Sunday, 31 March 2013

Fashion Bug Attack, Gota, BBS And The Anti-Muslim Hatred

By Kshama Ranawana -
Kshama Ranawana
Facebook is full of posts from Sri Lankans thanking the eight countries that voted against the United States sponsored UNHRC resolution that censured Sri Lanka on Human Rights violations. Considering the wave of anti-Muslim hatred being unleashed by the so-called patriotic forces in Sri Lanka, it’s ironic that several of those that supported the country in the final vote are Muslim countries.
Those who believe that Sri Lanka has been wronged need to look beyond the Sri Lanka can do no wrong ideology. The UNHRC resolution is pretty lenient, asking only for a “credible form of domestic accountability.” Sri Lankans should be grateful for this watered down resolution- which indicates that the so-called “foreign interventionists” are even now willing to give the country more chances. However, if the current trend to openly suppress religious minorities continues, Sri Lanka will certainly be facing stricter censure.
Instead of posting “thank you’s” on Facebook, those who are pained by the UNHRC resolution should be banding together to stem the vile behavior of the Bodu Bala Sena and their supporters. That would definitely save Sri Lanka from digging itself into a deeper pit than it is in already.
The Sinhala community has valid concerns. They fear the spread of Muslim exclusive schools and the introduction of Sharia Courts in Sri Lanka. They also worry about Buddhists converting to Christianity. However, whipping up the public into a frenzy and taking the law into their hands will not resolve the issue.
It has taken the attack on the “ Fashion Bug” group of companies for the Rajapaksa regime to wake up from its slumber and condemn those who fan communal and religious hatred. Secretary to the Ministry of Defense  Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and the government information department have issued statements warning of legal action against those who carry out such attacks or spread anti-religious or communal sentiments. What prevented the government from arresting those who have been spreading such venom these past months?
Those leading the attacks on religious minorities are a fringe group; one that appears to have Ministry of Defense Rajapaksa’s blessings. After all, he attended the opening of the groups’ training centre. Despite the controversial nature of the BBS, the fact that the powerful Rajapaksa, who has the huge security forces apparatus at his disposal, officiated at a key ceremony gave the impression that with a nod and a wink, he approves of their extremist philosophy.
And who is to blame for the trouble? The Rajapaksa’s once again flog a dead horse, the one that has been used ad nauseam since this regime took power; “local and foreign elements against the country are attempting to destabilize the peace and reconciliation……” Why not arrest the leaders of those groups who have been regularly spewing hatred on stage and on the airwaves? Are they not disturbing the peace of the country with all the speeches they have been making against Muslims and Christians? By the Defense Secretary’s own admission, it is these very same people who are working against the country! How ludicrous then to ask that people report to him personally about those who are fanning anti-communal and religious ideology? If one were to accept the argument of the State, then it is these extremists who must be hand in glove with the “foreign” hand. Where is the “unpatriotic” label that the government and its supporters use to tarnish anyone they perceive as not abiding by their version of politics?
Four individuals, the alleged culprits who vandalized “Fashion Bug” are reported to have been arrested, even as I write. Are they the real culprits or are they scapegoats? Will we see the appointment of yet another Presidential commission, the report of which, like so many others before, may never see the light of day?
It is reported that the attack on “Fashion Bug” took place following a meeting at a nearby temple. During this meeting, allegations were made that a Muslim employee of that establishment had raped a Sinhala Buddhist girl. Should we be adopting mob mentality in resolving the issue? Stoning and attacking the employees of Fashion Bug is similar to the behavior of those in some Muslim majority countries where the slightest provocation would result in the physical and psychological abuse of those who are not of the Islamic faith, behavior that has, in some cases, resulted in death.
Reading the speeches and articles of those defending the rights of Buddhists, it is clear that they want a mirror image of Muslim majority countries in Sri Lanka, where those of other faiths, are declared infidels and have little or no rights.
During the four years my family and I spent in Pakistan, I was often accosted in public and admonished for not covering my head. We dared not eat anything in public during the month of Ramazaan for fear of censure.
Attempts to build an Anglican church and Buddhist temple were thwarted many times, by religious political parties similar to the Bodu Bala Sena, until the enlightened government of the day intervened and granted land within the diplomatic enclave to build the temple.
Is that what we want for Sri Lanka; a country where minorities must live in fear?
Buddhists are now discouraged from working for Muslim owned businesses; in doing so, Buddhists are paving the way for Muslims to hire only Muslims.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs recently stated that legislation would soon be introduced to ensure that only original teachings of the four main religions- Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity would be practiced in Sri Lanka. Now, that would be an interesting exercise. How or where do we start? Buddhist ritual, as practiced in Sri Lanka is so deeply entrenched in Hinduism. On Buddhist holidays, greeting cards are sent out to friends and relatives in a manner copied from the Christian custom. Similarly, other religions in Sri Lanka have co-opted customs from each other and from Buddhism as part of the healthy contamination that occurs when different cultures live together. Adam’s Peak/Samanalakanda, for instance, is a perfect example; it is a shared symbol of faith and pilgrimage between different religious origin stories. What will we declare as authentically ‘Buddhist’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Hindu’, or ‘Christian’? More importantly, who will decide authenticity? Religion has been heavily influenced by cultural practices, and to declare one branch of it pure would be to deny the right of another.
In Pakistan, the Ahamadiya’s have been declared non-Muslim; the Sunni’s and the Shia’s are at eternal loggerheads. When the Shia’s observe Muharram the government deploys the police to protect them from the Sunni’s. We witnessed many processions of the Sunni’s chanting “Kafir, kafir, Shia Kafir” (Shia are infidel). The world witnessed not so long ago the carnage that resulted from the Hutu-Tutsi conflict in Africa.
A Sinhala only Act drove away a large part of the Burgher community and was one of the main issues that caused tension amongst the Tamils. Leaders of the Sinhala and Tamil communities acted selfishly, playing to their constituencies instead of forging a united country. The result was a conflict that has left wounds and pain that will last for many years to come. The current situation should also serve as an eye-opener to Sinhala Christians who opted to hide behind their Sinhala identity in the Sinhala –Tamil ethnic conflict. Sri Lanka’s Muslim’s too used that conflict to their gain never realizing that they would be the next target. None of the communities in Sri Lanka have attempted to genuinely forge a Sri Lankan identity; we grew up with and still hear the “anti” rhetoric, whether it be Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim or Burgher.
It is crucial that Sri Lankans understand that the country is a in a post-war situation and that the root causes for the ethnic conflict remain unresolved. The triumphalism of the government has helped to bring to the surface the majoritarian ideology that has been simmering amongst the professional and educated class for many years.
On a holiday to Sri Lanka in 1996, we were dismayed by a dinner table conversation that took place at a friend’s home, where guests were unanimous that Muslims should not be allowed to further expand their businesses in the country.
Radical speeches of those such as the Bodu Bala Sena have resulted in many Christians and Muslims being harassed, their places of worship attacked and now Muslim business establishments too are not spared.
The monks leading the charge in Sri Lanka are the same purveyors of outrage that you will see in the shrill sloganeering of Muslim extremists in Pakistan, the Shiv Sena in India and the Koran-burning Christians in the United States. While such ideologists will always be around, it is the responsibility of governments and the saner elements of society to hold them in check.
If not, then this is the beginning of a slippery slope once more. In Pakistan there are no more Hindus and Sikhs in significant numbers for the extremists to slaughter. So the majority Sunnis go after the minority Muslim Sects and the poor Christians.
So in the BBS driven Sri Lanka where will society head? Once the Muslims are cowed – as the Tamils are now, the few anti-Christian skirmishes may well blow into major incidents –Then after that, what? The Sinhalese who believe that Sri Lanka belongs only to them can start annihilating each other; they can begin with the Kandyan versus the other Sinhalese and, when that is done, kill each other over the supremacy of their castes.
When the Ministry of Religious Affairs has figured out which form of Buddhism is the “perfect” form, they can begin slaughtering everybody who does not adhere to that prescribed format.
What a future we prepare for ourselves when we refuse to learn from history.

