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  • හිජාස් – අහ්නාෆ් නිදහස් කොට ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය සුරක්ෂිත කරන්න ! – විශ්වවිද්‍යාල ආචාර්ය – මහාචාර්යවරුන් 96 දෙනෙක් අවධාරණය කරති !
    යුක්තිය පසිඳලීම සඳහා කටයුතු කරන ආයතන පද්ධතිය පිළිබඳ ඇති විශ්වාසය තහවුරු කිරීම සඳහා ආණ්ඩුව කටයුතු කළ යුතු බවත්, අත්තනෝමතික ලෙස රඳවාගෙන සිටින හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා සහ අහ්නාෆ් ජසීම් නිදහස් කිරීම එහිදී තීරණාත්මක කරුණක් බවත් විශ්වවිද්‍යාල ආචාර්යවරුන් ප්‍රමුඛ ශාස්ත්‍රීය ප්‍රජාව අවධාරණය කර සිටී.
    මෙවැනි ප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍ර විරෝධී...
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  • හිජාස්ගේ නඩුව මාධ්‍යවේදීන්ට තහනම් කරයි !
    අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන, රඳවා තබාගෙන සිටින නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලාට එරෙහි නඩුව පසුගිය 15 වැනිදා පුත්තලම මහාධිකරණයේදී පැවැති අවස්ථාවේදී මාධ්‍යවේදීන්ට එම නඩුව ආවරණය කිරීමට අවස්ථාව ලබා දී නැත.
    නිරෝධායන නීති නිසා වැඩි පිරිසක් අධිකරණ ශාලාව තුළට ගත නොහැකි බව පවසමින් මෙසේ මාධ්‍යවේදීන්ට ඊට ඇතුළු වීම පොලිසිය විසින් වළකනු ලැබ තිබේ.
    ඒ...
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  • Fmr STF Commandant Lattif appointed to SLC disciplinary committee
    Former STF Commandant Senior DIG (Rtd.)M.R. Lattif has been appointed to the disciplinary committee of the Sri Lanka Cricket Board. The SLC Executive Committee has appointed Lattif to the five-member committee headed by Ajith Weerasinghe. The other members of the committee are, Niroshan Perera, Nalinda Ilangakoon and Anura Chandrasiri.(DSB) https://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Fmr-STF-Commandant-Lattif-appointed-to-SLC-disciplinary-committee/108-215300  
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  • ’’අනාෆ් ජසීම්’’ මුදාහරින්නැයි ගොනු කළ පෙත්සමට විරෝධතා ගොනු කරන්න සති දෙකක්
    අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන මාස 10 ක් තිස්සේ කිසිදු අධිකරණයකට ඉදිරිපත් නෙකර පොලිස් රැදවුම්බාරයේ රදවා තබා සිටින මුස්ලිම් ජාතික කවියකු වන අනාෆ් ජසීම් වහාම මුදාහරින ලෙස ඉල්ලා ගොනු කළ මූලික අයිතිවාසිකම් පෙත්සම සම්බන්ධයෙන් සීමිත විරෝධතා සති දෙකක් ඇතුළත ගොනු කරන්නැයි ශ්‍රේෂ්ඨාධිකරණය අද (06) නීතිපතිවරයාට නියෝග කළේය. සාහිත්‍යය නිර්මාණ හරහා...
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  • Contact Grama Niladhari to ensure your name in 2021 Electoral Register
    The Elections Commission requested people to contact the respective Grama Niladharis to include and ensure the name in the 2021 Electoral Register.

    It said the people could also check the inclusion of their names with the respective Grama Niladhari or to make alterations to the residences.

    "Only if your name isn't in the 2020 Register or if you want to change your residence, contact Grama Niladhari," the Elections Commission said.

    Also, people can check their name availability by visiting the Elections Commission website (www.elections.gov.lk). https://eservices.elections.gov.lk/myVoterRegistration01.aspx https://www.dailymirror.lk/latest_news/Contact-Grama-Niladhari-to-ensure-your-name-in-2021-Electoral-Register/342-215488 (Chaturanga Samarawickrama)    
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  • නීතිඥ සංගමයෙන් ජනපතිට ලිපියක්
    (ඩයනා උදයංගනී සහ මනෝප්‍රිය ගුණසේකර) හිටපු පාර්ලිමේන්තු මන්ත්‍රී දුමින්ද සිල්වා මහතාට ජනාධිපති පොදු සමාව ලබාදීමේ දී ව්‍යවස්ථාව අනුව ලබාගත යුතු වාර්තා, උපදෙස් හා නිර්දේශ ලබාගත්තේ ද යන්න රටට හෙළි කරන්නැයි ජනාධිපතිවරයාගෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටින බව ශ්‍රී ලංකා නීතීඥ සංගමය නිවේදනයක් නිකුත් කරමින් කියා සිටී. ජනාධිපතිවරයාට එවැනි සමාවක්...
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  • “දුමින්ද සිල්වාට ජනාධිපති සමාව දීම අනුමත කරන්න බෑ’’
    හිටපු පාර්ලිමේන්තු මන්ත්‍රී දුමින්ද සිල්වා මහතාට ජනාධිපති සමාව ලබාදීමෙන් නීතියේ ආධිපත්‍යයට බලපෑමක් වන බවට ඇමරිකාවේ ශ්‍රී ලංකා තානාපතිනී ඇලයිනා බී. ටෙප්ලිට්ස් මහත්මිය ටුවිටර් පණිවුඩයක් නිකුත් කරමින් පවසා තිබේ. මිනීමැරුමක් සම්බන්ධයෙන් 2018 වසරේ ශ්‍රේෂ්ඨාධිකරණයෙන් දඩුවම් ලබාදුන් පුද්ගලයකු නිදහස් කිරීම අනුමත කළ නොහැකි...
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  • Lawyer says teachers were forced to implicate Hejaaz
    Two Fundamental Rights petitions filed on behalf of two teachers of the Al- Zuhriya Arabic College said that two teachers were forced by the Criminal Investigations Department to implicate Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah.

    The two petitions were filed by lawyer Erik Balasooriya was supported before the Supreme Court yesterday.

    M.A. Sumanthiran PC told the court that the two teachers had told their lawyer Balasooriya during a consultation held in the presence of two CID officers who had an audio recording device, that the officers had promised “leniency” if they implicate Hizbullah.

    “They were forced to implicate...
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  • හිජාස්ට විරුද්ධව සාක්කි දෙන්නැයි ගුරුවරුන් දෙදෙනකුට බල කරලා?
    June 1, 2021 මදුරංකුලියේ මද්‍රසා පාසලක ගුරුවරුන් දෙදෙනකු බව කියමින් අත්අඩංගුවට ගත් දෙදෙනා මූලික අයිතිවාසිකම් පෙත්සම් දෙකක් ගොනු කර ඇති බවත්, නීතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතාට එරෙහිව සාක්කි ලබා දෙන ලෙසට විමර්ශන නිලධාරීන් ඔවුන්ට...
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  • Detained Maulavis claim under pressure to frame Hejaaz
    Two Maulavis who have been arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), have informed court through their lawyer that they are under pressure to frame human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah. Attorney-at-law Erick Balasooriya had filed a Fundamental Rights petition alleging that the two Maulavis are being coerced to frame Hizbullah. In the Petition, Balasooriya said the Moulavis do not know Hizbullah nor did they conduct any extremist teaching at the Al-Zuhriya madrasa. When the Moulavis were first produced before the Colombo Magistrates court yesterday, Balsooriya informed court that the Moulavis intend making a statements to him. The matter was thereafter transferred to the Fort Magistrates court. Meanwhile, President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran who appeared before the Fort Magistrate on behalf of the two Maulavis today (Tuesday)...
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Aluthgama Riot - Real Story for Truth Loving Readers

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“What was our crime?” - Sri Lankan Muslims Asks

aje dtBy Dharisha Bastians in Beruwala and Aluthgama

Thousands of displaced people in the riot-rocked towns of Beruwala and Aluthgama are too afraid to go home again – and many of them have no homes to return to. The watcher at the Al Humeisara Central College in China Fort is compulsive about keeping the tall gates padlocked at all times. He ushers authorised vehicles in and hurriedly shuts the gates behind them, casting furtive looks on the road outside.

