Colombo, Elections, Jaffna, Politics and Governance, Post-War

Why should Tamil speaking communities give critical support to Sarath Fonseka?

Authors note: This expands on a comment I left on Groundviews here, in response to my last article In defense of the JVP campaign to support Sarath Fonseka.

Tamils must not play a sectarian role in the presidential election. That’ll be counterproductive. This is not the time for Tamils to do politics based on anger and hatred. Tamils, I think, should realize democratic transformation of the Centre is crucial for them. Also, Tamil-speaking people – including plantation-workers & Muslims and Colombo Tamils- live all over Sri Lanka. Therefore, it’s important to make all calculations in general terms, not in sectarian terms. All parties of the Tamil-speaking people should maintain a solid united front in presenting their demands. They should present them to the General in no uncertain terms. It should amount to a critical support – not a blank cheque.

The presidential election will mark a unique turn in Sri Lankan politics, irrespective of the protagonist’s personal background. This election will change Sinhala majority’s post-independent consciousness substantially. Sri Lanka will never be the same whatever the outcome.

But, it’ll be better if the General wins. For, such a change will accelerate the change. Remember, he doesn’t represent any politically deep-rooted party of the Establishment. That’s positive. A substantial section of the Sinhala majority – who backed the crushing of the Tigers for its separatist/terrorist politics – will oppose the Mahinda-regime in this election for very good reasons. It is absolutely important to educate this section of the Sinhala majority to go beyond their changing mindset. They should be helped to grasp democratic/socialist values. This election campaign provides an unprecedented opportunity to do exactly that. In order to do this, enlightened minority should participate in their experience along with them. This is why JVP’s backing of the General is prudent.

It would have been much better if the entire Left – along with the JVP – took the same stance, and use the electoral platform to educate the people anticipating post-electoral developments. This is why I think Comrade Bahu is wrong to contest independently. Now that he is contesting, he could still use the election-platform for propaganda purposes, and pull out towards the end of the campaign appealing his supporters to vote for the General; I’ve no doubt he’ll be able to give extremely sensible reasons why he’s pulling out. His supporters will surely understand that.

  • niranjan

    vasantha raja,

    “A substantial section of the Sinhala majority – who backed the crushing of the Tigers for its separatist/terrorist politics – will oppose the Mahinda-regime in this election for very good reasons.”- It is doubtful if a substancial section of the sinhala majority will oppose the MR regime. The President is still very popular.

  • Peace is not the absence of war.

    The two major political parties, the UNP and SLFP,for the past 50 years; both before LTTE and after the de facto state, tried to bring peace. But together, they have miserably ended up with a brutal and bloody genocidal war.

    Buddhist prelates, forming less than 0.5 percent of the population, confined only to temples, were dragged into politics by SLFP in 1956. UNP shamelessly followed suit. Greed for power and money were the motives and not the welfare of the country.

    UNP and SLFP equally have now become under dogs of Buddhist prelates, who are blatantly ignorant of the legitimacy of Tamil rights and freedoms according to the UN charter yet making “big mouth” statements on them.

    They all, together corrupted both politics and Buddhism and are incapable of bringing peace.

    Both UNP and SLFP have now become so blindfolded that they have candidates for the presidential election, who have committed war crimes and are likely to be tried in the War Crimes Court in the Hague. Political madness is being exhibited.

    It is evident that peace can never be achieved by the present “tried political parties”. Remorsefulness is lacking and time is running out for peace.

    The young and different “generation” of Sinhalese, having grown in a bloody war, brought upon them by the older folks, value peace. They need to rise up boldly now and take a firm stand for peace or perish.

    What is required is a genuine peace revolution at grass root level, based on love and care for the affected Tamils and respect their dignity freedoms and rights

    If the young fail to do it, it will be another missed opportunity, chaos will rule for ever and peace will be a distant dream.

  • Marisa de Silva

    I believe this statement was uttered just over a year back, by none other than the good “General” you speak of almost fondly, Vasantha.

    “I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people. We being the majority of the country, 75%, we will never give in and we have the right to protect this country. We are also a strong nation. They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things.” – http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2008/9/32834_space.html

    I really do see every reason why the Tamils should support the “General.” I’m told a leopard can’t change his spots but, there should be no reason why a Racist Butcher cannot 😉

  • total disagree with my friend, Tamil’s at the critical stage of the freedom strugle can not in way approve a candidate who has committed war crimes against Tamils. doing so will give the next President ultimate propaganda tool
    to defeat the Tamil people struggle for freedom.

    They should indicate their un satisfaction with the both candidates and vote for
    tamil candidate to indicate their preference self determination.

  • Canaga

    Well said Justin – and a word of thanks to you.

    May I also add that corruption and favouritism should be stopped at all levels, if we are to see a bright future for the country.

  • Nirmalan

    I agree with Vasantha Raja, Tamils need to go beyond the sectarian mind set and look at this issue very critically. It does not really matter who they vote for, as long as larger national interests are also taken into account when making the decision. But in general “a known devil is better than the unknown”

  • Is it just me or doesn’t anyone realise that SF may go solo if he wins the presidential election? Considering the fact that he isn’t contesting under the UNP symbol, doesn’t this give him free rein to do whatever he likes, even if it goes against the wish of the UNP? and would he actually abolish the exec. presidency once he gets in power?

    I’d rather vote for MR in fear of what SF might do, rather than due to any love for MR!

  • raj

    We Tamils shuld not be protecting the Sihalese to bring democracy to the nation. The Srilankan state is no longer going to be democratical under any of these two candidates. The political culture is already created for very violent and dictatorial governance. The Tamils go for a common Tamil candidate and stand on the priciples of VadduKottai resolutions and run for the election and prove it to the world once again that we Tamils have no choice with the majority to reconcile a majority celebrate with fireowrks when Tamils are incarcerated in thosands in the name of fighting terrorism.

  • Michael C

    Throughout my life I have looked up to UNP and then SLFP to do the right thing for the Tamils, but both are in the same boat. Dr. Vickramabhahu Wijeratne has all along supported the Tamil cause and I think the moderate Singhalese and all the Tamils should cast their votes to Dr. Karunaratne for a political solution. This is the only way we could see peace and prosperity in Sri Lanka. If we can find a political solution to the ethnical problem then there is a chance for Sri Lanka to stay united otherwise we will see two nations at each others throats.

  • malaselvi

    Please get out from the old confrontational attitude. All opportunistic politicians so desperately need confrontations.
    Same old wine in same old bottle.
    Who is supporting who and why they supporting is very interesting to watch.
    Enough of confrontations , let the people to be happy.
    Hate is a dangerous cancer for the society.

