THE DOUBLE STANDARDS
At this important juncture of Sri Lanka’s post-independent history there are some factors that need to be reminded to all citizens of Sri Lanka. Some of these hometruths may not be palatable to people but these need to be said and recorded.
Reverse Discrimination : Empathy towards Sinhalese
Let us for a change start off by looking at things from the lens of the Sinhalese, taking to consideration the lack of recognition for the grievances of the Sinhalese.
Sinhala Grievances – past and present
Never have people stopped to wonder what it would have been for the Sinhalese to have lost all that they had built, to watch their ancient temples razed to the ground, to be issued proclamations denying their lands, to watch in horror Buddhist priests slaughtered for wearing the robe, the shock of having to look at churches that replaced temples that generations of their people had been worshiping in, to run for their lives when colonial rulers came hunting to kill men, women, children, babies and even their livestock in a policy that was meant to exterminate the majority Sinhalese populace. The modern terminology for such actions is genocide and the crime is called crimes against humanity. These incidents took place over 450 years from 1505 when the Portuguese arrived and thereafter Dutch and the British continued the butchery and criminalities. What needs to be noted with emphasis is that the colonial invaders did not conquest Sri Lanka. The Sinhalese leaders only ceded power based on some promises. Top on that list was the assurance to protect the Buddhist identity of the country. That the imperialists made the promise to protect Buddhism showed that they acknowledged Buddhism as being the state religion of Sri Lanka. The rebellion that took place in 1818 was primarily due to the British breaking promises made. It was just one example of how the Christian West chose to speak with a forked tongue treating non-whites as mere subjects and never on equal platform.
Thus, there was never a question of conquest – the Sinhalese only ceded power and if so the question of why Sri Lanka should celebrate independence needs to now be asked. Ideally, we should celebrate Republic Day and not the present Independence Day.
Never have people showed empathy to the Sinhalese or cared to demand accountability for the crimes committed by the Portuguese, Dutch and British that primarily targeted the majority Buddhist Sinhalese.
Never have people wondered why the Sinhalese are questioning the double standards. How many people are aware that Sri Lanka as a nation was built by the Sinhalese and this history extends over 38,000 years. With the discovery of the Balangoda man the myth that the Sinhalese descend from Prince Vijaya is dispelled. How many are aware that there is no other Sinhala race or Sinhalese language anywhere else in the world clearly establishing Sinhalese with Sri Lanka? How many are aware that Sri Lanka was ruled by 180 Sinhalese kings following the tenets of Buddhism and the dasa raja dhamma (which the King of Thailand follows to this day)?
The erosion of leaders following principles of Buddhist teachings began following the invasions by colonial Christian nations from 1505 onwards and continues with leaders subject to multicultural and secular jargon with ‘loans’ ‘aids’ and other goodies given as carrots to forsake identifying the heritage of the country.
Agitations in the present context results from the inability of present day leaders to publicly declare the Buddhist identity of Sri Lanka this has slowly led to the incursions upon Buddhist heritage sites, Buddhist lands and historical Buddhist sites now being labeled as belonging to all religions ex: Sri Pada etc (people using site decades later should not claim equal rights). Will Vatican or any other non-Buddhist religious sites cede their place of worship claiming it belongs to all simply because Buddhists also visit the site? The denial of the Buddhist heritage is costing the entire country its defence as time will foretell for leaders have fallen prey to the UN New World Order agenda to take away Indian civilization religions from its attachment to socio-political influence.
How many will come forward to acknowledge how the majority Sinhalese looked after Tamils throughout history? When the Portuguese were attacking Tamils in the North did the Sinhalese king not send his envoy Attapattu who laid down his life no different to how 2700 Sri Lankan soldiers sacrificed their lives during the last phase of the conflict? When Muslims regarded as aliens and traders were being hounded and killed by the Portuguese the Sinhalese king again came to the assistance and Muslims were given shelter. It was only in 1815 that the Muslims were first officially allowed to own land and property in Sri Lanka and not treated as aliens. Thus, in real terms Muslims began being part of the polity of Sri Lanka only from 1815 onwards.
In terms of loss the Sinhalese lost out far more than anyone and this has never ever been highlighted. They even lost out on their people after the conversion tactics of the Christian colonial invaders who used a carrot and stick method to entice Sinhalese and Tamils to embrace Christianity/Catholicism. These people were trained to become agents of imperial rule.
Conversion policies were intertwined with policies of divide and rule bringing the next phase of attempting to subdue the Sinhala Buddhist majority. Thus, missionary education, privileges to minorities and complete alienation of the Sinhalese stifled the remaining rights of the owners of Sri Lanka while they defended their lands and died in doing so. In terms of protecting the country apart from a handful of minorities it was always the Sinhalese Buddhists who died to protect the country.
If the 20th century and immediate post-independent public service was occupied by minorities it was proof that the education system extending to public sector employment was enjoyed by the minorities and a handful of Sinhalese who were not Buddhists but converted Christians. These were the brown sahibs that the British created and unto whom the independence was given with the understanding that white man’s rule and principles would continue.
