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Muslims expect positive overtures from President

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Muslims expect positive overtures from President
November 26, 2019, 12:00 pm

by Latheef Farook

Following the election of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Dinesh Gunawardena said both "Rauff Hakeem and Rishad Bathiudeen will not be part of the new government." This was repeated by both Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila.

The Muslim community is not concerned whether the government gives Rauf Hakeem and Rishard Badurdeen ministerial portfolios or not. What the Muslims need is for the new government to understand their plight, stop violence against them, and attend to their grievances.

Time was when the Sri Lankan Muslim community was not interested in forming a separate party. As everyone knows, the Muslims were part and parcel of the two major national political parties—the UNP and the SLFP.

For example, respected Muslim leader Dr M. C. M. Kaleel was Chairman and Treasure of the UNP. Veteran Muslim politician Sir Razik Fareed, who spent his wealth on the community and fought for Muslim rights, while maintaining healthy relations with the Sinhalese community, was with the main political parties.

It was the short-sighted racist politics of the two main national parties that forced Muslim to support when some ambitious individuals decided to exploit the helplessness of the community  by forming a separate political party.

Even in this case several Muslim politicians in the south warned the SLMC founder the late A. H. M. Ashraf of the grave consequences of starting a separate party to those Muslims who were living in peace and harmony in the midst of Sinhalese in the rest of the country.

Finally, it was the arrogant dismissal of Muslims  by the late President J. R. Jayewardene when he said that Muslims could remain in the government or leave when a delegation led by All Ceylon Muslim League leader Dr M.C.M Kaleel met him and appealed not to allow Israelis into the country in view of their century’s old hostility and crime records against Muslims.

In the end, Jayewardene’s arrogance, Indian conspiracies to divide Tamil and Muslim communities and Ashraf’s desire to have a political platform led to the birth of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, SLMC, on 11 February 1988.

The SLMC came with the slogan of Islam and unity. Islam disappeared at birth when Ashraf fled Kalmunai to seek refuge at a lawyer’s house in Colombo. The unity could be seen in the division of SLMC into more than half a dozen groups. SLMC politicians openly and shamelessly shifted their alliances during the recent presidential elections when they were all, as many accused, bought over by different sides.

Corruption has been an integral part of SLMC from its inception though Ashraf had done a lot to help the community. However the power struggle within the party after his death was exploited by the Sinhala leadership to throw baits—ministerial portfolios--and divide the SLMC.

Over the years today the SLMC and its splinter groups became notorious for selling the community for positions and perks, causing the Muslims to lose respect.

Muslims suffered immense during the ethnic war. Once the war ended in 2009 they expected peace and a return to normal life. However to their shock disgusting violence was unleashed against them under the Rajapaksa government. This violence continued with greater intensity under Maithri-Ranil’s disastrous government.

In the aftermath of Easer Sunday bombings and killings, while Muslims were subjected to violence, dogs were taken into mosques by soldiers wearing shoes and hundreds of Muslims were taken into custody for no valid reason, shameless Muslim politicians invited Maithri and Ranil   for their family functions.

In the same way, while Muslims in and around Kandy were fightened  expecting anything to happen due to the tense atmosphere built up by  fasting monk here in Colombo controversial moulavi was seen breaking Ifthar fast with  former president Sirisena.

Thus Muslims were fed up with their politicians and the equally controversial half-baked mullahs.

On the one hand, Muslim politicians abandoned the community in their rush for positions. On the other hand, implementing its evil racist agenda, government persecuted them.

This is the reason why the Muslims are least worried about ministerial portfolios for their politicians. All what they expect from the new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is to create an environment with new overtures where they could live in peace.

They are eagerly expecting positive signs from President Gotabaya and his government though it includes many known for their hatred towards Muslims.


ජනාධිපතිවරණය: "ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ මුස්ලිම් ජනතාවට කවදාවත් මේ තරම් අනාරක්ෂිත හැඟීමක් දැනිල නෑ"

ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ජනගහනයෙන් 10% ක් පමණ වන මුස්ලිම් ජනතාවගේ මනාපය ලබා ගැනීම පිණිස ප්‍රධාන අපේක්ෂකයන් දෙදෙනා උත්සහයක නිරතව සිටිති.

මුස්ලිම් ජනතාවගේ ඡන්දය ලබා ගැනීම පිණිස එක් අපේක්ෂකයෙකුගේ ප්‍රබල ආධාරකරුවෙක් ඔවුන්ට තර්ජනය කළ බවට ද චෝදනාවක් එල්ල වී තිබේ.

