20 October, 2017

The Attack On The Rohingya Refugee Safe House—A Shameful Act Contrary To Sri Lankan Values

By Javid Yusuf

Javid Yusuf

The unseemly incident at the UNHCR safe house at Mt. Lavinia last week where the 30 Rohingya Refugees had been located highlights the fact that the seeds of racism planted during the time of the previous regime have still not been uprooted.

Apart from the fact that the purveyors of hate like Sinhala Ravaya, Ravana Balaya and Bodu Bala Sena are lurking in the background making use of every opportunity to stoke the flames of religious and racial hate, what is even more disconcerting is the fact that new outfits such as Mahason Balakaya and the Sinhale Organisation  and some others have cropped up taking advantage of the new climate of freedom that the Yahapalanaya Government has ushered in.

These groups seem to be undeterred by the fact that the country as a whole has spoken up loud and clear on January 8, 2015 rejecting the path of hate and embracing a path of reconciliation on which platform President Mathripala Sirisena and the UNP campaigned.

It is unfortunate that Sri Lanka which has been a model of co-existence and inter communal harmony over centuries notwithstanding the brutal armed conflict of the last three decades is facing the current situation of uncertainty due to the actions of a few who with callous disregard to human values as well as Sri Lanka’s name are acting in this manner.

It is even worse when a few members of the clergy are associated with such mobs who seem to be wanting to take the law into their own hand to achieve their own objectives. This is a continuation of the philosophy of the Bodu Bala Sena who declared and acted during the previous regime as an unofficial police force.

Last week’s incident targeting the Rohingya Refugees witnessed the presence of individuals who had been previously arrested and bailed out for similar incidents of hate speech brazenly acting in violation of such bail conditions.

As was well known and officially confirmed after the incident last week, these Rohingya refugees did not come to Sri Lanka on their own volition. They had been travelling in a boat to Australia or some such destination and had been rescued by our Navy when the engines in their boat had stalled. These innocent victims of the horror that is currently being enacted in Myanmar numbering 30 including 15 children and 7 women had been thereafter produced in the Sri Lankan Courts where order had been made by the Magistrate that they be handed over to the UNHCR to be cared for and thereafter sent to another country. It is the UNHCR that had arranged for them to be located in the safe house at Mt. Lavinia.

The members of the mob that targeted these refugees if they were genuinely concerned about the presence of these refugees should have gone like any other law abiding citizen and informed the Mt. Lavinia Police who would undoubtedly have inquired into the matter and appraised them of the situation. Instead as has been the practice in the past by this group and those of their ilk they attempted to take the law into their hands and terrorise these unfortunate human beings.

Consequently the authorities have been compelled to transfer them to the Boosa detention camp for their own safety. The situation that the Rohingya refugees are compelled to face can best be described by the Sinhala phrase ‘Gahen Weticcha Minihata Gona Anna Wage’ which translated into English means ‘ Like being gored by a Bull after having fallen from a tree.”

The action or inaction of the Police officers present at the scene have also come in for criticism by some. In fairness to the Police officers video footage clearly showed them valiantly  taking all efforts to prevent the mob entering the safe house. The mob was  heard warning the Police not to lay hands on the clergy and clearly the Police would have been uncertain as to how to handle the situation by arresting the miscreants or taking any further action.

The Police who are the guardians of law and order and are therefore in the frontline in situations of this nature have to be given clear and unambiguous guidelines by the Government as to how such situations have to be handled. Such directions must be given wide publicity in order to ensure that those who wish to take the law into their own hands will think twice before doing so.  The failure to do so without further delay will leave the Police uncertain as to what would be their fate if they took action in accordance with the law of the land against such mobs and with particular reference to members of the clergy who act in contravention of such laws. This is all the more important because these violent mobs attempt to use the presence of the clergy and put them in the fore front to prevent the Police from acting.

