20 August, 2017

The ‘Double Talk’ Of President Sirisena, A Betrayal Of The Muslim IDPs

By Hilmy Ahamed

Hilmy Ahamed

Hilmy Ahamed

President Maithripala Sirisena says that the Muslim IDPs have encroached and destroyed land belonging to the Wilpattu National Park (June 2015).

President Sirisena says Muslims have not cleared one inch of Wilpattu Land (December 2016)

President Sirisena orders the expansion of the forest reserve by taking over the land allocated to the Muslim IDPs of Musali South, Mannar (December 2016)

A minority of Buddhists and certain media organizations along with a few Environmentalists has succeeded in the SECOND ETHNIC CLEANSING of the Northern Muslims through the current Presidential order.

President Maithripala Sirisena in June 2015 claimed that the Muslims had encroached and cleared large tracts of land belonging to the Wilpattu National Park. He said he witnessed this when he took a helicopter tour of the Wilpattu and Musali areas in the Mannar District. Today, he says that the Muslims have not encroached even an inch in to the Wilpattu national reserve, but says that the lands allocated to the Muslims by the Government in 2013 are illegal and that all these areas have to be expanded as a reserve for the Wilpattu National Park.map

Buddhist extremists led by certain monks and supported by some media institutions have been on a concerted effort to deprive the right of return of the Muslim internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the time land was allocated to them by the former regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa. They are also supported by some Environmentalists who are not sensitive to the rights of Muslim citizens of this country.

The Liberation Tigers of Thamil Eelam forcibly evicted the Muslims of the Northern province in 1990 in the worst ethnic cleansing ever, in the history of Sri Lanka. The unfortunate Muslims were given two hours notice to leave their homes in certain areas and the others were forced out with less than 24 hours notice. They were not allowed to take with them any valuables or documents. 100,000 Muslims were thus expelled, and they trekked to the South and were forced to live as refugees in different parts of the country during the next 25 years.

With the end of the war in 2009, the Government undertook the resettlement of 300,000 Tamils who were displaced by the 30-year war. The Muslims, who were expelled by the LTTE in 1990, were not resettled along with the Thamil IDPs. The Government had the policy of ‘last in first out’, where the Northern Task Force headed by presidential sibling and strongman Basil Rajapaksa undertook the huge task to resettle 300,000 refugees within a short period of 180 days. An impressive feat indeed by any standard and probably unmatched anywhere in the world. Yet, the Muslim IDPs from the 1990 eviction continued as a “FORGOTTEN PEOPLE” until 2013.

Rishard Bathiudeen, the then Minister of Resettlement could not resettle a single Muslim IDP of the 1990 eviction during the period 2009 to 2013. He too is an IDP who was forced to live in IDP camps in Puttalam when the LTTE evicted them in 1990.

It is unfortunate that the present President, who was elected by almost 98% of the Muslims and voting him to office, is betraying the IDPs of this community. Close to a million Muslim voters probably cast their vote for him. Please see attached map showing the voting pattern for Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena in January 2015. Today, Buddhist extremists have misled him to target the Muslim community through various acts of racism. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa supported the Bodu Bala Sena from behind the scenes. President Sirisena supports them openly; giving them the same prominence as the most respected Mahanayakes and other religious leaders.

Why do the Government, Media, Buddhist extremists and some Environmentalists target the Muslim IDPs? Is this how an elected President governs a Democracy where all citizens have equal rights? To use his own words, he may not be among the living if he had lost the Presidential Elections in January 2015. Then does he not owe his life to the Muslims? Why is he conniving with extremists to take the life of the innocent IDPs of the Northern province?

The Northern IDP resettlement has been a controversial issue since 2009. The Government and international agencies prioritized the resettlement of the Tamils. During the same period, unknown to many, 2860 families were brought from Suriyawewa and Hambantota in the Southern Province and settled in the most recent colonization programme. They were provided over 5000 acres of virgin FOREST LAND, infrastructure including schools and hospitals were built, grants provided for their settlement, etc.

While these Environmentalists, Buddhist extremists and the President are protesting against the Muslim IDPs returning to their own lands for which they have title deeds dating back to over a hundred years and permits given by the Government, there has been organized colonization along the Wilpattu Reserve on the Welioya road by Sinhalese from Hambantota, Suriyawewa and families of armed forces personnel. The following are the available statistics for the Sinhala settlements:

Veratenna – 520 families, Bogaswewa 1- 500 families, Bogaswewa 2 -560 families, Namalgama – 470 families, Senaleenigama – 450 families, Nandamitragama -360 families

None of these settlers are from the area. These 2860 families settled in the Wilpattu area have been provided with three acres of land for each family compared to half an acre for each Muslim family in the lands they lived before the forced eviction. From where did the land for these new settlers come from? Large extents of virgin jungle and reservations had been cleared and handed over for the alien settlements, grants and allowances disbursed, and all other facilities including schooling have been provided by the State. Neither land kacheries were held nor deforestation undertaken with proper approvals. It is also alleged that the Army built the houses for these new settlers from Hambantota and elsewhere. Further, over 500 acres of land has been taken over by the Navy for cashew plantation.