Inside the closely-guarded gates, schoolroom desks and chairs are stacked in corners. All the signs of mass displacement abound – large water tanks, truckloads of relief items and make-shift first aid centres. Infants and toddlers snooze in the stifling noon day heat on the floors of fly-infested classrooms. Some of them are only a few weeks old.

The children seem to be the only ones removed from the anger and sorrow that is pervasive in the schoolyard. Thrilled to be skipping school and surrounded by dozens of playmates, they put the Al Humeisara swing sets and climbing frames to good use.

It could be Vavuniya or Batticaloa five or six years ago. Except that the camp lies barely 60 kilometres from the capital Colombo and this is not a war zone.

Displaced by deadly riots

But for a thousand people, all of them Muslims from the area, home has been behind the careful watcher’s latchkey ever since deadly sectarian riots on Sunday night.

dipla dari

When the riots in Aluthgama spilled over into adjoining Beruwala on 15 June, Muslim residents in Ambepitiya and the China Fort area fled to the Jamiya Nalimiya University. The next morning, realising that security there was poor, the crowds of people, who had fled the looting and burning of their shops and homes, flooded into the Central College. Three days later, 267 families or 1,016 people are sheltered in the school, many of them either too scared to go home or with no place to call home any longer.



Al Humeisara Principal M.R.M. Rizki told the Daily FT that he had informed the Zonal educational authorities that the school would be shut because over 1,000 people were occupying the premises after the riots.

“We face the usual problems, with water and sanitation,” he told the Daily FT. Mid-year exams scheduled for next week may have to be postponed, Rizki says, since the school is now home to 17 pregnant women and 56 feeding babies, and over 100 children with no place to go.

“Those who can manage have found relatives to move in with. It is those with no options who have gathered here,” the Principal explains.

Since Monday, there have been regular VIP visits to the area. Yesterday, Minister Rishard Bathiudeen visited the Al Humeisara camp, sitting in the school auditorium, opened by President J.R. Jayewardene and listening to the complaints of the displaced.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s helicopter landed at Beruwala at 3:30 p.m. yesterday, for discussions with Buddhist and Muslim religious leaders. The President promised compensation for the destroyed houses and inquiries against the perpetrators of the violence. But the Muslims of Beruwala have heard those promises before.

Not the first time

For the residents of Badalwatte, Ambepitiya, this is not their first brush with displacement. In 1991, communal violence left many of them homeless or impoverished. Gem polisher N.M. Najeem rebuilt his home from scratch with no help or compensation after it was flattened in the 1991 riots. Sixty-five houses were burned in 1991, and nobody got compensation, complains Najeem. Thirteen years later, he is back to square one.

Not far from the school where the tradesman now lives with his wife and son, his shop lies in ruin, parts of its roof torn off, its glass cabinets filled with hundreds of uncut precious stones shattered and looted. “They left the fish tank intact though,” the 67-year-old says with a wry smile.

The despair of the men at Al Humeisara pales in comparison to the anger and indignation of their women. Clutching infants and elderly neighbourly relatives, the women folk congregate inside the school buildings and classrooms, away from the men, fighting to tell their stories.  Outspoken Fathima Fasral, a 26-year-old with two children, says she was only a child herself when her home was razed in 1991. She says her children are now experiencing the same destitution.

“Is this supposed to be our fate for generations? To be rebuilding our homes from scratch every 20 years?” Fasral rages.

Nothing to go back to

As the displacement camp garners attention, Government officials are urging people to return to their homes. On Tuesday, Law and Order Ministry Secretary Maj. Gen Nanda Mallawaarachchi visited the school and appealed to people to vacate the premises.

“The DIG for the area also arrived here and asked the people to move out. But they are afraid to go back. And in some cases their homes are completely destroyed. So there is no point asking them to go back. There is nothing to go back to,” says one official in charge at the shelter, who declined to be named.

When some of them returned to their homes on Monday (16), Fasral said there were people there who told them they were never supposed to return. “They stood there and told us we were to pack up and leave within a day. The Government wants us to leave the school. Are we supposed to sleep on the streets now?” she charged.

“Did we fall from the sky?”

Among the women, resentment is building against the Bodu Bala Sena and ruling politicians. President Mahinda Rajapaksa was often claiming that Sri Lankans were the children of one mother, part of one family of people, scoffs Sarken Sitthi, a woman at the school who said her family lost everything in Sunday’s riots, even her children’s birth certificates.  “They call us ‘thambiyas’ and ‘marakkalayas’. They are telling us this is their country. Are we not Sri Lankans too? Did we fall from the sky?” she storms, her voice raised and arms flailing, making almost political speeches in the schoolroom corridors.  The hardline monks were criticising Muslims for killing animals for food, says Fasral. “But killing people is okay? Destroying homes and livelihoods – that’s not a sin?” she questions.

If one Muslim had committed some crime, Siththi rationalises, the Government should punish that person. “What did we all do? What was our crime?” she cried.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa finished one war, says Siththi. The time has come for him to end the war against Muslims too. “Get rid of the Bodu Bala Sena. Why can’t he do that?” rages Fathima Hasna, fighting her way through the loud mob of women.

Sense of betrayal runs deep

A few kilometres away at the Meera Jummah Mosque in Dharga Town, Aluthgama, we wash our feet at the ablution pools and walk up to the top floor to hear angry women echo the same call.

“If the President could get rid of the Tigers, why is he having so much trouble with the Bodu Bala Sena?” storms Yasmina Farook, a resident of Seenawatte, an area that suffered massive damage in the violence.

The sense of betrayal among the Beruwala and Aluthgama residents also runs deep, as they raise quieter questions about why their Sinhalese neighbours did not do more to save them. The communities in the town have lived side by side peacefully for years, the women explain.

“During the perahera, the Muslim people provide water and drinks. If the tables had been turned, we would have protected them,” says Fathima Safina, whose husband was badly injured in Sunday’s rioting.

Sinhalese shop owners and residents insist that the violent mobs were mostly outsiders. They acknowledge that some villagers were sympathetic to the Bodu Bala Sena cause, but this was a minority.

“There are a few people here who won’t listen to reason. But most people here live peacefully. We need the Muslims as much as they need us. We do business with them daily,” says Premasiri Saputhanthri who runs a small grocery shop in the Ambepitiya village.

But the Muslim villagers say someone had to point out Muslim-owned homes and businesses to the mobs.

Twenty-one-year-old Faizana from Seenawatte, Aluthgama, says the mobs had burnt her house, where she lives with 13 others, and hoisted a Buddhist flag on the property. Hers was the only Muslim house in the entire block, says Faizana. “Someone told them that it was a Muslim home,” she says. About 2,000 people take shelter at this Dharga Town mosque, many of them spending the day with relatives or salvaging their belongings from partially-destroyed homes to sleep there every night.

“There is nothing left,” says Fasmiyah, a resident of Marikkar Road, Adhikarigoda, another Muslim settlement in Dharga Town. “Only ashes.”

Harrowing and sinister stories

The residents of the Seenawatte and Adhikarigoda villages tell harrowing and sinister stories about their flight on Sunday night, from the advancing mobs.

The crowds that laid siege to the settlements wore black helmets and boots, says Fasmiyah. “They broke gates and used them as shields. No harm could come to them. How did they have uniforms if this was not already planned?” she asks.

