21 October, 2017

The Issue Is Incitement

By Dayan Jayatilleka – 

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

The entire discussion or debate about the BBS, Gnanasara Thero and extremism is missing something. The discussion confuses ultra-nationalism, chauvinism, Islamophobia and extremism with the real issue: incitement to violence.

Whether an ideology is extremist or not is one issue, but it is an issue that is difficult to resolve. What is far easier to resolve, legally and morally, is the issue of whether or not an action or statement constitutes an ‘incitement to violence’ against an individual or a collective.

It is morally slippery to avoid the central issue that is present before our very eyes, namely incitement, and instead to shift attention by merely equating all forms of chauvinism and denouncing them all equally.

It is still worse to brush under the carpet the issue of incitement by stating that the BBS extremism is but a “reaction” to Islamic extremism.

Not every “reaction” is justifiable or else domestic violence could be justified as a “reaction” to a child’s or spouses behavior. “Extremism” and “provocation” are in the eye and ear of the beholder or listener. Incitement is not. Again, intentionality is not the issue, because it is difficult to prove that someone intended to incite violence. However, since ignorance of the law is no excuse, the courts can deliberate on the basis of the weight of evidence, what does and does not constitute an act of incitement, and the guilty party/parties can be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Nor is the main issue Islamophobia. While Islamophobia is in and of itself reprehensible, what should be focused on is incitement to violence. And here, the matter is very clear. Much as I have harshly criticized Wigneswaran and Tamil chauvinism, and am opposed to the growing (quite visible) fundamentalism within Sri Lanka’s Muslim communities, and also disappointed that there is no moderate Muslim fight back against it, there is no equivalence between Wigneswaran, Hakeem, Rishard Bathiudeen, Azath Salley and Ven Gnanasara for one very simple reason. After the war, some politicians representing the minorities have resorted to sectarian ultra-nationalism, chauvinism, covert and latent separatism, borderline threats and even provocation (‘genocide’ resolution, Sivajilingam, Sritharan, Gajan, Suresh), but no one has resorted to incitement of violence. As a stack of video footage can prove, the same cannot be said of the BBS or Ven. Gnanasara.

While fascism is extremist and chauvinist, not every extremist and chauvinist is fascist. The BBS and Gnanasara Thero represent, as I wrote years ago, “ethnoreligious fascism”. Those who try to equate fascism with every kind of chauvinism or extremism, are only covering up for fascism. All else apart—and there is no point making moral arguments to people who don’t seem to know right from wrong or have a conscience—the fudging of the issue of ethnoreligious fascism will only plunge this country into a religious civil war in which all will lose, including, and perhaps most especially, the Sinhalese (given that there are 1.6 billion Muslims on the planet).

I write about these matters not without some recognized credentials. In 2001, Nelson Mandela hosted in Durban, South Africa, the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance which issued the famous Durban Declaration and Program of Action. Ten years later there was the Review conference. The preparatory work was done in Geneva at the UN Human rights council and the report presented by me in Geneva was presented to the UNGA in New York under my name (though I had been sacked by the Rajapaksa administration and was not present on the occasion). I had been elected the Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

Though I had been Chairperson of the ILO and handled contentious issues between labor, employers and governments of 193 countries sitting in a single assembly, the task of managing the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Durban declaration required even more concentration because the issues were of Islamophobia, defamation of religions, freedom of expression etc. where even the matter of the European cartoons on Prophet Mohammed had come up. Passions ran high. Under my chairpersonship we broke the deadlock by isolating the main danger—that of incitement to violence. We were able to reach consensus between regions, civilizations, cultures and religions of 193 countries, on that basis. It is with this experience and achievement that I make the point that what we should focus upon is not Sinhala and Tamil racism, chauvinism or extremism, but precisely and specifically the incitement to violence, i.e. the rousing of mob violence or individual attacks.   

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  • 16
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    “Though I had been Chairperson of the ILO and handled contentious issues between labor, employers and governments of 193 countries sitting in a single assembly, the task of managing the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Durban declaration required even more concentration because the issues were of Islamophobia, defamation of religions, freedom of expression etc.”

    Narcissism is at its best!