  • ranjit de mel

    mr vasantha raja the jvp is supporting fonseka a top sinhale nationalist,because they are allmost dead.jvp is not for any form of political power sharing. unp does not have a winning candidate.minoritiese in s.l specially the tamils want atleast max.possible devolution.tamils and tamil speaking people living in s.l know what they want.sinhale people know fonseka well.he can change his dress and speak with his tounge between his cheeks, but his mindset has not changed.maybe he is good for some tamils(make hay while the sun shines).fonseka wont have a chance.mr. raja write after the elections

  • A concerned Sri Lankan

    I hope everybody who desires to make Sri Lanka their home will not make miss this chance of cleaning this corrupt government and elect a majority party alliance that is trying to install a government that is corrupt free and acceptable to all Sri Lankans. General Sarath Fonseka has promised to activate the 17th Amendment of the Constitution immeditely he assumes power and that would be the ideal start to guarantee the freedom of the Police Service,Judiciary,Bribary Commission and the Election Commission etc.,etc., to function without any interference of the politicos. The tamils should not be blind to see their people being ill treated even to-day in the IDP camps. The present Governmen has squandered the aid that was given by many foreign governments for the welfare of the IDP’s and have released some of the IDP’s without providing their basic needs.If the Rajapakse Regime comes back to power they will see that the tamil people are penalised and they will not be allowed to talk about their rights again. General Fonseka has promised to restore the rights of the tamils and other minority communities as enshrined in the 13th amendment of the constitution.Therefore it is the duty of all peace loving people of this country to reject the present Rajapakse Regime and restore democracy by electing General Sarath Fonseka as the next President.

  • cameo

    Regardless what we hope wnd what the Tamil population may wish . The Sinhala Politico needs a perfect platform to fight for power. All these years Tamils have been portrayed as a “rag doll ” for Sinhala Politicos to play ,tease,and fight. There is NO more doll to use as bait to confuse the Sinhala mass. Don’t create a pseudo “Doll” to create the excitement of typical Sri Lanken election joke. The Island is cursed by the Sprits of dead innocent. It will tahke NINE years ” Navaratna” for the DARK curse to be lifted. As one writer said, it is up to the youth of the country propel towards a peace loving land.

  • Heshan

    Tamils are really in a helpless position until the majoritarian mindset of the average Sinhalese changes. It is not that the majority community is incapable of effecting change; I think it is more an issue of their having become complacent. A proactive Opposition needs to waken them up and lead the way forward.

  • Jansee

    Marisa de Silva:

    When SF made that statement, neither MR or GR refuted or distanced themselves from it. One can make one thousand assumptions over their silence but the captive one would be that he (SF) had official approval for such a statement. So, where does this place MR and GR in the context of your argument?

    There cannot be any disagreement that SF has made unsavory remarks but in the world of politics it may be a tactical decision to dispose of the arrogant and dynastic-oriented Rajapaksas. I cannot think of anyone else that the Southern voters would even imagine voting for against MR. You would be aware that as a President (if he is elected) SF would have little by way of executive power to dislodge or dismiss a democratically elected govt through parliamentary elections which incidentally has to be called sometime before May 2010. Hopefully, under such circumstances, not only the President’s powers may be checked, the opportunity to do away with the executive presidency is great.

    sath:

    Isn’t 30 years of bloodshed not enough? At the end of the day, who were the ultimate losers. The Tamils did not only lose but were maimed to pulp, locked-up in caged camps. Could you really lift a finger or even shed a tear for those hapless idps who never asked for so much of untold suffering. Gandhi could not even stand the sight of a suffering calf that he told it to be put to sleep. These are human beings who have lost everything in life and have not been able to even make a meaning of their life. That is why I want MR to go because even after the war he treated the IDPs like caged animals. Pardon me for such harsh language but when you are locked-up inside concentration camps with guns pointed at you, what kind of life is that and mind you these are not aliens but citizens and for a President who boasts of providing leadership during the war effort and claiming credit for winning the war in his tug-of-war with SF, whatever happened to his leadership qualities as regards to the IDPs. This is a president who, even at the remote corner of his heart did not feel or shed tears for the IDPs. How much of international and local appeals but where was the remorse. Day-in-day-out the mantra was mines, mines and mines, and yes suspected LTTEs in the camps. Today, when seriously challenged politically, suddenly there seems to be no mines and suspected LTTEs in the camps and lo and behold, the IDPs can walk out of the camps. What a farce he is.

    Raj:

    I would be deluding myself if I say that SF would be our saviour but the issue is MR has to go for reasons I have stated above. The Tamils went through all what you mentioned and came out bloodied and empty in every sense. Perhaps, you were not in the thick and thin of the action to realise how sorely these people need to build from scratch and get on with their lives. This is not to say that we should not fight for our democratic rights. Today, SL has been denied the right to host the CHOGM (Commonwealth) and this is the way to go. It is not by carrying guns that a cause should be achieved and there is absolutely no justification to bloodshed inflicted on innocent people, whoever they are. The most important task is to rebuild the lives of the IDPs who have suffered untold miseries. MR thinks that by talking a few words in Tamil he can gain the support of the Tamils. He must be day-dreaming.

    Michael C:

    Yes, Wickramabhahu is a wonderful person and I have very high regards for him. A person more driven by his conscience, what chance do you think he stands in a mad world of ours where most have more inclination towards race and religion. Peace be to him and my unfettered salutations to him but,as I said, SL politics is too messy and madly for a gentleman such as him.

  • Iyanar

    As far as we concerned both of them, they are the part and partial of mass murder of Tamils. One of them will be selected. The main concern here is who is against the peace in this beautiful island? The finger direct towards India. Whenever there’s any peace move, India interferes and change the move upside down. So this Time not only peace loving and patriotic Sinhalese as well as Tamils should vote against India. Whoever get the support of India must be defeated. China, Western countries and other nations around the world want peace in Sri Lanka. But, only India is against the peace in Sri Lanka because it doesn’t want a strong democracy in its backyards. If you cast your vote for the third party, the preferential vote must be against India. So think twice and consider a permanent peace in this beautiful island. We hate India.

  • Marisa de Silva

    Jansee, no where in my comment did I draw a comparison between the “noble” candidates. I see it very much as a case of “Hobson’s Choice.” Just don’t think Vasantha was thinking quite clearly at the time he wrote this post asking that all Tamils vote for SF. It’s almost like asking the Jews to vote for Hitler as he’s had a sudden change of heart 🙂 If nothing else, at least you have a sense of humour Vasantha. That’s more often than not a good thing, especially at such dark times.

  • Velu Balendran

    The logic of why Pirapakaran said not to vote in the last election still holds true. There is nothing the Tamils can achieve by supporting any one of the major parties. Tamils view both candidates as hardcore Sinhala chauvinists, who have no desire to share power with them and more importantly are tainted by allegation of war crimes against the Tamils.

    It is time the Tamils thought carefully how to cast their vote. Even if Mr Sampanthan of TNA stands, I would urge the Tamils to support Dr Bahu who has voiced more forcefully in Sri Lanka than the TNA for Tamil self-determination. It is my hope that no Tamil candidate will contest as any vote cast for such a candidate will not achieve or register anything significant for the Tamils. Voting for Vama Bahu who is standing on the platform of self-determination for the Tamils will in fact enable Tamils to gain the valuable international recognition for their case for self-determination with the backing of the just Sinhala society. It will also prove that Tamils are not the chauvinists some people are trying to paint them as, but are a people willing to be lead by a Sinhala leader if only s/he is just and trustworthy.