එසේ තර්ජනය කළ බව පැවසෙන මුස්ලිම් ජාතික නීතිවේදියා එය ප්‍රතික්ෂේප කරන නමුත් තමන් එම වීඩියෝ පටය දුටු බව මැතිවරණ කොමිසමේ කොමසාරිස් රත්නජීවන් හූල් ද පවසයි.

මුස්ලිම් ජනතාව ආකර්ෂණය කර ගැනීම පිණිස අනෙක් ප්‍රතිවාදී අපේක්ෂකයා ද ප්‍රබල උත්සහයක නිරතව සිටිනු පෙනේ.

ඒ, මහ මැතිවරණයකදීටත් වඩා විශේෂයෙන් ම ජනපතිවරණයකදී දෙමළ සහ මුස්ලිම් ඇතුළු සුළු ජාතීන්ගේ ඡන්දය තීරණාත්මක වන බැවිනි. ඇතැම් දේශපාලන විශ්ලේෂකයන් පවසන පරිදි විධායක ජනාධිපති ක්‍රමය යටතේ "රජුන් තනන්නේ" ඔවුන් වන බැවිනි.

විශේෂයෙන් ම පාස්කු ඉරිදා ප්‍රහාරවලින් අනතුරුව ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ බහුතර මුස්ලිම් ජනතාව දෙපාර්ශවයකට මැදි වී සිටින බව තරුණ නීතිවේදියෙකු සහ මාධ්‍යවේදියෙකු වන හෆීල් ෆාරිස් (Hafeel Farisz) ගේ අදහසය.

සාමාන්‍ය මුස්ලිම් ජනතාව අන්තවාදී මුස්ලිම් කණ්ඩායම්වල සහ සිංහල ජාතිකවාදීන්ගේ පීඩනයට ලක් වී සිටින බව බීබීසී සිංහල සේවය සමග අදහස් දක්වමින් කියා සිටි ඔහු, "ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ මුස්ලිම් ජනතාවට කවදාවත් මේ තරම් අනාරක්ෂිතයි කියල හැඟීමක් දැනිල නෑ," යනුවෙන් ද සඳහන් කළේය.

මුස්ලිම් ජනතාව ඉල්ලන්නේ කුමක් ද?

නීතිඥ හෆීල් ෆාරිස් පවසන පරිදි,

  1. සාමය සහ ආරක්ෂාව මෙවර මැතිවරණයේදී මුස්ලිම් ජනතාවගේ ප්‍රධානම අපේක්ෂාව වී තිබෙන අතර,
  2. තවදුරටත් අනෙක් ජන කොටස්වලින් වෙන් වී (segregate) තනිව වාසය කළ නොහැකි බවත් දැනට වඩා රටේ අනෙක් ජන කොටස් සමග මුසු වී වාසය කළ යුතු (inclusivity) බවත් ඔවුහු වටහාගෙන සිටිති.

ඇමෙරිකා එක්සත් ජනපදයේ වාසය කරන ශ්‍රී ලාංකික මුස්ලිම් ක්‍රියාකාරිනියක වන සොරායා ඩීන් පවසන්නේ, යළිත් වරක් දේශපාලකයන්ගේ හෝ ආගමික අනුග්‍රහයක් සහිතව මුස්ලිම් ජනතාවට එරෙහිව ප්‍රහාර එල්ල නොවනු ඇතැයි යන්න තමන්ගේ ප්‍රධානම අපේක්ෂාව බවය.


Will Sri Lanka elect A president by default?

  • When ITAK, after a prolonged silence, decided to support Sajith in their last party meeting in Vavuniya, one of the mothers representing the families of disappeared tried to throw a slipper at the TNA Leader Sampathan


“We see only Muslim villages have been developed, but not the Tamil villages. The only way for Catholic and Hindu villages to get developed is to vote for Gota.” -Namal Rajapaksa in Mannar.

“We have to act against Muslims. We Tamil youth have to think and act.” - leaflet by Kiran youth front for SLPP.

Mannar voters who are living in Puttalam are banned to come in hired private buses to cast their votes – Assistant Election Commissioner, Mannar.