Basil Rajapaksa, as the Head of the Task Force for Northern Resettlement started partial resettlement of the Muslim IDPs in 2013. Approximately 5000 families of the 25,000 IDP families were allowed to return to their own lands, or allocated land by the Divisional Secretariat of Musali in the Mannar District. The Muslims have title deeds dating back to 1906 and issued under the seal of King Edward. The President’s latest tryst with the racists will deprive these IDPs of resettling in their former homes. Where will these IDPs go? They have gone and cleared land that they lived in before their displacement in 1990. During their displacement of over 25 years, there has been jungle growth and these people have cleared those shrubs. This is shown by media using Drone cameras (filmed from 200 to 300 meters above ground) as jungles being cleared by the Muslim IDPs. These journalists know the truth, but they dance to the tune of their racist employers and extremist handlers.

The Government in 2012 declared most of the land as forestland just prior to the Provincial Council Elections for the Northern Province. They undertook this fearing that these lands will come under the jurisdiction of the Northern Provincial Council and that they will have the right to these lands if they didn’t belong to the Central Government, as all forest reserves come under the Central Government. It is alleged that even the Divisional Secretaries of these areas were not aware of this mapping until it was gazetted. This Cabinet decision has not been ratified by the Parliament; hence experts say it is not legally valid.

Environmental concerns have been cited for the current exercise of depriving the Muslim IDPs of their land. However, the Government has agreed to provide 15,000 acres to China to develop in Hambantota. Will they not cut down virgin forestland if the land is uninhabited as the Government claims? How many acres did the Government clear for the Suriyawewa cricket stadium and Mattala airport projects? If Development takes place for a country’s citizens, then shouldn’t all its citizens be treated justly and equally first? Don’t all citizens have a right to return to their home? It is not to say that environmental concerns should be ignored; the Environment certainly has to be protected. But courting Environment to mete injustice to a segment of Sri Lanka’s citizens is deplorable.

The Muslims voted Sirisena not because they trusted him, but were convinced that UNP Government under Ranil Wickremesinghe’s premiership will not be racist. Today, they have been proved wrong and it is up to the Prime Minister to convince President Sirisena that he is courting disaster with his ultra racist policies. Failure would mean another 20 years in Opposition for the United National Party. The winner would be the JVP because it is unlikely that the Muslims will ever trust the Rajapaksa clan.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 1
    9

    You mean president should allow Muslims to destroy the country because you voted him?
    Country is being invaded by the Muslims.Not only Wilpattu every nook and corners of the country illegal encroaching taking place.Forest reserves flora and fauna are being destroyed by the Muslims rapidly.If the government doesn’t come up with sustainable solution this country would be in danger.Our main income is tourism if we destroy the nature we wont have any products to sell except the modern mosques and Muslim villages.WE WOULD BE ABLE TO ATTRACT MIDDLE EAST TOURISTS ONLY BUT I DON’T THINK THEY WOULD COME TO SPEND THEIR HOLIDAY IN AN ANOTHER DESERT AWAY THEIR HOMES.
    MAY BE THIS COUNTRY BECOME A MUSLIM COUNTRY SOONER OR LATER BUT IT WILL DEFINITELY HAPPEN ONE DAY.UNDER GOVERNMENT LIKE YAHAPALANYA IT WOULD HAPPEN SOONER.ANYWAY MY APPEAL TO THE FUTURE MAJORITY PEOPLE IN SRI LANKA PLEASE RESERVE FOREST RESERVES AND FLOR AND FAUNA FOR YOUR FUTURE GENERATIONS.

    • 4
      3

      Your comment “Country is being invaded by the Muslims.Not only Wilpattu every nook and corners of the country illegal encroaching taking place.”

      That’s their intelligence and our foolishness to sell our land. If their is any encroachment, why dont you take the issue with HRW, police and courts. This further proves you are fool by default

    • 1
      0

      The message is simple, let them go back to their homes and livelihoods. If you are stopping them just because they are Muslims, that tantamount to point blank racism. Don’t drag unwanted rubbish of invasion, reserves etc. That means you don’t know what is invasion means…Asking for their fundamental right of going back to their homes is not invasion fool !

  • 2
    0

    Vipula

    Why only wilpattu. That too is a falasy accepted by President himself.

    Under different pretexes much more important ecosystems are being ruined.

    As a concerned citizen why not look at them as well.

