If it is not hard enough for Lanka to have to explain away to the international community the pressing circumstances that necessitated certain actions to be taken to end a brutal thirty-year-old ethnic war, she will have a tougher time in having to explain the events that were allowed to lead to the outburst of [...]


Beware Lanka’s Ides of June fallout


If it is not hard enough for Lanka to have to explain away to the international community the pressing circumstances that necessitated certain actions to be taken to end a brutal thirty-year-old ethnic war, she will have a tougher time in having to explain the events that were allowed to lead to the outburst of religious violence on the streets of Aluthgama on June 15 and harder still to justify why no action has yet been taken to arraign the bigoted perpetrators before the courts of law.

In the aftermath of the Aluthgama carnage on the Ides of June which left three Muslims dead and 77 injured, the bigoted beasts who incited the violence with their crude inflammatory venomous speeches are still at large, allowed without restraint to take their

travelling circus to any other city or town, pitch their tent, charge the crowd with religious hatred, spur them to communal violence; and then, with blood on their garbs, leave the stage with a trail of dead bodies behind them and emerged the following morn blessed with the innocence of new born lambs. That the Bodu Bala Sena can do so without remorse speaks for their villainy. That they can do so with impunity without fearing reprisals speaks for the law enforcing authorities’ impotence and abdication of responsibility.

Stop bid to foster Dhamma through the barrel of the gun

Two weeks after the dastardly and unwarranted attack, while other religious leaders have condemned the incident in no uncertain terms, the Government and the Buddhist Mahanayakes have shown a remarkable inclination to gloss over the issue. The Lankan deputy permanent representative at the United Nations General Assembly stated that the Sri Lankan Government does not condone communal violence. But the Mahanayakes had other more important matters on their minds. They were obsessed with raising their own ‘race’ issue with the Government. On Monday all four Mahanayakes of the three Nikayas united over this ‘race’ issue and issued a joint statement demanding the government not to allow night racing in Kandy. Whilst Buddhism was being desecrated throughout the land and in the eyes of the world by an unscrupulous sect of renegade Buddhist monks, the Chief Monks, who lay claim to a presumed historical role as advisors to the kings of Lanka, were busy telling the Government: “Do not desecrate Kandy by allowing night races.”
On Monday, External Affairs Minister G. L. Peiris addresses a group of ambassadors and tries to explain away the unfolding tragedy by blaming foreign powers. “It’s a foreign conspiracy to internally alienate the Muslims and the Sinhalese and externally it is an attempt to drive a wedge between Lanka and Muslim countries,” he tells them without batting an eyelid or missing a beat. If the Government is privy to that information why doesn’t it use its legal powers to crack down on the Bodu Bala clan without letting them stray the broad acres of the land, freely allowed to spill their vitriol at will? If that is done no foreign power will be able to achieve the two intentions as described by the minister. It is possible only in a state of State inertia, when the State looks askance.

Prof. G.L. Peiris also tells the ambassadors, quoting chapter and clause of his legal book, “Sri Lanka’s legislation contains ample provision against statements or behaviour intended to cause religious discord.” As examples, he cites, provisions in the Penal Code as well as the specific terms of section 3 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights Act, passed by the Parliament of Sri Lanka in 2007.

Then why on earth aren’t they being used? Or are those legally empowering provisions extant only to provide some academic amusement and jurisprudential joy to the academically bent, bookish professor of law, existing only to be dusted, dressed and displayed at formal occasions when foreigners are present, to impress the alien audience that Lanka is a modern civilised state with all the with-it laws in her law books, gathering termite dust in the musty law library?

Minister Peiris adds that strict instructions have been given to the Police not to permit any rallies or demonstrations which contravene these laws, but does not state, even in a foot note to his treatise, whether such orders were given before or after the bogey beasts had bolted Bacchus’ bars.

On the 17th another senior minister, Communist Party Chief Dew Gunasekera, reveals, confirmed by the police, that two monks arrested by the police were drunk and were also armed. Even if the monks being drunk could be glossed over, can the fact that monks were armed be ignored by the government? From the soul satisfying days of the sermonising sadhu has the violent age of the gun toting militant monk now dawned? Are we witnessing the bizarre attempt to propagate the Buddha’s Dhamma through the barrel of a gun?