    Tamils will trust SF or MR at their own peril!

  • Tamils may look well beyond the box and decide to trust and go with the
    General believing the “cruel kindness” he assures now. As Bonaparte said
    “if you open the wounds of the past you lose the present and the future”
    Some believe the Sinhala and Tamils can make another start and rebuild
    the ravaged land and anything than the Rajapakse oligarchy is in everyone’s
    interest. If the General assures he will instruct Immigration not to allow
    those who stole the resources of the State to leave the country after his
    victory and equally tell the country steps will be taken to get crooks to
    make good every cent stolen – maybe he will greatly improve his chances.
    But for this his cupboards should be without skeletons. There is even every
    chance he might have an avalanche of MPs and politicos from the govt side
    falling on to his lap if he makes such a declaration. Pragmatism is the name of the game in this peculiar business as the wily Ranil chose to eat humble pie –
    for the moment.

    ISS

  • veedhur

    I think what the tamils and muslims need to do is

    a) to identify for themselves another candidate and campaign for him/her
    b) get atleast 15% of the popular vote (with 25% of the population this should not be too difficult)
    c) in the process deny mahinda and Gen.Fonseka the required 50% and thereby force a run-off
    d) then the candidate of the minority with the mandate now of atleast 15% of the population and over 60% of the mandate of the minorities give his/her endorsement to either Mahinda or Fonseka, who ever is giving the best and credible commitment to address the problems of the minority.

    I don’t think that either mahinda or fonseka deserve the minority votes in the first round and the tamils and muslims will be foolish to listen to believe their new found love for the minorities!!

    Mano Ganesan? Sambandan? Sangari? Hakeem? Thondaman? Chandrasekaran?

  • SomeOne

    Hi Heshan,

    “…. I think it is more an issue of their having become complacent. ..”

    You got it right.

  • LankaLiar

    LTTE was headed by Praba & Karuna SLTE (Sri Lanka Terror Est) was headed by Mahinda and Sarath. Now Mahinda and Karuna Vs Sarath and who. Who is LTTE who is SLTE now I am really confused. It is very confusing to vote. Sin halease has never and will never produce a substatial leader who can correct this country. God gave almost evry thing to this land they destroyed evry thing even themself. Sorry Lanak – no hope

  • Malinda Seneviratne

    Think there’s a difference? It’s all about power, the ‘mama wenuven mama’ number. Only, they don’t say it. I do, though.

    http://www.dailynews.lk/2009/11/18/fea02.asp

    I think it is naive to think that one or the other can be trusted to deliver any of the goodies that people in this forum seem to want. Would be better to weigh characters in terms of flaws, tragic, terrible and otherwise.

    Here’s a tip: If someone gets angry and leaves, MR is more likely to leave a door open for the person to return. SF might shoot him on the way out.

  • sam

    tamils vote wisely to make changes in the goverment, tamils will be caged againt if rajapakse win the election.thanks to conserned sri lankan.

  • PJohn

    It is time for us tamils to choose the right Candiadte between the two. I perfectly agree with author’s point of view. For the last 30 years we tamils have been fooled by a “brainless” so called leader Prabaharan who had no political vision or intention to resolve our grievances. We cannot totally blame the so called foolish leader Praba” since part of it lies with us as well for standing by his leadership. His actions not only pushed us 50 years back, but death of many innocent civiliations and today the camps. I THINK IT IS TIME FOR US TO CRITICALLY REVIEW BOTH CANDIDATES AND CHOOSE THE RIGHT FOR US TAMIL TO LIVE PEACEFULLY WITH ALL.

  • I guess by voting Mad General Tamils will have their revenge on the Rajapaksa Brothers. its choice of do you want to punish the 3 or 4 Rajapaksah’s or Just Gen Ponsaka.

    If we think like that and vote we feel much better..

  • Off the Cuff

    Marisa de Silva

    You said
    “……..But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things”
    Unquote

    It would be interesting to know what you think SF meant by that

  • Conscience

    Voting should really be a matter of individual conscience. How each voter votes is therfore dictated by sum total of responses on how each person perceives what each candidate has done or not done to public welfare in reality. By this perception how Tamils or for that matter the Muslims in the N&E will vote are quite predictable. But more important is how Sinhalese will vote and their own perceptions. Obviously there is going to be a tussle as to who won the “war” and who is the more credible candidate in thism respect. Both may have won the “war” together but rife with tragic results for Tamils. But for them to draw fine lines as to how the Tamils have benefitted is a non-issue and an imbecile ploy because in the real sense BOTH have committed war crimes and gross crimes against humnity. The LTTE came about as a result of of political failures and political greed for power at any cost by UNP or SLFP for decades. To dedicate voets to s uch political parties or individuals is to ask for still more trouble and public neglect. These political animals are incapable and can never change their colours. One can but hope that there will be a candidate who stands up for every citizen and his/her rights irrespective of langauge, race or religion or caste or other parochial differnces. That candidate seems to be Dr.Wickramabahu Karunaratne to usher in a new era for the country and citizen. That will be the new Singapore of South Asia.It will usher in a new type of decent politics. it will reflect CHANGE from the torrid past. Voting for Mahinad R or Sarath F will be a repeat of the horrible past. What one can hope is that every voter will THINK first vote with his head right.

  • siva

    I for one want individuals to make their choice. When the votes are counted irrespective of whoever wins the Tamils will have some supporting one and some supporting another and at least a portion of them would have backed a winner thus having an “IN” in the support base of whoever wins. This will finally keep the community at par with the majorty community instead of isolation back again if you supported one en mass and if that candidate looses.

  • Atheist

    The General is hitting same -side goals all the time.

    Aiyo! Kadavule!

  • Heshan

    “One can but hope that there will be a candidate who stands up for every citizen and his/her rights irrespective of langauge, race or religion or caste or other parochial differnces. That candidate seems to be Dr.Wickramabahu Karunaratne to usher in a new era for the country and citizen.”

    The State-run media will portray WK as a kotiya (traitor) for sure. They will link him to foreign conspiracies to “destabilize” the island. Unfortunately, until Tiger-phobia disappears from the majoritarian mindset of the Southern voter, those with liberal outlooks like WK do not really stand a chance. Then again, what is the guarantee that even after 50 or another 100 years, the majority community will not find a new grudge to hold against the Tamils? What is the guarantee that even after 50 or another 100 years, those like WK who are willing to discuss Tamil aspirations through rational dialogue, will not be accused of supporting separatism?

  • Sinhala_Voice

    The ONLY way the minorities can be accomodated CORRECTLY, APPROPRIATELY is by:

    Having 2 Houses in the Parliament
    -House of Representatives
    -House of Senate

    -Executive President with Parlamentary control

    -Independent Public Service and charter of non-political appointments.

    AS you will see the problem the minorities raise is that laws can be passed by the majority simply being a majority this is the PROBLEM.