When the mob headed towards her home that night, 65-year-old A.R.F. Kareemah fled to a paddy field nearby to hide. “It was pitch dark and the leeches bit me all the way up to my knees,” she recounts.

dsi1

Kareemah sobs out her story, clutching my arm. “I built my house with ‘seettuwas’ after my husband died eight years ago,” she says, explaining a traditional lot draw system of pooling cash. “It was pretty, my house,” Kareemah sobs, “but only I know the hardship behind it.”

All over Ambepitiya and Aluthgama, the vandalism has targeted Muslim businesses and homes. A few Sinhalese-owned shops, including one cushion works business, have been attacked, but most of them have been left unscathed. Many of the displaced in Beruwala and Dharga Town Aluthgama were fairly prosperous Muslim tradespeople only four days ago.

A few metres from Al Humeisara, stray dogs are lapping at several kilos of lard, where a Muslim-owned bakery store’s stocks have been dragged out into the street and set ablaze. The attackers have been careful not to set the entire building on fire because two Sinhalese-owned shops adjoin the bakery store.

Other businesses have been less fortunate, some of them, like Najeem’s gem polishing shop, entirely destroyed. While many houses have been destroyed in the riots, the mob has specifically targeted places of business – garages, garment factories, gem stores and fridge repairs hops, striking at the beating heart of a people who live by trade.

dis4

“It is as if we had to be punished for prosperity,” says Yasmina Farook of Aluthgama. The women claim the Bodu Bala Sena and its supporters are filled with frustrated, unemployed people. They do not believe this war against the Muslims has anything to do with race or religion. Sunday night’s rioting had a far more sinister aim – to cripple the Muslim community economically.

“We must pay for their poverty,” Farook says scornfully. “Are they happy now we are destitute?”

Simmering anger

Simmering anger about the violence directed at Muslims for no apparent reason threatens to taint life in the aftermath of the religious unrest that has gripped the region. Relations between the Sinhalese and Muslim communities that must again live side by side, once life returns to normal, could be altered forever, unless steps are taken to resolve the conflicts and rebuild trust between the communities.

“They did this with the Tamils too,” says Sharmila, an elderly resident of the Al Humeinsara camp. “They pushed and pushed them until they retaliated. Then they called them terrorists and that is what they became,” the woman says.

Positions are hardening in Aluthgama too. One displaced woman at the Dharga Town Mosque says all they ever wanted was to live in peace, to work and earn a living. They had never asked for special treatment or a carved-out section of the country. “Now our hearts are filling with hurt,” she says, “how much more are they going to push us?”

Pix by Ishara S. Kodikara (AFP) and Shilpa Samaratunge

Courtesy: FT

 

Is The BBS The Boss? The BBS Bid For Power And How To Beat It

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Dr Dayan Jayatilleka


There are scarier things, worse things, than Black July ’83. Aluthgama signaled the possibility of such things.


The sequence of events, the lethal violence, the horror of Aluthgama were reminiscent of July ’83 —and to go by Tarzie Vittachchi’s Emergency ’58, the anti-Tamil riots of that year. That is the element of dark continuity, which we must never forget in our haste to define the present as the worst of times. But there is also the element of discontinuity which makes Aluthgama potentially far more dangerous.


If we are to fight this phenomenon successfully, it is necessary to correctly identify the beast. So far it has been misidentified as the scarier mask of the ruling clan, the dark avatar of Sinhala Buddhism or the instrument of neoliberal capitalism. It may be all of these or some of these, but these are not the most important or dangerous aspects of its present-day manifestation, the BBS, and the Aluthgama outbreak.


What is most significant about Aluthgama was the speech by the BBS’ Galagodaatte Gnanasara, the main demagogue but not the main strategist of that formation (the latter role is played by the far senior figure of Ven Kirame Wimalajothi). A careful listening tells me that the BBS project aims at nothing less than state power itself. The discourse signals nothing less than the intention to dictate to the state itself and in that sense, to capture the state. The BBS demagogue claims ownership of the state and the right order how it must behave. The claim of ownership is of course, not personal. Nor is it organizational i.e. limited to the BBS. The claim is not that circumscribed. The claim of ownership of the state is made in ethno religious terms, that of Sinhala Buddhism. That however, is a disguise. The real claim is that of a definite social stratum is the legitimate owner of the state and should therefore be able to prescribe the state’s policy and practice. The aim and claim is to direct the state. The stratum on behalf of which the BBS stakes this claim is the Sinhala Buddhist clergy.


This is new. It may be the case that the Rajapaksas (singular or plural) extended patronage to the BBS. It might even be that certain elements of the state apparatuses thought to do with the BBS what Pakistan’s ISI did in the 1990s with and for the Taliban. In some senses we have been here before, and Galagodaatte Gnanasara is the new Elle Gunawansa while Kirama Wimalajothi is the new Madihe Pannaseeha. Whatever the provenance and patronage though, the phenomenon has metastasized.


In Aluthgama we witnessed a dangerous replay of July ‘83 in the sense that there was a situation of dual power. Who controls the situation: the state apparatuses or the Sinhala Buddhist ‘street’? However, the BBS posed a further question in Aluthgama: who controls the state itself and its direction; its actions? The legitimate state authorities or the monks? Even more serious was the contestation of legitimacy itself: who is more legitimate, the elected civilian power or the monkhood?


What the BBS aims to do is to control the State. This is a qualitative escalation from the decades-long role of the hawkish Buddhist clergy of being a lobby, pressure group and spoiler (Sinhala only in ’55-’56, the BC Pact ‘57, the APC proposals and Annexure ’84). Galagodaatte Gnanasara’s speech signals the new objective of laying claim to control of the State and indeed the new self-image of being such a controlling force or a contender for State power (as distinct from electoral office). Gnanasara directly addresses and appeals to the armed forces and police over the heads of the constitutional political power. He warns the political power by reminding it that the armed forces and police are Sinhala.


The strategy is simple: the sociological (ethno-linguistic, ethno-religious) composition of the state apparatus is sought to be used to leverage the state to act not merely in the interests of a leading role for the Sinhala Buddhists, but a more explicit role which ranges from outright domination up to (or down to) exclusive monopoly of power, economic presence and existential space. The BBS discourse is not merely one of Sinhala Buddhist rulership but of a model of society and politics most charitably described as apartheid but more accurately described as enslavement —with its accompaniment, existential dread and terror.


The agency of control of the state—the aspirant directors of the state—are the Buddhist monks, of which the BBS is the vanguard.


The three dead Muslims, killed it would seem by gunshots in a drive-by indicate that a new phenomenon, an armed militia may be in play. This Ku Klux Klan doesn’t even have to wear sheets and hoods! Of course, the BBS project is to transform the armed forces and police themselves into militias of the Sinhala Buddhist monkhood.


Can the project succeed? It is six decades or more since the rot set in; six decades or more in which this has been incubating. The ideology and consciousness showed heightened levels of toxicity with the rhetoric (beamed live on national TV) at the funeral of Rev Soma. The egg is now beginning to hatch and the monster is showing the top of its scaly head. The monster is not simply that of racism, religious chauvinism, neoliberal capitalism, neo-imperialist conspiracy or Rajapaksaism. It is (as I described it a year ago) ethno-religious fascism and its project is the installation of a social and political order that is theocratic fascism. It is the fascist character that makes it lay claim to the state.