If Muslims do not vote for Gota they will get it properly – Ali Sabri, PC

Whatever the reason given, in 2005 the vast majority of the Tamils from the North and East and even in Colombo did not go to the polling booths to exercise their franchise. The result, as they say, is history. Yet it is imperative for that history to now be reflected upon seriously. The President who got elected partly due to the decision taken by Tamils not to exercise their franchise ruled over the entire country for the next 10 years, with grave effects for all. On the eve of another Presidential election, where some are calling for new boycotts or putting up candidates deliberately to draw votes from the main contenders, the lessons of the 2005 boycott are particularly worth considering.

We have only five more days before we know, what fate lies ahead for minorities in this country. In every campaign platform in the north and east, what I see is racism and hatemongering centred around minorities. Divide and rule has been the norm of Sinhala Governments since independence, but in this election it has reached a level we have never witnessed before.

The frontline campaigners of SLPP, especially in the north and east, are collecting voters for Gota through outright hate mongering. Their campaigns are all about asking people not to support Sajith because Muslims are with them, or to support Gota because he will put the Muslims in their place. In areas where Karuna, Pillaiyan et al are campaigning, venom is being spit against the Muslims, with appeals to Tamils to vote for Gota if they want to keep the Muslims under control. The irony is that the very same pro-SLPP forces have successfully gotten Hisbullah to use the same language to woo the extremist Muslims against the Tamils and even Sinhalese!

Such tactics are made possible this time in large part because the “Yahapalana” Government failed to deliver on the reforms it promised and left so many in desperate plight as a result.  In the north and east, war-affected communities are being urged not to cast their votes, and being told that whether it is Sajith or Gota, neither is going to solve their issues. When ITAK, after a prolonged silence, decided to support Sajith in their last party meeting in Vavuniya, one of the mothers representing the families of disappeared tried to throw a slipper at the TNA Leader Sampanthan.

On another front, the Muslims are either ridiculed or threatened about the negative consequences of voting for Sajith and the NDF – warnings often given by their own community’s scare mongers.  One of the ongoing scare tactics, to keep voters away, is the confusion created around the dress code of Muslim women. There was a request apparently from the police that the Muslim women wearing the burkha and the nikkab can create panic at the booths thus banning it is vital for a peaceful election. One wonders why this is an issue to begin with, because Muslim women before the Easter Sunday suicide bombings did go to the polling stations, stood in lines and removed their face cover to reveal their identities before voting. They did so during every election without any issues. Given the recent harassment they faced based on their attire in places like Government buildings and public transportation these women, especially those Muslim women living in the areas that were attacked by mobs after the Easter Sunday bombings are really frightened and may not turn up in the same numbers as before.

The October 26th coup in 2018 was a nerve-wracking reminder – especially to the 6,217,162 voters who rejected MR – that the Rajapaksas are willing to bulldoze our most basic democratic institutions to regain what they unexpectedly lost in 2015. Defeating that backdoor entry of MR was possible only because the minority parties – TNA, SLMC, ACMC, and TPA – stuck together and defended democracy. Now the SLPP is trying proactively to stop that minority grouping from helping Sajith get elected. This the SLPP is doing by pitching the Tamils against Muslims. Knowing well that the war-affected minorities will never deliberately wish to bring back to power those whom they blame most for the large-scale atrocities they endured, their tactic seems to be to prevent anti-Gota voters from going to the polling booth by persuading minorities voters that there is no use in electing any Sinhala leader.

The third tactic is to hoodwink the voters who will never mark 1 or X to Gota by getting them to spoil their vote. One group allied to Gotabhaya’s campaign in Batticaloa has told a group of Tamil women to put three Xs to fully exercise their preferential votes knowing that these women will never vote for their candidate.  To begin with almost 2 foot long ballot paper and 35 candidates itself is creating confusion and then the preferential vote of marking 1 to 3 and the option of using X or 1 to 3 is compounding the confusion.

The minorities; Tamils and Muslims are not really convinced by what the candidates are promising and have little enthusiasm to go to the polling station attracted by their policies or manifestos. However, they should drag themselves to the polling booths on November 16 to exercise their right of franchise to participate in electing one or preventing another as citizens of this country whether the one is to be elected is a greater or lesser evil, their ballots should be counted.

*Shreen Abdul Saroor is a human rights activist and founder member of Women’s Action Network.


