Gota's Task Force on Archaeology, a direct threat to Tamils and Muslims: Fr Rohan in Batticaloa

[TamilNet, Monday, 08 June 2020, 22:16 GMT]
The freedom of belief and religion has become questionable and the “inclusive democratic rights” of all the citizens, particularly that of Muslims and Tamils, are made uncertain in the island. The SL government authorities have brought a “huge gap between Sinhala Buddhist majorities and the Tamil Muslim minorities” through their recent actions, commented Rev Fr Rajan Rohan, the secretary of Inter-Religious Forum in Batticaloa. The latest decision by SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, legalising a Presidential Task Force to preserve the archaeological sites under the command of SL Defence Secretary is received as a threat to the Tamil-speaking peoples, he said. “The Sinhala Buddhists are colonising the homeland of Tamils and Muslims,” he added.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief was notified in advance, Fr Rohan commented urging the UN to pay critical attention to the escalating situation and ensure ethnic and religious harmony in the island.

Tensions were running high between the Hindu Tamils and the Buddhist Sinhalese last year due to the heritage related disputes, he observed.

The World Health Organisation approved that the corpses of those perished due to COVID-19 pandemic could be buried. While 182 countries accepted and practised it, it was only Sri Lanka that didn't abide by it, he noted.

Now, SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has assigned the project of preserving archaeological sites to the SL Defence Secretary in terms of the agenda of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism and colonisation. It directly affects the “Tamil and the Muslim communities.” The Sinhala Buddhists are colonising and encroaching the motherlands of Tamils and Muslims, Fr Rohan said.

Tamil dairy farmers and cattle herders are also affected due to the SL Archaeology-oriented colonisation, he observed.

The controversial archaeology project is also affecting the livelihood promotion efforts, that have already suffered setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.

Fr Rohan is a priest at the American Ceylon Mission operated St John’s church in Batticaloa.

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Excerpts from a special lecture on historiography by Professor S Pathmanathan at the University of Jaffna on 18 June 2018, are reproduced below for the edification of the readers on the background to SL Archaeology related conflict in the island:

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The Sinhala-only Archaeology was not only undeterred, but sustained by the SL Archaeology Department and the intruding extremist monks during the previous so-called good-governance regime as well.

The following is a TamilNet interview with Mr Mano Ganesan, made in July 2019 when he was SL Minister of ‘National Integration’ and Hindu Religious Affairs. It is a prima facie witness to the workings of SL Archaeology during the previous regime:



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