Elpitiya ‘Liberated’ By BBS: No More Muslim Shops!

Shops operated by Muslims in Elpitiya to vacate the premises soon, the Colombo Telegraph learns.
All 13 shops of the Muslims in Elpitiya are legally owned by Sinhalese but have been given on annual rent. The legal agreements are renewed every year. According to the Colombo Telegraph sources the Bodu Bala Sena has approached the legal owners of the Muslim establishments in Elpitiya and directed them not to extend their leases. All Sinhala owners of the shops have informed the Muslim businessmen to return the vacant shops, after the conclusion of the annual rent. Elpitiya will then be “liberated” according to Bodu Bala Sena.
Bodu Bala Sena conducted a meeting on 29th March in Elpitiya. BBS ordered all Shops and Restaurants to close from 11.00 a.m. and shop owners were asked to attend their procession white cloth and join their public meeting in the town. There are 13 shops operated by Muslims and they remained closed throughout the day, in expectation of violence.

Disturbing Images: Rotten Egg Assaults On Persons Buying From Muslim Owned Shops

By Colombo Telegraph -
Disturbing images have surfaced on an anti-Muslim Facebook page, that show rotten egg assaults on persons carrying shopping bags from a clothing chain vilified by hardline Sinhala groups carrying out a sustained campaign against Muslim enterprises.
The Facebook page, called Athugal Pura Sinha Pataw highlights the images of a man and a woman following an assault with eggs holding No Limit bags.  The group’s motto is “Konda pana athi niyama sinhalayanta pamanai” (Exclusively for Sinhalese with a backbone)
Posted under the title Kurunegala Pursuit and Attack with Rotten Eggs and says “If you go to No Limit or Fashion Bug we will attack. If you have their bags in your hand we will attack. And that is not all. Those who betray the race, even if they have police protection will be attacked with rotten eggs today, feces tomorrow.”

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Sri Lanka violence prompts security measures


Sri Lanka violence prompts security measures 
Police commandos patrol suburb of Colombo after attacks on minority Muslim businesses by Sinhala Buddhist hardliners. Elite police commandos are patrolling a suburb of the Sri Lankan capital after hundreds of Buddhist hardliners torched a Muslim-owned business in the latest in a series of mob attacks. At least three people were wounded when mobs from the ethnic Sinhalese majority stoned and later set fire to a clothing store in Pepiliyana in Colombo on Thursday night, Buddhika Siriwardena, police spokesman, said on Friday.
"We have deployed extra units of STF (Special Task Force commandos) and police to guard the area," Siriwardena told the AFP news agency."The situation was brought under control within a few hours." No arrests had been made, Siriwardena said. The authorities have not declared a motive for the attack, but official sources said it appeared to be part of the ongoing targeting of minority Muslim businesses by a group of Sinhala-Buddhist hardliners. The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, an umbrella organisation of Muslim groups, said tensions had been heightened by Thursday's attack.
"It has created a fear psychosis among the Muslims," N Ameen, the council president, told AFP. "We know a majority of the [Buddhist] people do not support this type of activity." 'Inciting violence' Hundreds of men vandalised parked vehicles, stormed the Fashion Bug store and set fire to merchandise before escaping during Thursday's violence, witnesses told AFP.
Army units were called in to disperse the mob as tension gripped the area. The attack came a day after Sri Lankan police set up a hotline to tackle complaints about anyone suspected of "inciting religious or racial hatred". Mobs hurled stones at another Muslim-owned clothing chain near Colombo in January while Muslim businessmen have also complained of random stone-throwing, intimidation and calls for the boycott of their shops.
Buddhist hardliners last month forced Muslim imams to withdraw "halal" certification from food sold in the local market, saying it was offensive to the majority non-Muslim population. President Mahinda Rajapakse, a Buddhist, urged monks earlier this year not to incite religious hatred and violence. The UN estimates that Sri Lanka's ethnic civil war claimed at least 100,000 lives between 1972 and 2009, when Tamil rebels were crushed in a major military offensive. Less than 10 percent of Sri Lanka's population of 20 million are Muslim. The majority are Sinhalese Buddhist, while most Tamils are Hindu.


