by Dr.Daya Hewapathirane:
HISTORY OF THE TAMIL COMMUNITY OF SRI LANKA:
The small communities of Tamils and Muslims living in Sri Lanka, amount to about 24% of the total population of Sri Lanka at present (Tamils including Estate Tamils – 15%; Muslims (09%). These communities are descendants of groups of individuals, exclusively males, who arrived in this island at different times in the past for various purposes, and later settled down among the Sinhala people.
The Tamils came from southern India and observe the cultural traditions of Tamilnadu which is the homeland of the Tamils where the Tamil culture including the Tamil language originated. Initially the Tamils came to the island as invaders and mercenaries. In more recent times, especially in the 19th century and thereafter, South Indian Tamils were brought to Sri Lanka to work as labourers in British-owned commercial plantations. This was the time when our country was under the British invaders. Most of these Tamil labour community in the highlands of the island, stayed behind and most were accorded citizenship in later years after the country attained political independence. Tamils in general, therefore are settler communities in the island with the rights and privileges enjoyed by the indigenous Sinhala people. It is important to note that Tamils are indigenous to the Tamilnadu which is the birth-place of the Tamil culture and language. For all purposes, the national and cultural homeland of the Tamils is Tamilnadu.
Since the 3rd century BCE, there were seventeen Tamil-speaking Dravidian invasions of the Sinhala kingdom when Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa were the Sinhala royal capitals. These invasions were associated with extreme forms of violence and destruction, and on several occasions, the ousting of the Sinhala royalty and ruling parts of the country for limited periods of time. Terror in its worst forms never known in our land was experienced during the invasion and rule of the Dravidian Kalinga Magha (and in more n recent years under the Tamil terrorist Prabakaran). The crime-prone rule of Kalinga Magha prevailed for 21 years. The Tamil Pandyan and Tamil Nayakka intrusion into Sinhala royal families led to the Sinhala royalty going into disarray after the 13th century, and the eventual decline of the stability and magnanimity of the Sinhala Buddhist nation.
TAMIL TERRORIST VIOLENCE AND ITS SUBJUGATION:
During a good part of the past four decades, Tamil terrorists of the LTTE, took away from the indigenous Sinhala majority, what they valued and cherished most as a nation – their freedom and peaceful life. During this time, the large majority of Tamils living within and outside Sri Lanka were openly or discreetly supportive of terrorism and separatism propagated by the racist LTTE terrorists under Prabakaran, their ruthless leader. The overwhelming majority of Sri Lankan Tamils living overseas, were providing assistance, both directly and indirectly, often using deceitful means to the Tamil terror movement in Sri Lanka thereby promoting gruesome, hideous and horrifying terrorist activities against the nation, its Sinhala leaders, Bhikkhus, military and police personnel.. They provided assistance to bomb and destroy reputed historically significant Buddhist monuments and sites in our country, and other public property of value and took action to disrepute and undermine the legitimately elected government of our country.
The Sinhala nation is eternally grateful to the Ranaviru Sinhala sons and daughters for eliminating from our nation, this treacherous racist terrorist menace in the year 2009. Sinhala leaders at the time understood that for the emancipation of our nation, there can be no compromise with terrorists and their cohorts both local and foreign. The territorial integrity and sovereignty of our motherland is of fundamental importance to us, and the nation is ever grateful to those who led our military forces to eradicate Tamil terrorism and for restoring our nation for the present and future generations. Thousands of true sons of the soil sacrificed their precious lives while serving in the military forces. The nation will is grateful forever for the sacrifices they made to bring peace to our people
Our heroic military personnel who were making untold sacrifices to protect our people and the territorial integrity of our country were subject to extreme forms of indignity, insult and disgrace by these Tamils, especially during the period of conflict, using most deceitful and dishonest accusations. Our illustrious national culture and our Buddhist Sangha community responsible for nurturing, promoting and uplifting our outstanding national culture for some two thousand three hundred years, were subject to debase and disrespect by these treacherous Tamil racists and extremists. Buying over and using the international media and other means, these overseas Tamil extremists were involved openly in a widespread campaign, using the basest forms of falsehoods and blatant lies of unimaginable proportions, to demean, discredit and destroy the good image of our country
Many remnants of these ruthless LTTE terrorists, especially those living overseas, still continue to subscribe to the vicious extremist attitudes of the defunct Tamil LTTE. They continue to propagate extreme forms of deceitful and divisive propaganda against Sri Lanka. They resort to dishonesty, deliberate misinterpretation and distortion of historic facts pertaining to our country. These are people who were, at one stage, actively involved in criminal activities and atrocities of the murderous LTTE. By such actions they display their treachery, deceit, and gruesome anti-national attitudes towards a nation that did much for their benefit.
THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS:
It is noteworthy, that throughout the period of conflict and thereafter, more than half the Tamil population of Sri Lanka were living in predominantly Sinhala areas, among the Sinhala people without any harassment. Since the end of the conflict in 2009, the number living in Sinhala areas of the south have shown a striking increase. Most of them are either businessmen or professionals, some working for the government and others lucratively self employed. The Sinhala people of the south have been their growing clientele and patrons. Most Tamil businesses are primarily dependent on the Sinhala market for their survival. In other words, they earn their living using Sinhala hospitality and Sinhala clients. However, in spite of this accommodative spirit of the Sinhala people, what is clearly evident is the fact that the Tamil employers rarely employ Sinhala employees in their establishments.
Some of the largest wholesale and retail businesses in Colombo are owned and operated by Tamils. Most jewelry establishments, travel agencies, telecommunications outlets are owned and operated by them. The rich Tamils in Colombo and other urban areas in Sinhala areas are owners of high-valued property including land, houses, vehicles and other luxuries. They are constantly involved international travel. They have their religious and cultural organizations, their ‘kovils’ and related activities with no restrictions placed on them by the Sinhala community. The ‘thoosa kade’ and other the Tamil food outlets are patronized heavily by the Sinhala community. In addition, they have their Tamil newspapers, magazines, videos, music audios, films and are free to intermingle with others in Sinhala neighborhoods without being harassed.
The average Sinhala person has nothing against anyone who wishes to shed extremist feelings and joining them to build a nation that is peaceful and prosperous, a nation which shuns extremism and terrorism. The Sinhala people want all other communities to join them, just the way how minority communities are expected to do in other countries of the world, especially Canada, Australia, USA, and UK. The Sinhala people want others who live among them to help build the country as one nation, a nation founded on the noble principles of non-violence, tolerance, compassion, where peaceful co-habitation has been the cornerstone from historic times.
HISTORY OF THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY OF SRI LANKA:
The Muslim community in Sri Lanka is a small non-indigenous minority settler community amounting at present, to about 9% of the total population of the country. They are the descendants of small groups of individuals, exclusively males, who came to the island at different times in the past, basically as traders.
Trade relations with the Indian region was started by the newly Islamised Arabs in the early 7th century CE. (According to Elliot and Dowson book , “The History of India as told by its own Historians”, the first ship bearing Muslim travellers was seen on the Indian coast as early as 630 AD. According to H.G. Rawlinson, in his book: Ancient and Medieval History of India, the first Arab Muslims settled on the Indian coast in the last part of the 7th century AD. However, it was much later, in the 9th and 10th centuries that the Arabs expanded eastwards towards India and China in search of trade and dominated overseas trade. They initially established trading posts which eventually became permanent settlements.
By the late 13th century, such settlements were common along the southern coast of India and later on the western coast of Sri Lanka. In the 15th century, increasing numbers of Muslims from the Muslims settlement on the coastal region of South India, came and settled in coastal regions of Sri Lanka. They were the descendants of earlier Arab traders who had settled in South Indian ports and married local women who spoke Tamil. By the early 16th when Portuguese vessels first arrived in Sri Lanka, Muslims were well settled in the coastal regions. They represented a mixture of Sinhala, Arab and Tamil blood, and speaking Tamil with Arabic overtones.