    So us Sinhalese MUST come up with a system that puts checks and balances on the system such that the minorities feel comfortable WITHIN A UNITARY STATE.

    THIS CAN BE ACHEIVED. YES IT CAN BE. ALL YOU NEED IS TO BE HONEST AND TREAT EVERYONE THE WAY YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED. MAKING YOU, YOURSELF AS AN EXAMPLE-(AS it is explained by the Buddha himself)

  • Burning_Issue

    Sinhala_Voice,

    Quote: “AS it is explained by the Buddha himself” Unquote

    I am very sorry to say that, in Sri Lanka, Buddhism is not being practiced but Mahavamsaim; this is why we have ethnic issues.

    Pre-Mahavamsa, there were no issues at all; Sri Lanka always has been since prehistory a multicultural nation/s!

  • shankar

    I think Tamil speaking communities should give their votes it’ll be better if the General Fonseka wins and send Mahinda Rajapaksa government to hell.

  • BogusName

    Please use this forum to give us accurate information of the other, much more decent, educated and capable candidates.

    Also, explain the system of preferential voting, and how intelligent voting can send constructive messages to the megalomaniacs.

    Please don’t give unnecessary publicity to these chameleons.

  • Conscience

    If the majority community wants to carry on mass murder and mayhem then they should let the minorities opt to decide how they want to govern themselves. We live in the 21st century governed by international laws as well accepted by 192 nations, including Sri Lanka, and not in the year 400AD. If it wants to be an outcast pariah nation then the UN should act. Unfortunately the present SG seems not up to the task and seems to be a mere onlooker.Added is India’s ploy to serve its own ends. That is why screwing around the mulberry bush goes on and on without a decent end. Sri Lanka should grasp and analyse its own problems and find its own decent solutions.

  • Sinhala_Voice

    Dear Burning_Issue: >>

    The problem is NOT Mahavanmsa or Divapavanmsa….THE ISSUE IS POLITICANS WHO DO NOT KNOW HOW TO MANAGE THE NATION AND THEMSELVES.

    Mahavanmsa is a Sinhala-Buddhist chronicle…It has ABSOLUTELY NO BUDDHIST PRACTICES or SUTTAS…..So you can be a BUDDHISTS NOT KNOWING MAHAVANSA….But for a Sinhala ethnic group it is an important chronicle of their history in the island of lanka.

    Once again you can not say it’s a chronicle of Tamils or Muslims or Christians…..
    other than in passing…….

    Are ALL so called Hindu pure Hindus,
    Same goes for Muslims and Christians too….

    YOu can call yourself whatever BUT it is what you do your actions that determine who you are…….I’M CORRECT ???

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Sinhala_Voice,

    “You can call yourself whatever BUT it is what you do your actions that determine who you are…….I’M CORRECT ???”
    Unquote

    Absolutely, but those who thumb their noses at others forget that

  • Burning_Issue

    Sinhala_Voice,
    If one views Mahavamsa for what it is in terms of a metho-historical document/chronicle, like you have pointed out, I will have no issues whatsoever. However, it has been conspicuously debated and documented by various scholars and Historians as to its significances of Sinhala Buddhist Fundamentalism! One cannot simply overlook this phenomenon if one were to understand the theory that the ownership of the island only exclusively belongs to the Sinhala Buddhists. This is why, no constitutional arrangements in terms of power sharing with the minorities are not forth coming.
    Quote: “But for a Sinhala ethnic group it is an important chronicle of their history in the island of lanka.” Unquote
    You hit the nail on the head. I can dispute this quote of yours historically. You can say that, Mahavamsa is a metho-chronicle written by Buddhist monks about perceived events that took place in some parts of Sri Lanka. You must understand that there were Tamil Buddhists lived in Sri Lanka too and associating with Sinhala with Buddhism exclusively is wrong historically.
    Anyhow, my point was that, the Mahavamsa is being used as a focal point of Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinism rendering the rest as second class migrated lot – this is the basis of ethnic issues in Sri Lanka. The current constitution emphasis this very point by propagating the Sinhala Buddhism as superior to the rest and thus deeming the rest as sub-ordinates.

  • Jackson Sinnathamby

    Velu Balendran and Veedhur have placed in perspective the challenge facing the Tamils and other minorities. The Tamils must vote and that vote must go to the left.

    Categorising the Tamils as sectarian is an insult to the Tamil people. They cannot vote with dignity and self-respect, for either of the two major parties. Nor can they trust these parties to protect and promote their vital interests. Vasanta Raja’s memory is short. Does he not remember the stab in the back that Ranil and the UNP gave to Chandrika when for the first time in our history far reaching constitutional reforms were tabled in Parliament in 2000. And then what about the commitment forced out of Mahinda Rajapakse by the JVP in tacit alliance with the JHU that he will stand by a unitary constitution.

    The Tamils must go to the polls in the hundreds of thousands and vote for the left in opposition – a protest and dissenting vote – indicating that they have no faith in the two parties that have ruled this country for six decades. They can give their second preferential vote according to their conscience. What moral right have the two major parties to ask for the Tamil vote? The JVP has historically played a racist role – a little better recently after the chauvinist wing quit and joined the government.

    Colombo district has the second largest concentration of Tamil voters next to Jaffna. Tamil voter turn out in Colombo has been low after 1983. This time these voters must vote. This would constitute a powerful message to the so-called “nationalists” and “patriots” in this country and also to the International community and India in particular. In the light of what Vasantha Raja is suggesting this would constitute the best way of entering the main stream and will initiate a process of integration, based on equality and justice, in this country.

  • Sekera

    The war is over. But the State of Emergency continues.
    And there are many thousands (Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims) detained without trial for undeclared political reasons.

    Neither of the leading candidates has committed himself on the question of unduly prolonging the State of Emergency and the unfair detention of individuals.

    The leaders of the minority nationality parties should have demanded from the President the immediat lifting of the State of Emergency and the release of all detainees not pending trial before commiting themselves.
    They should have demanded from Sarath Fonseka that he makes these along with other promises part of his election manifesto before commiting themselves.

    It is sad that while there was opportunity to agree on a common candidate representing the minority nationalities and genuine left and progressive forces, three parties, all offshoots of the LSSP, rush into the fray without consultation.

    A common candidate could prevent either of the leading candidates from securing the 50% barrier on the first count. That would have been a powerful political message.
    Also such a candidate could have been a rallying point to deter the opportunist minority nationality leaders from making shady deals with either candidate.

    The ego of these Sinhala left leaders has consistently got the better of whatever little sense they pocess. They did it in 1964, then in 1977, then in 1982 and 1989 and once again now, again at a critical uncture.
    Shame on them.

  • Heshan

    The war is over, but 11,000 ex-LTTE are being held in detention camps, with no access to adequate legal recourse. In all the wars I have studied, the POWS on both sides are immediately released (or sometimes tried for war crimes, as in WWII) after the war is over. The amnesty is symbolic of the beginning of a sustained peace. Since it is unlikely these 11,000 were guilty of any war crime, they should immediately be released. Not just as a gesture of solidarity with the minorities, but in light of the historical precedent that necessitates such action.