السلطات السريلانكية عززت الانتشار الأمني في كولومبو (الأوروبية-أرشيف)
عززت سلطات سريلانكا إجراءات الأمن في أنحاء العاصمة كولومبو وما حولها اليوم الجمعة بعدما قام مئات من البوذيين المتطرفين بتخريب وإحراق محل تجاري يملكه مسلم، وذلك في أحدث هجوم من سلسلة هجمات مماثلة في البلاد.
وتقوم وحدات من القوات الخاصة السريلانكية بدوريات في إحدى ضواحي كولومبو، حيث قالت الشرطة إن ثلاثة أشخاص على الأقل جرحوا عندما هاجمت مجموعة من السنهاليين -الذين يشكلون الأغلبية في الجزيرة الواقعة في المحيط الهندي- بالحجارة محلا لبيع الملابس قبل إحراقه الليلة الماضية.
وقال شهود عيان إن مئات البوذيين رشقوا متجر الملابس بالحجارة في منطقة بيبيليانا على بعد 12 كلم جنوب العاصمة، في حين ألقى آخرون بضائع المتجر في الشارع، في هجوم خلال الليل استمر نصف ساعة.
وقال متحدث باسم الشرطة إنه جرى نشر وحدات إضافية من القوات الخاصة والشرطة لحراسة المنطقة، وكثفت دورياتها. وأشار إلى أنه تم تحديد هوية بعض المشتبه في ضلوعهم في الهجوم على المتجر وسيتم القبض عليهم.
ووقع الحادث مساء الخميس بعد إعلان الشرطة عن رقم هاتفي للمساعدة من أجل تلقي اتصالات من ضحايا أشخاص يشتبه في أنهم يقومون "بالتحريض على الكراهية الدينية أو العرقية".
ولم تذكر السلطات دوافع الهجوم. لكن مصادر رسمية رأت أنه يندرج في إطار تحرك أطلقه بوذيون متطرفون من الأغلبية السنهالية ضد الأقلية المسلمة في سريلانكا.
وكانت جماعة تطلق على نفسها اسم "يودا بالا سينا" أو "قوة بوذا" قد أغارت على محال تبيع ملابس تحمل شعار بوذا. وانتقدت المجموعة الاستخدام العارض للرموز البوذية. كما هاجمت المجموعة الأسبوع الماضي فندقا يعرض تماثيل لبوذا لتزيين مدخله.
وكان حشد كبير رشق بالحجارة في يناير/كانون الثاني متجرا كبيرا لبيع الألبسة يملكه مسلمون. وخلال الشهر الجاري، أعلن مشايخ الدين المسلمون عن شطب عبارة "حلال" من المواد الغذائية وتعويضها باسم "السلام"، بعد حملة مقاطعة أطلقها متشددون بوذيون.
ويشكل البوذيون 70% من سكان سريلانكا، والمسلمون أقل من 10% من أصل 20 مليون نسمة.
وشهدت سريلانكا نزاعا دمويا بين 1972 و2009 بين السكان التاميل ومعظمهم من الهندوس وبين الأغلبية السنهالية البوذية. وأسفر هذا النزاع عن سقوط مائة ألف قتيل على الأقل.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Bisrul Haffi Bisrul Haffi posted
Bless us ya Rabb with Righteous spouses ♥
It is not a lack of love, but a lack of remembrance of Allah that makes unhappy marriages.

♥ “Allaah has already written the names of your spouses for you. What you need to work on is your relationship with Allaah. He will send her/him to you when you’re ready. It is only a matter of time.” ♥

Bisrul Haffi Bisrul Haffi posted

Where are we heading to?
"We live in a world where some women are being paid to be naked whilst others are being fined to be covered."
INVITATION TO THE TRUTH "Invite (mankind, O Muhammad SAW) to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islâm) with wisdom (i.e. with the Divine Revelation and the Qur'ân) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided. " [Quran 16:125]

Who is responsible for the attack on fashion bug warehouse..? BBS

(BY  A patriotic Lankan)
       It has been reported that some Buddhist monks with some mobs attacked fashion bug warehouse owned by Muslim family. The motive behind this attack is nothing but racing attack. Some of these Singhalese monks and mobs are very much jealous of Muslim people talent and skills in the business enterprises. Recently they have been targeting Muslim business places and shops. It is not a secret that BBS in its meeting openly called Singhalese people to boycott Muslim business and even they dared to destroy Muslim businesses. 
              This is nothing but staring point of their campaign. Muslim intellectuals and religious leaders have been calling all these stupid Muslim politicians either to resign or cross over to the opposition party and they could have done this with support of even Tamil Parties but they have waited and waited until BBS and its cohorts have done all damages to defame Muslim community. These shameless Muslim politicians still stay with this government that does not care what happens to Muslim community. I think that we should point our finger at our Muslim MPs before we accuse others. Of course, BBS is a racist group and yet, this government should have taken actions against it within the rule of laws and this government has got double standard in application of law otherwise, why it has not been taking any action so far. What is its motive behind its silence? 
 Spreading hared is a crime. It is clearly noted in LLRC report as well. Yet, Government is claiming that it has been implementing LLRC report. Where is LLRC report when it comes to BBS and its hate campaign? Is it above law and why is this discrimination? Where is police force when this fashion bug warehouse was attacked? Who work in these warehouses? Most of workers are Singhalese. If these warehouse are destroyed who give works to these people?  Can BBS feed these families and can they provide jobs to these people? 
BBS and its agents have planted the seeds of hared in the hearts of mobs and now you see the consequence of this hate campaign. Now BBS will come out to say it is not us but it is only mobs. The irony is that Police, Security force and politicians were watching at all what has been happening around the country for the last two years this has been happening. Yet, no one has taken any action. Because of their complacency of politicians we all see these. This will bring nothing but disaster to nation and consequently all country will suffer. I think that this is started because of lack of interest by politicians to apply the laws equally. If any one got real Srilankan patriotism he would not burn his own country. He would not destroy the natural resources of his own country. If thee continues Srilankan will loose its reputation and tourism industries will go down dramatically and people will suffer soon.    
Tamil Nadu is boiling out to come to revenge for war crimes and these stupid people want to justify that Singhalese are against minorities: you want to tell to the world and Tamil Nadu that we do whatever we want and we know how to get away with it?  This is mentality of BBS. They live within walls of their own Well and they are going to bring destruction to Sri-lanka  After defeating LTTE Tamil Nadu did not force centre to take any immediate actions against Srilanka and yet, with emergence of BBS and its demonstrations students in Tamil Nadu copied same tactics to demonstrate against Srilanka in recent time. 
      In Tamil Nadu LTTE have already started their struggle once against. When they emerge this time it would not be 30 years of war but they will finish all these racists monks and mobs within few months. 74 million Tamils in Tamil Nadu waiting for a time to come and crush these mobs: Today at this time Srilanka needs more peace and more friends than enemies but yet, these racist monks do not realise this.  This all started with BBS racing talks, these monks should be taken to courts and punished.  We have hundred of evidence to prove that these anti-Muslim activities.
  We should think beyond communal limitation and we should put national interest above all pity communal and racial boundaries and unfortunately BBS does not have such broader thinking; They openly claim that this country is only Singhalese and thus, they are calling for another war with Tamils. The entire world knows who make trouble right now in Srilanka. 

