Judge Wigneswaran and ‘unauthorized’ Muslims and Sinhalese

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Last week one of my hate mailers, clearly the President of Sri Lankans for Hillary, called me ‘deplorable,’ if you don’t get the ‘basket of deplorables’ reference well Google it. However, what I found interesting was her email signature was accompanied by a quote by Gregory House MD: “Time changes everything. That’s what people say, it’s not true. Doing things changes things. Not doing things leaves things exactly as they were.”

That’s nice; at least we got our love for House MD in common. I also have a favourite quote by him and it goes like this ‘there’s an evolutionary imperative why we give a crap about our family and friends. And there’s an evolutionary imperative why we don’t give a crap about anybody else. If we loved all people indiscriminately, we couldn’t function.’ Why am I quoting Dr. House, is it because I have run out of things to say? Not quite, I am actually going to devote this week’s column to the Ezhuga Tamizh (Arise, Tamils) rally and general strike organized by the Tamil People’s Council (TPC), an organization led by Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran. To be precise, Wigneswaran’s call to remove ‘unauthorized Sinhala and Muslim settlements in the North and the East.’ While I will get to the direct link between the quote and subject of this week’s column, I want the readers to keep in mind the Gregory House quote while they read the column.

Ethnic purity of the North

The purpose of the Arise, Tamils rally, according to Wigneswaran, is to speedily address the needs of the Tamils in the North and the East. Among these needs of the people, according to Wigneswaran (a man who has lived in Colombo 95% of his life and whose child is married to MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara’s child) is to maintain the ethnic purity of the two provinces.
Let’s look at that Wigneswaran phrase ‘unauthorized Sinhala and Muslim settlements’. Why are these settlements ‘unauthorized’? The Constitution of Sri Lanka ensures ‘the freedom of movement (of a Sri Lankan) and of choosing his residence within Sri Lanka (article 14. 1. h). So, why can’t a Muslim or a Sinhalese settle in the North? And since the power over land is held by the Central Government, it is up to the government to determine if a settlement is ‘unlawful or unauthorized,’ Wigneswaran has no say in that matter.

Let’s turn once again to the 2012 census and look at some facts, yes those things that Wigneswaran or the Tamil National Alliance doesn’t like.

The Sinhalese population of the North is 32, 331 (3.06 of the population), it was 39, 511 in 1971 (4.50%). The Muslim population of the North is 32, 624 (3.06%) it was 37, 855 (4.31%) in 1971. The numbers show that there are a lot less Sinhalese and Muslims in the North compared to 1971, although the total population of those two ethnicities has grown quite a bit compared to 1971. So, what on earth is Wigneswaran talking about? Where are those ‘unauthorized’ Muslims and Sinhalese hiding?
Another important point to ponder is that, do we really want to give land and Police powers to the Provincial Councils? Especially, if this is the way Chief Ministers behave. What would Wigneswaran do if he actually had the power to declare Muslims and Sinhalese in the North live there unlawfully or in unauthorized settlements? Another pogrom akin to 1990, where Muslims were asked to leave the Northern Province, within 48 hours with only Rs 50? The slow dislodging of Sinhalese from the North, from 1971 onwards?

Let’s look at another set of data. According to the 2012 census, the population of the Northern Province was 1,058,762 and the population of the Eastern Province 1,551,381. Sri Lankan population was 20.33 million in 2012. So, one eighth of Sri Lankan population lives in an area that is one third the country’s geographical area. North and East has the largest volume of land vacant for settlement, agriculture and economic activities, so why shouldn’t there be an influx of Sri Lankans from other parts of the country towards the North and the East. Isn’t it up to the government to plan, what should be done with the land of the country, based on the 2011–2030 national physical plan?

The purity of the East

And why are we even talking about ‘ethnic purity’ of the East? It is the most ethnically and religiously diverse province in Sri Lanka. Muslims (569,738) comprise 36.72% of the Eastern population and Sinhalese (359,136) are 23.15% of the population, according to the 1971 Census. There were 148,572 Sinhalese in the East in 1971 (20.70%) and 247,178 Muslims (34.45%). What does Wigneswaran suggest we do with 60% of the eastern population? What per cent of those are ‘unauthorized’?

Blood and social constructs

I don’t believe that everything is a social construct. I believe that biology and evolutionary drives play a huge role in our decisions and how we feel about things. Remember what Gregory House said about caring for friends and family? About our evolutionary drives?

