(May 06, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Sinhala polity suffers from the worst form of inferiority complex. They have to be constantly a party to the oppression of another race, society or religion to feel euphorically superior. The leaders who can afford this to them can continue to be in power notwithstanding any other shortcoming however grave.
In animals, the “pecking order” concept was the first studied example of the social hierarchy. The establishment of the dominance hierarchy is believed to reduce the incidence of intense conflicts that incur a greater expenditure of energy. The dominance level determines which individual gets preferential access to resources such as food and mates, and ironically, in the Sinhala polity it is also the just the feeling of power.
In November 1945, D.S. Senanayake, who was to become prime minister in 1947 in order to woo the minorities and to allay their suspicions stated while being leader of the State Council”………..On behalf of the (Ceylon National) Congress and on my behalf, I give the minority communities the sincere assurance that no harm need you fear at our hands in free Sri Lanka”.
On 4 February 1948, political power transferred to the Senanayake government making Ceylon the first crown colony to be granted independence. Citizens of Sri Lanka who were hitherto British subjects became Sri Lankans on 15 November 1948.
There was, however, an important exception, the Indian plantation labour comprising one million Tamils of Indian origin who as British citizens who had in their capacity as British voted at the 1947 General elections. They were given political leadership by the party known as the Indian Congress led by Thondaman, a Tamil and Abdul Aziz, a Muslim. These persons became stateless belonging to no State, a unique status with the worst form of human degradation inflicted upon any race, with British connivance for which their civic society is largely responsible. Even thereafter this working class group, although stateless helped Sri Lanka to earn millions of dollars in the tea and rubber industries for years. Their political and economic power was destroyed and devastated as they were exploited as the weakest in the pecking order.
Then the Sinhala polity turned to the next weakest section in the pecking order, the indigenous Tamils both in the east and the north, a political minority. From 1948 to 1983 they systematically destroyed their political economic and social power. As volumes have been written on this, we will not revisit this in this paper suffice it to say that from 1948 to the present day the Tamil-speaking peoples have suffered massive demographic changes in their traditional homelands in the north and the east especially Trincomalee, Pogroms, the devaluation of the use of their ancient language, cultural iconoclasm, the prevention of Tamil students entering universities on an equal basis and the massacre of tens of thousands of innocent Tamils.
On 06 April 2012, it suddenly dawned on the Buddhist monks of Dambulla in Sri Lanka, at a loose end that the Muslims were using a mosque built in 1962 for their daily prayers. These barbaric overfed monks banded together and attacked the prayers being held in the mosque. A video depicted in the Youtube is like a weird dream with a monk disrobing himself to show his genitals to the worshipers.
Perhaps he was showing off what he believed to be his version of the Triple gems. The anti-Muslim racist ranting are not surprising, with the usual story that the video has been doctored. The rudeness with which innocent protesting Muslim women were being addressed and the vulgarisms and the crudities used by these “holy” men are unbelievable.
The Muslims, the majority of whom speak the Tamil language do not seek their collective identity in language or culture but in their religion—-Islam. The early Muslim immigrants were mostly traders who married local Tamil and Sinhalese women and settled down; some of the Malays came in as mercenaries during the Dutch rule. The Muslim livelihood profile had over the years evolved away from excessive dependence on trade to a range of other occupations. They do not make a distinct ethnic entity but their contribution to the political, economic, cultural and educational landscape of the country has been tremendously the richer for it.
Attempts have been made to dislodge Muslims from economic sectors dominated by them, beginning with the 1915 anti-Muslim riots, and yet continuing from time to time. In these columns, in the past, we have unequivocally condemned the misguided action of the LTTE wherein close to 80,000 persons, constituting almost the entire Muslim population of the five Northern Districts of Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya, Mullaithivu and Kilinochchi were summarily expelled from the province by the LTTE on one fateful day in October 1990. The operation was carried out so quickly and with such ruthless efficiency that there was little or no resistance. Amongst those who were evicted in this barbaric act of ethnic cleansing were some of the finest human beings.
There are reasons to believe that in the Dambulla episode the Buddhist monks were backed and encouraged by the ruling Rajapakse clique. This is quite evident from the hostile attitude towards the Muslim worshippers and the behaviour of the security forces.
Is very important that the well meaning Sinhalese people, the Tamils within Sri Lanka and the world over stand steadfastly behind the Muslims in their struggle against Sinhala chauvinism and racism.
( The writer is a editor of the Eelam Nation, and e-journal)