Video Evidence BBS Encourages Violence Against Muslim Owned Fashion Bug

By Colombo Telegraph -
Two weeks before large angry mobs attacked the warehouse of the Fashion Bug clothing store in Pepiliyana on Thursday (28) night, the Bodu Bala Sena group launched a tirade of verbal abuse against the Muslim owned textile chain at a massive rally in Kandy.
 Galabodaaththe Gnanasara
Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary and vociferous hardline monk, Galabodaaththe Gnanasara accused the clothing chains Fashion Bug and No Limit of forcibly converting Sinhalese women working at their stories into Islam.
“We have all the proof and information about the Fashion Bug and No Limit outlets and what they are doing to your girl children! What harm have we done to the Muslims?” Gnanasara Thero said.
Reading from a list of names the BBS General Secretary said they were Sinhalese men and women who had gone to work at Fashion Bug and No Limit in Kandy and been converted to Islam.
“We ask the big bosses at Fashion Bug and No Limit, is this true or not? They claim it’s not true. Oh the poor little pussycats. We are not asking anyone to go and stone these places and attack them. Come and have discussions with us – let’s solve this through discussion,” the monk said angrily.
He charged that nine Sinhalese girls were recently sacked from the Fashion Bug outlet in Kandy because a Manager at the store had begun having a relationship one of them.
“Harems are being created. Are we to sit back and allow this to happen? This is not extremism. We have to discuss these issues,” he charged.
The monk urged the crowd to refrain from permitting their daughters from going to work at these shops.
“Hereafter we will only send our boys to work in these shops. They will no longer get our women!” the monk raged.
Gnanasara Thero accused the store owners of mistreatment of the Sinhalese men and women who are employed there.
“On Fridays to go to the mosque, they close their shops for two hours. They switch off the lights and the air conditioning. Like broiler chickens in a coop, our boys and girls are left inside while they go to pray – they will go for hell for this,” he said.
The monk called for these stores to be shut down on Poya Days to allow Buddhists working there to go to the temple too.
“This is not racism,” he said.
A mob numbering in the hundreds attacked the Fashion Bug warehouse on Thursday, causing extensive damage to property and personnel. The manager of the warehouse was hospitalized and journalists were attacked by the mob for filming the attack. Several monks were among the mob.