A classic example of such a predicament faced by the Police is the incident before the UN headquarters in Colombo where the Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa was engaging in a fast  unto death during the previous dispensation. A senior Police Officer was taking steps to control the unruly crowd when he was given a  phone call and asked to step back by some higher authority. While he was doing so one of the members of the unruly crowd humiliated the officer by dislodging his cap  in the full view of television cameras and the officer had to eat humble pie and take no action.

That the Police is capable of taking action where necessary is seen by another episode. A few months back when there was a spate of attacks on Muslim places of worship and Muslim businesses the National Shoora Council together with other civil society orgainsations like the Puravesi Balaya and the National Movement for Social Justice made representations to  the Inspector General of Police and urged him to take action to prevent the recurrence of such incidents. One of the measures that was proposed to the IGP was to have mobile patrols in potential trouble spots which the IGP promptly actioned. Consequently all the attacks came to an immediate stop.

In arresting this menace of  hate mongering the behavior of politicians is a critical factor. The Joint Opposition does not seem to be learning from their past and continues to repeat their mistakes which was a contributing factor in their defeat at the last elections. National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa and another NFF Parliamentarian raised the issue of the Rohingya refugees housed in Mt. Lavinia in Parliament last week without a word of condemnation against the targetting  of these refugees.

In contrast Government Ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Rajitha Senaratne and Lakshman Kiriella condemned the actions of these mobs and called upon the Police to take stringent action. At the same Press Conference at which Minister Rajitha Senaratne did not mince his words when he condemned the actions of the mob at Mt. Lavinia, Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera  chose his words carefully and struck a different note when he only explained that the refugees were here temporarily and would not be given citizenship but carefully avoided any condemnation of the mob attack in Mt. Lavinia.

The JVP too has come out strongly and condemned the incident.

Minister Rajitha Senaratne stated at the Press Conference that the matter will be taken up at the next Cabinet meeting. It will be salutary if the Cabinet appoints a Cabinet sub Committee to immediately formulate a plan to address the issues relating to hate mongering and to suggest ways and means of countering such actions.

The Rohingya  refugees are some of the most marginalized people in the world. They are poor and deprived of citizenship in the land of their birth and are being hounded and killed in what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has described as a text book case of ethnic cleansing. The international community including  Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu have unreservedly condemned this unfolding human tragedy.

Yet a mob that includes members of the clergy sought to attack the safe house where these refugees three fourths of whom were women and children without showing an  ounce of human compassion for their plight.

As Sri Lankans we must surely hang our collective head in shame at the uncivilized and  heartless actions of a few of our countrymen.

If the members of the mob paused for a moment to put themselves in the shoes of the helpless refugees who had been driven away from their homeland, relocated temporarily in alien territory in another country where they did not know the language of the land and  depended on the largesse of the UN and suddenly found themselves being targeted by a screaming mob  they may have thought twice.

But they did not consider about the impact their actions had on the unfortunate women and children who must have been terrified inside the safe house. Instead they acted in complete variance with the character of the Sri Lankan nation nourished by the teachings of the four great religions and well known for its hospitable and kind nature.

Even in the dark days of July 1983 it was a microscopic few who attacked and killed  the Tamils while large numbers of Sinhalese and Muslims opened their doors to provide protection and look after the victims. But   Sri Lanka’s proud standing in the world and as a respected member of the Non Aigned Movement and as a country that stood up for justice and peace took a severe beating due to the actions of a few.

Sri Lanka is only now slowly but surely rehabilitating itself and rebuilding its image in the eyes of the international community. The Government cannot allow its efforts in this area to be jeopardized by the actions of a few who are clearly unconcerned about what is right and wrong or as to what happens to the image of the country. The Government must act now before it is too late.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 10
    1

    What kind of srilanken values you have been talking Mr ?

    I really dont think we have any more values left as had been in the past. Over a decade Rajapakshes have twisted almost everything in favour of their political stailization.

    Today most of these abusive /unethical/dangouers /extremists wearing sanga robes or unwearing them seem to have a power as notimes in the past. We had a decade in which no law and oder was exercised by the ruling governt in such cases where injustice was practised on broad day light.