Members of your ethnicity and religion are an extension to your immediate family and the circle of friends. You care about them because they are ‘your people’. This does not mean that people can’t get along. I am just saying that people like Wigneswaran must realize that reconciliation involves giving as well as taking. A lot of Tamil nationalists insist that Sinhalese and Muslims keep accommodating their demands, without any compulsion to compromise on their part. But if they actually want a good deal, they should realize that the other side, at one point or another, gets really, really tired of continuous giving, because of our evolutionary impulses or human nature.

P.S. Wigneswaran reminds me quite a bit of Colin Kaepernick, the American NFL player who started this trend of refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance. More on that in another column. (I know I have been promising to write stuff on a latter day and had never got around to that. But really this is something I really like to write about. I said really twice in the last sentence, to show my sincerity, hope you noted that).

Rathindra can be contacted via rathindra984@gmail.com


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Mummana Muslim School Playground case defended


Case against Principal and SDS members of Mummana Muslim School, Dambadeniya was taken up for hearing.

Giriulla OIC wrongfully filed this case under the Sec 81 of Cri. Pro.Code.

Maithree Gunaratne with RRT Attorneys argued that, this case cannot be maintained under said Law and moved for an acquittal.

Order reserved for 06/12/2016.

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Locals’ claim to school playground breeds disharmony, Authorities silent


A secondary high school in Kurunegala is on the verge of losing its only playground, following a dispute with the locals who claim it is a public playground.

Mummana Muslim Maha Vidyalaya in Dampedeniya, was gifted 1 acre and 7 perches of land by a well-wisher, 40 years ago, for the school’s use. Since then, the school has been using this land to hold sports meets, school functions and other extracurricular activities by the students.

The Lands Department published a special land acquisition notice in 1978, stating this particular land has been acquired for Educational purposes, followed by a similar gazette notification in 1982.

The School authorities allege that a youth group is spreading false claims among the residents of the area, because the School administration rejected their request to hold a musical event in the night, during the Sinhala-Tamil New Year celebrations.

At least 250 students studying from Grade 1 to Ordinary Level, find it difficult to pursue their extracurricular activities while the quarrel for ownership continues. Though the police and relevant departments were notified of the issue, there has been no lasting solution reached to resolve it.

An old boy of the school, Mohamed Nafeer, presently working as a software engineer, alarmed that certain individuals in the area were trying to portray this as a communal conflict for their own benefit, urged the authorities to take a early action.

“We went to the police, relevant departments and even the political parties to find a solution for this issue. I believe they too understand the issue, but are not willing to see hard truth behind this hatred against a community,” Mr Nafeer told the Timesonline.

He said that, if this issue is not resolved as soon as possible, it would lead to more divisions within the society, as some elements want it to happen, to disrupt the ethnic and religious harmony prevailing in the area.


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Fears of attempt to instigate ethnic clashes again: Govt.

The Government yesterday raised fears of an attempt to instigate ethnic clashes again in the country.

Highways and Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella said that some in the opposition are attempting to block moves to create a new Constitution in the country.

He said that those opposing a new Constitution are attempting to create instability in the country and instigate ethnic clashes. “When 04-03all parties in Parliament are attempting to resolve the issues there are those attempting to scuttle the process,” he said.

The Minister urged all parties to make use of the opportunity at hand to create an environment where all communities can live together as Sri Lankans.

He said the country now enjoys freedom and democracy and that must be protected.

Kiriella said the country can develop only if there is peace among all communities.

The Minister also noted that as part of the Government’s development plans work will commence next year on three highways.

One highway will connect Colombo and Kandy and will be constructed with Chinese, Japanese and local assistance. (Colombo Gazette)

– See more at: http://www.ft.lk/article/570044/Fears-of-attempt-to-instigate-ethnic-clashes-again–Govt-#sthash.FMxrQA8o.dpuf

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The Psychology of a Decent Society

by Ruwantissa Abeyratne

All societies are full of emotions…Martha Nussbaum, Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice

( September 26, 2016, Montreal , Sri Lanka Guardian) Basil Fernando’s au fait essay Sri Lanka: Fundamental Failure of the State in this journal’s issue of 25 September struck me as both relevant and topical. In his article on police brutality perpetrated on people who are less privileged in Sri Lanka, Mr. Fernando brings out a fundamental fact that has resonated in other parts of the world as well and brings to bear the compelling need for the recognition of human dignity. Two paragraphs are particularly important: “Thus, the kind of relationship which looks like that of a predator and prey is mostly in cases handled at the police stations, and also quite often regarding persons who are generally referred to as the ordinary folk. The way many police officers seem to understand the ‘ordinary folk’, is in seeing them as ‘nobodies’. There is a kind of perception that these nobodies should be treated roughly and with no show of kindness. A civilized treatment of suspects seems almost regarded as being counterproductive.