"Fashion bug attack look like 1915 So BBS Pulling Muslims......" Read more

Sinhalese-Muslim Riots of 1915; A Synopsi

by Sachi Sri Kantha
Front Note
The ‘practically unsinkable’ ocean liner, RMS Titanic sank on April 15th 1912, with the loss of 1,503 high-society passengers and predominantly British crew.  That was a low-note on the then British empire’s prestige.  But the Titanic moment for the British empire in the Indian subcontinent began three years and 42 days later, on May 28, 1915, in Kandy, with the eruption of the Sinhalese-Muslim Riots.  Its tremors and repercussions on triangular [Sinhalese-Tamil-Muslim] ethnic animosity are still being felt in the island, though 90 years have passed since the riots and 57 years since the curtain fell on the island’s muddled British legacy.
If there are any eye witnesses to the tragic events which happened between May 28th and June 5th of 1915 in Ceylon and can recollect their memories, they should be over 93 years old and still kicking alive!  In early 1970s, when I was visiting a kin of mine in Matale, I had occasion to listen to a casual chit-chat in Tamil of an elderly Muslim – then probably in his 60s -, who mentioned that as a young boy he had seen the riots of 1915.  But I could not check on the veracity of his claim.
In a nut-shell, the 1915 conflagration was between the Sinhalese Buddhists and the Muslims.  Indigenous Tamils got sucked into the conflagration because the then-leading Tamil statesman, Sir Pon Ramanathan (1851-1930), held the ‘Educated Ceylonese’ member seat in the island’s legislature.  The then-colonial representatives of the British government panicked and imposed Martial Law and arrested and held in detention quite a number of Sinhalese leaders.  The small and influential English-speaking Anglo community [who made up the law enforcement personnel, plantation owners and even a segment of the Christian missionaries] in the island sided with the then-ruling government.
Ramanathan overtly sided with the Sinhalese, which in turn infuriated the local Tamil-speaking Muslims.  Since then, the distrust between the indigenous Tamils and Muslims in the island has festered, despite damage-control exercises valiantly attempted by succeeding Tamil legislators like S.J.V. Chelvanayakam and A. Amirthalingam.  Though in the 1980s and 1990s, it became fashionable in the half-baked analyses of journalist hacks from Colombo and Chennai to put the blame for the current Tamil-Muslim rift on the LTTE and Pirabhakaran, although this rift has its origin in the 1915 riots and the role played by Sir Pon Ramanathan.
To add insult to the indigenous Tamils, the Sinhalese leaders, who were incarcerated by the colonial British government in 1915 [and on whose behalf Ramanathan pleaded with the colonial government], such as Don Stephen Senanayake (1884-1952; who later became the first prime minister of independent Ceylon) and Alexander Ekanayake Goonesinghe (1892-1967; who later became the first political mentor of President Premadasa), later made political hay on the back of Tamils, with their anti-Indian rhetoric and deeds.  To further confound the irony, since the 1940s, Muslims have sided with the Sinhalese against the indigenous Tamils to protect their political turf and business interests.  What should not be forgotten is that the Sinhalese-Muslim animosity in the island has a deep history, though for political expediency and to spite the indigenous Tamils, both Sinhalese and Muslims pretend that everything is hunky-dory with their relationship and only the LTTE are the troublemakers.
I provide below a synopsis, culled from the extant research literature, on the 1915 Sinhalese-Muslim riots, to mark the 90th anniversary of its occurrence.  For want of time in transcribing the lengthy research papers and book chapters, I provide only excerpts from the studies of Robert Kearney, Kumari Jayewardena, Charles Blackton, P.T.M.Fernando, James Rutnam and M.Vytilingam and cite the sources at the end.
(1) from Robert Kearney (1970)
"It is doubtful that any single event has had a more profound and far-reaching impact on the political history of modern Ceylon than an outbreak of communal disturbances in 1915 and the measures taken by the British colonial government in response to the disorders. The riots of 1915 erupted between Sinhalese Buddhists and a Muslim community, called Coast Moors, recently arrived in Ceylon from India and primarily engaged in trade and moneylending. The riots themselves were hardly of cataclysmic dimensions, and their significance for Ceylonese political development and place in the modern history of Ceylon would surely have been small but for the reaction of the colonial government. The almost universal Ceylonese judgment was that the government responded with totally inappropriate and unnecessarily harsh repression, directed largely against persons who were not responsible for the outbreaks of lawlessness and violence. The interpretation of the riots as contained in a joint statement by two Ceylonese nationalist organizations to the secretary of state for the colonies in 1919 has been accepted and echoed to the present. The statement charged: ‘In 1915 the bureaucracy thoroughly misunderstood some local disturbances such as occur in every part of the British Empire, saw in them a deep conspiracy against British rule, and resorted to violent measures under Martial Law, resulting in the summary execution of scores of innocent persons and the punishment by Courts Martial of hundreds of others."
The events of 1915 became a landmark in Ceylonese history because they served as a catalyst for the growth of demands for Ceylonese self-government. The suppresssion of the riots assumed a role in Ceylon similar to that of the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre for the Indian nationalist movement….The original clashes between Buddhists and Muslims were largely forgotten in the wake of the government’s actions. A.E.Goonesinha, one of the nationalists arrested following the riots, proposed a day of mourning for the dead, both Buddhist and Muslim, ‘who had been murdered by the British.’…
At the time of the riots, the Legislative Council included eleven official and ten unofficial members, the latter consisting of six nominees of the governor, two members elected by the European community, one elected by the Burgher community, and one noncommunal elected member representing the ‘eduated Ceylonese’ (excluding resident Europeans and Burghers). It was this lone representative of the Western-educated Ceylonese, Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, who, although, a Tamil Hindu, became the principal champion of the Sinhalese Buddhists and one of the most outspoken critics of the government at the time of the riots…."
(2) from Kumari Jayewardena (1970)
"The Buddhist-Muslim riots of 1915 are often depicted as an eruption of religious animosity and friction between Sinhalese Buddhists and a section of the Muslim population. According to this viewpoint, the riots were sparked by religious fanaticism as the Buddhists saw in the ‘intolerance and aggressiveness of the Muslims, a permanent danger to their religious practices and celebration of their national festivals.’ This interpretation of the riots, however, disregards several signficant economic and political developments which influenced the events of 1915 and leaves unanswered the important question of why, if the riots were merely a reflection of religious tensions, the British colonial officials took such drastic measures during the riots and exacted severe reprisals long after the rioting was over.
In the years before the riots, an awakening had taken place among the Sinhalese Buddhists which was not only a reaction to British political domination, but also an act of self-assetion against the economic power of minority groups in Ceylon. The rioteers of 1915 have often been portrayed as criminals and hooligans out for plunder; but there is evidence that in Colombo it was not the criminal and rootless elements who led the riots, but the skilled, better-paid, more militant segments of the working class. The government was aware of this potentially explosive facet of the Colombo rioting, which turned into an expression of revolt against economic exploitation. Furthermore, many British officials in Ceylon, alarmed by the spread of nationalism and industrial unrest in both India and Ceylon and perhaps apprehensive about the prospects of German intrigue in Asia during the First World War, were convinced that the rioting was directed against British rule…"
(3) from Charles Blackton (1970)
"…From a communal clash up-country, disorders spread into six of Ceylon’s nine provinces, causing the deaths of 140 people, the arrests of 8736, imprisonment of 4497 and at a cost of Rupees 7,000,000. British-Ceylonese relations were severely impaired and Sinhalese nationalism suddenly came of age. It happened, but why?….
Of a population of 4,106,350 in 1911, the Sinhalese made up 66.13% (24.32% Kandyans and 41.81% low-country people), 23.79% were Tamils (half recent immigrants), and 6.45% were Muslim Moors of which 1/7 were Indian Moors. The remaining 3.5% included Burghers and British. The early years of the twentieth century recorded a few anti-Western riots, some aimed against the Roman Catholic Church (in Anuradhapura, a Buddhist shrine city) and other demonstrations reflecting Asian pride in the victory of Buddhist Japan over the Russian giant in 1905. Anti-Muslim violence directed against the Moors (the term is a survival of Portuguese rule) was, however, not unknown.