This is way beyond a tactic to gain marginal electoral advantage on the part of the Rajapaksas. The derisive references to President Rajapaksa in Galagodaatte Gnansara’s Aluthgama ‘discourse’ were utterly significant. A social shift has taken place in this country and the BBS hopes to translate it into a power shift. Aluthgama was a testing ground. The BBS’ strategy is a coalition of the Three Ms: Monks, Mobs and Military. Plan A would be rule by these three forces, under the dominance of the monks: theocratic fascism. Plan B would be the installation of military rule backed by the Buddhist clergy: a Sinhala Buddhist coup and junta. Plan C may be a Manchurian Candidate scenario: the installation as the country’s leader of a personality who can be counted on to approximate Plan A. The triggering of anti-Muslim but also anti-minority rioting throughout the country, a military ouster of the Northern PC, a replay of the assassination of SWRD Bandaranaike by a monk in 1959, a situation of chaos and anarchy, may all be part of the plan to seize power or install its preferred ruler.


How to beat back the BBS? It is pointless debating the merits of one or another strategy. It is far more realistic to activate or encourage resistance from as many points as possible. The basis can be a clash of interests with the BBS or a clash of values. A purely values-based or ideas-based resistance to the BBS, though necessary and laudable, would be insufficiently broad and deep. An interest-based strategy is far more likely to succeed though it is not necessary that everyone subscribe to such a platform. After Gnanasara’s speech and the violence in Aluthgama, there is a clear conflict of interest between the ruler(s) and the BBS, which presents itself as a contender for the role of who should direct the state and whom the State apparatus should obey. There is always a contradiction between the Boss and whoever wants to be, thinks he is or should be the boss. The Rajapaksas are a status quoist power; the BBS is a radically revisionist force. The former also have a far greater resonance among the populace at large.


Leon Trotsky famously said that in the struggle against fascism he would be willing to unite with the Devil’s grandmother. While all political parties and rulers (most certainly including the Rajapaksas) have contributed directly or indirectly to the problem and are thereby part of it, they are also potentially part of the solution. Having been enablers of the BBS, the Rajapaksas are objectively the most readily available potential counterweight and counterbalance to the BBS and cannot realistically be ignored. However a Realist strategy of counterbalancing by existing power centers is not the only legitimate one. A broad Left front of which the JVP is the leading and main force (while drawing in the FSP, the IUSF et al) is another track of what must surely be a multi-track strategy against fascism.


The officer corps of the Sri Lankan military, the bureaucracy, the judiciary, the corporate sector, the trade unions, the student unions, the professionals, the political parties, the media, the intelligentsia, the international system (including Sri Lanka’s friends) should all be made aware of how destructive the BBS project is to their interestsand should be motivated to oppose and defeat it. The most effective weapons to stop the March of the BBS are an intelligent patriotism, a reasoned appeal to Sinhala interests and a more authentic, generously inclusive and pluralist Buddhism.

 

http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=105506

 

Religious rallies prohibited

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Police said that Rallies, which would create ethnic or religious hatred, would not be allowed in the future, the Police said today.
Police Spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana announcing the decision to ban such rallies, urged the people not to participate in such rallies.
He said legal action would be taken against those who participated in such rallies.
SSP Rohana said the decision to ban rallies was made after the Police received information that one group had organised protests tomorrow.( Darshana Sanjeewa)
http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/48750-religious-rallies-prohibited.html
 

Request for donations to riot victims

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  • By  Rukshana Rizwie Sunday, 22 June 2014 02:08
  • When news broke that several homes had been torched and livelihoods have been subsequently lost, a knee-jerk reaction by many, regardless of their race, religion or opinion of the riots was to send relief efforts.
  • The long list of requirements grew shorter by day. As of now there has been ample distribution of dry rations. Four lorries transporting essential items were dispatched on Tuesday, nine on Wednesday and six on Thursday respectively, all of which transported dry rations for each families displaced.
  • Infant formula is still an urgent need and remains a priority at the distribution centers. The distribution centers are located at the Dehiwala Jumma Masjid and the Akbar Mosque at Slave Island. Anyone is free to come at anytime and give relief items they feel would help these families in despair.

    Officials at the centers say the All Ceylon Jammithul Ulema and several individuals have been very gracious in not just meeting the necessary requirements but assisting with the distribution process as well. One of them conferred that there were instances when the volunteers could not reach some of the villages, at which point Sinhalese residents in the area escorted them and helped distribute the aid.

    The focus, they say, will be shifted from purely distributing dry rations to a long-term effort such as reconstruction of homes and the assisting people resume their home based businesses by next week.

    List of urgently needed items

    Clothes for adults and infants
    Sanitary wear 
    Milk powder for little children
    Drinking water
    Toothbrushes and toothpaste
    Soap and Baby soap
    Towels
    Pampers
    Tea/coffee
    Medial Supplies like bandages, Panadol, Samahan, tissues, Axe oil, surgical spirit, Dettol, etc
    Slipper (sizes 5-8)
    Undergarments
    Plastic Cups and Plates
    Prayer mats
    Shawls
    Safety pins
    Torches and batteries
    School uniforms, exercise books and stationeries.

    http://www.nation.lk/edition/news-online/item/30536-request-for-donations-to-riot-victims.html
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    ජාතිවාදී, ආගම්වාදී රැස්වීම් සියල්ල තහනම්

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    June 22, 2014 at 5:30 pm | lanka C news

     

    ඉදිරියේදී රට තුල ආගම්වාදය හෝ ජාතිවාදය වපුරන කිසිදු රැුසවීමක් පැවැත්වීමට අවසර නොදීමට පොලීසිය තීරණය කර තිබේ.

    මෑත කාලයේ ඇති වී තිබෙන ප‍්‍රවණතා සැලකිල්ලට ගනිමින් මෙම තීරණය ගත් බව පොලිස් මාධ්‍ය ප්‍රකාශක ජ්‍යෙෂ්ඨ පොලිස් අධිකාරී අජිත් රෝහණ මහතා කොලඹදී මාධ්‍ය අමතමින් පැවසීය.

    http://lankacnews.com/sinhala/news/117827/

     

    The IGP must resign!

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  • By   Sunday, 22 June 2014 02:16
  • The IGP  must  resign!

    Editorial

    These are days of frayed tempers, perceived grievances, real threats and real fears that can cloud and blow away reason.  This is the hour of the rumor-monger.  This is the hour of the extremist.  This is the hour of the passionate, the hour or the irrational.
    The word on the street is ‘Aluthgama’.  Indeed it is the word on every street where matters of yesterday, today and tomorrow, matters of the nation and its destiny, matters of unrest and fear and other related matters are discussed.  Aluthgama moved from the Kalutara district to Colombo and Badulla.  ‘This is 83-July all over again,’ some said.  Not true, but we could get there.

    There were arguments over who threw the first stone, as though it justified throw-return and more.  After all it is hard to pin it down to first stone cast when there were only a handful of STF men to ‘protect the (BBS) procession’ in Dharga Town.  An STF source said, ‘That’s why the Muslims keep saying that the STF sided with the mob.  We didn’t.  We were acting on our orders which were specific and were about protecting the procession.’  It was not, let us repeat, not a peaceful procession.  There were anti-Muslim slogans, whipping of hysteria, and undisguised inciting of violence against Muslims in a Muslim majority area by people who had petrol cans and carried weapons. Literally minutes after that ‘first stone’ Muslims and Muslim-owned premises were attacked and torched in Adhikarigoda, Aluthgama and the interior of Dharga Town.

    Most of all, it is hard to pin it down on first stone when Buddhist monks torched a shopping complex in Aluthgama more than a month ago over an alleged molestation of a Buddhist child by a Muslim, the relative of the shop owner, when in fact CCTV evidence disproved the allegation.Blaming first-stone-thrower is therefore a joke.
    If Azath Salley was arrested for ‘hate speech’, why is Rev Galagodaaththe Gnanasaara still free?  Why did the Police not prevent the BBS rally despite many pleas to do so from many quarters (a planned ‘BBS’ rally in Mawanella was after all stopped)?  Why was the STF not ordered to maintain peace but instructed only to ‘protect the procession’?  Why didn’t the police stop armed mobs scurrying around with violent intent (not just in Aluthgama on Sunday but elsewhere too thereafter)?