    In the post war era, there had been some incidents where even VISITING UNP MPs were attacked by the thugs set by Rajapakshes in Hambantota. Asked why that was responded by Rajapathuma himself ” they had been condemned, so physical or verbal attacks on the the visiting fact finding mission had been fair” This was what SRIIMATH RAJATHUMA had to say in protecting his own citizens.
    But people across the country are made to believe he is the only person to lead this nation: Even Rajapakshe kakka would have been distributed to those guilliable folks, they would taste them without saying anything: So utterly disgusting the folks have been made to this day.
    This he proved again on the May day held with thousands of crowds brought again by paying Arak and rice packets to them.
    No investigations were made by the rulers silly govt yet as how Rajapakshes spent that billions again for such extra vaganza RAJAPAKSHE kind of wasteful events.

  • 6
    0

    Dr Yusuf has written well.

    Indeed WE should all hang our heads in shame.

    NOT ENOUGH Sri Lankans, especially, those in the very highest positions in the land, have come out to unequivocally condemn the activities of the mob (both with and without robes, graduates of the ‘Cyril Mathew Institute of Public Disorder’) who persecuted the FEW who sought refuge in our blessed land.

    How soon have we forgotten the refugees WE inflicted on the rest of the world. How soon have we forgotten the tsunami of help and aid given to us in our time of need due to natural disaster.

    31 souls; living, breathing creatures of circumstance who find themselves in difficult times, and we could not find the united, unstinting, unhesitating will to give them even temporary relief.

    Shame! Shame! Shame!

  • 4
    2

    Javid Yusuf

    “The Attack On The Rohingya Refugee Safe House—A Shameful Act Contrary To Sri Lankan Values”

    What values are we talking about? When did killing stop? When did abuse stop? When did the state treat people with compassion? When did looting stop? When did land grab stop? When did child abuse stop? When did legal sexual abuse of under age girls stop? …………………………………

    ” Even in the dark days of July 1983 it was a microscopic few who attacked and killed the Tamils while large numbers of Sinhalese and Muslims opened their doors to provide protection and look after the victims. “

    I agree.

    How many of the good Muslims, Good Sinhalese and Good Buddhists went out and protest against the viharathipathies, Cyril Mathew’s private army JSS, organised gangs, ……… the racists, war, ….? How many of the good Muslims, Good Sinhalese, Good Tamils, Good Hindus and Good Buddhists went out and protest against the army, police, DIG Udugampola, death squads, Gota, ……. between 1987 and 1990?

    Where are those Muslims who protested against UN , Norway, UN resolution, …… in Sri Lanka? Where are those members of Muslim Home Guards who actively participated atrocities in the East? Shouldn’t they protect these refugees simply because they are Muslim Refugees?

  • 4
    0

    It is unfortunate that most of the unfortunate events in history have taken place when the UNP is at the helm.
    Are there no generous Islamic country in the region who could accept them to make a decent transfer and to provide a better life for these Rohingiya people?.

    • 6
      1

      thondamannay

      “It is unfortunate that most of the unfortunate events in history have taken place when the UNP is at the helm.”

      Do you think so Thonda?

      How about the introduction of 1956 Sinhala only language law and ensuing riots?
      How about the creation of JVP/LTTE terrorists and 1971 war against the innocent youth, war crimes?
      How about standardization of A/L results for University entrance?
      How about Siri Mao’s contribution to Bangladesh war crimes in 1971?
      How about war against Tamils between 1994 and 2002?
      How about war against Tamils between 2005 and 2015?
      How about Kahata and hakkuru from 1970 to 1977?
      How about “Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place2 in 1972 Constitution?

  • 2
    0

    UNP does not seem to be doing anything.. Only talk. No immediate action… They wait to see the public reaction to take action. Justice comes only after listening to public comments. They dont seem to know how to react in such a situation even with their past experiences still. SLFP is still struggling with the bad seeds sown during the past regime. Jointly I am sure they can now learn from all the past experiences and come up with a good solution to react in such situations. But the mechanism seems very lethargic and very slow moving.. Time to consider some other alternative if these people are still struggling on how to act when the things that are happening now are not sudden incidents but incidents that can be expected everyday.. Still they have no solution.