It is this mentality, exercised mainly towards the common folk, that should receive careful examination, sociologically, psychologically, and also from the perspective of what the proper behavior of public institutions towards all citizens should be. It is in that regard, that the role of the police hierarchy in moulding the behavior of officers who work for their institutions need to be clearly examined. When there is a general practice of such improper behavior towards persons who should in fact be treated with special consideration, due to the obligation of protection, it is justified to conclude that there are serious failures on the part of those in charge of such institutions”.

The concept of “nobodies” or “ordinary Folk” has been adeptly addressed by many writers in the United States, particularly in the context of the spate of shootings of unarmed black men over the years by police officers. Nicholas Kristoff writes in the New York Times: “If you’re white, your interactions with police are more likely to have been professional and respectful, leaving you trustful. If you’re black, your encounters with cops may leave you dubious and distrustful”. The consensus among writers on this subject is that there is a mindset in The United States that black people are “second class citizens”. Some have said that even though the people elected an African American as President, The United States as a nation has still to escape the delusion that black people are inferior and a threat to the wellbeing of society. A website called http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed/ claims that police in the United States killed at least 102 unarmed black people in 2015, nearly twice each week. Nearly 1 in 3 black people are killed by police in 2015 were identified as unarmed, though the actual number is likely higher due to underreporting; 37% of unarmed people killed by police were black in 2015 despite black people being only 13% of the U.S. population; unarmed black people were killed at 5x the rate of unarmed whites in 2015; only 10 of the 102 cases in 2015 where an unarmed black person was killed by police resulted in officer(s) being charged with a crime, and only 2 of these deaths resulted in convictions of officers involved.

Martha Nussbaum, in her book which is quoted in this article, posits that cultivation of emotions that support justice as found in literature, song, political rhetoric and even the design of public parks serve as a catalyst to the administration of justice which should be based on love, understanding and empathy and should embody an entire society through the implementation of a system of laws that are founded upon love for fellow beings. Professor Nussbaum quotes Jean-Jacques Rousseau who, in the words of the author says: “a good society, in order to remain stable and to motivate projects involving sacrifice…needs a “civil religion” consisting of sentiments of sociability, without which it is impossible to be a good citizen or faithful subject”.

Most humans (if not all) are primarily self-centric and self-serving. They consider family; their jobs and wealth and ways and means to become wealthier as their priorities. John Rawls, a distinguished Harvard product states in his book A Theory of Justice that these interests can be directed at the principles of a just society. Nussbaum writes: “love is what gives respect for humanity its life…making it more than a shell”.

The author of this article believes that the executive of a country (in this case represented by its police and armed forces) must start when performing their functions with a love for their country which should be extended to its people, of which they a are part. For now, we as Homo Sapiens, seem to have made a complete mess of it. As Yuval Noah Harari says in his book Sapiens:A Brief History of Humankind: “The deal between states, markets and individuals is an uneasy one. The state and the market disagree about their mutual rights and obligations, and individuals complain that both demand too much and provide too little. In many cases individuals are exploited by markets, and states employ their armies, police forces and bureaucracies to persecute individuals instead of defending them. Yet it is amazing that this deal works at all – however imperfectly. For it breaches countless generations of human social arrangements. Millions of years have designed us to live and think as community members. Within a mere two centuries we have become alienated individuals…”.

President Sirisena, addressing The United Nations General Assembly on 22 September said of “Yahapalanaya: “The world today is full of hate, violence and fear. We must free our people from such hatred and fear and establish a society with moral values. The government is totally committed to reconciliation process to establish lasting peace… Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, where Theravada Buddhism is practiced. There are solutions in Buddhist teachings to most of the problems faced by the people in this world. Similarly, those who follow other religions like Hinduism, Islam and Christianity too can find answers to these problems by these great religious philosophies”.

These principles should definitely be inculcated in the executive of the country.


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Beware the Kashmir Volcano


India and Pakistan, both nuclear-armed states with powerful armed forces and medium-ranged missiles, remain at scimitar’s drawn over Kashmir for which they’ve fought two big wars and innumerable clashes.

by Eric Margolis

( September 26, 2016, New York City, Sri Lanka Guardian) The divided south Asian mountain state of Kashmir is like a volcano: forgotten when quiescent, but terrifying when it comes alive.