    Most importantly, why did the Inspector General of Police N.K. Ilangakoon state that a Buddhist monk had been assaulted when he had no evidence to support the claim?  The Judicial Medical Officer’s report which would have either proven or refuted the said monk’s claim (as of Friday) has not been issued.  Highly placed sources at the Attorney General’s Office could not confirm that the monk had indeed been assaulted. 
    If there was justification of last Sunday’s violence and if justification spurred further violence the blame falls squarely on the IGP for making the following (irresponsible) statement: ‘Three Muslims in a trishaw assaulted the driver and the Buddhist monk. The Buddhist monk was in hospital receiving treatment for two days and then discharged.  He was to be taken to the temple in a procession when the incident occurred.’

    The IGP offered speculation as fact. That’s incompetent and irresponsible. Yesterday the Muslim-owned ‘No Limit’ outlet in Panadura was torched.  While it is not clear how it all happened, it is clear that the sequence of events prompt people to connect dots and reach conclusion, wrong though they may be.  Tinkering with the truth and lying outright causes friction, throw out sparks and cause infernos that are hard to put out.
    It is wrong to blame it all on one person, but it is equally wrong not to point out those who provided fuel and matchstick, tossed in extra firewood and refused to douse it even though they had all the water necessary to do the job.  We have to take issue with the IGP.  He must resign forthwith.

    Last modified on Sunday, 22 June 2014 00:02http://www.nation.lk/edition/latest-top-stories/item/30540-the-igp-must-resign.html
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    Dickwella religious representatives exchange numbers - No room for external influences

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  • By  Sajitha Prematunge
  • Sunday, 22 June 2014 00:00
  • Dickwella religious representatives exchange numbers - No room for external influences

    In an exemplary act of solidarity religious leaders, both Muslim and Buddhist, met at the Muhiyibdeen Jumma Mosque at Yonakpura, Dickwella, recently. Chief Incumbent Priests of eight Buddhist temples in Dickwella led by Dickwella Shasanarakshaka Bala Mandalaya President Ven Godellewela Rathananda Thera spent close to two hours at the Mosque last Monday night. The decision to visit the mosque was made on the instructions of Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development Dullas Alahapperuma.

    The delegation of monks accompanied by members of Dickwella Pradeshiya Sabha led by Chairman Krishali Muthukumarana, Dickwella Police OIC, Lasantha Dadallage and other Government officials were warmly welcomed by the Moulavi of Muhiyideen Jumma Mosque Mohamed Akbar Mohamed Shamil.
    Speaking to The Nation, Dickwella Pradeshiya Sabha led by Chairman Krishali Muthukumarana informed that such acts of solidarity were nothing new to Dickwella. “Due to a conflict that occurred in Dickwella a few years ago, we decided to form a conflict reporting committee,” said Krishali Muthukumarana. Over the years , the Dickwella Conflict Reporting Committee met regularly in order to solidify religious and racial harmony.

    “On the instructions of Minister Dullas Alahapperuma, the Committee met again last Monday at an emergency meeting held at the Dickwella Pradeshiya Sabha,” informed Krishali Muthukumarana. Both Muslim and Buddhist religious leaders, Dickwella Police OIC, Lasantha Dadallage, members of Dickwella Pradeshiya Sabha and representatives of Dickwella youth took part in the discussions.

    “As a result of these discussions the Moulavi of Muhiyideen Jumma Mosque at Yonakpura, Dickwella,  Mohamed Akbar Mohamed Shamil extended an invitation to Chief Incumbent Priests of eight Buddhist temples in Dickwella to visit the Mosque.”
    Dickwella Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman, Krishali Muthukumarana explained that conflicts take place due to lack of understanding. “If a Buddhist bumps into a Buddhist there is no problem. But if a Muslim bumps into a Buddhist, it’s a big issue. Muslims are not familiar with Buddhist culture and Buddhists are not familiar with Muslim culture. This sort of environment is conducive to conflict. At village level cricket there are separate teams for Muslims and Sinhalese. But in Dickwella it’s different. This sort of solidarity has to seep into village level community based activities as well,” reiterated Krishali Muthukumarana.

    “The president of the Muhiyibdeen Jumma Mosque, who was abroad at the time of the Aluthgama incident saw this as a great opportunity to further strengthen our religious and racial ties,” said Muhiyibdeen Jumma Mosque, Dayaka Sabha Secretary,  Mohammed Affan. “We welcomed the Nayaka Theras in the traditional Muslim way, with both hands. We don’t have chairs in the mosque. But we brought a few chairs in for the event.”
    According to Affan Dickwella’s religious solidarity dates back to 1452, when the daughter of Parakrama Bahu VI, Bisomenike married Yemenite, Ashek Kuthud Muhammad. They were gifted Dickwella, then Digali Gambaraya, Kuwaiti for ‘prosperous earth’, by the King.

    “Since then the relatives of princess Bisomenike and those of Ashek have been living in harmony,” said Affan. In 1575, the Mosque built by Ashek was leveled to the ground by the Portugese, explained Affan. “It was the monks of the Galkanda and Digawalukarama Temple who helped the Muslims who still help and work together with us to this day.”
    “All these conflicts, including the conflict that took place in Dickwella in 2009, were the result of external influences,” pointed out Affan. “We must work together to reject such influences, leaving no room for rumors. During the discussions that followed the Aluthgama incident we exchanged phone numbers, so the truth to any rumor can be determined right away.”

    “When Aluthgama launched harthal, we didn’t. Therefore there was no harthal against the harthal,” said Dickwella Shasanarakshaka Bala Mandalaya President Ven Godellewela Rathananda Thera. “It’s because the situation was remedied before it blew out of proportion.” Godellewela Rathananda Thera explained that the conflict that took place in Dickwella few years ago acted as a precedent.
    Moreover, he commended the residents of Muslim Street, in which Budu Raja Maha Vihara is located, for organizing the Dansala that coincided with the temple’s Vesak procession. “Dickwella was spared of a full-fledged conflict due to the unity of the mosques and temples in the area. We are positive that nothing bad will happen in Dickwella as long as this solidarity is maintained.”

    http://www.nation.lk/edition/news-features/item/30519-dickwella-religious-representatives-exchange-numbers-no-room-for-external-influences.html

     

    Aluthgama and Beruwala ‘burnt’ by - Fires of racial hatred

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  • By  Sandun Jayawardana and Arthur Wamanan Sunday, 22 June 2014
  • Aluthgama and Beruwala ‘burnt’ by - Fires of  racial hatred
  • Some say it started after some stones were pelted at Sinhalese Buddhists from a Mosque. Others blame a fiery speech targeting Muslims by the General Secretary of Bodu Bala Sena (BBS). Many blame the Police for allowing a BBS rally to proceed in an area where ethnic tensions were already at boiling point. Whatever the cause behind last week’s deadly riots in Aluthgama and Beruwala, the end result is clear for all to see; lives have been lost, houses and shops burnt, families displaced and livelihoods ruined. Meanwhile, there are fears that the worst communal violence to engulf the country since the July riots of 1983 might send it spiraling towards another ethnic conflict, barely five years after the defeat of the LTTE.

    As of June 19 (Thursday), three people had been confirmed dead as a result of the violence, with 39 others injured, according to official figures released by the Police. Police Spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana said seven of the injured were police officers. However, an exact number of those killed and injured was uncertain, with some figures putting the numbers higher. Police had also arrested 55 persons in connection with the violence as of June 19. Thirty-six of these suspects were remanded after being produced before courts, the police spokesman further said. The majority of those arrested were Sinhalese, he noted. A police curfew imposed for Aluthgama and Beruwala areas on Sunday was finally lifted on Wednesday morning (June 18), though a heavy security presence, including army personnel is still visible. 
    The number of those displaced by the violence continued to be sketchy, with many of those affected taking shelter with friends and relatives in the aftermath. This is in addition to over 1,000 who were being housed in schools and Mosques in the area.