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out] Comments should not exceed 300 words. Please read our Comments Policy for further details.

  • 4
    1

    I think the common issue is what values are being talked of. Violence has been the creed in Sri Lanka from independence, particularly against the Tamils. The Muslims sat on the fence and participated in the benefits that it would bring them. It is a bit too late to talk about values. One may ask that the past be forgotten and that a new beginning be made. But, this is unlikely given the Buddhist fringe groups which also have always existed. It is simply that the prime target has moved from the Tamils to the Muslims. Tamils should not be happy with that, neither should the Christians, Sinhalese or Tamils. They are all potential targets of Sinhala Buddhism. Values do not change. They have a history behind it. Sinhala identity is tied to the primacy of Buddhism. Values are based on this primacy. They will not change in a hurry. The path to power for every Sinhala politician is using that constructed identity. That is why Buddhist priests and the Sinhala politicians have an alliance. They keep themselves in power, a fact made possible only by ensuring that the Tamils, Muslims and Christians are kept down.

  • 1
    0

    At the scene, the police officers were mere onlookers while the mob under the leadership of some priests took law into their hands. Our constitution has guaranteed the highest place for Bhudism and the Bhudist priests too expect undue immunity from normal law whatever they say or do. If communal minded persons want to do harm or do any dirty work to other religious believers, they can become priests and act in this manner as the police also can’t take any action against them. We want to know for sure whether the Bhudist priests are under the Sri Lankan law or above the law. These priests identify themselves as Sinhalese rather than Bhudists.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 1
    0

    Javid Yusuf ~ “The Attack On The Rohingya Refugee Safe House—A Shameful Act Contrary To Sri Lankan Values”
    The mother of “shameful acts” goes to the BJP government of India. The man Modi after meditation and yoga, sagaciously has declared the Rohingyas (emaciated, men, women and children refugees) as terrorist security threat. He will deport them to be used by the Burmese Army for torture practice.
    The attack on the Rohingya Safe house was verbal and may be ranked “cowardly”. We have lots of “shameful” acts to be proud of.
    Javid Yusuf patronisingly says ~ “These groups seem to be undeterred by the fact that the country as a whole has spoken up loud and clear on January 8, 2015 rejecting the path of hate and embracing a path of reconciliation on which platform President Mathripala Sirisena and the UNP campaigned”.
    Junaiid, No no no. The people mandated MS/RW to bridle corruption, nepotism and the culture of impunity. They have not done one bit and this is the shame.
    Government Ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Rajitha Senaratne and Lakshman Kiriella condemned the actions of the mobs against the Rohingya refugees. We are proud.
    They and called upon the Police to take stringent action. Ministers having to tell police what to do? Shame shame shame.
    Javid, tell the Lankan Muslim MPs that their silence is deafening.

  • 2
    0

    No human beings would do as Burmese inhuman animals have done to humanity..forget about race/ religions or ethnicity ? forget about all others issue. who on earth could burn alive children and pregnant ladies ?
    Sri Lanka armies fought Tigers for 30 years and yet No Sri Lanka solder killed a Tamil babies like this ..
    how did they do this without any human remorse ?
    they were living side by side..
    indeed some of them made mixed marriage too?
    even they killed a Hindu for not killing Muslims..
    what sort of Buddhism they are following ?
    I think if Lord Budha awaken from his grave he would first and foremost tell these people you are not Buddhists ? He would say to them you do not belong to human race ?.
    99% of Sinhalese would not support these animals of likr semi- human beings of Burmese..
    they tarnish good name of Buddhists and Buddhism..? I do not any one with any human conscience would support these burmses Buddhists.
    always portrait of SUU Kyi removed from Oxford university..
    International criminal court in Hague is planing to take action to all these people who committed these activities.
    They will not get way with this .
    Karuma will come upon to them all ..
    In our time or sooner or later.
    In this world no one who committed injustice or aggression will get away with it ..
    before they die they will taste a punishment for their injustice..
    you name it Hitler
    Sadam
    Ghdafi and so on..
    It may come in a way of man made disaster or natural disasters ..
    wait and see ..
    when destruction come good and bad people all will suffer ?
    so..sinhalese people should use their head and move with logic and wisdom ..
    we do not want to harm any one for any reason.

