‘Proud to shed blood to protect Tamils’

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 29 October 2003, 18:36 GMT]
“We are really proud as Singhalese today because we shed blood to protect our Tamil brethren from the racist thugs”, said Mr. Rohitha Bashana, the main organiser of the Sinhala/Tamil arts festival that was attacked by Sinhala nationalist mobs at the New Town Hall in Colombo Wednesday. Five Singhalese, including two journalists, were injured in the attack. Police officers said that Sinhala nationalists were planning massive, hostile demonstrations against the Sinhala/Tamil arts festival Thursday.

Mr. Rohitha Bashana, the chief spokesman for the Sinhala group, ‘Hiru’, that organised the arts festival to bring Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim artistes, writers and poets together, said that the attackers were spurred on to violence for more than two weeks by the Sinhala extremist newspaper, Divaina, published by President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s uncle, Dr. Seevali Ratwatte.

Police said the attackers came armed with knives, clubs, chains and stones.

At a press conference held this noon in the aftermath of the attack at the venue of the festival , Mr. Dharmasiri Bandaranayaka, the widely respected Sinhala film director, said that the attack was a great disgrace to all Sinhala people. “This gathering is not against peace or for promoting war. Hence the attack is a big disgrace for the Sinhala people”, he said.

Newsmen from the Divaina were also among the attackers, according to the organisers of the arts festival for peace.

Mob attacks Tamil-Sinhala Arts Festival
Prof. Sucharitha Gamlath addressing the cultural festival.
In his inaugural address, Prof. Sucharitha Gamlath, the widely regarded Sinhala savant, said that he would struggle against violence perpetrated on Tamils until his last breath.

He said that, as a Singhalese he has been engaged in such a struggle from the time he was head of the Arts faculty in the University of Jaffna in the late seventies.

He explained how Sinhala works on grammar are based on the Tamil grammar called Virasoliyam – written by the Buddhist monk in Tamil Nadu in medieval times.

Prof. Gamlath said that no Sinhala writer has created any work to promote Tamil Sinhala harmony for more than thirty years.

He blamed the Sinhala nationalist writer, Dr. Gunadasa Amerasekera, among others, for producing literature expressly meant to urge and promote war by the Sinhala majority against the Tamils.

 

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