    The Government and law enforcement authorities have been accused of being slow to respond to the situation. Accusations have also been made by some members of the Muslim community that Police and Special Task Force (STF) personnel watched passively as rioters attacked and burned Muslim-owned shops and businesses, along with houses. However, addressing a special media briefing in Kalutara on Monday (June 16), Inspector General of Police (IGP) N.K. Illangakoon vehemently denied these allegations, claiming that the police had actually prevented the situation from escalating. While admitting that police had received complaints requesting them to prevent the rally from going ahead due to fears of violence, the IGP said police allowed the rally to go ahead after speaking to its organizers and Muslims in the area. The police did not have fears of clashes breaking out as a result of the rally, the IGP is reported to have said.

    Much of the blame for the violence has been laid at the feet of Bodu Bala Sena. The organization held a rally in Aluthgama on June 15 (Sunday). The rally, attended by thousands was held to protest the alleged assault on a Buddhist monk and his driver on June 12 (Poson Poya Day) by several Muslim men. Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera, made a fiery speech at the rally, warning Muslims that if any of them were to lay even a finger on a Buddhist after that Sunday, that would be the end of all of them. It was after this rally that the clashes occurred.

    When contacted regarding the riots and the subsequent allegations against him and his organization, Ven. Gnanasara Thera refuted them all, blaming ‘Muslim extremists’ for the violence. He said BBS was invited by Buddhist leaders in the area in the wake of tensions that prevailed after the alleged assault on Poson Poya. Contrary to allegations that they were there to rile up the mob, BBS general secretary claimed they actually went there to ease tensions, but the situation got out of hand after Buddhists were attacked. “We were escorting the Thera who was assaulted back to his temple in our vehicles when people came under attack. It was only due to our involvement that the violence did not spread. Otherwise, many more would have been killed,” he claimed.

    When queried whether the speech he made could not be classified as ‘hate speech’ and one designed to instigate violence, the Thera denied this was so. However, he admitted he used ‘strong language’ in his criticism as the facts had to be made clear that the Sinhala Buddhists were being unfairly singled out by everyone.

    The Thera blamed the media and the government for labeling Sinhala Buddhists as ‘culprits’ for everything when nothing could be further from the truth. 
    In the wake of the violence, police obtained court orders to ban protests by groups allegedly backed by BBS in Mawanella. However, BBS vehemently denied any connection with the protest or its organizers. While BBS has no plans to hold any rallies of its own in the near future, Ven. Gnanasara Thera however blamed Police for acting out of a ‘misplaced fear’ of the organization in trying to block their protests.

    The incident in Aluthgama sparked an outburst of reactions from several quarters, including politicians. Justice Minister and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader Rauff Hakeem, who visited the affected areas the following day, became emotional as he stated that he had let down his people by not ensuring their protection.
    He initially criticized the Government and the law enforcement authorities for failing to prevent the BBS meeting from being held, despite being aware of the tensions that prevailed leading up to the meeting.
    Hakeem initially said he was contemplating on quitting the Government due to its continuous failure to take actions against BBS. However, in subsequent press briefings, the Minister softened his stance where ultimately it was announced that MPs of the SLMC would boycott Parliamentary sessions on June 18.

    Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Investment Promotion, Faiszer Musthapha stated that this was not the time for blame games and that all the people should work together to build understanding between all communities.
    Musthapha who was in the area while it was tense, stated that it was a difficult situation to handle as incidents were reported from several areas at the same time. Musthapha visited the area with IGP, N.K. Illangakoon.
    President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was away in Bolivia at the time of unrest arrived in the country on Wednesday (18), visited Beruwala where he met with residents belonging to both communities.
    During his visit, the President had assured an impartial inquiry into the incident and had stated that he cannot allow any harm or damage to any person or property.
    He also assured that the Government would help rebuild the homes and businesses of those who were affected by the unrest.

    Meanwhile, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) has taken initiatives to hold discussions with relevant authorities including Government officials in order to ensure such incidents do not occur in future.
    An official attached to the ACJU told The Nation that the organization had taken measures to provide relief and other assistance to the affected families.   
    An island-wide ‘Hartal’ was also launched on Thursday by Muslims in protest against the violence. Many Muslim-owned shops were closed as a result. 
    While the curfew has been lifted and the situation slowly returning to what could be termed as ‘normal,’ if one were to go by the Government’s assertions, the situation seems far from settled. The ramifications of the unfortunate violence look set to continue into the coming weeks and months.

    http://www.nation.lk/edition/fine/item/30434-aluthgama-and-beruwala-%E2%80%98burnt%E2%80%99-by-fires-of-racial-hatred.html

     

    Sequence of Events

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    May 8

    A mob which includes three Buddhist monks set fire to a shopping complex situated in the Aluthgama town over an incident where a Buddhist child is alleged to have been molested inside a Muslim-owned shop on April 27. The shop is burnt despite CCTV footage showing no such incident took place.

    June 12 (Poson Poya Day)

    Chief Incumbent of the Kurunduwatta Sri Vijayaramaya Temple in Aluthgama, Ven. Ayagama Samitha Thera and his driver are allegedly assaulted by three Muslim youths after an altercation in Dharga Town. Thera makes a complaint to Aluthgama police and is admitted to hospital. All three youths are arrested on the same day and remanded till June 25.

    June 15

    The Aluthgama Shashanarakshaka Bala Mandalaya holds a rally in Aluthgama town to welcome Ven. Samitha Thera after he is discharged from hospital.  6.45pm – Police impose curfew on the Aluthgama police division after violence erupts. Curfew for the Beruwala police division is imposed soon afterwards. Two Muslim men are hacked to death during the violence. Over 40, both Sinhalese and Muslims, are injured. Seven police officers among them.

    June 16

    By 7.00pm, situation in Aluthgama and Beruwala brought largely under control after additional police, STF and Army units are brought in. Attacks occur further inland in Welipenna. One Tamil security guard working at a Muslim-owned farm is killed. Sinhalese and Muslim homes and businesses in the area attacked. 
    President Mahinda Rajapaksa, attending the G77 summit in Bolivia, takes to Twitter to urge all parties concerned to act with restraint.

    June 17

    Police curfew temporarily lifted in Aluthgama and Beruwala for four hours from 8.00am to 12.00pm to allow for essential services.

    June 18

    Police curfew, which had been in effect since the evening of June 15, finally lifted for both areas from 8.00am. President Rajapaksa visits Beruwala on his return from Bolivia.

    June 19

    Muslims around the island conduct ‘Hartals’ to protest the attacks on their community. Many Muslim-owned businesses close in Colombo and other towns.Inspector General of Police (IGP) N.K. Illangakoon assures police will take action against BBS provided there is sufficient evidence they orchestrated violence.

    June 20

    Tense situation leading up to Friday Jummah prayers over fears there will be street protests. Police increase security in Colombo and other areas. No incidents reported.

    June 21

    Tense situation reported from Panadura after the Nolimit clothing store in the town is completely destroyed due to a fire. Some Muslims allege the fire was caused by a petrol bomb attack. Police state cause will only be revealed following issuance of Government Analyst’s report.
    President Mahinda Rajapaksa appoints a high level commitee to enquire into the series of incidents.

    http://www.nation.lk/edition/news-online/item/30541-sequence-of-events.html

     

    ‘වෛරය වපුරන රැස්වීම් කාටවත් බෑ’

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    ආගමික ජාතිකත්වය මත වෛරය ඇති කරන තාලේ කිසිදු රැස්වීමකට  ඉඩ නොදෙන බව පොලිස් මාධ්‍ය ප්‍රකාශක ජ්‍යෙෂ්ඨ පොලිස් අධිකාරී අජිත් රෝහණ මහතා පවසයි.