    The inability to perform small actions like this one shows the true nature of the Sri Lankan Government. It will keep beating the separatism drum forever, because that is how it denies Tamils their fundamental rights.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Burning_Issue,

    I totally agree with you, Buddhism is not “OWNED” by any ethnic community or Cast. By the very nature of the philosophy it has no “OWNER”

    But I do not agree with the following statement of yours which is apparently false.
    “….The current constitution emphasis this very point by propagating the Sinhala Buddhism as superior to the rest and thus deeming the rest as sub-ordinates”
    Unquote

    Could you please substantiate what you wrote with reference to the Constitution please?

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Off the Cuff,
    The Constitution of Sri Lanka accords foremost place for Buddhism and commits the Government to protecting it while allowing other religions to exist freely. It means that, if there is ever to be a conflict, the interest of Buddhism will prevail. Since the Sinhala language and Buddhism in Sri Lanka are inextricably linked or hijacked by the Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinists; hence, a foremost place for the Sinhala Buddhist is implied.
    This scenario was severely tested when a Buddha Statue was erected overnight in the Trincomalee town; this event would not have taken place without the support of the armed forces. Though the local council and magistrate courts deemed this act was illegal, it was held by the high court, the act was constitutional.
    Please read the following publication; it gives an insight into the ground situation:
    “Buddhist Fundamentalism and Minority Identities in Sri Lanka”
    Edited by:
    Tessa J. Bartholomeusz
    Chandra R. De Silva

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Burning_Issue,

    The actual reference to Religion is contained in the following provisions of the Constitution.

    Buddhism.

    9. The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).

    Freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

    10. Every person is entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.

    Freedom of Speech, assembly, association, movement, &c.

    14. (1) Every citizen is entitled to –

    (e) the freedom, either by himself or in association with others, and either in public or in private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice or teaching;

    The foregoing is the “Primary” Law of the land., no other Law can challenge it. No other Law can supersede it.

    Please note the following words in Article 9
    “while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 4(1)(e).”

    Hence it is not possible to maintain the “foremost place” for Buddhism UNLESS other religions are ASSURED of the rights granted to them by the same clause.

    Therefore your statement “The current constitution emphasis this very point by propagating the Sinhala Buddhism as superior to the rest and thus deeming the rest as sub-ordinates.” becomes untenable.

    Please note that UNLIKE in UK, Norway, Vatican etc Sri Lanka’s Head of State can be from ANY Religion. There is no Constitutional bar in place to prevent that.

    You seem to be having a problem with a Buddha Statue that came up in Trincomalee. As you stated the Appeal Court held that it is Constitutional. The people who objected could have taken it to the Supreme Court if they thought they could win on Constitutional grounds but they didn’t, why?

    Leaving the above aside just take a walk on the Main Colombo Katunayake Road on which every visitor to this country travels on their way to Colombo from the Airport. Have you not seen the MULTITUDE of Christian Statues of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, Crosses etc adorning the roadside? Aren’t there any statues of Hindu Gods by the roadside? So why should you find a Buddha Statue objectionable if the overwhelming majority, who are Buddhists, don’t find statues of other religions objectionable?

    Tessa Bartholomeusz is of Dutch Burgher lineage and is a Christian born in Sri Lanka. Her works on Buddhism are tainted. She attempts to show the SL problems as caused by Sinhala Buddhist (I abhor this type of classification as there is no ethnic ownership of Buddhist Philosophy) and attempts to project a simplistic view of a complex issue. In particular she refuses to examine the influence of the Dutch, Portuguese, British, Tamils, Hindus, Christians, Muslims on Buddhists in Sri Lanka

  • IK Anaga

    I CANNOT UNDERSTAND WHY THE TAMILS SHOULD THINK OF RJAPAKSE AND FONSEKA. BOTH HAVE DON ENOUGH AND MORE DAMAGE TO THE TAMILS,.
    TAMILS HAVE BEEN CHEATED BOTH BY SLFP AND UNP, IF A TAMIL VOTE FOR EITHER OF THE CANDIDATE, THEY CONDONE THE ACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES AGAINST THE TAMILS IN THE PAST,PRESENT AND FUTURE .THEIR PRESENT ACTION IS WORSE THAN THE PAST AND THE FUTURE ACTION WILL BE THE WORST EVER WITH THE BLESSINGS OF THE TAMILS THEMSELVES.
    WHY CANT THE TAMILS LOOK BEYOND THEIR NOSE AND CAST THEIR VOTE TO MR WICRAMBAHU KARUNARATNE WHO HAS BEEN CONSISTENT IN HIS POLICIES TO WORDS THE SRILANKAN IN GENERAL AND THE TAMILS IN PARTICULAR, IT IS MEANING LESS TO SAY THAT HE WILL NEVER WIN,.IF ALL THE TAMILS AND THE RIGHT THINKING SINHALESE VOTE FOR HIM, HE MAY BE THE DARK HORSE. FURTHER THE TAMILS CAN SHOW THE WORLD THAT THY ARE NOT COMMUNAL, IF THEY HAVE A RIGHT CANDIDATE TO VOTE FOR.THE TNA MUST CONVINCE THE TAMILS WITHOUT BEING DICTATED BY INDIA, TO VOTE FOR kARNARATNE WHETHER HE WIN OR LOSE. LET THE TAMILS NOT WORRY ABOUT THE PERSONAL EGOS OF RAJAPAKSE OR FONSEKA.
    WHETHER IT IS CHIVAS REGAL 0R JOHNY WALKER-BOTH ARE INTOXICATING.

  • Undoubtedly, Comrade Wickramabahu will attract a politically mature vote-base around him – particularly those who are disgusted with the Mahinda-regime’s fascistic rule the way it’s been treating the Tamil civilians. This minority consists of convinced opponents of the government, and they’ll be happy to vote for Wickramabahu whose politics appear to be closest to their own mindset.

    Obviously, Mahinda Rajapaksa also will be happy to see Wickramabahu’s presence as a blessing – as the most effective way to divert the already established anti-government vote-base away from Sarath Fonseka (SF).

    Wickramabahu’s propagandist approach, however, seems to have failed to see the objective logic (the dialectic) of the unprecedented social process taking place as a unique consequence of the Sarath-Mahinda split. A substantial section within the Sinhala majority who backed the war unconditionally before seems to be rallying round Sarath Fonseka in rejecting Mahinda-regime on democratic and humanist issues. It is this fast-changing social force which Sri Lanka’s Left movement should be orientated towards in the coming period. The Left should base itself on this social force and fully equip them with the democratic values that’ll be crucial for the next stage, i.e. the socialist economic transformation. The likely defeat of Rajapaksa’s dictatorial regime by Sarath Fonseka on a program of democratic change would, I believe, mark the beginning of the end of JR’s executive presidential system. And, how far SF will be ready to carryout this democratic change remains to be seen.