    • 11
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      All these humbugs who want to save us from this, that or the other have one glaring common trait. …………… They all want to avoid a honest day’s work. Simple as that! …. It’s just crazy for any adult to believe that they intend anything else. …………….. Get the bastards to do some useful work. Put Gota to stack shelves in Food-City where his experience in 7/11 will come in handy. Put Ranil to collect the garbage that’s rotting in the streets. Put Mahinda to drive a bus. Get Sirisena to be a Gramasevaka again. Get Basil to pump gas in Laughs. Get Dayan to read nursery-rhymes to kindergarten kids. Get CBK to cook for the Army. Get Weerawansa to pluck coconuts. Make an astronaut out of Ganasara and send him into orbit never to return. Put Vasu, GL, John Amaratunga, Vitharana, DEW, Carlo ……….. and all the rest of the useless old farts who are past their use-by-date in the old-age-home and get them to pay for their own upkeep like the rest of the citizens. ……….. All Lanka’s problems will disappear overnight and Sri Lanka will be the most peaceful/lucky country in the universe. ————————– All our adult-ness, education, experience, intellect, wisdom ……………….. amount to zilch if we can’t comprehend this simple thang. …………. Then we come and write here knowing well nothing much’s gonna change. Lankans will always be Lankan. ……….. We’ll be more naive than Dayan, to believe, what we write here is gonna change a thang. ………………. then again, writing and getting rid of your frustrations is a hell of a lot better than lying on the couch at the shrink’s. ……………. Mr Udurawana, where are you when we need you most? ……. “Are you mad or am I mad?” ………. “Both, respectively.” …………. That’s one guy who could figure-out the Lankans! …………………

      • 2
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        True. Ha ha ha.

  • 10
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    “What is far easier to resolve, legally and morally, is the issue of whether or not an action or statement constitutes an ‘incitement to violence’ against an individual or a collective.”

    Your stupid brain seems confused as to worship which ‘lingam’.

  • 11
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    In “The Issue Is Incitement”, Dayan starts with “The discussion confuses ultra-nationalism, chauvinism, Islamophobia and extremism with the real issue: incitement to violence”. He is virtually saying that “Ultra nationalism is not incitement to violence”. So Hitler’s master-race/fatherland concepts were not incitements to violence! Tell that to the victims.

    Lankan Muslims were (and still are) loyal to every GoSL. Recent spate of violence against them were incited. But Dayan explains this away. Tamil leaders have eschewed separatism but suggest a way out of the present imbroglio. Dayan puts this down as incitement.
    Look across the Strait at the BJP Gold Dr Subramanian Swamy – a family friend and advisor to MR. This bigot Swamy at one stage claimed that India’s problems can be solved if non-Hindu Indians are disenfranchised. Is this incitement?

    Dayan please keep talking. The more you talk the more you exhibit your shallow mind. Pathetic.

    • 1
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      Mr Pillai, you have totally misunderstood Dayan this time around – this is what happens when uou start with a preconceived notion of the author. “Dayan puts this down as incitement.” No, what Dayan says is the very opposite – those closely associted view points DO NOT amount legal “incitement to violance” which BBS is guilty of. Please
      read again. “–After the war, some politicians representing the minorities have resorted to sectarian ultra-nationalism, chauvinism, covert and latent separatism, borderline threats and even provocation (‘genocide’ resolution, Sivajilingam, Sritharan, Gajan, Suresh), ‘ but no one has resorted to incitement of violence’. As a stack of video footage can prove, the same cannot be said of the BBS or Ven. Gnanasara.—Soma

      • 2
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        somass Ji ————“As a stack of video footage can prove, the same cannot be said of the BBS or Ven. Gnanasara” ——————————————————————————————– Well the saffron clad thug is self motivated hence need no provocation. By the way there is no cure for your dementia nor for paranoia. ————–It is really sad to see you suffering from acute onset dementia and selective paranoia. ———- Here is a quote from Martin Niemöller a German Pastor:

        First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.

        Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

        Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.

        Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. ——————————————————————————————————————————————————Please keep me posted about your female folks in the next twenty years. ———-Once fascists had consolidated their power they would want to correct the society, through moral and sex education and through spreading their leader’s gene all over the country and beyond. How would your wife address Gnanasara who would be the father of your step son? ———————————-Life will be little difficult if saffron fascism succeeds.