  • 4
    1

    Mr. Yusuf the attack on the defenceless persecuted Rohingya is shameful, however to make a point do not trivialise what happened to the Tamils in 1983. It was a well planned pogrom that was orchestrated by the then JR Jayawardene government. Many senior ministers were involved including the a Muslim minister, whose family originated from Nagoor in Tamil Nadu. This Muslim minister later at the request of JR again sent Muslim criminals and thugs from Colombo to Kalmunai in the eastern province to orchestrate and create problems between the Tamils and the Muslim Tamils in the Kalmunai area and this was the start of the problems between the Tamils and Muslim Tamils in the east, that was deliberately created by JR and this Muslim minister from Tamil Nadu. Coming back to 1983. It was large scale nation wide , where even the armed forces and police were involved and the mobs were given copies of the electoral register , so that they can identify Tamils. School boys from leading Buddhist schools were also involved. It is true some Sinhalese and Muslims shielded their Tamil neighbours friends and relatives , people whom they knew but even them and the rest of the Sinhalese and Muslims passively and actively supported this violence against the Tamils. Mob violence on such large scale organised by the government cannot happen without the support of the general population. Like most Muslims you try to trivialise what happened to the Tamils , to minimise the Muslim contribution to the Eelam Tamil genocide

  • 3
    3

    Javid Yusuf,
    ___
    STOP misleading the public with FAKE NEWS. There was NO ATTACK on Rohingyas, but there was a PROTEST. Funny, you didn’t call it GENOCIDE. Learn from Eelam Tamils, who have become Dollar millionaires and Dollar billionaires, just by using the magic word ‘GENOCIDE’.

    There are more MUSLIM illegal immigrants in Puttalama, Mannarama, Gampaha, etc from Myanmar, South India, and Pakistan.

    Police must arrest the Muslim politicians who smuggle illegal Muslims to Sri Lanka.Some Muslim politicians and Muslim Organizations may have received millions of Dollars from Middle East for this by now.

    Sri Lanka can’t accommodate too many MUSLIMS. You may agree that, where there is a Muslim, there is always trouble. Except Malay Muslims, Marakkala Muslims’ contribution to Sri Lanka is NOTHING but TROUBLE, they have encroached and bulldozed Buddhist archeological sites, produced fraudulent land deeds and birth certificates, smuggled drugs, destroyed forests, etc, etc, etc.

  • 0
    1

    Ranil Wicramasinghe is accused for instigating the Central Bank Day light bank robbery. That is how Arjun aMahendran has told both in the FCID as well as in the TV. This Bengali -refugges brought indian smugglers is happening since 2008. IT has become an issue right now probably because Ranil wants to hide his theft of the Central bank. It is a UNP political issue.

    • 0
      1

      RW is not accused, but the rest of info to be revealed in next days.

      Then your beloved ballige putha who looted the nation would nevertheless have to be jailed.

      delayed means not that convictions would never be the case.

      Besides, if RW s decisions caused the SCAM, that is just 1% of all the high profile abuses done by Mahinda Rajapakshe AND his brother but fooling and looting entire nation.

      • 0
        0

        Burampisincho: We are waiting for that three years now. NEws reports say there are ending finance mal pratices cases over 5800, and they do not want to appoint more judges to shorten the line up. Why the new justice minister who chased away wijedasa Rajapakse is silent. she is protecting who ? IS Ranil Wickramsinghe still the Leader or leading or he is waiting until others drops down then to become the president ?

  • 2
    1

    Dear Javid
    Long time No see, my friend – almost 35 years !. Courtesy, the typical “SRI LANKAN VALUES” (what an oxymoron ! ), the ‘Black July’ demo of “SL values” robbed me of all my belongings, rendered me a destitute and forced me to flee Sri Lanka.

