November 22, 2016

Some reflections on communal tension in Sri Lanka today: part 1:

-by Dr S. L. M.  RIFAI. UK -

              Today Muslims of Sri Lanka are facing one more wave of violent attacks: verbally Muslims have been abused, physically they have been attacked, Muslim shops are target of Buddhist extremism in Sri Lanka today. The root cause of this violence is that some small elements of Sri Lankan extreme Buddhists do not like to give freedom and liberty for minority communities in Sri Lanka. These Buddhists have been inciting hatred and encouraging violence. Recently, in Baticaloa, A Buddhist monk insulted a government servant and yet, government did not take any action. One Tamil colleague at my work showing this clip said that these similar incidents if continued this could lead to another LTTE type Tami insurgency. And yet law enforcement agents in Sri Lanka do not care about it at all. This insult happened in front of police officials. They were watching this extremist Buddhist insulting Tamil government official.  
         It is said that both national parties are complicit on this issue. Both parties are aiming to get Sinhalese support in next election and for that they do not like to anger Sinhalese at all. Buddhist opportunists make use of this.  Extremism is extremism ... All religions have got it. Yet, this Buddhist extremism in Sri Lanka has no reason for it. Today, Sri Lanka is freed from grips of LTTE and government is in full control of all parts of Sri Lanka. Sinhalese people enjoy more rights today than before. They have more career opportunities than ever before in Sri Lanka history. 
          They were marginalised during the colonial period and yet, today they enjoy all rights than any other communities: Employment rate among them is very high, university admission among them is too high than any other community today.  Above all, legislative, executive and all political powers are in the hands of Sinhalese people today. Today, economically they are in a strong position than any time in Sri Lankan history. In fact, they have taken educational and employment opportunities of minorities communities today.
         For instance, Sri Lankan Muslim community enjoys less than 3% in employment in government sectors. All high-ranking posts in public administration, diplomatic service, security forces and all government departments are in hands of Sinhalese communities: If Sinhalese population is 70% of Sri Lanka 80% of employment opportunities are taken by Sinhalese communities. Even some unqualified Sinhalese people have been given employment with political influence at the expense of qualified people among minority communities. 
           Above all, President, PM & all top level ministerial posts are in the hands of Sinhalese: all Minorities MPs are given secondary important ministerial posts today.  Sri Lanka governments have been sharing top ministerial posts with minority communities in the past.  For instance, Late Laxman Kadirkamer was given foreign minister post and late ACS Hameed was given higher education and Foreign Minister post. Today, political scenarios are dramatically changed in Sri Lanka. Since MR came to power he changed politics of Sri Lanka in communal line: He preferred Sinhalese people for top levels posts over minority people: since he won the war against LTTE he was immune from any accountability or political responsibilities. He introduced nepotism in politics in Sri Lanka.  His brother created this so-called BBS to unleash communal hatred among all minority communities;
           Minority communities expected that peace will prevail in Sri Lanka soon after LTTE was defeated. That hope has been shattered since creation of BBS and far right Buddhist extremist groups. Minorities communities are forced to live in fear and tension. 
           I have spoken to many highly-educated Tamil diaspora community people in London. Most of them are unhappy how Tamil community is treated by Sinhalese community today.  They are emotionally, psychologically and mentally wounded by the treatment of Sri Lankan government. This mental scar will stay in the hearts and minds of Tamil community for generations to come.  Rather than comforting them, BBS and Buddhist groups have been insulting Tamil & minority communities in Sri Lanka. 
               In any post war condition, defeated party needs time to recover from its phycological scars and yet, Sri Lankan Buddhist extremist groups is adding salt into wounds. Unfortunately, these Buddhist extremists do not have any sympathy or empathy upon minority communities in Sri Lanka: 
             Today, more than 1 million Tamil people are living in Europe and western countries. They have enough money to invest and develop not only North and East of Sri Lanka but entire Sri Lanka and yet, they do not like to do that right now because of wrong politics and policies of Sri Lankan government today:  what a pity Sri Lankan politics is? Sri Lankan government does not know how to make use of its human resource and its wealth:  Today Sri Lanka is making a historical mistake once again. It will pay a huge price for that. 
  To be continued

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