  • 3
    1

    keep your mind and fingers neutral and the following comes out:
    Singharaja was not only encroached but conveniently settled by the Singhelse and on one should speak about it but the Moors are not allowed to go back to their ancestral land who were subjected to ethnic cleansing by the LTTE.
    What a Fair Justice!!!!!

  • 2
    1

    The article exposes Sinhala Buddhist hypocrisy. The author is challenging the government with numbers the Sinhala colonisation. A settlement has even been named after NAMAL BABY. These people were brought from Hambantota. Now, at least give the land of the Muslims back

  • 1
    0

    Muslim, Sinhala, Tamil, Christian, Poor, Rich, Filthy rich, Powerless, Powerful and the Super powers none of whom will be spared of death. We all have a short lifespan in comparison to the planet and not one single person will be taking it with us when we eventually go. So lets all try to be a bit mature, grow up and civilized about it and try to get along. Live and let live. Just imagine an Alien looking at this planet, what would they think? Similar to us looking at a ant hill. Killing eachother for a peice of leaf ? Honestly the only thing that thats going to last is the conflict which we can see clearly has crossed generations. Looks like future generations will for ever keep killing eachother for land and in the mean time another generation of powerfull superpowers will continue to benefit by our misery. Nice one moronic ants !

  • 4
    0

    Sirisena should wake up every morning and worship the map seen in the article because it is evidence that he was elected by the minorities when the bloody racist Sinhalese voted Mahinda Rajapaksa

  • 2
    3

    I posted the following comment for an article by Mr. Hilmly Ahamed, a CT writer and I find it suitable for your article as well as a comment.

    “Sirisena fooled you first and you voted him; then you tried to fool him by demanding favors for your community but failed miserably (he has now decided to expand the Wilpattu Sanctuary’s boundaries and stop illegal encroachment); you again tried through the UNP’s general secretary (a powerful Muslim minister) and got fooled again (this article is the result of that misfired act, as I hear). You forget the fact that Sirisena is a SLFP man and he is reasonable with all ethnic groups but when it came to elections he had no option but fool everyone including the Indians and the West’s neo-liberals. That’s an election-time political strategy; and even in the US it is a common occurrence.
    However, the history shows that you don’t have to be overly ethnic-friendly to win presidential/general elections (e.g. recent US presidential election)!
    Rajapaksa is/was a long time trustworthy friend of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka. He was a sensitive man who sympathized with all ethnic communities who faced difficulties on a daily basis. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have decided to finish the war! He could have made a lot more money with an unfinished war rather than a post-war situation (if he had wanted to do so). We all know that it was the minority ethnic communities that benefitted the most due to ending of terrorism in SL, but they never appreciate it but instead tried to back-stab the man who did the job. (Your map shows it!)
    You know how ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa helped the Palestine people despite a lot of international pressure and obstacles, but the Muslim community, that is so slavish to their leadership, stabbed him in the back (as a block) at last presidential election; this showed once again their dirty but true traditional color! And I don’t think any SL leader would ever try to give any special favors to you, not any more. Simply put it, no politician in SL would try to help you by making any more U turns in this millennium! Please, therefore, try to live like a normal Sri Lankan and not like a specially privileged ethnic group with special laws!
    As you say, if you want, you can turn to the JVP and see what happens! It sounds like you have not learnt a lesson from all your past foolish acts?”

  • 0
    0

    Its a simple fact, leave the fact who elected Prez Sirisena, who voted, who didn’t, leave Muslims, Sinhalese, Tamil or other ethnicities. You were as a human being chased out from your home and livelihood by that brutal terrorist outfit, LTTE. Now the government has reclaimed the land thanks to our valiant soldiers and citizens. Why I say Citizens is, we as Sri Lankans paid a huge price to regain our country back. Now what next, do we stop these IDPs from going back to their homes? What excuse the government have on this? Come on Prez Sirisena, these IDPs simply want their home and livelihood back…. If you don’t allow them to go back to their homes just because they are Muslims, that is point blank racism of highest order, not worth of the status of the presidency you are sitting in.

  • 0
    0

    Fazeel Hussain
    January 6, 2017 at 6:38 am
    Reply to your comment please.
    “ULATHA SONNAA UDAMBU MULUKA NOOKUM” The Tamil proverb seems TRUE according to your silly comment. I have always maintained a high level of critical analytic comments as a Political Communication Researcher in all the web sites, web forums, electronic national TV channels online websites and some print media. I also follow the code of conduct and Ethics code laid down for freelance journalists locally and internationally, especially as a Muslim, Alhamdulillah.