It’s reported that ITAK officials emerging from a meeting in Vavuniya saw slippers being thrown at them by members of families whose loved ones had gone missing


Will usher in a golden era of development: Sajith

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New Democratic Front (NDF) presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa, who wound up his election campaign last night at Maradana, pledged to build an undivided nation and begin a golden era of development if he were elected president on November 16.

“My party will not harass rivalries if I win the election. If elected to office on November 16, I will commence work immediately and appoint a young team to run the country,” he said addressing a rally held earlier in Hambantota.

“I will appoint Ranjan Ramanayake as the minister in charge of the subject that deals with corrupted persons. We don’t need persons whose expiry date had lapsed. We will include the young and those who have a clean record to government positions,” he said.

Minutes later, he called Deputy Minister Ramanayake to call over near the podium only to announce that he would be given the task of dealing with corrupted people.

Also, he said no one should work towards pulling out anyone from the presidential fray over citizenship issues as he preferred to vie the SLPP contender. “I will win the election anyway. Therefore, no one should attempt removing anyone from the race,” he said.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who attended the rally said he had nothing much to say now other than asking people to elect a UNP president in order to prevent a dictatorial government from capturing power.

“We only formed a minority government in 2015. The president was not from our party. However, an opportunity had arrived to have a UNP president elected and then to form UNP controlled provincial councils," he said.

He added that Colombo Central was a place where the UNP had begun its success stories. “It is from Colombo Central where the late presidents J.R. Jayewardene and R. Premadasa were elected as Heads of State. It is from Colombo Central where people will elect Sajith as president," he said. (Yohan Perera)

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Rajapaksas are playing the Racist card - TNA

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All the political parties affiliated to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) representing the Tamil community especially in the North and East, have pledged their full support to New Democratic Front Presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa. Five days ahead of the election, the Daily Mirror interviewed TNA MP and leading lawyer M. A. Sumanthiran who explained the reasons for the decision to support Premadasa and why the Tamil community would resist the return of Rajapaksas to power. Excerpts;


Q The Gotabaya Rajapaksa camp alleged that there are translation differences among Sinhala, Tamil and English versions of Sajith Premadasa’s manifesto with regard to the solution on ethnic issue. What is your view?

There are no differences. Sajith has agreed for the same constitutional process that has now reached the draft stage. One cannot conclude without knowing the manifesto and the journey of its process. So in that process there are two interim reports and this is how the words have been used. In Sinhala the word ‘Ekeeya’ is being used. In Tamil and English the equivalent words for unitary is not used. So ‘Ekeeya’ is used in the sense where it is one country. And there is a definition is given. In the interim report also it is clearly explained and a definition has been given. So the definition is not unitary neither federal. It merely says it’s one undivided and indivisible country in which powers of governance are in the centre and province as laid down in the Constitution. You don’t have to give it a label of any sort. India is not described as a unitary or federal state. Many countries in the world don’t describe these terms. We in Sri Lanka did not describe it until 1972. Soulbury Constitution never mentioned about unitary neither did it say federal. So you can have your own terms. The word Ekeeya denotes one, and just in case it is misunderstood as unitary that has been defined in the draft. But that doesn’t conclude as federal. What we wanted to do was to resolve the issue rather than hanging on with empty labels. I agree on the content and that we managed to do. And if you were to have some consensus, we had to annul that label. But we agreed to used the word ‘Ekeeya’ in Sinhala as literary meaning of that word only means one, nothing else. And Mahinda Rajapaksa should know this as his representatives were in the steering committee. We had long discussions on this. And now to come up with this statement as if he has discovered something new, is  a move  to deliberately mislead the people.


"If Gotabaya wins, our worry is that the process might not only be stopped but the land that have been released might be taken again"


Q So do you mean that Mahinda Rajapaksa is not telling the truth...

He is playing a racist card and trying to excite the people by showing that deliberate misleading is taking place. In fact, over a period of three and-a-half to four years, these have been discussed and consensus was reached. And it was in writing and has been made public. So Mr. Rajapaksa is deliberately trying to whip up the Sinhala nationalistic feelings against the others.

Q You have decided to support NDF Presidential Candidate Sajith Premadasa. Do you think this is the view and the decision of the entire Tamil community you represent?

Yes. When the election results come, you would see it. It is both ways. We have listened carefully to the sentiments of our people in making that decision and our people also carefully heed our advice when they vote. So it is a two-way process.

Q What about the divisions in the Tamil political arena?

