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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2425

Sri Lanka- Leading from the Rear

By A Patabendige

Sri Lanka became independent in 1948.Its politicians interpreted the fact that independence was achieved without shedding blood as a signal honor. It was the blood of the Indians who fought hard and long for their independence that ensured SL too benefitted. Without India, the 150 year British Empire collapsed. SL lost its relevance to the British and segued to independence, saving blood.

Since then in 70 years, SL has killed about 200,000 of its own people in insurrections in the South and the North to make up for the blood it saved by not fighting its colonizer, albeit after 2 bloody rebellions in 1818 and 1848. The repressions that followed did teach a lesson.

The reason for the post-independence insurrections were the presumed and perceived unjustified actions of the elected rulers that consisted mainly of the 70% majority race/religion .The rulers of all communities were for a long time elites out of touch with the masses. They had become masters at manipulating and accommodating minorities and deceiving what they still believe are gullible masses, despite free education and having the highest literacy rate in South Asia. Wijeweera and his rag tags and later the scrofulous LTTE, armed and trained by India, taught SL extremely bitter lessons before succumbing. The politicians however cynically keep forgetting their responsibility for the cost - 200,000 killed including those of its armed forces and the police. Fortunately this time in Kandy, 2 not 200,000 have died. The recent upheavals hopefully do not indicate SL is donning pads for another innings of ‘70 years of independence’.

Sadly to counter such turbulence SL has developed its own brand of crisis leadership, especially when faced by mob action by the majority. It is from the rear, faceless, sickly, full of facile inanities, and mischievous and deceitful blame games. Political leaders of all hues need to make their presence felt among the victims of the riots. They should confront the mobs and not TV cameras, identify with the victims and share their danger. Immediately. That is what the victims want. Making superfluous speeches pointedly about the financial not human cost of deaths on TV from Colombo and then hovering in helicopters (as in places affected by floods) is however the high fashion of national leadership, post 2015.

During the partitioning of India when Hindu / Sikh, Muslim frenzy broke out in 1947 and one million were killed, the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru got on the streets, aiming for trouble spots. He took on the mob leaders physically, even jumping on to them from the bonnet of his car and hitting out. In one memorable incident when Nehru accosted a lone looter he berated him and nearly struck him. The man fell on his knees, clasped his hands, looked up and said ‘Panditji do what you want if I have wronged. I will be honoured even to be killed by Panditji’. Does SL have such leaders?

One writer thinks the Mahanayake’s apparently able to see Digana from Kandy, not government politicians, should have confronted the mobs like Nehru. Well they might but where were those who called themselves the nation’s leaders? Surely it is they who should have done so. Nehru did what he considered was his duty - to lead from the front and not from behind priests and gallery players. Wonder why this writer is the only one who thought the Mahanayake’s and no one else should have faced the rioters. She appears to relish the opportunity to cunningly denigrate only Sinhala Buddhists and the Mahanayakes, her forte.

Could anyone at least from the Kandyan areas act like Gandhi in Calcutta during the partition riots and reside among the affected and confront the mobs? The morally bankrupt politicians shrewdly broadcast that it was the police that ‘failed’ the test. They must think that they could lead the nation from under their beds - as before. The mobs, as in 1983, probably consisted mainly of their supporters who gave them victory in the 2015 elections.

“Having come to power, Ranil Wickremasinghe showed his inherent hatred to the Sinhalese and especially Sinhala Buddhists. Anti Buddhist elements around him were making hay while the sun was shining” (Charge of the Lion Brigade Page 16-Patali Champika Ranawaka)

Meanwhile the government, servile, patronized and used by the US and UK, is feverishly fiddling with a proposed new constitution as an escape plan from the ills of its western oriented diseases it contracted. It also covers up massive corruption and spendthrift expenditure.

Compare this with the realty of SL. There are many villages shown daily on TV where the people suffer from crippling kidney disease, malnutrition, infant deaths way above the national average, lack of basic facilities like running water, motorable roads, foot bridges and basic sanitation. They have little or no water for crops, suffer devastation of their homes and crops by elephants and lack basic medical facilities and schools. The majority of the people are woefully emaciated /under nourished. Forests are raped for timber; sand is excavated from rivers and irrigation tanks destroyed to make way for construction mostly illegal. Wetlands are given for luxury housing. This was and is done with impunity by supporters of whatever government is in power. Are the people expected to tolerate this forever? It builds up frustration and growing anger that seeks release. Was a verdict given on 10 February? Are the incidents at Ampara and Kandy a consequence or an attempt at diversion?

Significantly the gnarled former spokesmen for the LTTE in parliament have not yet commented on the present situation. It is manna from heaven for them. Both protagonists are ‘dushman’- enemy- for them, ever after the Eelam conflict began. They expect the GTF would speak and save them from compromising their cozy rear guard relationship with the government. Are they waiting for the GTF to ghost write their parliamentary speeches? They may however not want of their culpability when hundreds of Muslims were killed in the mosques and homes in the East and thousands exiled with 10 minutes warning in the North by their self declared sole representatives of the Tamils, the LTTE, exposed.

