ust as the prophetic Pope Francis in a dramatic new Pentecost initiative held prayerful talks in the Vatican with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Buddhist and other religious leaders in Sri Lanka need to play a more active and effective role in conflict resolution on the ethnic and other issues here to bring about social justice.
Though the Israeli-Arab conflict was one of Apocalyptic proportions with prophets of doom predicting it could be an endtimes scenario, the conflicts in Sri Lanka are so grave that they cannot be left in the hands of party political leaders or even the all-powerful Executive President.
More than five years after the end of the war in May 2009 the ethnic conflict is far from resolved with Tamil Nadu’s hardline Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram calling on the Narendra Modi Government to move a resolution for the United Nations to conduct a referendum in the Northern and Eastern provinces in Sri Lanka.
The security forces fought long and hard - with thousands being killed, permanently disabled or injured to achieve the victory of May 2009. Since then Government leaders have been playing politics with the victory and the External Affairs Ministry is messing it up further through press release diplomacy. Sri Lanka is at the international cross-roads once again. We won the war but we appear to be in grave danger of losing the peace while political leaders are continuing to play politics in an attempt to fool the people. That is why we are urging the Mahanayake Theras and other prelates, with the assistance of the other religious leaders to get actively involved in finding a just and peaceful political solution.
The Ven. Athureliya Rathana Thera last Tuesday launched a movement to recreate a ‘pure tomorrow’ in Sri Lanka. He said he was doing this as a Buddhist monk and not as a leader of the Jathika Hela Urumaya. While highly qualified professionals presided at the head table, in the audience were Opposition UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, at least two Cabinet Ministers and members of other political parties. The meetings of the ‘pure tomorrow’ movement are to be held every Tuesday in a bid to pull Sri Lanka out of the political, economic and moral mess.
According to the Political Editor of our sister paper the ‘Sunday Times’, President Mahinda Rajapaksa is deeply concerned about the continuing revolt by two UPFA partners, the JHU and the National Freedom Front of Minister Wimal Weerawansa. After last Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, the President reportedly told SLFP Ministers to stay back for another meeting and told them they would have to obtain his permission before attending meetings organised by UPFA partners. He was apparently referring to the ‘pure tomorrow’ movement of Ven. Athureliya Rathana Thera.
Political leaders have earned for themselves a terrible reputation for corruption and fraud, deception and hypocrisy, the breakdown of the rule of law, the culture of impunity with the virtual collapse of democracy. If the political leaders do not allow religious leaders and other respected social justice advocates to play a major role in settling the ethinic and other conflicts, then the consequences for Sri Lanka might be worse than the destructive war we experienced for 30 years. The Government must act now before it is too late. Or is it already too late?