Return of Rajapaksa era racist politics

Lanka is fast becoming a playground for world powers

By Latheef Farook

Disgusted with Mahinda Rajapaksa regime’s senseless persecution, Sri Lanka’s Muslims as a whole voted for the coalition led by Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe in the hope that they would fulfil their election promise to end racist attacks and usher in an era of peace.

The people expected the new coalition would effectively deal with Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary Ven. Galagoda-aththe Gnanasara Thera known for his hatred towards Muslims. Instead, the new Government’s Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said Gnanasara Thera would not be taken into custody, while, adding insult to injury President Sirisena invited the monk to a meeting of religious leaders, thus elevating this preacher of hatred to a level of respectability.

By their actions, the President and Minister Rajapakshe left the Muslims wondering whether they could expect justice from this Government.

Today, the Government remains indifferent to attacks on Muslims. As the BBS-led racists unleash their terror with impunity, many suspect whether the Government is a party to the sinister anti-Muslim agenda. In one of his recent anti-Muslim outbursts, he insulted Allah. This happened in Polonnaruwa while the Police who were present at the scene took no action to arrest him.

The Muslims, who played a crucial role in bringing this Government to power, ask whether they voted for this Government to make them vulnerable to racist attacks once again. Harassing Muslims has become the order of the day. The state machinery is suspected to be hand in glove with racist elements.

The Muslims see racism in the moves to prevent Muslim refugees evicted by LTTE from returning to their lands in Musali and adjacent areas. Implementing the racists’ agenda, the Government in a March 24 Gazette notification declared the Muslim villages adjacent to the Wilpattu National Park as part of a forest conservation area.

The urgency with which the Gazette was signed by the President raises questions and suspicions. It was signed during President Sirisena’s official visit to Russia, despite Muslims submitting documentary evidence to prove their right to the land.

Racists are also creating racial disharmony in the Ampara district. On October 27, 2016, a Buddha statue was erected at the Maayakkalli hilltop, surrounded by Tamil-Muslim villages at Maanikkamadu in Rakkamam. Now Ven. Gnanasara Thera and other communal-minded people have forcibly grabbed a plot of land belonging to a Muslim to build a Viharaya incorporating the hilltop Buddha statue. Rejecting moves to build a vihara, Digavapi Parivara Chaitya Raja Maha Vihara Chief Incumbernt Ven. Pottivala Sandananda Thera has said “there is no need for a vihara in Manikkamadu”.

Land owner Palliyan Zainudeen cannot go to his own land and his efforts to seek justice have not been successful.

All this indicates that the troublemakers have not learnt a lesson from the 30 year war?

What is happening now is a continuation of the Rajapaksa-era programme of Sinhalisation of Tamil-Muslim lands. As part of this programme, 86 places in the Eastern Province were declared as archaeological sites by a Gazette issued on October 10, 2014.

Meanwhile the Government’s foreign policy indicates it is aligning itself with an axis that includes the US, the UK, Europe, Israel and India – nations which are seen as hostile to Muslims. Under the guise of promoting democracy, they promote anti-Muslim policies in Sri Lanka. Former US Secretary of State John Kerry disclosed this week that the US invested $585 million in promoting democracy across the globe in 2015 and supported important democratic gains in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and Burma.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, perhaps with his heart rooted deep in the US, the UK and Israel, has been supportive of US-Israeli led invasion of Muslims countries. He, as prime minister, refused to condemn the March 2003 US invasion of Iraq. When some Muslim parliamentarians tried to condemn they were reported to have been told by him to leave the government and do so.

The Maithri-Ranil government has rolled the red carpet to Israel and they tend to justify this friendship by saying that if Arab dictators — installed in power by the West and, therefore, do not represent the people they rule — could recognise Israel, why can’t Sri Lanka. People throughout the Middle East reject Israel although Arab dictators sell their souls to Israel to safeguard their power.

Most Sri Lankans are not aware that Israel has its own global agenda. Implementing this agenda is its top priority and why should Sri Lanka be an exception? This is the reason why Muslims fear that BBS, suspected to have been funded by Israel through Norway, has once again started its anti-Muslim campaign which is bound to destabilise the country.

This is the reason why Muslims fear that the Government’s Counter Terrorism Bill could be used against them in keeping with the US-Israeli agenda.

Sri Lanka is facing political instability and an economy crisis. Our foreign policy is being shaped by US and Israel while the economy is controlled by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund — institutions known for destabilising third world economies.

Ever since assuming office, both the President and the Prime Minister have visited many countries and signed bilateral agreements. But where is the much-talked-about flow of foreign investment. Even today the bulk of the foreign exchange, around seven billion dollars, comes from Sri Lankans working in West Asia. Without their contribution, Sri Lanka’s economy is doomed.

Has the President or the Prime Minister ever thought of visiting any of the West Asian countries, despite Muslim countries’ open support to Sri Lanka at difficult times and in all international forums?

Today, Sri Lanka has become a playground for big powers such as the US, Britain, Russia, Israel, India and China – with each big power having its own agenda for this island nation of ours. The question is: Are we free and independent as we were once?