- Raises questions as to why such Sinhala Buddhist extremist interventions cannot be controlled and eliminated?
- Would blaming the Government as inefficient and timid, help arrest Sinhala Buddhist extremism?
- This writer, though not arrested as yet, being investigated on a complaint under the same ICCPR Act.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a “Theocratic State” as a “government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided.” Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “a system of government in which priests rule in the name of God or a god”.
These definitions no doubt are Eurocentric. They would not define a Buddhist State run by a Buddhist cabal in a country like Sri Lanka as Theocratic with Buddhism having no God or a Goddess as its divine authority.
Yet, the essence of it politically does apply to what’s being erected here as a Sinhala Buddhist Rule.
The definition can be “A system of government in which the hierarchy of the Buddhist clergy rules in the name of Buddhism either by proxy or directly”.
Thus, theoretically, there can be a Sinhala Buddhist (SB) Theocratic State in Sri Lanka.
What makes the discussion on a Sinhala Buddhist Theocratic State valid today is sequence of events that unfolded during almost a year since July 2018, when attempts at censoring Malaka Devapriya’s radio drama series, K.K. Srinath’s book Budunge Rasthiyaduwa and Asanga Sayakkara’s stage play Mama Kelin Minihek were instigated by pressure brought from Sinhala Buddhist extremism, moving to a new phase during the past four months with a Senior HO at Kurunegala Teaching Hospital Dr Shafi being detained without charges, an award-winning creative writer Shakthika Sathkumara arrested and remanded under the ICCPR Act, an innocent Muslim lady in Hasalaka Ms M. R Mazahima also remanded under the ICCPR Act and this writer, though not arrested as yet, being investigated on a complaint under the same ICCPR Act.
All these complaints against all individuals have been initiated by Sinhala Buddhist extremism, or in line with such extremism.
In all such arrests and complaints, the Government is not complicit in influencing law enforcement agencies to accept those complaints and in influencing the judiciary in any way to act on them.
Therefore, these interventions and intrusions into law enforcement by Sinhala Buddhist extremism raise serious questions hitherto not raised in a context where the President is expected to enforce the death penalty that has never been a deterrent on crime.
Raises questions as to why such Sinhala Buddhist extremist interventions cannot be controlled and eliminated?
Would blaming the Government as inefficient and timid help arrest Sinhala Buddhist extremism?
This present moment with the gallows in sight reflects the chaotic political situations that come with labouring Theocratic States, wanting to be born.
They have their religious ideology stamped quite dominantly large and clear. Here in Sri Lanka, it is the ideology of the Sinhala Buddhist State that protesting anti-Muslim Buddhist monks and high priest of Asgiriya stand for, Minister Mano Ganesan accepts and even Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith agrees with.
This did not evolve overnight. It kept evolving ever since independence with political leaders refusing to accept the need to establish a secular and an inclusive plural State that every citizen would claim ownership and proudly say it is his or her Sri Lankan State.
Independence in 1948 was given not to the people but to political leadership that was very much aided and abetted by the Sinhala Buddhist business and trader community.
Disfranchising of the Indian Origin upcountry Tamil labour in 1948 violating the Constitutional Provision in Section 29(c) and leaving them as mere bonded labour even before the euphoria over independence died down, showed the Sinhala Buddhist adamancy and arrogance of the leaders who took over from the British.
That led to a major split in the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) of Snr. G.G. Ponnambalam who was with the UNP government of D.S. Senanayake. In 1950, led by Chelvanayagam, a new Tamil party by the name ITAK was formed and came to be popularly called the Federal Party (FP).
Yet, during the first years after independence, there was political space still available to challenge Sinhala Buddhist politics on a common platform for unity and equality in an inclusive plural State. There was an ideologically influential “Left”, especially the Sama Samaja Party that had won admiration of the learned leading Buddhist monks like Venerable Dr. Walpola Rahula and Udakendewela Saranankara Theras, the urban intelligentsia and university dons, “Freethinkers” like Adikaram, Colombo era poets and a vibrant and a militant working class.
"Everything about Dr Shafi, writer Shakthika Sathkumara, the innocent Muslim lady in Hasalaka and this writer, is the preface to this Presidential Election endorsing a Sinhala Buddhist Theocratic State with the death penalty announced after 43 years and perhaps becoming a slogan for social cleansing."
In two of the three Parliamentary Elections held during the first decade after independence, the LSSP had emerged as the main Opposition in Parliament.