In Sri Lanka, as everywhere they went, the Portuguese made a special point of ruthlessly persecuting Muslims, their business rivals. As a consequence, many Muslims fled the western littoral which had passed under Portuguese control, and settled in the north and east of the island. The Dutch were no different during their period of occupation of the coastal areas. During the Portuguese period, Muslims had to seek refuge in interior areas among the Sinhala people. Sinhala kings such as Senerath and Rajasinghe-II, provided safety and shelter to Muslims in the Sinhala kingdom among the Sinhala people. Large numbers of Muslims were settled in the hill country and in Eastern Sri Lanka, saving them from harassment by the Europeans and providing opportunities for them to improve their livelihoods and practice their religion.
SPECIAL PRIVILEDGES AND OPPORTUNITIES:
The Muslim community continued to benefit from various forms of special opportunities privileges made available to them by the Sinhala-led governments, after the country gained political independence. Not only were they given opportunities to improve their commercial activities, but were accorded important Ministerial and professional positions in the government. Also, although forming a small segment of the nation’s population (09% in 2013), Muslims have been accorded special privileges, some examples being Muslim religious holidays being declared as public holidays in our country, and the representation of Muslims in the national flag of the country.
Muslims are well known to be running successful businesses in predominantly Sinhala majority areas with the Sinhala people as their customers. They are involved in wealth generating employment connected with tourism and travel. The per capita income of the Muslim community is far higher than that of the Sinhala majority community. A good part of buildings and land in most urban areas in the country, especially in predominantly Sinhala areas are owned today by Muslims. Most importantly, there are no restrictions in Sri Lanka for the construction of mosques in predominantly Sinhala areas, in spite of the fact that no Muslim country permits even the display of a Buddha image, let alone building Vihares. In Mosque activities such as prayers using load speakers in predominantly non-Muslim neighborhoods, the Muslims are causing a great amount of discomfort and irritation to non-Muslims. The Sinhala people have been overly tolerant about this unhealthy situation.
No comparable minority in any major country in the world have been given such preposterous benefits, which are not rights but ridiculously high privileges enjoyed by the Muslims and Tamil settler minorities. Since the privileges of one person can only be had at the expense of the rights of another, this shows that, in fact, it is the indigenous Sinhala who account for more than 75 of the population, who are discriminated against in Sri Lanka. Whenever Muslims held ministerial positions, they made sure that members of their community were accorded preferential treatment in employment. That accounts for the large number of Muslim employees in Ministries and related public agencies such as Education, the Ports Authority, Justice, and Foreign Affairs which had prominent Muslim Ministers.
The important Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka was held by Muslims Ministers for many years under different governments. During this time, the Muslim children and youth were given preferential treatment in the area of education and admission to universities. Also, it was during this time that several well- equipped exclusively Muslim schools were established in predominantly Muslim areas. After securing so much from the country, and from the majority Sinhala community who had all along provided them with hospitality and generosity, it is disappointing to see many Muslim leaders and Muslim people of today, especially those living in the Eastern province having the audacity and ingratitude to claim autonomy for the lands that they are occupying in predominantly Muslim areas. Do they realize that some of these lands were given to them by Sinhala kings and governments led by Sinhala leaders.
FURTHERING COMMUNITY SELF INTERESTS:
There was much media attention in recent months, to undue exploitation and destruction of the country’s natural resources by Muslims under the direct initiative of a Muslim minister. This involves the illegal clearance of a part of the Wilpattu National Wildlife Sanctuary for a housing scheme exclusively for Muslims. Similar illegal and anti-national actions on the part of Muslims have been reported most recently in the Yan Oya valley, Thiriyaya and Pulmuddai national forest conservation and in Kalpitiya.
These are instances of encroachment and illegal development of exclusively Muslim housing schemes, with funds from Muslim countries and Muslim INGO’s operating in this country. Muslim leaders and community leaders in general, appear to show a greater interest in furthering the interests of the Muslim community rather than the welfare of the public in general. It is a well known fact that Muslim establishments refrain from hiring non-Muslims for responsible positions in their establishments where the main clients are Sinhala people. Also, the media has highlighted several allegations of various covert practices by Muslims to increase their population at the expense of the Sinhala population. The direct involvement of Muslims in the illicit drug trade has often been reported in the media.