  • 8
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    DJ you are missing the main point here, that is different groups can different agendas, extremism, incitement, hatred out of jealousy but the Government should ensure law and order is maintained, the problem becomes a problem when this doesn’t happen.

    Even the European countries have ultra right extremism, but the differences is government stands for law and order.

    Maybe that’s probably why they call us third world countries.

  • 1
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    “While fascism is extremist and chauvinist, not every extremist and chauvinist is fascist.”

    This term “fascist” is widely misused. Here is one characterization of fascism: “Although fascist parties and movements differed significantly from each other, they had many characteristics in common, including extreme militaristic nationalism, contempt for electoral democracy and political and cultural liberalism, a belief in natural social hierarchy and the rule of elites, and the desire to create a Volksgemeinschaft (German: “people’s community”), in which individual interests would be subordinated to the good of the nation.” Wahhabism clearly fits the mold. There are no elections, the ideology is spread forcefully and violently, and the command structure is rigid. Individual interests are subordinate to a particular interpretation of Sharia law. Whereas Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism is based largely on economic grievances. There is no fascist component. In fact, most of the economic grievances are based on the Government’s failure to address the needs of the majority, such as by way of job creation and creating a sustainable middle class. Citizens of Saudi Arabia, which exports terror via its militant proxies, enjoy far more benefits than those in Sri Lanka.

  • 3
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    “After the war, some politicians representing the minorities have resorted to sectarian ultra-nationalism, chauvinism, covert and latent separatism, borderline threats and even provocation (‘genocide’ resolution, Sivajilingam, Sritharan, Gajan, Suresh), but no one has resorted to incitement of violence. As a stack of video footage can prove, the same cannot be said of the BBS or Ven. Gnanasara.”
    What Dr DJ says here is quite true. But then we have the Sangha Council today defending Gnanasara and insisting that he should be addressed with respect. Are these monks out of their petty minds? Respect cannot be demanded, but earned. This is partly at the root of the problem, this feeling of entitlement and moral superiority on the part of some monks, an unwillingness to take criticism from mere “gihiyas”.

  • 1
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    Hey Dayan;

    Give-up your dubious campaign against “Sinhala Buddhists”. You are a sworn enemy of Sinhala Buddhist. If you have guts read the statement released by Mahanayake of Asgiriya today. That is the position of all Sinhala Buddhists, it is a rallying call for us. Christian extremists and moslem extremists must take notes of what Mahanayakes said today.

    Your charade must end neither you, Laksiri, Viswamithra, Jehan, Azath Sally, Hakeem and others like you; sworn enemies of Sinhala Buddhists and pretentious Buddhists that you ardently protect with your “GIFT of THE GAB”.

    Dayan; what you promote is corruption and the guardians of corruption. You may compile 100 or thousand letters on Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan Buddhists or warped Sri Lankan diplomacy with your poisonous pen. This is a classic example of where Message and the Messenger both are equally repugnant ..

  • 9
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    Another useless article about himself!

    • 6
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      F.F. – You said it appropriately in five words. Thanks.

  • 1
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    UNP Dr Ranil, , SLFP Sirisena, London Suren , TNA Sambnadan , Beruwala Dr Rajitha , CPA, and several other NGOs happily used BBS Gnanassara ‘s antics . before Janauary 2015…….. Although the first two didn’ t openly exhibit their glee……… BBS Gnanissara is a like kid who has had Red Cordial in excessive amounts ………….. With the added impetus of Brain Training by the best in the West…………..So Gnanissara couldn’t help himself , but keep going. continuing his previously delegated tasks of course………….To top it all Dr Ranil sending his UNP Police to harass BBS Gnnissara aggrevated him…. And it is spinning out of control ……….But it has some positives for the great majority who can not afford to live at FOUR 77 Nawala Apartments ……… And its advertised life styles………. One of the positives is the statement from the Mhanayaka of the Asgiriya Chapter, which was published in the English Media in Colombo Yesterday ,,,,,,,,,,, And it has been over due ……….One thing though, our Sinhala Buddhist inhabitant population has more threat for their existence as a Sinhala Buddhist Nation, by the Economic Vandalism, Privatization of all Public Services , Selling the Public assets to Indians and creating two Ethnic Homelands exclusively for Tamils and Muslims which will be sort of out of bounds to Sinhala Buddhists……………

    • 3
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      Agree;

      Pretentious Sinhala Buddhists plus Day time Buddhists/Night time Non-Buddhists are responsible for “scorching economic policies” in Sri Lanka.