It is important that people understand that the coterie of Brown Sahibs created to hand over post-independence were interested in neither the concerns of the people except to advance their own political agendas that would maintain their power. The Sinhalese do not have a single leader who has arisen to defend or demand the rights of the Sinhalese or in the least to vocalize the injustices to the Sinhalese when demands by minorities only end up gaining the writ of approval. This is a major shortcoming that the Sinhalese Buddhists face to this day even after 66 years of ‘independence’ – we continue to question who has become ‘independent’ for the Sinhalese Buddhists, reverse discrimination has yet to be addressed.
All that was asked of Sri Lanka’s leaders by patriotic forces post-independence was to restore the Buddhist heritage that the British promised to keep but usurped.The Sinhala Only that is being used as a battering ram to claim injustice and discrimination provided no solace to the Sinhalese. What the Sinhala Buddhists demanded was to reverse the discriminations the owners of the land of Sri Lanka had suffered and return the nation to the people that ruled the country. None of the minorities can complain that under Sinhala Buddhist pre-colonial rule they suffered injustices. There is no historical proof to prove that Tamils or alien/trader Muslims were treated with discrimination prior to arrival of colonial rulers.
The Sinhalese Buddhist kings looked after all subjects under the principles of Buddhist philosophy and the minorities were also looked after. There is no historical evidence of the minorities going against Sinhala Buddhist kings or that the minorities were denied any rights and this seals the truth. There was a clear policy set, all people knew what was right and wrong, what was excepted and what was not. Minorities knew that they had to respect the place of the majority and the majority in turn ensured that the minorities lived without feeling segregated.
The problems that people currently suffer from were all created by the colonial Christian West and these same policies are continuing unhindered and helped by the local agents they have created to function as their surrogates or lascoreens.
The colonial Christian West set policies to drive wedges and created divisions which they helped fan into worse scenarios. The divide and rule policy, Christian missionary education to converted natives, employment to the English convert educated, dividing communities further by manipulating social caste systems, minorities thinking they were better than the majority were just a handful of the divisions the foreign invaders managed to psychologically and emotionally engrave into the minds of the minorities.
It is in this context that we must view the 50-50 demands by the Tamils, the calls for a separate state with the forming of the Federal party (1949) by an imported Christian arriving from Malaysia (Chelvanayagam). In 1949 the Tamils were enjoying more benefits than the majority Sinhalese Buddhists. Those demanding status for Tamil language were all English speaking, English educated. Did Sri Lanka’s leaders not wonder why it should sign a pact (Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam) that was designed to address the Sinhala Language policy but ended up diverting towards ‘devolution’? Is this not similar to the Resolutions against Sri Lanka which started off with the last phase of the conflict and now is branching off into all corners invariably hiding a sinister agenda.
There can be no reconciliation unless some hometruths are accepted and acknowledged.
Divide and rule policies of the colonial invaders dented ties between people and created nomenclatures of majority/minority/race etc has attributed largely to the conflicts that prevail throughout the third world. The policy of all colonial invaders were to plunder lands, convert people to Christianity/Catholicism, educate the converted natives in English and systematically change the replace indigenous native culture with the western culture so that they clone a new set of people who would willingly follow their ideals. It was to this lot of cloned natives who were English speaking and converted to Christianity and upheld the Western cultures and attire that post-independence leadership was handed to. All leaders who were national, charismatic and showed signs of challenging western agendas were eliminated by assassination – Patrice Lumumba (Congo) and Aung San (Myanmar) are just 2 examples.
Decades post-independence in countries that are said to have been given ‘independence’ there is really nothing to be grateful to the West about. Our nations were forcibly taken, our nations were plundered and our nations were systematically destroyed. The troubles we face are what the Christian West nations sowed during their illicit and illegal rule. They left our nations have introduced international legal systems that suited the West and could be manipulated by the West. They introduced an international trade system that again was manipulated by the Christian West and designed to keep the nations they illegally occupied forever in debt and strife. Their mechanizations are made easier by keeping the people divided through the agents of 5th columnists and sepoys ever ready for personal favor and remunerations to forsake their own. They created the notion of majority-minority so they could play each against the other.
Never have the majority indigenous races demanded reverse discrimination. The majority is being used as a battering ram to forward the agendas of the neocolonialists.
It is now time that the Sinhalese demanded reverse discrimination for never have the grievances of the Sinhalese taken any podium space or had the attention of a single rights activist/media channel or even politicians.
Be that as it may any form of reconciliation cannot be one-sided and with only the Sinhalese having to extend the hand of goodwill and giving – it is no better a time for the minorities to realize that in terms of loss it is the Sinhalese Buddhists who have suffered far more than any others throughout the rule of occupation. The minorities need to also understand that they need to empathize with the Sinhalese Buddhists and their plight as well.
Shenali D Waduge