ENCROACHMENT OF HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT BUDDHIST SITES:
There is clear evidence of disregard and disrespect for the Buddhist cultural heritage of the country. During the past two decades in particular, Muslims have illegally and forcibly encroached upon land that rightfully belongs to Buddhist temples on the eastern and southeast coast, THE Pottuvil region in particular. It was not long ago that Islamic fundamentalists and armed Muslim extremists were inciting violence against legitimate Buddhist activities in the East – Pottuvil region. Muslims were forcibly encroaching upon land that rightfully belongs to Buddhist temples on the southeast coast. In addition Muslim encroachment of Kuragala archeological site near Balangoda which is one of the oldest Buddhist historic sites of Sri Lanka has led to serious confrontations in recent years.
Also in more recent years sites in the Northwest have been deceitfully encroached upon by the Muslim community, and archeological remains and ancient Buddhist monuments in these areas have been destroyed. It was not long ago that the exclusively Muslim, racist political party – the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and several Muslim civil society groups opposed the construction of Buddha’s statues on the southeast coastal areas which have long been places inhabited predominantly by Buddhists.
THREAT TO THE NATIONAL UNITY AND CULTURE:
From their attitude and actions, it is noticeable in recent years, that the Muslim community in the country has posed a threat to national unity and territorial integrity of the country. They have resorted to actions that undermine the national cultural heritage and to the way of life of other communities, and in a covert manner to democratic principles and rule of law of the country, especially with the adoption by them of the Sharia law. These Sharia rules of Islam appear to govern politics, marriage and the day-to-day lives of its followers. Islam is associated with a political ideology where the church and state are not separate. Under the circumstances, one cannot expect Muslims to develop a sense of patriotism and national pride in a predominantly non-Muslim country such as Sri Lanka. In recent years, it is well evident that most Muslims do not appear to be interested in integrating with other communities, perhaps because assimilation is not permitted under the Islamic Shariah law. They rarely if at all participate in national events. They do not participate in the singing of the National Anthem in public events. They do not observe the traditional way of greeting by placing both hands together in the form of worship. Muslim children are taught not to worship their teachers which is a common practice among other non Muslim school children.
There are schools that operate with government assistance, where not only the Principal and academic staff, but all students are Muslim. Some of these schools have been elevated as National Schools enjoying special privileges. Muslims have established many private International schools in several towns, where the student population and majority of staff are almost entirely Muslim. The most threatening of all is the recent establishment of the so-called Madrasas or Islamic schools, similar to those found in Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, where the curriculum is focused on the teaching of the Koran and Shariah law. Saudi Arabian sources have funded the establishment of most of these Madrasas. Here, the younger generation of Muslims are being strongly exposed to the Saudi Arabian fundamentalist Wahhabi form of Islam imported from Saudi Arabia.
Scholarships are awarded to Muslim youth of these schools to continue their Wahhabi Islamic studies in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries such as Pakistan, where Wahhabism predominates. This type of exclusive Islamic education and indoctrination is having a well-evident divisive effect in our nation and is beginning to disrupt national efforts to bring about overall unity and togetherness among communities that have made Sri Lanka their home. Their new male and female attire displays the desire of Muslims to look different and to be exclusive and separate from the nation’s mainstream. This polarization tendency and divisive spirit of the Islamic community is self-imposed. It is definitely not because they feel marginalized. The Koran forbids Muslims to closely associate non-Muslims.
The long term implications of these extremist trends are highly undesirable for the maintenance of peace and stability in the country. What is well evident from the several Muslim instigated, disruptive, illegal and often violent incidents that occurred in some places in the country in recent times, is how these extremist trends are impinging upon the traditional cultural base and integrity of this country, in particular on the wholesome Sinhala norms and principles upon which this nation is built, and also on the rule of law of this country. One should not overlook the fact and take for granted the long-standing opportunity for peaceful cohabitation of different communities, provided by the traditional cultural foundation established by the Sinhala people of this nation.