    A united left front should have effectively linked up with Sinhala majority’s changing consciousness with its banner of democracy held high. A united front of the Tamil-speaking communities too should have joined this evolving social force with their own democratic demands. Unfortunately, however, only the JVP has been subtle enough to take this prudent line in supporting Sarath Fonseka.

    Still it is not too late for Wickramabahu to correct his mistake. He can pull out at an appropriate time prescribing his supporters to contribute the final impetus for SF’s victory.

  • Humanist

    Like Marissa, I am speechless at what Vasantha Raja proposes. It is sheer opportunitism that will not bring anything to right thinking Tamils, Muslims or Sinhalese. It is not only a question of choosing between two candidates with blood in their hands, but simply the fact that we are even considering to elect a military man to the highest civilian post in the country. Are we at such a low point in our history that we cannot even attempt to fight for the vestiges of democracy?

    Anaga is right that the only credible choice left to us as a responsible and decent citizens is to vote for WK. No matter if if he doesn’t stand a chance – at least, we get counted. And with luck he might emerge the dark horse.

    Unless we can convince Murali or Sanath J. to run…our only other “national heroes” who can bridge the ethnic divide and don’t have blood in their hands. They are as qualtiifed for the job or more so than the two who are conisdered as the serious contenders.

  • Using the vote merely for self-satisfaction is a selfish act – particularly at a time when Sinhala/Buddhist community is going through a transition. Important social forces are taking precedent over individuals.

    Those analysts who get bogged down in the past will fail to see the real significance of the erupting historical forces. The next few weeks will see a major shift in Sinhala/Tamil consciousness in understanding what the country needs. And, Sri Lanka’s political scene will begin to change dramatically paving the way for substantial social and economic metamorphosis. I sincerely hope General Fonseka emerges victoriously for very good reasons. Let me explain:

    Sarath Fonseka’s dreadful personal circumstances along with his strong personality are bound to make him the ideal agent of change. Presently he’s facing the full wrath of the state more than anybody else. He’s being cornered and bullied by the establishment. His strong will, his sensitivity to personal honour and his potential to absorb fresh political views are all noteworthy attributes. But remember, how effectively Sri Lanka’s leftist movement can rise to the challenge of influencing him to carry out the democratic transformation remains to be seen.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Off the Cuff,
    Quote: “Please note that UNLIKE in UK, Norway, Vatican etc Sri Lanka’s Head of State can be from ANY Religion. There is no Constitutional bar in place to prevent that.” Unquote
    Are you sure about your above statement?

    Quote: “Leaving the above aside just take a walk on the Main Colombo Katunayake Road on which every visitor to this country travels on their way to Colombo from the Airport. Have you not seen the MULTITUDE of Christian Statues of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, Crosses etc adorning the roadside? Aren’t there any statues of Hindu Gods by the roadside? So why should you find a Buddha Statue objectionable if the overwhelming majority, who are Buddhists, don’t find statues of other religions objectionable?” Unquote

    Let me tell you that, you have got it at the wrong end of the stick! I personally loath any religious prominence exhibited in public places. That said, I am not objectionable to the existence of that statue, but have major reservation for the manner in which it was erected and subsequent constitutional authentication. You mentioned about other religious symbols; I am sure that the people who erected those places would have obtained appropriate permissions prior to those erections. This is what those who erected the Buddha Statue in Trincomalee should have done. The purpose of that erection was to challenge the people of Trincomalee, the local authorities and Judiciary emphasising the power of Sinhala Buddhist Authority in Sri Lanka. You cannot simply explain it away by comparing it with other religious monuments in the country. The fact that it was deemed as constitutional speaks volumes.

    Quote: “Tessa Bartholomeusz is of Dutch Burgher lineage and is a Christian born in Sri Lanka.” Unquote

    This is typical of the Sinhala Buddhist arguments that, anyone who is not a Sinhala Buddhist cannot preach anything about Sri Lanka that is detrimental to the Sinhala Buddhists. You must understand that, Sinhala Buddhist constitutional prominence and building a common Sri Lankan identity is mutually exclusive. In a nutshell, Sinhalese are the majority and they should accommodate the minorities absolutely equally respecting varying cultures and language. This, they are unable to do due to their inherent insecurity; unfortunately, the Sinhala Buddhists have been indoctrinated to believe that, there is a well orchestrated conspiracy to tarnish and destroy the Sinhala Buddhists in Sri Lanka. I can bet on anything that, the MR regime will play this card during the forthcoming Presidential election.

  • SomeOne

    Dear Off the Cuff,

    “while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 4(1)(e).”

    Hence it is not possible to maintain the “foremost place” for Buddhism

    Heaven sake… Articles 10 and 14 (1) (e) stand for basic human right.

    These are redundant articles, to me.

    Replace the word “Buddhism” with any other religion and read again.

    Will you give the same interpretation?

    I don’t think so!!

  • President Bean

    Why should Tamil speaking communities give critical support to Sarath Fonseka?

    BECAUSE A ONE MAN DICTATORSHIP IS… BETTER THAN A FAMILY DICTATORSHIP!

    Long live the “Democrazy Theocrazy Banana Republic of Idiot Island!”

    ps: How about voting for ME? President Percy Bean?
    Nothing ventured, nothing gained…no?
    Like ABBA said…TAKE A CHANCE ON MEEE!

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Burning_Issue,

    Now, since you don’t contest that the SL Constitution guarantees religious freedom and does not demean any religion, I believe you have accepted the fact that it guarantees religious freedom to all.

    This is the UK Law
    The Act of Settlement, enacted by Parliament in England in 1701 and later extended to Scotland, forbids Catholics or those who marry Catholics from wearing the crown. The Monarch in UK has to pledge to maintain and preserve the Anglican Church’s doctrine, worship and discipline.

    This is just to exclude the majority Christian Denomination. You can imagine what it will be if the Crown Prince/Princess takes another faith like Islam / Hinduism / Buddhism etc

    Norway is similar

    The Church of Norway, also known as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway, is the state church of Norway, to which 86% of Norwegians are members. The Church of Norway professes the Lutheran branch of Christianity, and is a member of the Porvoo Communion.

    The King is the supreme governor and protector of the Church of Norway. He formally decides who is to become bishops and oversees that the church conducts its business according to “the norms prescribed” for them. In practice this authority has been delegated to the Ministry of Church Affairs.
    The benediction is a much simpler ceremony, but it still takes place in Nidaros Cathedral and with the Royal Regalia at the high altar.

    I too loath religious symbols exhibited in public places but that won’t meet your argument. The reason I brought up the issue of the many non Buddhist statues, crosses etc erected by the roadside is to show the tolerance exhibited by Buddhists.

    Quote from your post
    “You mentioned about other religious symbols; I am sure that the people who erected those places would have obtained appropriate permissions prior to those erections. This is what those who erected the Buddha Statue in Trincomalee should have done. I believe that most of these could be infringing local government law”
    Unquote

    Agreed, that’s what they should have done, as otherwise they contravene local construction by laws but notice what you state above with reference to Christian/Hindu and other religious edifices “….. I am sure that the people who erected those places would have obtained appropriate permissions prior to those erections….”
    How can you be sure?
    Aren’t you loosing objectivity here?
    You immediately go on the defensive and give excuses that you are not prepared to give, in the case of Buddhist constructions, why?