If Muslim sentiments have been grieved by the inciting and vitriolic language spouted by the unspeakable slime that has surfaced from their sewers to breathe the intoxicating air of social freedoms and parade its stink on civilised streets dressed as Buddhist Knights in shining saffron armour, waving Buddhism’s sacred flag as their shield of protection whilst brandishing the gun in their under vestment as their weapon of attack; then let the watching world note and place it on record that genuine Sinhala Buddhist sensitivities, too, have been outraged beyond the bounds of tolerance at this gross incarnate insult to Buddhism by these evil brigands who have anointed themselves as Buddhism’s guardians: and that the Sinhalese Buddhists, too, can only watch in wretched helplessness and are benumbed by despair as the sacred name of their religion, over which no single war has ever been fought or a single drop of blood shed, the central teaching of which is based on the doctrine of ahimsa, with its quintessence being the practice of loving kindness to all beings, is today ruthlessly being used to advance brutal and barbaric aims and is trampled in the dust before the eyes of all humanity.
In the name of the Triple Gem, for this thrice blessed island’s sake the Sinhalese ask, nay, they implore: Stop this desecration of Buddhism. Stop this senseless sacrilege. Stop this madness of our own making. Curse not others but blame ourselves and heed — even as the President quoting the Enlightened One urged the world, when he ended his CHOGM speech last November — the Buddha’s tenet:, “Look not what others have done or not done but what one has done or left undone.”

It is still not too late to slam the brakes on this nation’s slippery slope to destruction; to prevent the Sinhalese from becoming the first race to commit self-genocide. But we must act now, before religious fires consume us all. Hanuman, when given the fire torch, mindlessly set all Lanka aflame. Are we waiting for the Bodu Bala to do the same?

GROBR, but will Prince of Rights be a devil in disguise?SUNDAY PUNCH 2

The world’s human rights body set the stage to bid farewell to United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay when her retirement in August from the high office she holds was formally announced last week.

Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein

Throughout her long six-year tenure slights were cast on her bias toward the Tamil on the basis of her Tamil origins. South African born Navi was accused of being motivated by racial prejudices. Those petty snide remarks did nothing to promote her sympathy to the Government’s position and the final straw came when the coup de grace was delivered by the chief jester in the Lankan Court, the doctorated and married minister 68 year old Mervyn Silva who flung his marital vows to the winds and publicly proposed marriage to this 73-year-old mother of two daughters when she visited Lanka on her tour of inspection last August. She certainly was not moved nor amused by the public swooning of a local lothario long past his randy prime.

But though she will no longer be there and any good she has earned will be interred in her retirement bones, the evil prejudices, if any, she displayed towards Lanka will live on after her, will linger to haunt Lanka’s peace of mind. On Tuesday she made known the legacy she will be leaving behind. She has raised the necessary funding required for the probe against Lanka, head hunted and appointed a three-member tribunal to preside over the inquiry and put together a core team of 12 including investigators, forensics experts, a gender specialist, a legal analyst and various other staff with specialised skills. It will be operational up to mid-April 2015. Already it has been welcomed by both the United States and Britain.

Inheriting the war crimes probe will be the new man in the hot seat, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein of Jordan, from the Hashemite dynasty, who will assume his duties on September 1st. As the successor to Navi Pillay it will be his prime responsibility to ensure that the UN sanctioned war inquiry against Lanka is conducted thoroughly and that it keeps to its schedule and meets its deadline.

Prince Zeid, 50, is highly qualified and experienced and comes to his post steeped in peacekeeping and international justice. He also played a key role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court. He also holds a Phd which, unlike Dr. Mervyn’s doctorate, Prince Zeid earned from Christ’s Church College, University of Cambridge. He is married to a British girl and has three children. He is also a Muslim.

Now with ‘Tamil’ Pillay slipping into oblivion, it will be a round of cheers with a ‘Good Riddance Of Bad Rubbish’ toast. But the Foreign office should now be wary on how they treat the new Muslim man in office and should not commit the same follies they made with Navi by piling on the personal stuff and attacking him with bias due to his religious beliefs. Let not ‘religious bias’ slanders replace ‘racial prejudice’ calumnies as were cast upon Navi. Or else they may find that Lanka’s new hope of starting afresh with a clean copybook already blotted with indelible inky smears and that the new champion of human rights who might have been wooed to take a more understanding stance, has turned out to be a devil in disguise even before the courtship has begun.