“HALAL” PRACTICE AND ANIMAL WELFARE:
There has been much discussion in recent times about the deceitful and exploitative nature of the “halal’ business venture of Muslims. Halal is a most repulsive and horrendous practice that involves extreme form of abuse and cruelty towards animals? It is a gruesome method where animals are tied down and their throats slashed, letting their blood ooze out slowly from the animal’s body and making animals die on their blood, a slow, lingering and agonizing death. What is most horrendous is that this torturous practice takes place while the animals are desperately struggling for their lives. It is a well evident fact that these animals are conscious of what is happening to them. This is a most sickening and inhuman way of killing animals. It is a practice that should not be tolerated in any civilized society.
In a society such as ours where Buddhists predominate, and where non-violence towards all living beings is a fundamental tenet, criminal practices of this nature cannot and should not be tolerated under any circumstances. Animal welfare has been a tenet of the rulers of our nation from very early times, from the 3rd century BCE. It was at this time that the world’s first bird and animal sanctuary was established in Sri Lanka. From ancient times, the principle of animal welfare prevailed in our country until the arrival of European colonial powers, starting with the ruthless Portuguese invaders, at the beginning of the 16trh century. Besides hunting animals as a sport, the slaughtering of animals as a vocation started with the entry of Christianity and Islam to Sri Lanka.
CONFORMING TO NATIONAL CULTURAL NORMS AND VALUES:
The non indigenous settler communities such as the Tamils and Muslims are expected to conform to the norms and values of the Hela Nation to which they belong today. They may have brought various ethnic, cultural and religious customs, traditions, traits and values from their original nation and homelands where their cultures evolved and consolidated. They are free to maintain these cultural norms as long as they do not conflict with the norms and practices of the Sinhala Nation of which they are now a part. Once the non-indigenous persons become a part of the Sinhala Nation it not only becomes their national obligation, but more importantly, it is to their advantage to become a part of the nation by learning and understanding the norms of the Sinhala nation where they now belong, and where they have been accepted as non-indigenous nationals by the indigenous Sinhala people. When a foreigner or a person not indigenous to a particular country migrates into the country, and decides to make it his home, it is incumbent on that person to learn about the history, norms and traits of the new country and its people. The new immigrant is expected to acknowledge, subscribe to and integrate into the new nation of which he now is a part. The same applies to all descendents of non indigenous immigrants, who may have been born and raised in the new nation.
NATIONAL RIGHTS AND INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS:
Indigenous Sinhala nationals or the Sinhala people are the founders of the Sinhala or Hela Nation, and are entitled to special national rights. Important in this regard is the promotion, protection and preservation of their culture, language, social system and values that characterize their Sinhala Nation. Sinhala should be restored as the sole national and official language of the country. Promotion and preservation of the Sinhala Buddhist culture as the national culture, should receive priority attention. It should be made a mandatory subject in the school curriculum. The national anthem of the country is sung in the Sinhala language. The minority communities are not entitled to such special privileges, because the Sinhala nation was founded by the Sinhala people and is the legitimate home of the Sinhala people. Sinhale is not the home of other cultures and languages.
These cultures and languages did not originate or evolve in this land unlike the case with the Sinhala culture and Sinhala language. Therefore, the cultures and languages of minority communities cannot and are not entitled legitimately to be accorded national or official recognition at par with the Sinhala culture and language. However, these communities are free to observe and preserve their cultural activities and their languages within their communities. As far as ordinary human rights are concerned, members of minority settler communities are entitled to the same human rights as those enjoyed by members of the mainstream Sinhala community.
As a nation with a historic cultural tradition that extends to over 2200 years, where the founding principles have been freedom, compassion, tolerance and accommodation of people of all faiths and ethnicities, it is necessary that the true patriots of Sinhale, the Sinhala nation, get to the forefront, mobilize themselves and take legitimate actions to protect and uphold these wholesome cultural traditions, and thereby reinforce the Sinhala nation – Sinhale. All citizens of the country who subscribe to the Sinhale Nation and respect the cultural norms and values that characterize this nation, will find acceptance as members of the Sinhale nation, irrespective of their ethnic and religious affiliations and differences. The Sinhale Nation incorporates the tremendous cultural wealth of the Sinhala people recognized the world over for its richness and uniqueness. This should be preserved and promoted for posterity. Those who undermine the nation’s cultural heritage, sovereignty and territorial integrity are enemies of the nation and should be confronted and subdued forthwith, for the welfare of the nation.