     

    http://www.lankadeepa.lk/index.php/top_story/244320

     

    බේරුවල-අලූත්ගම ගැටුමෙන් කඩ 300කට අබ සරණයි

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    June 22, 2014 at 8:40 am | lanka C news

    පසුගිදා බේරුවල හා අලූත්ගම ඇති වූ ප‍්‍රචණ්ඩකාරී සිද්ධි හේතුවෙන් නඩසාප්පු 300කට අසාන්න සංඛ්‍යාවකට බරපතල හානි සිදුවී ඇති බව පොලීසිය පවසයි.

    පසුගිය 20 වන දින වන විට අලූත්ගම පොලිස් බල ප‍්‍රදේශයෙන් පැමිණිලි 200කට අධික ප‍්‍රමාණයක් පොලීසියට ලැබී ඇති අතර ඉන් බහුතරය නිවාස හා ව්‍යාපාරික ස්ථාන ගිනි ගැනීම්ය.

    මේ අතර වාර්තා වන්නේ පසුගිය 15 වැනි දින කොළඹ මාලිගාවත්තේ සිට මැර කණ්ඩායම් දක්‍ෂිණ අධිවේගී මාර්ගය ඔස්සේ වැලිපැන්න හරහා අළුත්ගමට පැමිණ ඇති බවයි.

     

    http://lankacnews.com/sinhala/news/117800/

     

    සිංහල මුස්ලිම් සමගිය තවත් තර වෙයි

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    2014 ජූනි මස 20 15:18:36 | . , බිමල් ශ්‍යාමන් ජයසිංහ

     

     

    බණ්ඩාරගම රයිගම්පුර සිංහල මුස්ලිම් එකමුතු ක්‍රීඩා සමාජය අලුත්ගම හා බේරුවල  ගැටුම්වලින් අවතැන් වු මුස්ලිම් ජනතාවට අද දිවා ආහාරය පිරිනැමීය.

    අටුළුගම මීගහමුල්ල මුස්ලිම් පල්ලියේ ප්‍රධාන පුජක මවුලවි ජලීල් මහතාට  ක්‍රිඩා සමාජයේ සභාපති  නිමල් පෙරේරා හා සම සංවිධායක ඒ චන්දන මහත්වරු එම ආහාර බාර දුන්හ.

     

    http://www.lankadeepa.lk/index.php/articles/243952

       

    Is Muslim identity a liability in Sri Lanka?

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    Rising attacks against Muslims by Buddhist supremacist groups raise questions about community’s safety.

    Last updated: 21 Jun 2014 08:36
    Ameen Izzadeen

    Ameen Izzadeen is the deputy editor of the Sunday Times, Sri Lanka and International Editor of the Wijeya Newspaper Group, Sri Lanka. He also writes a weekly column for the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka.
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    Although President Rajapaksa pledged action, the affected people are not convinced and want BBS banned [AFP]

    Never again 1983! Sri Lankans had so resolved after the horrors of the July 1983 - the darkest and the bloodiest month in the island nation's post-independence history, the month that plunged this country into a 26-year separatist war, the month that brought an international shame on the South Asian country.

    Even when Buddhism's holiest shrine in Sri Lanka - the Temple of the Tooth, the Buddhist equivalent of Muslim Mecca - was bombed by the separatist terrorists, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1998, the Sinhalese, who account for 74 percent of the country's population, restrained themselves despite widespread anger.

    Their patience in the face of the provocation was a shining example of what Buddhism had taught. They thwarted the terrorists' plan to trigger a Sinhala-Buddhist backlash against the country's Tamils who make up 12 percent of the population, and thereby winning the world's support in the fight against the LTTE's armed rebellion for a separate state.

    The Sinhala Buddhist magnanimity was also evident when they celebrated the war victory in May 2009. No Tamil was harmed by the jubilant Sinhala people.

    Against this backdrop, the anti-Muslim mob violence this week in three coastal towns in the country's southwest appears to be an attempt to tarnish Buddhism's image as a philosophy of non-violence.

    Ironically, a Buddhist extremist group called Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) - meaning the army of the Buddhist power - led by ethno-fascist monks is in the forefront of the violence.

    Inside Story - Who is behind Sri Lanka's religious violence?

    The very name of the group runs counter to the four sublime states the Buddha wanted his followers to manifest: Love or loving-kindness (metta in Pali), compassion (karuna), sympathetic joy (mudita) and equanimity (upekkha).

    My Buddhist friends who watched the video clip containing the speech the BBS's de facto chief Galagoda-Atte Gnanasara made hours before the mob attack on Muslims in Aluthgama, Dharga town and Beruwala were livid.

    They said: How could he call himself a Buddhist monk? They could not understand why the police did not arrest him on a charge of spreading hate speech that drugged thousands of his followers to go on a rampage and attack Muslim houses, businesses and mosques in areas not far from the place where the first Muslim Arab traders landed in the eighth century AD.

    My Tamil friends were equally upset. They said they could understand the Muslim anger, fear and pain as this week's riots rekindled their memories of July 1983. One of them said she had felt for the first time in her life the pain of fear and being alienated when mobs came hunting for Tamils.

    Another related his story of how his Colombo house was burnt to ashes and how he and his family ran to a nearby Hindu temple to save their lives and lived there with little or no food among thousands of other Tamils for several days.

    Role of social media

    The stories we heard this week about the anti-Muslim riots were no different. The violence, which broke out on June 15 following a confrontation between a Buddhist monk and Muslim youths over an accident, has left a sense of fear among the Muslim community.

    Unlike the Tamils, many Muslims, who form 10 percent of the population, live among the Sinhalese and are scattered across the island nation.

    With the mainstream media downplaying the latest incident in an apparent bid to prevent the news from sparking further violence in other areas, the social media played a key role in disseminating news with videos, photographs and texts.

    Unlike the 1983 anti-Tamil riots, the social media made a big difference this time around giving us the news as it happened and let Sri Lankan leaders know that the world was watching.

    The hate speech of the BBS monk Gnanasara, who is being described as Sri Lanka's Ashin Wirathu - the monk who calls himself "Burma's bin Laden" - was circulated widely on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. We saw the mob charging and attacking houses and burning shops. We heard the cries of trapped Muslims inside mosques and the screams of two little girls who lost their father in the violence. As to who started the riots and who provoked whom, accounts vary and are vague.

    As Monday dawned, the three coastal towns were still under siege, with the Muslims accusing the police of enforcing the curfew only in their areas and taking little or no action against the mobs. An eerie calm has prevailed in the capital, Colombo, and its suburbs - home to a large number of middle class Muslims.

    The news about the attack on a pharmacy in Dehiwala on the outskirts of Colombo was making rounds on social media on Monday. Many Muslim parents did not send their daughters to school, while other Muslim girls were advised to remove their hijabs and long Panjabi trousers and hide them in their school bags at the slightest sign of any trouble. This indicates that Muslims' identity has become a liability in post-civil war Sri Lanka.

     

    As Muslims in the beleaguered towns still languish in agony and live in mosques and schools, there is little or no assurance that there would be no more anti-Muslim violence.

    Although, President Mahinda Rajapaksa soon after returning from Bolivia on June 18 rushed to the violence-hit areas and pledged action against the troublemakers, the affected people are not convinced.

    Stripped of their dignity and wealth, the Muslims want action against the perpetrators. They want the BBS banned and its leaders arrested. They ask if the president could get rid of the LTTE, why he is finding itdifficult to deal with the BBS.

    The frequency of attacks on minorities by members of hardline Buddhist groups - the BBS and its front groups - has been growing each passing day.

    Police inaction in bringing the perpetrators to justice has emboldened them to carry out more attacks not only on Muslims, but also on Christian places of worship.