    • “……the seeds of racism planted during the time of the previous regime…..” (Javid)

    No Javid , seeds were planted at the dawn of so-called “Independence” by the “Father of the Nation” D.S. Senanayake. The maiden legislative feat by the Parliament of “independent” Ceylon was decitizenizing One million Tamil plantation workers and disfranchising them. Seven upcountry Tamil M.P.s, lost their parliamentary seats overnight. If that is not racism, what is it?
    Racism and religious bigotry were nurtured and nourished by Sinhala-Buddhist leaders:
    – June 1956 -“Sinhala Only” Act, an act of naked racism.
    – June 11-17, 1956 -Gal Oya Massacre of over 150 Tamils, by Sinhala colonists and GO
    Development Board employees, showcased rabid racism?.
    – June 1, 1981 – Ethnic biblioclasm of 20th Century- Burning of the Jaffna Public Library with
    97,000 books and manuscripts by Sinhala police, supervised by two UNP Ministers.
    • “…. Sri Lanka which has been a model of co-existence and inter communal harmony over
    centuries….”
    Are you recalling Dutugemunu- Ellalan battle, May 1915 Sinhala-Muslim riots, periodical anti-Tamil pogroms – killing, savaging and violating men, women and kids & looting Tamil homes and businesses in 1956, 1958, 1961, 1970, 1977,1981, 1983,- organized by Sinhala mob with the cooperation/ participation of police and military men.
    • “…..Sri Lanka’s proud standing in the world …..as a country that stood up for justice and
    peace…..”
    “Justice and Peace”? In Sri Lankan vocabulary? We should find out from the successive UNHRC Chiefs Louise Arbour, Navi Pillay and Prince Zeid Al Hussain .

    Even a worm will turn. Morally and legally, the Rohingya people have every right to recoil and hit back.
    Tamils should empathize and express our solidarity with the oppressed people -.

    • 0
      0

      KArikalan: You are crying because you had been a Estate Tamil. What happened to the Sinhala people in th enorth lived during the said time you mentioned here. My father told me, One Tamil GA, got army to kill innocent civilians from Polonnaruwa area and demonstrated every where. How about those ?. Why you can not remember how for 30 years you tamils supported some LTTE killers and their mayhem was an westrn effort and now being repeated as Rohingya problem,

  • 0
    1

    Dear Karikalan,

    Its great to here from you after so long. Even recently I inquired from a mutual friend about you and was told that you had come to Sri Lanka and gone back. I was sorry that I had missed you and asked him to give me your email address which he promised to do. However not being in the best of health he has yet to do so. I remember the interesting discussions we used to have on this topic. Kindly send me your email address to javidyusuf@gmail so that we can keep in touch and continue the conversation.

    javid

  • 0
    0

    Is this the native vedda blog…………Vedda knows everything………….
    Karikalan……………. why not say tamils should join or support the catalans as well………….

    • 1
      0

      thondamannay

      “Is this the native vedda blog”

      If a Kallthonie thondamannay can use this forum as if he owns it why not Native Vedda?

      “Vedda knows everything”

      Native Vedda is bit thick however his Elders know almost everything.

      Do you envy them?

  • 0
    0

    There is another article about these Bangladeshi immigrents being used as pawns by a western country. It is exactly the duplication of LTTE again. but, These Rohingys (name implies they are Arakahns) are not violent. Because, of that the Terrorist leader is from Pakisthan. they fire at Myanmar army and run away. It says, the country behind it wants a war by Bengalis against India and Myanmar Because India also has 20 million Bangladeshis living inside India.LAnka is being caught unconsciously. Sri lanka’s role is creating a anti-Myan rohingya group in Sri lanka. It is simply block votes. Monks should not and they are oppressed because, they want it their way. I think BBS knows what is behind.

  • 0
    0

    MArakkayo Talking Sri lankan values. Why they don’t about Islamic values in some places ?

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.