After the first India-Pakistan War in 1947, in which the British Indian Raj was divided into Hindu and Muslim-dominated states, India ended up with two-thirds of the formerly independent mountain state of Kashmir, and the new state of Pakistan with a scrubby, poor third known as Azad Kashmir.

Rebellion and attempts at secession have flared ever since in Indian-ruled Kashmir which has a restive Muslim majority, and minorities of Sikhs and Hindus. In fact, the Kashmir conflict is now the world’s oldest major crisis. The UN’s calls for a plebiscite to determine Kashmir’s future have been ignored by India.

A week ago, Kashmiri militants attacked an Indian Army brigade base at Uri that sits near the 1948-49 cease-fire line known as the Line Of Control (LOC). Seventeen Indian regular soldiers died along with four militants. New Delhi rushed 10,000 soldiers to Kashmir, boosting Indian military strength in the mountain state to over 500,000 men.

It is a grave mistake for the world to ignore Kashmir. My first book, “War at the Top of the World,” explored the Kashmir crisis and Indian-Pakistani-Chinese-Tibetan rivalries in the Karakoram and Himalaya mountain ranges ( a work inspired by my talks with the Dalai Lama). A decade ago I called Kashmir the ‘world’s most dangerous crisis.’ It remains so today.

India and Pakistan, both nuclear-armed states with powerful armed forces and medium-ranged missiles, remain at scimitar’s drawn over Kashmir for which they’ve fought two big wars and innumerable clashes.

I’ve been under fire twice along the Kashmir Line of Control and another time further north on the ill-demarcated border leading to the 5,000 meter high Siachin Glacier, the world’s highest war.

Most Azad Kashmiris want union with Pakistan (though a minority favor total independence of historic Kashmir, which is roughly the size of England. ) India insists Kashmir is an integral part of the Indian Union and not open to any discussion. Making matters even more complex, Pakistan gave a strategic chunk of vertiginous northern Kashmir called Aksai Chin to neighboring China. India claims it back. China claims Indian-ruled Ladakh, also known as ‘Little Tibet.’

India calls Kashmiri Muslim militants “terrorists” and accuses Pakistan of waging “cross-border terrorism.” Pakistan accuses India of savage oppression in Kashmir that includes extra-judicial killings, kidnapping, reprisals on civilians and widespread torture, charges supported by Indian human rights groups.

This dispute was not of international consequence until India, then Pakistan, developed nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them by missiles and aircraft. Both states are estimated to have around 100 nuclear devices deployed.

Over the past 20 years, India’s growing economy has allowed it to greatly expand its large military forces, now the world’s third largest. They now outnumber Pakistan by at least 2.5 to 1 in manpower, warplanes, artillery and armor. Granted, a portion of India’s military forces are deployed to watch the long Himalayan border with China. In my book, I suggested that the two Asian superpowers would eventually go to war in the Himalayas and over control of Burma (Mynmar).

Even so India could use its potent armored corps to cut narrow Pakistan in half within days. As a result, Pakistan developed tactical and strategic weapons to offset India’s crushing conventional superiority. So far, Islamabad’s nuclear strategy has worked. India’s government has repeatedly rejected the army’s requests to charge into Azad Kashmir and northern Pakistan Punjab after brazen Pakistani border incursions.

However, another border clash in Kashmir, such as last week’s attack at Uri, could ignite serious fighting between old enemies India and Pakistan, raising the risk of full-scale war and even intervention by China to rescue its old ally, Pakistan. This week, China conducted a small-scale training exercise in Pakistan, a clear warning to India.

For the rest of the world, the most frightening aspect of this tinderbox border, the world’s most militarized along with the Korean DMZ, is that both sides have only three minutes warning time of enemy air and missile attack.

That’s at best. Electronic systems in India and Pakistan are often unreliable and fault-ridden. A false alarm of incoming warplanes and missiles would force a ‘use it or lose it’ response. Risks of accidents are very high.

A nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India would kill or seriously injure tens of millions in South Asia, pollute its ground water for decades or longer, and release clouds of radioactive dust around the globe.

This is not some Hollywood apocalypse. Shooting is a daily event on the Line of Control. Fanatical hatred between India and Pakistan remains a constant. Nuclear war is more likely to start between India and Pakistan than anywhere else. Preventing one should be a primary diplomatic goal for the world’s powers.