Muslims had been in Ceylon since the eighth century, a composite group of Arabs, Persians and Muslimized Indians who came to be known as Ceylon Moors. The most recent arrivals, Indian Moors from Cochin and Malabar coast labeled ‘Coast Moors’, earned an undesirable reputation among Sinhalese while the older order of Ceylon Moors lived at peace among the Sinhalese, even attaining the status of headmen in some Kandyan villages. The charges against the Coast Moors were that they were unscrupulous, alien (some compared them to Jews; others, in 1915, to Germans), and they loaned money at usurious rates. De Souza notes that before the 1915 riots, Sinhalese had boycotted Coast Moormen’s boutiques (general merchandise shops and food counters) as a warning to them to desist from attempting to seduce Sinhalese girls. He also noted that the buying public of Ceylon blamed the Coast Moors for creating artificial increases in the prices of necessities…."
(4) from P.T.M.Fernando (1970)
"…The colonial officials, scarcely aware of the growing tension between the Buddhists and Muslims, mistook the disturbances for a ‘rebellion’ against British rule. The government’s ruthless handling of the riots brought the Western-educated Ceylonese to the limelight and led them into political activity as never before…
Martial law was proclaimed in early June and was not lifted until August 30, 1915. Th days of martial law had a terrifying impact on the people of Ceylon…In comparison with the thirty-nine persons killed by the rioters, at least sixty three were killed by the military and the police in suppressing the riots.
When the rioting had been brought under control, the officer commanding the troops, Brigadier General H.H.L.Malcolm, began punishing offenders and assessing the damage to Muslim property so that compensation could be recovered from the inhabitants of the disturbed areas…A total of thirty four persons were executed by order of the military courts. Many of the convictions were based primarily on the testimony of Muslim witnesses, whose perjury was exposed in civil trials…
Far worse than the summary justice of the special commissioners and the military trials were the atrocities committed by ‘English volunteers’, mainly planters from the tea estates and employees of Colombo commercial houses, who were recruite to patrol the areas where rioting had occurred. Many persons were harassed and flogged without being tried at all, and accusations were rampant that many were also executed by these volunteers without trial…"
(5) from James T.Rutnam (1971)
"Foot-note 72a: The word Hambaya derived from sampan-karaya had no sinister connotation. But the member representing the ‘Mohammadans’ in the Legislative Council, N.D.H.M.Abdul Cader (1879-1938) took heated exception to its use by Ramanathan in the Legislative Council on 24 October 1917….
Foot-note 75: Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan (1851-1930), Nominated Member representing the Tamil-speaking people, Legislative Council, 1879-1892; Solicitor-General, 1892-1906; Elected Member representing the Educated Ceylonese, Legislative Council, 1911-21. His advocacy of the Sinhalese cause in the Legislative Council in August, September and October 1915 was such that ‘no Ceylonese ever reached that summit of fame before or since.’…"
Like the above-mentioned foot-note 75, historian James Rutnam’s lengthy paper on the role of Rev.Alexander Garden Fraser (1873-1962), who served as the principal of Trinity College, Kandy for two decades (1904-24), in the 1915 riots is notable for the thumb-nail sketches he had provided on the leading actors of that riots. These thumb-nail sketches are worthy of reproduction, in a sequel to this synopsis, since individuals who acted in that political theater for various motives and agendas, deserve exposure. The research contributions of Kumari Jayawardena, Charles Blackton and P.T.M.Fernando, which appeared in 1970, do not provide such vital information on the leading actors.
(6) M. Vythilingam (1977)
"…The riots sprang from the religious fanaticism of a small section of the Muslims known as the Hambayas, who insisted that all non-Muslim religious processions should proceed in silence when they passed their mosques. The Hambayas were Mohammedan immigrants from the East Coast of South India and then numbered nearly thirty three thousand. They formed an exclusive community and did not at that time intermarry with other Mohammedans in the island.
The time for the celebration of the great Buddhist festival – the anniversary of the birthday of Buddha – fell on the 28th of May, 1915. With much trepidation of heart, those who had hitherto conducted the carol procession in Kandy applied to the Government Agent, Central Province, for the usual licence, but the Hambayas of Kandy, who owned the mosque at Castle Hill Street, objected to its issue. The elected members of the Municipal Council unanimously recommended the issue of the licence. The Government Agent, having ascertained from the trustees of the Castle Hill street mosque that the hour for closing it on Friday, the 28th May, was twelve midnight, issued the licence subject to the condition that the procession should not enter Castle Hill Street before midnight.
He, however, neglected to take the precaution, suggested by the District Judge of Kandy in the Walahagoda Devale case, of having the aggressive Hambayas bound over to keep the peace. He also failed, as the head of the police in the Central Province, to have a sufficient number of properly armed police officers and constables in the streets of Kandy, so as to prevent any sudden outbreak of riot.
It was about 1 am, when the first carol procession with a band of musicians in a decorated cart turned from King Street into Castle Hill Street. The Sinhalese crowd were amazed to see the Hambayas’ mosque open and lit up, and a crowd of Mohammedans, including Afghans, standing on either side of the street. Inspector Cooray, observing from the junction of King Street the defiant attitude of the Mohammedans, desired the carol party not to go forward, but to pass into a cross street so as to avoid the mosque altogether. The conductors of the procession obediently turned the carol cart into the street indicated. Just then the Hambayas and the Afghans clapped hands, jeered and boohed, which was more than the Sinhalese could bear. They halted indecisively, looking towards the mosque, when a still larger crowd, headed by another party of carol-singers in a second cart, came and entered Castle Hill Street. The first party then followed the second party.
As they advanced, a number of stones and empty bottles fell on the people, hurled from the upper storeys of two boutiques near the mosque and from the platform of the mosque. The Sinhalese crowd were infuriated. They rushed forward, picked up the stones lying on the street, pelted them at the boutiques and the mosque, chased the Mohammedans, who fled into the mosque, pulled down its iron bars and smashed its glass panes, broke into the adjoining boutiques and flung into the streets the boxes of grain and groceries.
During all this disturbance, there were no more than one Inspector and six constables, who, of course, could not control the crowd. Mr.Cooray sent for help from the Police Station, and a squad of police who arrived seized about twenty-five men on charges of riot and house-breaking. The surging crowd passed into other streets about 2 pm and disappeared with their battered cars. Thus ended the national Wesak festival of the Buddhists in 1915, undertaken in all piety and reverence to celebrate the birthday of the great peace-maker, named Goutama Buddha….
To outline the true dimensions of the disturbances in Kandy town, the first riot occurred between 1 and 2 on the morning of the 29th May 1915, in consequence of the intolerance and aggression of the Hambayas and Afghan Mohammedans assembled in and about the mosque in Castle Hill Street. No lives were lost, nor any serious bodily injury inflicted. Some boutiques were damaged and their contents turned out, which were mostly made a bonfire of in the streets, and the glass shutters of the mosque and some iron bars were also damaged.
The second riot took place between 8 and 10 pm on the same day (29th May) provoked directly by the failure of the police to arrest the murderer of an innocent Sinhalese youth, whom a Hambaya brought down with a bullet from a revolver fired from the upper storey of his master’s shop. No other persons were killed. Some shops and boutiques were damaged, and their contents thrown into the streets to be burnt.
The third disturbance occurred between 3 and 4 pm on the following day (30th May). It was not a riot, but a street fight between three Mohammedans and a few Sinhalese. These events, standing out linked together in the minds of the Buddhists, have operated as causes for the attack on the Mohammedans in various parts of the island during the one week that began on the 29th May and ended on the 5th June 1915….
At the time of the outbreak of the riots, Ramanathan was recouping his health at Sivan Adi, his holiday-home at Kodaikanal, South India. He was completely in the dark about happenings in the island until his Sinhalese friends wrote to him apprising him of the situation and requesting him to hurry back to Colombo. On arriving he found conditions utterly appalling….Ramanathan addressed an appeal to the Governor to grant him an interview and was astonished to receive the reply pleading inability owing to pressure of engagements and requesting a written statement…."
Literature Sources [chronologically arranged]
Kearney, R.N.: The 1915 riots in Ceylon – a symposium; Introduction. Journal of Asian Studies, Feb.1970, vol.29, no.2, pp.219-222.
Jayewardena, K.: Economic and Political Factors in the 1915 riots. Journal of Asian Studies, Feb.1970, vol.29, no.2, pp.223-233.
Blackton, C.S.: The action phase of the 1915 riots. Journal of Asian Studies, Feb.1970, vol.29, no.2, pp.235-254.
Fernando, P.T.M.: The post riots campaign for justice. Journal of Asian Studies, Feb.1970, vol.29, no.2, pp.255-266.
Rutnam, J.T.: The Rev.A.G.Fraser and the riots of 1915. Ceylon Journal of Historical and Social Studies, July-December 1971, vol.1, no.2 (new series), pp.151-196.
Vythilingam, M.: The Life of Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, vol.2 (1910-1930), 1977, chapters 10 (Riots-1915, pp.229-250), 11 (Riots-Speeches, pp.251-320) and 12 (Ramanathan’s Mission to England – His Return, pp.321-330).

