara himself admitted that he was behind the Aluthgama riots in 2014. In another incident in May last year, when a supporter of his group was arrested by the police Gnanasara threatened to launch a blood bath from the Muslim dominated Maligawatte.” (Colombo Telegraph: 11 June 2017).
Does not the dishonest and deceptive claim of Withanage ‘bear the hallmarks’ of Wirathu’s humbug claim of being ‘a peaceful preacher?’.
It is normal for a monk to say, “Siyalu Sathwayo Niduk Wethwa, Neerogi Wethwa” (may all living beings be happy and healthy) – it teaches compassion, love not only of human beings but of all living beings including those in the animal kingdom. In contrast, consider the following words coming out of Gnanasara Thera’s mouth:
“In this country, we still have a Sinhala Police; we still have a Sinhala Army. After today, if a single Marakkalaya (derogatory term for Muslim) or some other parayah (alien, outcast, also a derogatory term) touches a single Sinhalese…..it will be their end.” At the Aluthgama rally on June 15, 2014, the day prior to the eruption of the Aluthgama violence.
Intimidation, threats and physical attacks on persons by vigilante groups, destruction of property by arson or other methods, spreading hate by creating wrong perception, opportunistic politicians and monks instilling fear in the mind of the people through misinformation, discriminatory practices by state institutions, treating fellow citizens as aliens and humiliating such people etc. In Myanmar, they make the farcical claim that the Rohingya Muslims burn down their own villages and then accuse the Myanmar army and vigilante groups for it.
In the recent months of April to June 2017, the patience of the Sri Lankan Muslims was severely tested by the local unsocial rabid racists. There were a series of arson and other attacks on the Muslim commercial establishments, places of worship etc. All acts, to use the cliché, ‘bear the hallmarks’ of the Wirathu hate campaign.
The Muslim community never responded with violence. The racist agenda was very clear. It was to provoke the Muslims to hit back and then the racists will create a riot which will allow them to loot, destroy, injure, kill etc. the Muslims. Finally, the blame will be placed on the Muslims with the standard statement that they (Muslims) started it. A startled Inspector General of Police said in June this year that the suspect, a Bodu Bala Sena member, who was arrested for an arson attack at the Nugegoda Muslim shop confessed to the Police that he planned to attack two or three Buddhist temples in order to create a backlash.
Another instance from the many others that ‘bear the hallmarks’ of the Wirathu campaign of violence.
The Call Of Buddha
Sanity prevailed in Sri Lanka because not all Sinhalese Buddhists are racists. In fact, in addition to the decent and respectable Sinhala masses many Sinhala civil organisations, religious leaders including Buddhist monks, honest Sinhala Buddhist politicians did not hesitate to express their condemnation of the intransigence and criminal activities of the Bodu Bala Sena and their cohorts. The government on its part is taking measures to foster peace, unity, reconciliation and co-existence among the various ethnic and religious communities living in Sri Lanka.
In view of these positive developments here, it is incumbent on the Government of Sri Lanka to issue a statement on Myanmar expressing its displeasure and condemnation of the gross violation of human rights especially, the treatment of women, burning of children, slaughtering the weak and the old. This is the call of the Buddha – Metta (loving kindness). The respectable Maha Sangha, civil organisations and all Buddhists brothers and sisters of this country must both individually and collectively act on this.
Please also read on Colombo Telegraph: June 5, 2015, Burmese Buddhist Boy, Sri Lankan Buddhist Boy & Slow Genocide Of Rohingya