    It is very improbable that these MULTITUDE of statues etc erected in almost every street corner have a COC or for that matter even have a Plan passed before erection (which is the legal requirement). The local govts allow them to remain because the destruction and removal would cause unimaginable repercussions.

    Constitutionality should have been tested right up to the Supreme court as that court is the authority on such matters. You and I do not know the reasons adduced by the Appeal court but those involved (lawyers) would be in the know. Hence what is telling, is the fact, that these lawyers did not go beyond the Appeal Court as probably they realised that they do not have a winnable case. Your speculative reasons only serve to create tension and are best kept to yourself.

    I very clearly stated why Tessa Bartholomeusz works are tainted. You should have used the full statement rather than the partial statement in order to suit your preconceived notions. Her works are TAINTED because she does not analyse the FULL SPECTRUM of the subject under examination.

    This is the Full Paragraph
    Tessa Bartholomeusz is of Dutch Burgher lineage and is a Christian born in Sri Lanka. Her works on Buddhism are tainted. She attempts to show the SL problems as caused by Sinhala Buddhist (I abhor this type of classification as there is no ethnic ownership of Buddhist Philosophy) and attempts to project a simplistic view of a complex issue. In particular she refuses to examine the influence of the Dutch, Portuguese, British, Tamils, Hindus, Christians, Muslims on Buddhists in Sri Lanka

    I may now add some more, such as LTTE influence, fundamentalist Christian influence, Influence of Conversion Zealots etc amongst many more. Unless a writer examines ALL aspects of a problem in a patently balanced manner it cannot and will not be accepted as fair comment and that is not because of the Religion she professes.

    If you want to maintain that Tessa held the scales of measurement “EVENLY” then you should quote extensively from her work to disprove what I stated.

    This country is over 70% Sinhalese. It is also 2/3 Buddhist. That’s a fact of life and there is nothing that a Sinhalese or a Buddhist can do about it. In the same way that a Tamil cant help being born a Tamil and a Hindu or a Christian. As I stated before, Buddhism has no ethnic owner. Trying to group them as Sinhala Buddhist is a divisive ploy.

    Extremists are present irrespective of either religion or ethnicity. Using extremist’s behaviour to GENERALISE and bash the rest is hardly fair. Did you consider why these extremists target Christian conversion Zealots and not any other?

    You state that “In a nutshell, Sinhalese are the majority and they should accommodate the minorities absolutely equally respecting varying cultures and language. This, they are unable to do due to their inherent insecurity; unfortunately, the Sinhala Buddhists have been indoctrinated to believe that, there is a well orchestrated conspiracy to tarnish and destroy the Sinhala Buddhists in Sri Lanka”
    Unquote

    Just note that though you commence the above paragraph talking about Sinhalese. Later it degenerates into talking about a Subset of the Snhalese, the Sinhala Buddhists. It seems to me that the indoctrination has happened in the opposite direction to what you claim.

    “….respecting varying cultures and language. This, they are unable to do…..’
    What do you mean by that statement? The existence of the Multitude of Churches, Hindu Kovils and the UNHINDERED street parades from every culture and every religion even when these parades block Peak Hour Traffic is not enough proof of such respect?

    The Sinhalese have no problem giving equal rights to the minorities provided what is demanded is equitable. Exclusive Homelands are not equitable. Could you please quantify the areas in which the SL Minorities do not have equal status as the Majority, Constitutionally?

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear SomeOne,

    Religious freedom is a basic Human Right isn’t it? That is why its enshrined in the Constitution.

    If you want to discuss the Constitution take all the relevant parts in an article, excluding anything is not your privilege

    Whether you replace the word Buddhism and interpose either Roman Catholicism or Jehovah’s Witness or Hinduism or Islam the interpretation is the same. That’s why those who write laws try to use unambiguous language

    Do you have any other interpretation? Would be interesting to know

  • parakrama

    Religious freedom in Sri Lanka? I am a non Buddhist and I can confirm the fact that Sri Lanka has NO religoius freedom. I understand that the majority and dominant religin will stand out compared to others. That is fine. The real problem we face is that the constitution givse rights to minority religions but in practise Non Buddhists are looked on as 2nd class citizens. This country lacks honest leadership. Religion is a means by which the truth can be lived out. –

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Parakrama,

    Your statement “The real problem we face is that the constitution givse rights to minority religions but in practise Non Buddhists are looked on as 2nd class citizens.” refers

    On the one hand you say that the Constitution confers the rights to what you call the “Minority Religions” and on the other hand you say that Buddhists look down on you as 2nd class citizens. I really don’t understand what you mean by this as I have not seen such behavior amongst the majority

    From your name I assume that you are not a Tamil so the FACT that the “Vel Cart” (Chariot Procession) where the Hindu Deities are taken in procession through the main Colombo roads may be of no concern to you (there are some videos on U tube).

    Probably you are a mainstream Christian in which case the many processions where the statue of the Virgin Mary is taken in all its grandeur on the streets will not be denied by you.

    That these procession takes place without facing ANY protest from the 2/3 of the SL population which are overwhelmingly Buddhist can also not be denied by you.

    Hence pray, please elucidate how you are being treated like a 2nd class citizen?

    If your statement is not “FRIVOLOUS” and your Fundamental Rights are being trampled upon, the best way to have it corrected is to seek redress from the Supreme Court. In fact you OWE it to Civil Society to do so.

    I sure hope that you have the Courage to do so.

  • niranjan

    Off the Cuff,

    ” treated like a 2nd class citizen?”- It is likely that the above statement is a sense of perception on the part of Mr. Parakrama. This fear may stem from the attempts to bring in anti-conversion legislation. Anti-conversion legislation has driven a wedge between the Christian and Buddhist communities. In addition, nationalist propaganda has heightened the fears of the Christians.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Niranjan,

    There is no “Anti Conversion Bill”.
    That name is a misnomer used by trouble makers.

    What is on the cards is an “Anti FORCIBLE Conversion Bill” and no religion is named in it. It applies equally to conversions from Catholics/Islam/Buddhism /etc to another. Leaving out the word “FORCIBLE” is mischievous.

    It does not apply to conversions per se but to “Forcible” conversions.

    I hope you are aware of some of the methods used by these conversion Zealots. They are definitely inflammatory and has caused violent reactions from villagers.

    I know of many people who have converted to Christianity from Buddhism and a few in the other direction, mostly due to marriage. This type of conversion has been going on for donkeys years. Has it caused any violent reaction? Not to my knowledge it hasn’t.

    This bill even if passed cannot override the Fundamental Rights granted by the Constitution and that Guarantees total freedom of religion.

    You may recall that Greece has protectionist laws to protect the Greek Church from unethical methods being used against its Parish by Fundamentalist Christians. True some convictions were upturned by the EU but the fact is it has been written into the Greek Constitution. There may be other countries that I am not aware of.