    A member of a group calling itself "the Buddhists Questioning Bodu Bala Sena" told me in an interview last year that the situation was taking a dangerous turn because the BBS was planting seeds of hatred even in tender minds - children who attend Sunday schools conducted by the group's followers or sympathisers.

    Many critics connect the police inaction with the BBS' alleged links with Sri Lanka's Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brother of President Rajapaksa. But he has denied any such links.

    As a chilling warning to the Muslims that it was not over yet, a Buddhist monk, Wataraka Vijitha Thera - who has earned the wrath of the BBS for working for amity among Sri Lanka's different ethnic groups - was found lying unconscious on Thursday in a shrub in Panadura, a town 35km from Aluthgama. His hands and feet were tied. He told police that he was abducted and attacked by some monks.

    The alleged police inaction and the government's failure to crack down on hate speech as well as this week's violence, point to the breakdown of the rule of law, questioning the president's claim that "there are no minorities in this country. All are equal".

    In the aftermath of the latest violence, the Muslims want to say it loud: "We are Muslims, we are Sri Lankans."

    The anti-Muslim violence has set back Sri Lanka's march towards that haven of freedom, into which all citizens want their country move. That was what many Sri Lankans dreamt of when the separatist war ended in May 2009. But it will remain a dream if the likes of Galagoda-Atte Gnanasara enjoy freedom to spread hate speech.

    Ameen Izzadeen is the deputy editor of the Sunday Times, Sri Lanka and International Editor of the Wijeya Newspaper Group, Sri Lanka. He also writes a weekly column for the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka.

    The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/06/muslim-identity-liability-sri-l-201462075937574567.html

    Source:
    Al Jazeera
     

    After Alutgama / Beruwela SL Muslims at the Crossroads – 4

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    By Izeth Hussain

     

    It is evident that after the anti-Muslim action in Alutgama and Beruwela on June 15 and the days following, the Sri Lankan Muslim problem has entered a new phase. There is no need for me to recapitulate the well-known details pointing to the government’s complicity in the anti-Muslim action. Indeed it is more than complicity, and what happened should be properly regarded as a governmental anti-Muslim racist pogrom. What happened is not novel because it is the kind of thing that has been going on for the last couple of years or so. What is novel are the sustained and meticulously planned attacks on Muslim business establishments. This fits into the racist paradigm to which I have referred in earlier articles. According to this paradigm the Sinhalese, more particularly the Sinhalese Buddhists, should be at the apex of a hierarchical structure, a programme that required the kicking down of the Tamils. It is now the turn of the Muslims to be kicked down.


    Admittedly, what I have written above could be a simplification of the prevailing situation, because I have not taken into account what might be called the existential fears of the Sinhalese people, fears that go well beyond the supporters of the BBS. That is true, but it is not germane to my present purpose, which is to point the finger directly at the government as playing the crucial role in a racist anti-Muslim project. My point is that those existential fears are themselves the product of anti-Muslim racist propaganda. It should have been recognised as the duty of the government to counter that propaganda. Of course it did nothing of the sort because – just like our earlier governments – it has in effect acknowledged as its only duty in the ethnic field as that of establishing and maintaining the supremacy of the Lion Race.


    What should the Muslims do to safeguard their legitimate interests, to live in peace and dignity with their Sinhalese compatriots, as the majority of the Sinhalese themselves would wish? First of all we must recognise that their present options are far wider than they would have been in 1983. The government seems to be proceeding in its anti-Muslim project on the assumption that it can degrade the Muslims to second or third class status – the Tamils being already reduced to second class status – by stages, avoiding the provocation of a July ’83 holocaust. The government today gives permission to the BBS to hold a rally in Aluthgama – a decision deplored by no less than the BBS President himself – and the police look on while the racist mob torches Muslim business premises. Tomorrow and the day after the process can be replicated in Colombo and elsewhere until all major Muslim business is taken over by the Lion Race. But the international community has reacted in a way that would have been unimaginable in 1983, and so has the civil society in Sri Lanka – I need not go into details. These reactions seem to signify that the peoples of the world are making themselves heard, that the wretched of the earth are arising. It could be that the racist neo-Fascists in Sri Lanka and elsewhere are not going to have an easy time.


    One development in the civil society, still at an inchoate stage, could hold out much hope for the future. There seems to be a growing realisation that society is something like a seamless web in which what happens in one part impacts on the others. It means that what is done to the minorities today could be done to the majority tomorrow. In July ’83 the Sinhalese power elite and its henchmen sank into the reptilian and the bestial. The holocaust against the defenseless Tamils was organised meticulously in a cold-blooded way – hence my term "reptilian" – by and with the knowledge of the top racists of the Jay Gang. Thereafter the racist mobs were given the licence to sink into bestiality. The JVP, which was utterly racist at that time, enjoyed it all thoroughly. But towards the end of that same decade the JVP were ruthlessly butchering their fellow Sinhalese and were ruthlessly butchered in return. In several areas of Sri Lanka the youths were subjected to indiscriminate butchery on a horrifying scale. The paradise isle was drenched in blood and the greater part of it was transformed into a cemetery. An atrophy of the moral sensibility was shown by the Sinhalese power elite towards the Tamil minority in July ’83, and thereafter the Sinhalese majority itself paid a terrible price for that. Today the Muslim minority is being systematically denied the rule of law, and the Sinhalese majority is being denied it sporadically. Tomorrow–as the Bar Association of Sri Lanka seems to understand quite well–the Sinhalese majority will also be denied it systematically. It does seem that society is a seamless web.


    What specifically should the Sri Lankan Muslims do to safeguard their legitimate interests? I used to be against our Muslims internationalising their internal ethnic problem but today unlike in 1983, internationalisation is impossible to avoid. The Organisation of Islamic Countries comprising 57 member states – the largest international organization outside the UN – has made its statement on the recent anti-Muslim action, and the UN has spoken through the voice of Navy Pillay. The leader of the SLMC, Rauf Hakeem, has urged the Government to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, and the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues to take action on the present situation in Sri Lanka. Every Muslim political Party and every Muslim politician should back Hakeem’s highly commendable move.


    Internally, the Muslims should focus on two areas, the ongoing national struggle to make the Government respect the rule of law, and secondly the issues that have been bedeviling Muslim-Sinhalese relations for decades. I believe that it is crucially important to make Muslim action in these two areas part of a national struggle to bring about a better Sri Lanka. The campaign to make the government respect the rule of law is already under way, and the Muslims should support that campaign in every way possible. As for the issues bedeviling Muslim-Sinhalese relations, individual Muslims such as myself can write articles on them – and that certainly is necessary – but their usefulness will be limited as individual Muslims may not be seen as having much of a representative capacity. What really is required is a group consisting mainly of Muslims and Sinhalese to put together papers on those issues in a readable form, aimed mainly at opinion-makers and decision-makers. That could be followed by translations into the vernaculars to reach a wider audience.


    The project that I have in mind will take some time to mature. In the meanwhile I propose writing some articles on some of those issues, focusing initially – if I can get sufficient data on them – on those that seem to be seen as posing an existential threat to the Sinhalese. One is the spread of Wahabism, or what might more appropriately be called "political Islam". The second is the supposed demographic threat according to which the Muslims are multiplying so fast that before long Sri Lanka will become a predominantly Muslim country. The third is the alleged economically privileged position of the Muslims. All three issues, I believe, are nonsensical, but I believe also that it will be irresponsible and stupid to dismiss them as unworthy of serious consideration because they are nonsensical. The point is that the nonsensical could have behind it irrational fears, but those irrational fears could be very real, and besides irrational fears could carry a high incendiary potential. The government will not address those irrational fears because they accord nicely with its own anti-Muslim project. It is up to the civil society to address them.   -     This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

     

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