15 March 2018

Enforce One Law & Eliminate Extremism in Sri Lanka  

A country must have one common law equal to all & followed by all. Those who set laws must also follow the laws they set. No one can be above the law of the land. While there should be an agreeable set of common laws, we can accept some special privileges but who enjoys these special privileges and why must be made clear. However, this cannot warrant the handful who have special immunity to do as they like. It is the lack of implementing the rule of law without bias while also implementing law with bias that has created all the problems that prevail in Sri Lanka.

People must be aware of the laws & punitive actions for its violations. People must also feel confident that violators are punished without bias. Only then people will learn to respect the laws but also abide by them.
At all times the authorities must address the Actions & Actors of an incident not the Reaction or Reactors.

What is presently happening is that laws have become a sham because not only are they broken by the very persons preaching for good governance but they arrest and punish only targeted and select people.
Traffic laws are often broken by the very rich and police are reluctant to even arrest them knowing that a phone call would entail their release. Letting off an ordinary person for a minor traffic offence is nowhere near allowing a murderer & thief free however rich/poor, influential or not he/she is!

Accumulated similar incidents create anger in people and make them susceptible to external elements who want to play mischief.

These are the instances that lead to riots and violence because people are frustrated when there is selective justice. This results in fringe groups appearing taking the law into their hands. The situation is made worse when authorities take action against only them completely ignoring the other players who instigated the reaction.

Having said that, all are searching for the reasons for extremism. Before that we need to know what the extremisms are.
The below list is compiled having sought views of both minorities & majority and can be used as a basis to eliminate extremism.

Tamil extremism

1.         Attempts to separate Sri Lanka using fictitious reasons by Tamil leaders
2.         Deeming North and even East Sri Lanka to be home to ONLY Tamils hurtful statements by Tamil leaders that Sinhalese are not welcome
3.         Tamil leaders banning Tamils from marrying Sinhalese
4.         Internationally carrying out a campaign claiming ‘colonization’ when use of such terms conflicts with the constitutionally given fundamental right for citizens of Sri Lanka right to live wherever they like
5.         Statement by Tamil leaders to the effect that Buddhist sites/structures should be removed which has given justification for mischief makers to destroy historic & heritage sites. This constitutes cultural genocide
6.         Thesawalamai law introduced by the Dutch which denies right for non-Tamils to purchase lands in Jaffna infringes on the fundamental rights in the constitution giving citizens to right to live & purchase property.
7.         Violation of archaeological & national reserve laws by erecting structures with purposeful intent to destroy or remove remnants of artefacts that proof ancient Sinhala Buddhist ruins existed.
8.         Lies and distortions against Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces


Muslim extremism

When all citizens had to follow one law, Muslim minority saw fit to demand special privileged laws for themselves – these are new customs and trends emerging after 1980s and forced upon the Sri Lankan community on the guise of religious freedom.

Examples of which are
1.         Influence of Wahhabism cult which is now considered a global security threat
2.         Mandatory for all citizens to come under one common law & to be treated equally under Constitution of Sri Lanka & Penal Codes in place, however some Muslims are demanding Shariah law, Quazi Courts (rulings to be above that of the country law)
3.         Marrying children is a criminal offence but some Muslims demand to marry children
4.         Female genital mutilation is a criminal offence but Muslims demand its practice
5.         Marrying more than one person at a time is a criminal offence (Polygamy) but Muslims demand marrying 4 or more women
6.         Legal rights enjoyed by non-Muslim divorced women are not enjoyed by Muslim women
7.         Setting up of Arabic schools/universities as funds are pouring from Arab world when Muslims do not even speak Arabic.
8.         When a statutory body to measure quality & standard of foods exist demand for a Shariah compliant Halal food labeling system based on one minority religion emerged that forced non-Muslim companies to divulge ingredients of their food items and insisted that for a fee paid to a Muslim NGO they would have to label foods consumed locally & exported overseas. Such a system did not exist before. This labeling system continues and questions why a minority religious labeling system for a fee should be charged of all especially non-Muslims.
9.         Violation of archaeological & national reserve laws. Cutting forests/trees is a crime but a Muslim MP is disregarding all laws & settling only one ethnic group inspite even the Presidents intervention and assurance that the forests would not be endangered.
10.     Driving without helmets is a criminal offence for all, but Muslims ride without helmets & no action taken by authorities.
11.     It is mandatory for all citizens to show their face when entering public places (banks, ATM etc) but Muslims are now wearing clothes that even cover the face
12.     When it is statutory to remove full face helmets citing threats to national security, some Muslim women are driving vehicles fully covered in black making distinction impossible. There have been plenty of instances where men dressed as women in robes have robbed banks and homes! Some Muslims are even demanding to sit for public exams in robes where there is a big question mark as to who is sitting the paper when the identity is not revealed and no one can question the identity too. Some Muslims are even demanding NIC photos to be with fully covered photos when all others have strict rules & regulations to follow for the photo to be accepted for NIC or Passport (showing no teeth, clear distinction of one’s ear)
13.     When there is a common banking system for all citizens, some Muslims have insisted and included Shariah Banking/Islamic banking systems that even non-Muslim banks both private & public have had to adopt.
14.     When the Government & private NGOs are encouraging planned parenthood and non-Muslim women are coerced into stopping having children after the birth of the second child, Muslims are being encouraged to have more and more children and many fear this calculated into future years spells demographic change.
15.     Biased judgments – men belonging to an ethno-religious minority with petrol bombs arrested and brought before the magistrate who belonged to same ethno-religion but were immediately released on bail however when unarmed men belonging to the majority faith who were attending a funeral of a victim of the recent clashes were brought before the same magistrate and remanded. Such biased judgements are reasons for animosity. These need to be addressed immediately. If the police, lawyers, judges, magistrates did their job fairly and without bias half of all problems would be solved.
16.     It is also alleged that the allocation of school uniform vouchers for Sinhalese children is less than half of what is given to Muslims.
17.     Coercive methods used to convert non-Muslims.
18.     Black money as a result of illegal narcotic trade