There are no divisions in the Tamil political circuit. The TNA represents the Tamil people and nobody else does. We have 16 MPs out of 18 Tamil members representing the North and East. Even the other two; namely Douglas Devananda and Vijayakala Maheswaran were not elected for one seat. They came in through the highest number of floating votes. Therefore no one can say that there is disunity and there are others outside. We represent the Tamil people and there are others who were not elected. You won’t see this kind of unity in any other community in the country. So we have been given the mandate by the Tamil people, not anybody else. But we do consult with the others and we never stand against unity. We discuss with other political formations all the time but responsibility of making decisions eventually rest in our hands.


"we must first settle the issues and do the Constitutional reforms. And if that is done then, we will certainly invite the diaspora to come and invest"


Q Before 2015 the Nothern people complained that their lands have not been returned and in 2015 the govt said most of the lands were returned to their original owners. Do you agree with this and are you satisfied with the government policy on this issue?

A lot of lands have been returned. Government claims that 90 percent of private lands have been returned. It may not be 90 percent but about 80 percent. That is a huge achievement. Because at the end of 2013, the then government had stopped the process of releasing lands. And it had issued notice to acquire the remaining lands. But that process was stalled and more lands were released and there are still more to be released. But large portions have been released to the people’s for occupation. And that is a big triumph for us.

Q Do you believe if Sajith Premadasa is elected, the process would be continued?

Yes, it should continue because the process is still underway now. But if Gotabaya wins, our worry is that the process might not only be stopped but the land that have been released might be taken again.

Q There were some complaints by the Nothern people that there were heavy military presence in the peninsula. How do you react to these complaints?

For the past four years to five years, we have not seen heavy military presence. They are in the barracks. They hardly come out. That is in Jaffna. But in Vanni and a few other places, there were more prominent military presence. However, over the period of time it has been downsized.

Q There are also fears circulated specially in the South with regard to the opening the Palali airport for international flights attributing political reasons for it. What is your view?

We used to have flights from Palai to India up to the early 1980s. They were stopped because of the hostilities. Now that the way is over the flights should have started long time ago. Infact Mahinda Rajapaksas time when the Indian consulate in Jaffna was opened Minster S. M. Krishna came and at the opening ceremony he mentioned this that we must start the flights again. So it is high time that we started it.


"There are no divisions in the Tamil political circuit. The TNA represents the Tamil people and nobody else does. We have 16 MPs out of 18 Tamil members representing the North and East"


Q What about the issue of disappearances in the North? This has not being solved?
The disappearances issue is one that has been dragged on most without any result. But the Office of Missing Person was established, moneys were allocated and work has started but the progress has been very very slow leading the relatives being disillusioned. But the disappearance issue itself is a difficult issue and ten years on when there is no signs of anybody, how does one resolve it. Of course there should be investigation in each case. The relatives must know what happened to that person, so that this office is supposed to do. They still don’t seemed to have got their act together for various reason.

Q It is not only in the North and East but we saw there were alleged abductions and disappearances took place in South even in Colombo as well. There is an ongoing case of 11 Tamil students who were abducted. There were allegations of the involvement of Navy as well. What is your view?

Yes that has been found out as some people in the Navy did it for ransom. And the CID investigated and provided reports to the Magistrate. And there again there is evidence of interference in the processes. I saw that seven person had been indicted for the disappearance  of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda. But that is taking too much time because of kind of people who are involved in it.

Q But President promoted, a very senior Naval officer who is alleged to be involved in the incident?

Yes this happened when he comes under pressure to give into their side. But if it under Rajapaksa there won’t be that flip-flop and that all will be all in one direction that it will happen.


" In fact, over a period of three and-a-half to four years, these have been discussed and consensus was reached. And it was in writing and has been made public. So Mr. Rajapaksa is deliberately trying to whip up the Sinhala nationalistic feelings against the others"


Q There were hopes specially under last governments that the Tamils in the foreign countries would come back to Sri Lanka and invest and develop specially the North and East. What have you got to say about this?

That hasn’t happened to the levels we expected. But there seemed to be good reasons for that. People are still very apprehensive that the political situation here has not been estabilised. So if there is a political solution, a new constitution something like that, then I think that will give them adequate confidence to come back and invest.

Q If Sajith Premadasa, the candidate you support wins would you invite the Tamil community to come back to Sri Lanka?

No, we must first settle the issues and do the Constitutional reforms. And if that is done then, we will certainly invite the diaspora to come and invest.



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