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Accusations, Intimidation And Violence Against Christians Are Biased And Illegal – NCFSL

While condemning the attacks on the Buddhist clergy in Chennai, India, the National Christian Fellowship Sri Lanka says; “ As Sri Lankans, we are also concerned about the wrongful and distorted bias reporting of some of the electronic as well as print media concerning such attacks. We have documented cases of intimidation, threats, violence and arson, all this in the cause of religious intolerance. “
Attacks on Christian churchesin Sri Lanka/ File Photo/ AFP
Issuing a press statement NCFSL says; the NCFSL believes that the attacks are attempted in order to justify the so called ‘unethical conversion’.
We publish below the statement in full;
The National Christian Fellowship Sri Lanka (NCFSL) which represents over 200 indigenous Churches in Sri Lanka, view with serious concern the sudden escalation of violence directed towards Pastors, Christian Workers and religious places of Worship all over Sri Lanka during the recent months. The NCFSL confirms that 23 such incidents have been reported for the year 2013.
“ As Sri Lankans, we are also concerned about the wrongful and distorted bias reporting of some of the electronic as well as print media concerning such attacks. We have documented cases of intimidation, threats, violence and arson, all this in the cause of religious intolerance. “ says Rev Rohan Ekanayake General Secretary of the NCFSL.
“ We note that Sri  Lanka has suffered greatly through two major insurgencies and a thirty year war which tore at the nation’s heart and caused us all great grief. Not to mention the cost of lives as well the damage caused to the economy. As a nation, we need to ask ourselves whether we need yet another ethnic or religious conflict at this moment of time.”
The NCFSL maintains that the laws of natural justice and the Constitution of Sri Lanka in Articles 10 and 14 (1)( e) recognize  the individual’s right to adopt and practice the religion of his choice. “We categorically state that communication of the Gospel is an inseparable part of the practice of our faith.  Correspondingly, we recognize the right to every other religion to proclaim its beliefs. Those who recognize this right may also agree that it is unethical to interfere with the expression of the individual‘s freedom to choose. “
The NCFSL believes that the attacks are attempted in order to justify the so called ‘unethical conversion’. “To the Christian, helping the needy is a necessary part of the practice of their religion. The expression of Christian love and concern includes dealing with both the spiritual and the physical need of the person. While asserting the right to do so and the responsibility of Christians to care for the needy, we condemn the use of charity and care for the needy as an inducement to religious proselytization. If there are any offers of material inducements for the purpose of proselytization, we condemn such their methods as abhorrent to Christianity. “ says Rev Money Ratnam of the NCFSL.
The NCFSL says that the accusations, intimidation and violence against Christians are biased and illegal and should not be tolerated in a democratic society such as ours; in essence,  it is a denial of the fundamental human rights of its citizens.
We uphold the integrity of a united Sri Lanka.  We condemn the attacks on the Buddhist clergy in Chennai, India.  The use of violence as a means of achieving any end is against the teachings of Christ and cannot be condoned. We assert the need for peace and good will on the basis of mutual recognition, honor and respect for all communities in our multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. We call upon the State to uphold the rule of law and to treat all its citizens equally .
We call upon all Christians to unite and to participate in a day of fasting and prayer for the Nation and for the persecuted Church on 8th of April 2013 at Holy Trinity Auditorium, No.784 Prince of Wales Avenue, Colombo 14 at 10.00 a.m.
We also call upon the authorities to enable justice to be meted out to all Sri Lankans in this connection including the affected Christian clergy and workers.
By Colombo Telegraph -
A mob, lead by a group of Buddhist monks has attacked the Head office and Stores Complex of Mssrs Fashion Bug situated at Pepiliyana Junction, a short while ago, at around 8 pm SL time (Thursday 28th March).The excuse used to attack this complex was that a 15 year old girl had been raped inside the building. The accusation that a rape had taken place is a baseless one as can be proved by the close circuit cameras which were installed as well as the inquiry carried out by the Police.The camera tells the real story on how these mob of fanatics had entered the building. The Special Task Force had to intervene to bring this attack under control.
This is another, in a series of attacks against Muslims as Fashion Bug is owned by a family of Sri Lankan Muslims. The mob had gone on a rampage setting clothes that were in the store on fire and shouting obscenities at the girls who worked in this complex, saying that they should be ashamed to work in an enterprise owned by Muslims and to never come back. The mob had also manhandled some of the girls.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Sri Lanka’s Anti-Muslim Campaign Fuels Discord