Copyright Eric Margolis 2016


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OIC Contact Groups on Palestine, Jammu And Kashmir, Sierra Leone and the Aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan meet on the Sideline of the ACM in New York


On the 19th September 2016, the OIC Contact Groups on Palestine, Jammu and Kashmir, Sierra Leone and the Aggression of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan were held at Ministerial level on the sideline of the Annual Coordination Meeting (ACM) of OIC Foreign Ministers in New York. The separate meetings reviewed the prevailing developments on the respective issues and reaffirmed their full solidarity with Palestine, Jammu and Kashmir, Sierra Leone and Azerbaijan.

On Palestine, the meeting reiterated the OIC’s unwavering position on the cause on Palestine and Al-Quds AL Sharif and called for concerted efforts in the UNSC to assume its responsibility to ensure Israel’s halt to its violations, end the Israeli occupation within well-defined timeframe and to maintain the vision the two state solution.

Regarding Jammu and Kashmir, the Ministers, highlighted the systematic human rights violations of the Kashmiri people and the unfolding humanitarian tragedy in the Indian Occupied Kashmir and called on ICHAD and UN OCHA to act as a matter of urgency to deliver the much needed relief to the affected population.

On the aggression by Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan,the Contact Group, which held its inaugural meeting, expressed the hope that Group will serve as a useful platform to implement OIC Resolutions as well as harmonize individual and joint efforts of the Member States in order to put an end the Armenian aggression and occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan. The meeting also agreed to formulate a roadmap to guide the activities of the Group towards the realization of the its objectives.

Finally, while expressing its solidarity with Sierra Leone, the meeting urged the Member States to continue to extend all forms of support and assistance to the country in its endeavors to achieve full recovery after the post Ebola epidemic.


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Secretary General meets Aung San Suu Kyi


On the sideline of the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Iyad Ameen Madani, met with Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, State Adviser to the Government of Myanmar.

​During the meeting, the Secretary General was informed of the efforts on the efforts of the Myanmar government to promote democratic governance and end religious and racial conflicts in the country.

​For his part, the Secretary General welcomed the Myanmar government’s efforts in this regard and pointed out the OIC’s interest in the protection of the basic human rights of the Rohingya Muslim community, including their fundamental right to citizenship. Madani called for more efforts to improve the humanitarian situation in the Arakan region.


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“With A Little Political Backing We Can End The Rise Of Muslims”, Gnanasara Who Wishes To Emulate Prabhakaran Declares

Controversial Buddhist Monk Galagoda Atte Gnanasara of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) has declared that if he and his group had a ‘little’ political backing then they can end the rise of the Muslims in the country.

Speaking at an event recently in Korea where he addressed the Sri Lankans living there, Gnanasara also revealed how he systematically devised a successful plan to virtually destroy and abandon a Muslim town in Kuliyapitiya. “Sometimes, I feel like taking a T-56 and do what Prabhakaran did, but I can’t do it because I am in robes,” he said.

“We have more than 6000 to 7000 of our women who have converted to Islam after marrying Muslims. When we marry a Tamil or someone else we don’t get them to change their names, but when a Muslim fellow marries one of our women, then she is forced to become a Fathima and all the babies become Mohammeds. We must stop this,” he said.

Gnanasara said that this was a dangerous trend. “Our politicians are only greedy for power, they are ready to sacrifice for the party but not ready to do anything for the country. If these politicians only gave us a little backing we can end the rise of the Muslims,” he said.

Speaking further he said that there was a Muslim town which was located amongst Sinhalese villages. “But we systematically devised a plan over a year and today it is infested only with flies, no one else goes there,” a laughing Gnanasara said.

Elaborating further he said that the Muslim town was well off because the people in the town had money and they tried to take ownership of a playground in the area. “From the Sinhala village, a few old ladies had gone to sell their vegetable crop to a Muslim Mudalali in the town, but the Muslim Mudalali refused to buy saying that because they were not given the playground, the mosque had ordered them not to buy anything from the Sinhalese. These old women threw the vegetables onto the floor and then they and the others got together and started their offensive,” he said.

According to Gnanasara, today the Muslim town is absolutely abandoned. “There are now about 6 to 7 new shops owned by Sinhalese and the Muslim town is only infested with flies,” a very pleased Gnanasara said.


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The foundations of Islamic unity and its importance Lecturer: preacher Yasir Qadhi

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