    I live in SL and I do not know of any Buddhist looking down on any other religion. Both Buddhists and Hindus visit Kataragama Hindu Kovil, although the objectives are different. The Hindus worship God Kandaswamy while Buddhists offer Merit to him. They mingle shoulder to shoulder in the SAME KOVIL.
    Where is the “DISRESPECT”?
    Where is the 2nd class treatment?

    There are Churches which have been built in close proximity to old existing Buddhist Temples would this have been allowed by the majority community if they look down on Christians?

    People like Parakkrama are rabble rousing. They should have the courage and the strength to stand up for their rights if they are being trampled on (which is not the case by a long shot). They cannot take it to court because it simply is not true.

  • Heshan

    “Religious freedom in Sri Lanka? I am a non Buddhist and I can confirm the fact that Sri Lanka has NO religoius freedom. I understand that the majority and dominant religin will stand out compared to others. That is fine. The real problem we face is that the constitution givse rights to minority religions but in practise Non Buddhists are looked on as 2nd class citizens. This country lacks honest leadership. Religion is a means by which the truth can be lived out. -”

    Well said. I am a non-Buddhist as well. If the Government was not receiving (begging) aid money from the West, it would be tearing down all the Churches, mosques, kovils, etc. This is the funny thing about SL. The nationalists try to call it a “Buddhist” nation, but it is dependent on the “Christian” West to build a road, buy weapons, etc. etc. The only thing that this “Buddhist” nation has ever been self-sufficient in is rice, and that was a few thousand years ago, lol. Now it must import cheap rice from Burma to keep up with demand.

    Actually my favorite joke (real joke by the way): the number of Buddhists who line up for one mile outside the “Christian” embassies Mon-Fri, starting at 4 am. Sinhala-Buddhism is a joke.

  • niranjan

    Off-the-Cuff,

    “Where is the 2nd class treatment?”-

    There are some Sinhalese who I know who would prefer the tamils to go back to India and according to such people Tamils belong there and not here. They may not tell that to the face of the Tamils, but that is what I hear during conversations.
    Now tell me is that not a case of discrimination and second class treatment? I know there are constitutional guarantees but some Sinhalese need to change their attitudes towards Tamils. Changing attitudes has to come through education and parents in the case of children. Children of racist parents tend to pick up racist ideas along the way in some cases. That is very unhealthy for any country.

    I will give you another example. There are Sinhalese parents who do not wish their children to marry Tamil people. Why is that so ? Is it not because they consider Tamils to be different. It is better for a Sinhalese who marries a Tamil to live abroad preferably in the West because they will be accepted in those countries. They will not get that same acceptance here.

    I am a Sinhalese, but I have respect for the minorities.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Niranjan (the Sinhalese),

    My post dated December 8, 2009 @ 4:08 pm was addressed to whom I thought to be Mahesan Niranjan.

    It dealt with the subject of what was erroneously claimed to be the “Anti Conversion Bill”.

    That name is a misnomer used by trouble makers as there is NO anti conversion bill.

    What is on the cards is an “Anti FORCIBLE Conversion Bill” and no religion is named in it.

    It applies equally to FORCIBLE conversions from Catholics/Islam/Buddhism /etc to another. Leaving out the word “FORCIBLE” is mischievous. It does not apply to conversions per se but ONLY to “Forcible” conversions.

    It is not Honest to extract a phrase used in the above discussion and use it out of context in the fashion that you have done.

    You say that you are a Sinhalese and I believe that you are a different Niranjan as the person to whom I addressed my post was a Tamil, some of whose posts I have admired and commended on this site.

    It also means that you have no answer to the arguments made about the “Anti FORCIBLE conversion bill”

    However let me answer your query

    I too am a Sinhalese and studied with Tamils and other minorities in the same class in the Science stream. The Sinhalese formed the majority naturally.

    When we were class mates (and even now) ETHNICITY never crossed my mind and I believe my Tamil friends reciprocated that feeling. We shared our lunch with each other, went to see films together and generaly hung out together. Many are professionals in our respective fields.

    You state
    There are some Sinhalese who I know who would prefer the tamils to go back to India and according to such people Tamils belong there and not here. They may not tell that to the face of the Tamils, but that is what I hear during conversations. Now tell me is that not a case of discrimination and second class treatment?
    Unquote

    Are you trying to tell the GV readership that Tamils with similar views are EXTINCT?

    You further state
    I will give you another example. There are Sinhalese parents who do not wish their children to marry Tamil people. Why is that so ? Is it not because they consider Tamils to be different.
    Unquote

    Do you mean that ALL Tamil parents do not object to Tamils marrying Sinhalese and only Sinhalese parents object? Are you not being very naive to make this type of statement?

    I do not know where you live but Brahmin Tamils did not even offer drinking water to lower cast Tamils in their house. They did not even want them crossing their boundary fence. Have you not heard of the UNTOUCHABLES? Would a Brahmin Tamil allow their child to marry another TAMIL from a untouchable cast let alone a Sinhalese?

    Remember the infamous Suntheralingam who prevented the Lower Cast Tamils from entering a Hindu Kovil to worship? He was prosecuted and fined by the Supreme court in order to provide religious freedom to the low cast Tamils.

    EVERY Country has their share of extremists. Name one that does not have any.

    Making sweeping GENERALIZATIONS taking a few cases to demonize a population of over 15 million is hardly fair comment

    Please keep your DIVISIVE openions to yourself without inflaming Ethnic feelings.

    The SL CONSTITUTION is the SUPREME LAW of Sri Lanka.
    Prove that it treats ANY MINORITY as SECOND CLASS Citizens.

    Get the aggrieved parties to File Fundamental Rights cases in the Supreme Court. Eminent Tamil Lawyers can appear free and show the UNHRC that Sri Lanka indeed treats her Minorities as second class.

    Why is this avenue not exploited?
    Is there a dearth of brilient Tamil Lawyers that can fight a Fundamental Rights Case in the Supreme Court?

    Take the Fight to the Supreme Court and prove to the WORLD that Sri Lanka is indeed Racist?

    Are there no takers of that challenge?

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Niranjan (the Sinhalese),

    Waiting for a response from you to my post of December 18, 2009 @ 11:59 pm

  • Rod Raja

    I am a Jaffna Tamil, as we are known to the rest of the country. Dr. Wikaramabahu Karunaratne has always maintained his kindness towards the Tamils. Tamils should stop playing games and give the votes to Dr. Karunaratne even if he loses. At least in our conscience we would have done the right thing. SF and MR are crooks and the LTTE is gone. It is time for a change. Dr. Karunaratne will bring kindness and tolerance to the nation. MR and SF have made too much money out of this war and MR alone on Tsunami. Do you want to hand over another 4 years to these people? Prabaharan prevented the Tamils from voting is because Basil Rajapakse gave millions of dollars to the LTTE to prevent the Tamils from voting for the UNP. This is not a made up story but the truth. The money was handed over to Thamilchelvan in the Vanni jungles. Thank God, the LTTE is gone and the people of SL have an opportunity to throw these guys out of power.