by Nadarajah Kuruparan
A rally was conducted in Colombo yesterday (27.07.12) condemning the stymie in the resettlement of Muslims in the North, particularly in Mannar. Organized by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, the procession started at Vegantha Mosque and went through Kombani Road and Lake House Circle to reach the Office of the President, where the police prevented the protesters from entry using iron barricades. The banners held by the protesters had the following rallying cries:
Stop rebirth of LTTE in Mannar!
Don’t let terrorism resurface in the North! Let Muslims live!
Restitute our ancestral lands!
The Tiger alliance has raised its hands to expel the Mannar Muslims.
Unite to protect our Muslim leaders!
Mr. President, ensure our right to life in the North!
When rights are denied, nonviolent protests become necessary. It is wrong to isolate such protests on the basis of ethnicity.
However, it is also important to have a deep analysis of the politics operating behind this protest held in Colombo, Jaffna and Kathankudi. It appears to me as a journalist that politicians manipulate the problems faced by the Muslims in the North and the East for their own personal gains. If there was genuine desire to solve the problems of the Muslims, these struggles would have been taken up on a different platform.
Minister Rishad Bathiyutheen and other such Muslim politicians, who are enjoying the luxuries of being part of the reactionary Sinhala majoritarian governments that have been pouring oil into the burning embers of enmity between minority groups for their own majoritarian and selfish political causes, are not concerned about the real problems of the Muslims.
It is unclear as to what is actually happening in Mannar. Those who look objectively at this problem have the following questions:
Who are obstructing the resettlement of Mannar Muslims in their native lands?
In what ways are they obstructing?
Where does the minister want them to be settled? Is it in their own lands as they did before expulsion or in government lands or in the lands of Tamil people?
Are all the resources and livelihood opportunities including fishing equitably distributed among the Tamil Muslims?
That the Muslims have their right to livelihood and their ancestral lands should not be arrogated by others cannot be contended.
But what causes our concern here is the way the Muslim politicians put up the problems. They are resorting to the same political marketing as the majoritarians are doing: if anybody sneezes in Sri Lanka, it is because of the Tigers! And this is said after three years since the Tigers have been eliminated.
What is the objective of invoking the ghosts of the Tigers and threatening the people when there is a great need for the unity of the Muslims and the Tamil people?
When his personal political survival has become questionable because of the embroilment he created by contacting a judge by phone and insisted on revoking his ruling, Minister Rishad Bathiyutheen is now linking his personal problem with those of the Muslims in general. He doesn’t even spare the ghosts of the Tigers in his scummy politics.
He should first of all spell out as to who are the rebirths of the Tigers.
The action taken against Rishad Bathiyutheen is entirely an issue of law and justice. A contempt of court case has been filed in the Appeal Court for intimidating the judge. Instead of facing the case legally, he is resorting to the cheap politics of invoking the ghosts of the Tigers. If those condemning the Minister’s action as wrong are Tigers, then let me furnish a list of the ‘Tigers’.
Here are the Tigers
Condemning the Minister’s threat to the judge, a protest was conducted jointly under the leadership of Vijayadasa Rajapaksa by the Bar Association, the association of judges and those related to the law and justice departments. So they are Tigers!
Those who have filed the complaint against the Minister in the Appeal Court include some lawyers in Galle, some others in Colombo and the Bar Association in Mannar. So they are Tigers!
Minister Rawoot Hakkim has stated that as Minister of Justice he is perturbed about the intimidation of the judge and the Department of Justice. Might it be that the Tigers would have given him some late-acting becharming potion to Hakkim during ceasefire?
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has expressed his concern about the allegation of contempt of court on a minister. Might it be that the ghosts of those Tigers cruelly killed in Mullivaikal would have turned him mad?
If the Mannar judge has taken rebirth and lies, what about the Muslim journalists who recorded the attack on the Mannar courthouse and published it? Could they have been former lieutenants of the Tigers?
Please petition to the Appeal Court with all the evidences you have and prove that the allegations made by the Mannar judge and others are false and prove that they are but Tigers. The next moment the judge will be sent to Boosa and when the right time comes he will also be sent to Nimalaroopan.
When the progressive forces from all sides have started reviewing the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim ethnicism and the reactionary narrow nationalism that have been burning for more than fifty years, when all have started thinking constructively about the criticisms leveled against them and are engaged in self-criticism, don’t resort to the third rate politics of deflecting by summoning the ghosts of Tigers! Don’t engage in the destructive politics of creating conflicts between ethnic groups whenever your political survival is threatened or your luxuries are affected or for electoral success!
If you are genuinely concerned about the interests of the Muslims, please take constructive steps to constitute an autonomous commission of inquiry consisting of government and non-political representatives for investigating the fundamental problems of the Muslims in the North and the East and making recommendations and to ensure that such a commission has the freedom to investigate and know things. Let them identify the ghosts that are afflicting the North and the East and make them known to the public. As a journalist, as having taken many interviews from you for Vizhuthukal program and as a person having personally discussed with you, I place this challenge before you.
Sinhala majoritarians and Rishard
When the Sinhala majoritarians challenge the existence and rights of the Muslims, you just lie dormant as a charmed snake. You submit yourself for fear of losing your privileges. Please provide explanation otherwise for this inactivity to my brotherly Muslim community that is supporting you not knowing your real face. If you do, I will salute you.
When politicians and monks supporting the rulers attempted to demolish the Dambulla Mosque where the Muslims have been observing prayers for more than fifty years, did you organize any rally? (I am posing this question to the Muslim politicians who are with the rulers.) Neither the Muslim ministers nor the representatives of the local bodies have taken up any continuous struggle insisting on solutions for reopening that mosque.
You stand nerveless to condemn the open statements and activities against the Muslims by the ruling partners such as Hela Urumaya and the hard line Buddhist majoritarian parties.
When the former Minister of Environment Campikka Ranavaka openly attempted to grab the settlement areas and the farmlands of the Muslims of Digawabi region and Amparai district, you did not organize any rally.
How nice to see you as a figurine in the ministerial array along with the members of Hela Urumaya who called you as the immigrants from Arab countries!
If you are genuinely fighting for the interests of the Muslims, it is from here that you should start your struggle.
The General Secretary of Muslim Left Front S.R.M. Faizal has recently released a statement, the essence of which is as follows:
It is a betrayal to the Muslim community by the Muslim leaders to continue to be part of the government. What happened in Dambulla has now happened in Thambakama. The police who have to provide security failed in their duty and on the other hand helped the majoritarians and fulfilled their desires. It now appears to be an important issue in the agenda of the majoritarians to attack the Muslims and the Tamils and deny their religious rights. Those who respect democratic and religious rights in this country should come together to fight against the majoritarian forces. If we stand divided, only the majoritarians will gain strength.
It is an unforgivable crime to have invaded a mosque during the Ramadan and conducted rituals pertaining to another religion. Those who have done this evil deed should be put before the court and punished.
We have never heard of any such blasphemous act in any part of the world. Hence we call all to organize on a common platform against this evil deed.
If you are not willing to heed to my request, at least heed to Mr. Faizal’s call!
When you conduct your struggle for the genuine problems of the Muslim people, if any of the Tamil people or their representatives denies the ancestral lands of the Muslims in the North and the East, I am prepared to bare that person as a journalist.
Otherwise let the ghosts of the Tigers repose in peace!