Learn from history: End this racial tension-Editorial

19 February 2013 08:28 pm - 3     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Though the Rajapaksa regime is promising much but doing little to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) it is vitally important for Sri Lanka to learn the right lessons from what happened in history and especially the recent past and take effective action.

In the 1950s the ethnic problems of the Tamil speaking people began basically with a language issue. LSSP stalwart Colvin R. De Silva, with prophetic foresight warned that Sri Lanka had a choice before it—if we opted for one language it would mean two countries but if we accepted two languages there would be one united country. Unfortunately the leaders of the main political parties did not see his vision nor take his warning seriously. SLFP leader S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike in an apparent bid to oust the ruling UNP promised that if elected to office he would implement the Sinhala only policy within 24 hours. So he did. When the first racial riots erupted in 1958 and Mr. Bandaranaike realised his folly he tried to make amends by devolving power to the Tamil people through the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam pact, but the UNP blocked.

Follies and political deception followed and issues such as the district quota system of admission to the universities and the 1972 Republican Constitutionled to the movement for Eelam or separate state. The 1983 racial holocaust paved the way for the LTTE to become one of the most ruthless terrorist movements in the world. What followed was the bloody 30 year war where hundreds of thousands of people were killed, paralysed or injured while the material and financial losses were incalculable.

The ethnic war ended in May 2009. For the past 3½ years we have seen clearly that the absence of war is far from peace and the Tamil people are languishing in varying degrees of destitution and despair virtually under military rule in the North.

Amid this uncertainty and possibility of another flare up, vested interests for the past few months have been creating racial tension between the Sinhala Buddhists and the Muslim population. The crisis now appears to be getting out of control with the Bodhu Bala Sena led by hardline Buddhist monks launching a full-scale campaign against the Muslim community on issues such as Halal and the growth in the Muslim population. The main opposition UNP charged last week that the Bodhu Bala Sena (BBS) was like a Sri Lankan Taliban and was creating racial and religious tension between the Sinhala Buddhists and the Muslims, so much so that thousands of Muslim families were living in fear that something similar to the 1983 holocaust may be unleashed against them. UNP communication chief Mangala Samaraweera charged that the BBS was being funded from a secret account maintained by the Defence Ministry and other sources including some groups in the United States. But the BBS described the UNP allegations as diabolical lies and claimed it would disband itself if anyone proved that BBS got even five cents from the Defence Ministry or any other sources.

Whatever the allegations, the government needs to act immediately and effectively to prevent another racial holocaust which could be even worse than the LTTE terrorism.
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  Comments - 3

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  • Sathie Wednesday, 20 February 2013 12:20 PM

    Thank you sir, at least there is someone like you understand the reality and publishing this editorial, its great. Why cannot these so called patriot leaders couldn't undestand this. Why they are not thinking about the country? If all ethnic communities work together this country would be a paradise. But the leaders think otherwise.Theyare still living with game chandiya mentality.

    Insula Wednesday, 20 February 2013 03:41 AM

    A very good analysis.
    This is not 100 years ago or 50 years ago.

    Translate to Sinhala and feed to the masses, Let them know that they will be the losers in the end.

    Also remind the racist Sinhalese; Buddhists that the Island was Hindu before Buddhism came, and ask why there are no Tamil Buddhists or Sinhala Hindus Now..

    Ask the question from the State as well.

    Then tell the UN and UNHCR.

    Rizvi Wednesday, 20 February 2013 11:48 AM

    Please clarify... we can learn


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