Christian/Catholic extremism

1.         Violation of archaeological & national reserve laws by erecting structures with purposeful intent to destroy or remove remnants of artefacts that proof ancient Sinhala Buddhist ruins.
2.         Setting up faith healing centres in residential areas & adopting coercive methods of conversions especially in poverty stricken rural areas
3.         Christian dominated media/newspapers/websites/journalists fanning communal flames using their pen

Sinhala extremism

1.         Objecting to separating/dividing the country
2.         Claiming there is no Tamil Homeland.
3.   Objecting to Islamization of Sri Lanka having connected the dots in the speed in which mosques are proliferating, Muslim population is increasing (refer census statistics), shariah food labelling, shariah laws, banking, insistence of halal food at all hotels, catering etc, rise in fundamentalism seen by wahhabi influence prevailing over moderate Muslims who lived peacefully previously
4.         Objecting to unethical, biased, anti-Buddhist media coverage with examples
5.       Appealing against surrounding Buddhist heritage sites with mosques, churches which end up dominating the area using influence of money.
6.     Objecting to turning Buddhist heritage of Sri Lanka into a failed multicultural land when the countries that first implemented multiculturalism is now realizing it’s a total failure & reversing it. Attempts to put up mosque in SriPada, the insidious manner a minaret taller than the Dalada Maligawa is being stealthily planned giving various inducements to the temple & other influential parties to give approvals.

Government & Public Service/Private Sector  

Majority politicians break laws for votes & monetary influences, public servants do same. This has created unwanted & unnecessary problems and these must now be directly identified and addressed.
Those enjoying illegal benefit cannot cry foul and avoid or impede the veto of these illegalities crying foul and hiding behind slogans of hate speech, racism, discrimination etc.

Therefore, it is good to place the existing laws & against that list the violations and demand that the Government immediately addresses & take action

1.         Illegal religious structures often in residential areas
2.         Inaction by authorities against religious sects that lease/rent houses and with time turn/convert these into prayer centres or madrassas and then cry foul claiming discrimination when complaints are made asking for their removal.
3.         Proliferation of mosques, churches, prayer centres, kovils not in proportion to the pollution of an area. The Government must immediately address this violation & declare a moratorium on construction of religious/faith-based sites as is being done in other countries where this same menace has emerged.
4.         Usage of loudspeakers – inspite of an interim court order which needs to be seriously looked into
5.         Communalism of newspapers responsible for division of People was one of the conclusions of the Press Commission Report of 1964. Present local newspapers stand guilty of tuning their stories to fan communal tensions by generating false conclusions and assumptions against the majority.  
6.         No one should confuse free speech with hate speech. If at all what constitutes hate speech must first be clearly defined before authorities deem it fit to take selective action as is taking place presently. A perfect instance is the arrest of 2 schoolboys and keeping them in remand while arresting but releasing men who had petrol bombs in their hands. The allegation of hate speech against the 2 youth is nowhere near a threat as men holding petrol bombs. This highlights some of the biased decisions taken. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z36TBNv3j3A



Shenali D Waduge