A solo trumpeter and in fact still a minister said ’Buddhists must apologize’ for what happened in Kandy. What religion was that bus driver who was killed if he was not a Buddhist? Did the Minister tell the Muslims to apologize for what the 4 men in a 3 wheeler did? No. The minister has been publicly told by a priest to stuff himself. Let that minister apologize on his own behalf – for talking sheer rot and shirking his duty. He did not make an appearance at least to show solidarity with the affected, even after the mobs had disappeared. They had won him the elections in 2015 .Will they ever again? His familiarity with cattle makes his views stink like them.

This cattle expert goes on to say there was an intelligence failure. What was it about? Did the government or anyone need to be told, repeatedly, that there was a long simmering discontent over radicals, not only about Muslims? Was the government innocent of the fact that extremists from the West had been spreading anti Islam propaganda on the web ever since 9/11? Emails were being gleefully forwarded, not by Buddhists but those who would like to begin mini crusades in SL. Trump was seen as a Richard the Lion Heart. It wasn’t an intelligence failure. It was a belief in ostriches. Cattle and ostriches are mother’s milk for this man and his government. Wicked propaganda against Buddhist priests was sent out by non-Buddhists ever since the ‘Yahapalanas’ took over. Many cooks were boiling well used pots.

The cry went out for the battle proven Army to be called in to help the police to maintain law and order. This is the same army that a few politicians over the past 3 years had wanted to emasculate and also crucify in Geneva. The Army however cannot be suckered again to pull political chestnuts out of the fire for pathetic and groveling politicians.

Muslims say a pied piper has just woken up from self-induced slumber and wanted ‘shoot to kill orders’ given. The question is – kill whom? There is a list of targets on the web that carries this silly man’s appeal. They are hilarious if not zeroed in but not at any rioter in Kandy. He is, unsurprisingly, on nearly all the lists.

Thankfully JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake and S Moulana from Riyadh (Island 10 Feb 2018) gave messages to the Muslims too. They were advised to make an effort to identify with the other communities and not to deliberately act, be or look different. Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Jordon and Lebanon are examples to follow. Just as SL was before the Saudi brand of extreme Wahabism influenced them, post 1980s. Saudi itself is changing now. SL’s Muslims must move with the times and not delay in thought, spirit or action to play their part in national integration. For a start they can revert to responding to that most peaceful of greetings ‘salaam ale kum’ (peace be unto you) with ‘ale kum salaam’ instead of ignoring it. Responding so to non Muslims appeared to be ‘haram’ to SL Muslims. It is not so in foreign Muslim lands.

Had the police opened fire, would they have ‘passed’ the government’s test? How many dead bodies of ‘rioters’, by Westerners’ choice Sinhalese, are wanted to prove government intentions to satisfy the West? In 1989, 211 Sinhalese were killed in a single day in Hambantota. Shortly after 196 Tamils were killed in the East. It was then said rather blithely that blood had to be spilled for true ‘freedom’. The question was whose? In 1989-90 the total killed was 60,000 Sinhalese. They were Buddhists too. None of the white eye envoys appeared too distressed then. They and their supported NGOs are beating their breasts now.

The government, whenever a crisis occurs, cannot shift the blame for the spread of violence on to the very police it charges with the maintenance of law and order. The police do what it believes the people expect them to. They did not open fire but arrested rioters. Were these rioters and onlookers encouraged by the fact that these same politicians roared about the criminality of opening fire at Rathupaswela and the FTZ mobs a few years ago? Did the police and Army not remember? If they had opened fire, would the dead who tell no tales, be said to be Sinhala Buddhist rioters? Like at Hambantota in 1989.

The SL police did not imitate that British ‘cop’ who in London shot an ‘Islamist’ suspect 10 times in the head at point blank range with hollow nosed bullets that disfigured the dead man horribly. There are also so many US cops who shoot African Americans whose attitude they do not approve of or even for kicks. Are these the types that are wanted in SL now by the government and those who demand ‘action’ –from 100 kms away? Have Dauris and Keshap offered to loan some of them? Have they already arrived with the notorious Peace Corps, America’s covert foreign legion? After all, this is the government they helped install to lick their boots.

Blaming the opposition and Sinhalese Buddhists is in all the pages of the holy book of Colombo 7, its priests, disciples and choristers. In 1983, having a 4/5ths majority in parliament this same lot blamed the riots on the JVP, banned it and arrested many. Everyone in SL knew government ministers were behind the 1983 mobs. The government that has the same hue, plays hide and seek when riots occur as before. When law and order breaks down it is squarely the government that is responsible, not Sinhala Buddhists or any other community.