STRENGTHEN AND REVITALIZE THE SINHALA NATION:
For the patriotic and caring nationals of this island, especially those of the Sinhala community, irrespective of their religious affiliations, there is one moral law that stands above everything else, and that is to do everything possible to strengthen their Sinhala Nation and to curb the efforts of anti-national elements both local and foreign, engaged in violating and undermining Sinhala Buddhist national interests. It was with such an attitude and approach that enabled our valiant Sinhala soldiers to wipe out anti-national, separatist Tamil terrorists who were hell-bent on destroying the integrity of this nation.
The present generation of Sinhala nationals has a moral obligation to protect, preserve and promote the greatest of their inheritance, their unique nation, for the survival of their Buddhist cultural heritage and for the benefit of future generations. Concerned Sinhala nationals will under no circumstances allow the sovereignty, the distinct territorial integrity and the all-pervasive Sinhala Buddhist cultural character of the island be subject to any form of disarray or disintegration. They will not permit any force, internal or external, ethnic or religious, to subjugate or undermine the integrity of the Sinhala Buddhist culture of this island nation. .
Sinhala history is replete with valor and courage in battles against overly superior forces. The struggle against extremism and the looming division of this Sinhala island nation of ours demands our full national strength. Let all Sinhala nationalists rise to the occasion, forgetting for a moment their ‘other’ differences, and swear allegiance to the unity of this country by giving unswerving support to those commendable organizations that have emerged in recent times to save the nation from undesirable elements. The renewed loyalty that is fast emerging among the Sinhala nationals, particularly among the contemporary youth, is most encouraging.
VIOLATION OF SOVEREIGNTY AND NATIONAL INTEGRITY:
Sinhala nationals should not tolerate any individual or community who, whilst living in the Sinhala Nation and considering it their home, deliberately misusing such a privilege by scheming and adopting extreme means or contributing to such actions, in violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of this only nation of ours. This includes both direct and indirect efforts on the part of these extremist elements living among us, with ridiculously unfounded claims to carve out ethnic and religious enclaves within our country, merely because some of them had lived in specific places for extended periods of time. These individuals and communities with self-serving attitudes and objectives should be considered as traitors or enemies of our nation and should be dealt with accordingly. There is no place in our nation for such traitors, double crossers, renegades, turncoats, collaborators of enemies, criminals and terrorists, conspirators, connivers, schemers and emissaries, spies, secret agents, undercover agents and double agents of the enemies of this Sinhala Buddhist Nation.
BUDDHIST MONKS, SINHALA SCHOLORS AND PATRIOTS:
The majority of present day monks are better educated and possess a broader outlook. Our monks are fully capable of providing the necessary leadership, patronage and helping in the organization of Buddhist cultural pursuits. Our Buddhist scholars have stayed too long in the background. It is time that they came forward and jointly with our monks took the initiative to counter the negative forces harming Buddhism and Sinhala culture. They owe it to their children and youth. Buddhist cultural pursuits should be encouraged and receive increased patronage. The mass media should be used to the utmost in the accomplishment of these pursuits. In spite of all the challenges of recent decades, our monks continued to be accorded attention and respect by our people. On their part our monks have continued to be close to people and participate at all notable events in people’s lives. This should continue with more vigour.
In recent times, movements and organizations have sprung up under the initiative of some concerned Bhikkhus and members of the Sinhala community across the country, with an increasingly large following of the nation’s youth, to highlight and draw attention to the vital and pressing need for necessary action to restore, protect and uphold the legitimate national rights and privileges of the Sinhala people and the traditionally and constitutionally accorded foremost place to Buddhism, which in recent times appear to be subject to threats and challenges from both local and foreign sources. There is evidence of attempts both direct and indirect, overt and covert, to undermine these legitimate rights and privileges by extremist elements, especially of the minority Muslim and Tamil communities evidently with the involvement of extremist, racist, uncaring and unpatriotic politicians with their own vested interests and ulterior motives.
– Sinhalaya News
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