  • 2
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    The constitution has to have definite safeguards for people of different faith. To Christians we are called to obey our scriptures Go then, to all people everywhere and make them my disciples. Love your enimies enemies. Help our neighbor in need. The constitution should ensure that every citizen is entitled to make an informed choice.
    We should accept accountability for our actions. We should have strict financial discipline. We should be united. Catholics accuse others of stealing of flock. Non Catholics are critical of number of catholic practices. Each should monitor one’s own. We should layout common out lines on religious activity. The Destruction of Bo Trees and Buddha statues. Destroying yantras. Preventing participation in pirith ceremony and the prevention of bowing down or sitting at a lower level to Priests. Social contact should be maintained by all.
    We must band ourselves under the NCC. A dialogue is necessary. Churches in the NCC have house churches. Families may worship on line, smart phone and DVD or CD. Elements maybe blessed, consecrated and passed down. Speakers should have a range such that they are no noise pollution. The Catholic and NCC churches should open up their premises for smaller independent Churches. Open doors, Philippines may help in overall strategy. Agreed Self monitoring criteria could stop government interference. Organizations should be able to have different class of membership for the NCC. NCF, ADC, even NCEASL.
    Christian fellowships should take legal action on the provisions of the fundamental rights. Each incident should be recorded in the police station. We should ensure that Action be taken in the magistrate court for the breaking of Peace .Here the status qou normally remains. Legal assistance is necessary.
    God’s way. Many scriptures have to be looks at contextually and accept that we maybe wrong..

    • 0
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      Mr Wijesekara,
      The problem with those who believe in supernatural stuff is they don’t ACTUALLY believe in them. They come round us offering protection against our worldly dangers from their gods/God/Allah but when hounded back they run for police protection!. —–Soma

  • 1
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    Getting so personal in these ColTel commentaries takes away the substance of what is being discussed and in this essay Dayan brings up a very important point. …that of current events and the incitement to violence that seems to be deliberately promoted.

    Sri Lanka had experienced 30 years of it and sadly, does not seem to have learnt a lesson. While reconciliation stalls in its tracks, the LTTE has got off being investigated by the UNHRC, the Judiciary is accused off ineptitude, and only the Defense Forces are to be the target of the UN’s and the Yahapalana’s witch hunt. Looks as if there is a gearing up for Martial Law?

    • 1
      1

      CountryFarce – ————“Getting so personal in these ColTel commentaries takes away the substance of what is being discussed”—————- This is a theatre of war or battle ground where opposing forces fight it out passionately, for example, good and the bad, wise and the stupid, secular and the religious fanatics, virtuous and evil, benevolent and coldhearted, good people and you, happiness and Gunadasa Amarasekara, Honesty and MR clan and crooks, enlightened and Sarath Weerasekara, …………………………… When did you last sing Sinhala National Anthem with or without gusto? Ho did you feel since then?

      • 0
        1

        Native Vedda: You say “This is a theatre of war or battle ground where opposing forces fight it out passionately,….”
        It should be possible to do the fighting without inciting violence which is what you seem to be making a defense for. What I am calling for is civil dialogue.

        • 1
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          CountryFarce——————When one denies fundamental rights to another person by invoking unwritten, unknown, …..unreasonable practices and unleashes unlimited violence against the other anyone with an iota of brain knows civil dialogue is impossible. You should be fighting for the underdogs not for the undesirable. Hope you challenge your friend Sarath Weerasekara for his bigoted position on various nationally important matters.

  • 1
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    Its amazing how he manages to beat his own drum under the pretext of writing academic material about issues in Sri Lanka..!

    • 0
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      Lasantha Pethiyagoda ——-“Its amazing how he manages to beat his own drum “————–and blow his own trumpet, both at the same time.

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