This government bumped up figures to show it was overwhelmingly supported by the people in 2015. What did these vast numbers do when mobs attacked innocents in 2018? The refrain is that the rioters, instigators and leaders were all from outside Kandy. Why then did the locals or the police not take them on with their vastly superior numbers of supporters (there are 947,900 Sinhalese alone in Kandy) and aid the victims who are about fifth less in numbers. There are also about 100,000 Tamils? Were they all just gaping? Where were the government leaders? Were they waiting for the PM who was also the Law and Order minister to appoint one of his comic committees to ‘keep the ball rolling’ while Kandy conflagrated?

It is very clear that this lame government that is fiddling in Colombo, not the police, failed miserably in its primary duty to protect its citizens in Kandy.

As western governments issue arrogant warnings to SL, their Indian collaborator has kept radio silence. The ghosts of Ayodha and the Muslims in trains torched by the BJP must haunt that government. Maybe the Indian High Commissioner also remembers the storming by its army of the holiest of Sikh shrines, the Golden Temple at Amritsar and the carnage of the anti Sikh riots in Delhi in the 1980s. Silence too is golden.

SL’s true friends, Pakistan and China must have watched the events unfold with grief and sadness as all good people in SL did. Helplessly.

What is astonishing is that Dauris the Brit and Keshap the East Indian American have the gall to warn SL about its treatment of Muslims. Do they dare to ignore the criminal part their governments with France, Russia and Germany play and played for nearly 100 years in the Middle East that produces Muslim rage all over the West today? Who originated voluminous hates messages by the minute on the web for years from the West? Where from does Islam phobia spread?

Britain with France devised the deceitful Sykes Picot agreement in 1916. It planned to divide the Ottoman Turk Empire’s Arabic countries after the First World War ended, even as the casualties on the main and far off Western battlefront reached many millions in the very first year. 55,000 were killed or wounded on the first day of the Somme battle. When it ended 4 months later the combined death toll was one million. Oblivious to this slaughter and 265,000 allies dead after the Gallipoli disaster, they planned to respectively take over Iraq and Syria and share the Hejaz between them. Having helped the Arabs fight their Turkish rulers and sworn not to then replace the Turks as rulers as the Arabs rightly feared the British and French arrogantly and cynically did just that. They had always meant to. They even planned do dishonor their commitments to each other! No wonder the breakup of the Turkish Empire is referred to as the ‘Great Loot’. Britain and France were and are past masters in deceiving and robbing Easterners.

The Balfour (British) declaration, a 3 sentence scribbled note to Baron Rothschild was handed over to Palestine Jews Weizmann and Aaronsohn in 1917 at Whitehall. It united Jews worldwide and gave them ‘a national home in Palestine’ that resulted in the creation of Israel. It remains an intractable sore. Hashemite King Hussein whose Arab people fought for the Allied cause to defeat the Turks was cheated. The Arabs and Jews had earlier agreed for a joint state in Palestine but Balfour deceived the Arabs. The anger of the betrayed Arab people has never since been assuaged.

The criminal invasion of Iraq in 2003 organized by the USA, fully supported by the UK and France on false pretences, only confirmed the duplicity of the West. It destroyed nearly a million Iraqis. The agony of many Arab countries is a direct result of Western chicanery, duplicity, greed, perfidy, corruption and ill advised arrogant notions of racial superiority. Despite all this, Dauris and Keshap have the chutzpah (bloody cheek) to appear to be concerned about Muslims in SL. SL is well aware of Keshap’s excitable behavior post 10 Feb 2018.
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As for SL it’s time that known false premises are taken head on. SL politicians have adopted the divide and rule policy of the British. They exploit and use minorities. There is much anger among the majority. Foreigners are allowed to enter and interfere in internal affairs from politics to religion. This is without hindrance, objection or punishment.

Very little of a SL identity exists. Communal political parties help to further divide the people. This creates suspicion in the minds of the majority. Scheming politicians exploit such worries and fears and play one against the other. Exclusiveness and not inclusiveness is being preached, if not promoted.

How much has SL integrated since 1948? Go to a wedding or a funeral and the proof is there. No politician cares to address the situation as it will not help him, even if national interest is at stake. No one is being asked to change their beliefs or identity. It is however much preferred if everyone desires to live, work and play without desiring to be insulated and isolated by choice from the others. That may be a step towards integration. It is said the Singapore model works. Adapting those parts of it that suit SL could be helpful.

Much of the damage done to the victims and the country, the moral and social fabric, national integration and their physical well being are the responsibility of politicians. They failed to stop extremists of all hues by taking counsel of their fears for political survival. They are totally responsible for what happened in Kandy. As for the future-let us get on our knees and pray for SL. 200,000 killed in 70 years and still looking for the politicians responsible.

- Asian Tribune -

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