Not that it will have any bearing on his objective assessment and his impartial drive to urge the inquiry to be conducted as effectively as possible but it cannot be denied that the Bodu Bala attack on the Muslims could not have come at a worse time for Lanka than on the eve of a Muslim Prince from Arabia ascending the all-important position as the world’s human rights chief constable.

But no man is an island and no man can screen himself from the winds of powerful influences that have blown for centuries in the Sahara and shaped not only its sandy dunes but also moulded the hearts and minds of its people. And Islam, like the Bedouins of the Arabian desert, for whom no borders exist — for who can demarcate shifting sands — transcends national boundaries, geographical zones, racial divisions’ and ethnic origins.

The Islamic faith unites all Muslims and creates the common Brotherhood of Muslims. Be they in the Philippines or in the Caribbean, in Russia or in China, in North Africa or in Papua New Guinea, the common faith unites and links them to the oneness of Islam. And each Muslim is charged with a holy duty to protect his brother, to foster the Faith.

The government should not lose sight of this factor when dealing with a scion of the House of Hashemite. Knowing the importance of playing the player, they did remarkably well when they played the Indian Sharma, General Secretary of the Commonwealth Union, and, admirably managed to gain his assistance and utilise his influence, to ensure that the CHOGM was held in Colombo as planned.

Thus any plans harboured, even as a long shot, to play the Muslim Prince of Human Rights, must first depend on earning his goodwill. But the terrible import the attack on Muslims will have on his subliminal plain of thought should not be lost on the Government. Even as it is important to win necessary friends it is also important not to make unnecessary enemies.

Allowing Bodu Bala to roam free trampling upon Muslims rights and freedoms, letting happen, for whatever reason, further attacks on Muslim lives and property and a seeming reluctance to prevent it will not earn for the Government one iota of goodwill or understanding it may hope to receive from the new Commissioner but will only succeed in revolting his emotions and solidifying his resolve to help his religious brethren in distress. No less would be expected of one whose spiritual duty to the Holy Koran must transcend all other earthly duties, no less demanded of one who has hitched his sworn faith to the star and crescent.

The Sri Lankan Government has unilaterally and unequivocally rejected the United Nations human rights inquiry which now encompasses not only alleged human rights committed during the last years of the Eelam War but also any present day violations. They have refused to cooperate on the basis that it is a violation of national sovereignty. Such a decision though ratified by a two thirds majority of Government MPs in Parliament is understandable but it is also fraught with the danger that Lanka will now be denied the right of presenting her defence to any of the charges on the same platform in which they are made. The hearing, therefore, will be ex-parte, the judgment delivered one-sided.

Post Poson’s brutal attack on the Muslim community has brought Lanka closer to the edge and placed her in peril. We live in turbulent times and we can do without more enemies to compound our woes. Twenty two miles across the Palk Strait are seventy million Tamils led by firebrand Jayalalithaa who waits to see us burnt at the stake. All over the world a massive army of Tamil Diaspora are actively plotting Lanka’s downfall, planning to set up a separate state on Lankan soil. Powerful foreign governments notably in the West headed by the world’s super power America are openly calling for regime change and are no doubt actively conspiring to engulf Lanka in flames. Overburdened as Lanka is, Lanka cannot afford to lose the handful of friends she has in the Muslim countries of the Middle East who supply the nation with her oil and pay the salaries of a large segment of her workforce. Neither can she risk the support of her friendly Asian neighbours who hold the world’s largest Muslim population.

But if the attacks on Muslims continue in the future and if no action is taken to prevent it, the day may not be long in dawning when they too, give up on Lanka and join hands with the rest of the anti-Lanka governments; the day when India’s 160 million Muslims join hands with Tamil Nadu’s 70 million Tamils to urge the Central Government of India to deal with Lanka even more aggressively than she did when she sent her Army, the Indian Peace Keeping Force; the day when a significant number of powerful countries say enough is enough and urge the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council to take a tougher stance and to take the necessary action to protect the welfare of the Tamils and Muslims of Lanka.

Then this nation would face a crisis it has never faced before; when her sovereignty may not be merely violated but totally forfeited. And the pseudo Sinhala lion’s sonorous roar will then sound hollow, turned into a pathetic whimper when it feebly emanates from an empty stomach.

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