Sri Lanka’s Anti-Muslim Campaign Fuels Discord

Filed under: Colombo Telegraph,Opinion | 

Where Is It All Going To End?

Emil van der Poorten
The recent attacks on Christian denominations bears out the contention I made earlier and which significantly more erudite observers of the national scene have identified as a government gone completely mad in its efforts to distract the public from the realities that are descending upon this nation and for which the current corrupt and violent government should take complete responsibility.
It is more than a year since the invasion of a mosque in Dambulla by a thousands-strong Buddhist-priest-led mob and NOTHING has been done to bring those responsible to book.  Even worse than a government from which little better can be expected, the religious hierarchies, inclusive of those of the Islamic faith, have done, as the saying goes, “diddley-squat” in the matter of seeking appropriate investigation and justice.  As for even the usual mealy-mouthed motherhood and apple pie statements that are traditional in this nation of invertebrate religionists, forget it!  Either they haven’t even uttered the usual hypocrisies or our permanently supine media has not even bothered to quote them.
The artificially-generated “Halal controversy” has been another nail in the coffin of those wishing to practice their faith in a country where that right is supposedly guaranteed in its very constitution.  But then, after the so-called “impeachment” of the Chief Justice for not doing the bidding of the Chief Executive of this country, one might as well whistle Dixie as expect law, order and common decency to prevail in this land of 2500 years of Sinhala Buddhist Civilization, particularly after the appointment of Ms. Bandaranayake’s successor whose credentials more than speak for themselves.
The continuing attacks on Christian denominations reached a point when even that “evangelical luminary,” Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, was embarrassed into appealing to the government to intervene when one of his denomination’s churches in the Sabaragamuwa Province was vandalised and a statue of either the Virgin Mary or Jesus Christ, built at very considerable expense, totally destroyed.  Of course, his Eminence, after going through the motions of “protest,” then retreated to the Vatican where, not untypically of a denomination that produced a Pope that collaborated with Adolf Hitler and the Borgias before him, was considered a candidate for the Papacy!  As used and abused as that saying is, “O tempora, o mores” is apt in the circumstances!
Of course, the so-called Evangelical Churches have proved, once again, to be sitting ducks for the saffron-clad storm –troopers of this regime.  The primary reason for this is that they appear to be the most successful in bringing people into their fold, mostly because they are prepared to lay emphasis on dealing with the worldly needs of the very poor and offer them succour  in a form that the “main-line” churches usually don’t deign to do.  That success, obviously, lays them open to allegations of unprincipled conduct in effecting those conversions.  As one who dealt with this mode of operation in another country at another time and sought, as a community organizer, to ensure that unprincipled methods were not applied in efforts to convert the most vulnerable members of a community, I believe I can state with some objectivity and, certainly, with a significant degree of experience, that these “unethical conversions” are not always what they seem to be.  In fact, there were a number of occasions when I and other community organizers ended up with egg on our faces when the “converts” proved a lot savvier than we thought they were and abandoned their new-found faith after extracting whatever material benefits they needed at the time from the evangelists!  To the disappointed evangelists, all we could offer was the old piece of advice, “Caveat emptor” or buyer beware, more than partially tongue in cheek!
However, this self-righteous objection, backed by a proclivity for violence, to “unethical conversions” is coming (surprise! surprise!) from those who wouldn’t know ethics if they came and bit them in that part of their anatomy in which their grey matter obviously resides.  To call these self-righteous goons unprincipled thugs would be to understate the case.  To expect them to act with a modicum of decency and intelligence would call one’s own intelligence into serious question.
Of course one of the strange things, upto now, has been the fact that there have been no major recent attacks on Kovils or other Hindu places of worship, at least no very high-profile incidents that rival the recent attacks on mosques and mullahs and Christian churches and their pastors.  However, a friend, better versed in the manner in which attacks such as these are orchestrated, has warned me that it is just a matter of time before those places of worship will also come under attack.  After all, people of this stripe have a precedent going back more than half a century – the immolation of the Pusari of a Hindu temple south of Colombo during the communal riots of 1958.  And the current crop of goons has more than tacit support for their murderous behavior, something that the hypocritical S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike didn’t openly offer those who launched the attacks on the Tamils.
As a side-bar, it is interesting that the two heads of government when the pogroms were launched against the Tamils in 1958 and 1983 had very similarly dismissive evaluations of those landmark events.  Bandaranaike described them as a few isolated incidents and was ready to ignore the behavior of the “goondas” until the Indian government allegedly threatened to land troops at Ratmalana airport to bring law and order to the streets and villages of Sri Lanka.
As for J. R. Jayewardene, his official response to the bloodshed of Black July was more than dismissive.  He suggested quite clearly that “the Tamils had it coming to them”
I have one little piece of advice for those Sri Lankan observers of what is obviously a wave of intolerance and hysteria that is being built to tsunami proportions by those determined to camouflage their moral and ethical nakedness, our relegation to the status of a pariah state and the looming economic collapse:  don’t waste your time looking for events in Sri Lankan history where some statesman came galloping in on his white steed to save all that is (was?) decent in this country where many of its loudest defenders claim that the philosophy of Gautama is sacrosanct and will be maintained forever.  There was no such person in the past and it is even less likely that there will be such a savior in the future.  Pretty well all those who might have had the intelligence to engage in such a task are too busy either raiding the public coffers or directly or indirectly helping those who are!