The ITAK had also by then gained almost total political dominance in the Tamil polity and emerged as the most valid voice of the Tamil people. A common political demand and a robust people’s campaign by them together had space and opportunity to push for an inclusive plural nation State. Sadly, that was not how minority issues came to be politically handled for an inclusive Nation State.
The two Leftist political parties that were urban-centred, moved towards the SLFP during the decade of 60 compromising on their early political positions to form an alliance government with Madam Bandaranaike.
This completely eroded the trust and support the Leftist parties had among the Tamil people.
Chelvanayagam and his FP meanwhile moved out of national politics and restricted themselves to the North and East. Their strategy was to use their strength in North and East in negotiating with the Sinhala leaders in Colombo. This proved a failure with both the B-C and the D-C Pacts failing under Sinhala Buddhist lobbying and pressure.
These political errors left the Sinhala South without a strong and inclusive political intervention that could challenge the growing Sinhala Buddhist dominance.
The two major political parties in the South, the UNP and especially the SLFP came to represent Sinhala Buddhist dominance in electoral politics. With the two Leftist political parties in alliance with the SLFP in a coalition Government in 1970 gave way for the first Republican Constitution in 1972 that for the first time gave Buddhism, official State patronage.
This was much more than Bandaranaike implementing the recommendations of the Buddhist Commission in 1956.
With growing Sinhala Buddhist dominance, the next 30 years from 1977 onwards saw an accelerated growth of Sinhala Buddhist dominance in society, given a savage lift with the organised pogrom against Tamil people in ’83 July. This turned the Tamil national question into a civil war with the Sinhala Buddhist social psyche gaining importance, defined in terms of patriotism.
In a very competitive and completely free market, Sinhala Buddhist business and trader community in urban centres wanted control of the cash flow, not through competing, but through political power. The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) emerged in filling that power gap in Sinhala Buddhist urban society.
Their front organisations like the National Movement Against Terrorism (NMAT) and the Sinhala Veera Vidhana (SVV) focused on urban professionals and the business community with a loud militant voice in an effort to gain leadership of the Sinhala Buddhist campaign.
The JHU thus brought Buddhist monks to direct politics, contesting the 2004 parliament elections with monks contesting all districts except 03, with no serious opposition in the Sinhala South. Although the JHU could not break new grounds electorally, their intervention gave Buddhist monks acceptance and a larger role in Southern politics.
Thereafter, in post-war Sri Lanka, the Sinhala South came to be everything national and Buddhist monks a deciding factor in decision making.
These political changes in society that established a very dominant and violent Sinhala Buddhist psyche, led to the evolving of a Sinhala Buddhist State though with varying degrees of influence in decision-making and implementing decisions. That was further influenced and strengthened with the two main political parties in the South and other smaller political groups in alliance with the two main parties competing to stand for Sinhala Buddhist political dominance at every election in post-war Sri Lanka.
The totality of Sinhala Buddhist political dominance in the State was very much in the open with selective treatment of suspects in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday terror attacks that led to anti Muslim violence especially in the Kurunegala district, as clearly pointed out in the letter addressed to the Acting IGP by the HRC of SL quoted in my previous article in this newspaper.
"A system of government in which the hierarchy of the Buddhist clergy rules in the name of Buddhism either by proxy or directly"
It is also very much exposed in how and why the ICCPR Act is being abused. It is again quite evident in Minister Mangala Samaraweera being completely isolated by the party leadership every time he stood for principled political positions on unity in diversity and against religious and ethnic violence.
We are now just around the corner heading for a Presidential Election, with all major political alliances competing to be the most qualified representative of Sinhala Buddhist hegemony in society.
With Sinhala Buddhist extremism pushing their agenda for a complete political takeover post-Easter Sunday terror attacks, withdrawal of this government in ensuring equal treatment for all citizens before the law seems a complete surrender to Sinhala Buddhist authority in the functioning of the present State.
Everything about Dr Shafi, writer Shakthika Sathkumara, the innocent Muslim lady in Hasalaka and this writer, is the preface to this Presidential Election endorsing a Sinhala Buddhist Theocratic State with the death penalty announced after 43 years and perhaps becoming a slogan for social cleansing.
This would certainly hold all Sinhala Buddhists as mere subjects and not as citizens in 2020, no different to Tamils and Muslims in a Theocratic State.