    The writings of “The Muslim Voice” and wide political knowledge belongs to God AllMighty Allah and “The Muslim Voice” is on a CRUSADE to expose the fraudulent, hypocritical, unscrupulous and dishonest corrupt Muslim Politicians of whom I know very much, by the grace of God AllMighty Allah as “The Muslim Voice” have been blessed to mingle in the corridors of political power and witness the manner in which these fellows lead two lives, one in the mist of their creed and corrupt selfish and self centered political partners and the other how they show a different, God fearing, dedicated humanitarian character, behaving very religious and reminding “Insha Allah” or “Masaha Allah” at every turn they make to hoodwink the poor Muslim voters.
    “The Muslim Voice” has never been hiding behind opportunism to declare what political camp I belong like the other Muslims who are active and engaged in politics or affiliated to some political party who show up accordingly to gains the benefits when the situation arises like what we have experienced in the political playing field of Sri Lanka. I do not wish to name persons, but look at how our political leaders, Muslim ministers, community leaders, civil society activists, Ulema and leading Muslim businessmen/traders and sad to say, some of our professionals have been behaving for selfish reasons and BETRAYED the interest of our community at large? They jump parties and change colours like the chameleons (katusso) in order to reap the best portfolios, perks and benefits for their “kith and kin” and “henchaiyas” selling the “Muslim Vote” bank to the government that comes to power and deceiving the poor Muslim voter who is too honest and humble to follow these unscrupulous characters because they believe in God AllMighty Allah and trust their brethren as Muslims and for some reason, due to lack of – especially reading literacy and language understanding being subject to “hoodwinking” by these political vultures. What has the battered Muslim Community achieved since 1956 because of these opportunistic political vultures in our society?
    Noor Nizam – Convener – “The Muslim Voice”.

  • 0
    0

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

  • 0
    0

    Hilmy supported Sirisena like all other majority Muslims and Tamils and the UNP to come to power. He still believes that his leader Ranil is not a racist and an appropriate person to advise Sirisena not to draw racist line. He also warn the UNP of 20 years of opposition should he not put Sirisena under control. At the helm of the government with executive powers as the president of the country.

    It’s ironical that Hilmy wrote an article recently under the title “Wijedasa Rajapaksa: Unfit for the job of Justice and Buddha Sasana Minister” in which he blamed both Sirisena and Ranil of leaning towards Buddhist extremism.

    Hilmy like some UNP media men and many Muslim academics convinced Muslims that the trio (Sirisena , Ranil and Chandrika) would lead them to the promised land. Hilmy like a chameleon changed his colour from Green to Red.

    “The Muslims voted Sirisena not because they trusted him, but were convinced that UNP Government under Ranil Wickremesinghe’s premiership will not be racist. Today. The winner would be the JVP because it is unlikely that the Muslims will ever trust the Rajapaksa clan.”

    He has made a new story now to say that “the Muslims voted Sirisena not because they trusted him.”. The Muslims voted for Sirisena before the parliamentary election when there was no guarantee that Ranil would be a prime minister. The Muslims voters alone cannot make Ranil or his party to be in power for 20 years.

    Hilmy also issues a grave warning in his previous article that

    The likely beneficiary would be the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP).

    Hilmy thinks that he is big enough to make ripples in the ocean as a journalist of “youngasiaTV” but he is none other than a sycophant.

  • 0
    0

    Hilmy supported Sirisena like all other majority Muslims and Tamils and the UNP to come to power. He still believes that his leader Ranil is not a racist and an appropriate person to advise Sirisena not to draw racist line. He also warns the UNP of 20 years of opposition should he not put Sirisena under control.
    At the helm of the government with executive powers as the president of the country Sirisena is not under the PM . It’s ironical that Hilmy wrote an article recently under the title “Wijedasa Rajapaksa: Unfit for the job of Justice and Buddha Sasana Minister” in which he blamed both Sirisena and Ranil of leaning towards Buddhist extremism. Hilmy like some UNP media men and many Muslim academics convinced Muslims that the trio (Sirisena , Ranil and Chandrika) would lead them to the promised land.

    He has made a new story now to say that “the Muslims voted Sirisena not because they trusted him.”. The Muslims voted for Sirisena before the parliamentary election when there was no guarantee that Ranil would be the prime minister. The Muslims voters alone cannot make Ranil or his party to be in power for 20 years. Hilmy also issues a grave warning in his previous article that The likely beneficiary would be the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). Hilmy thinks that he is big enough to make ripples in the ocean as a journalist of “youngasiaTV” but he is none other than a sycophant.

  • 2
    0

    While resettlement of people who were displaced due to conflict or other causes such as natural disasters is necessary and warranted, doing to in protected areas is a violation of the country’s laws. In this case, settlements have cause large scale deforestation in the Kallaru, Vilaththakulam and Veppal Reserved Forests, which is a violation under the provisions of section 3 of the Forest Ordinance No. 16 of 1907 (as amended). All Sri Lankans are subject to equality before law and the Rule of law which is that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individual government officials or politicians.

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.