Feature Article

Ploy of monks and bigotry of politicians critical to TNA's Quisling politics

[TamilNet, Saturday, 22 June 2019, 17:05 GMT]
A section of Tamil politicians, who claim that they are opposed to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) on principles grounds regarding Tamil rights, have fallen right into the sophisticated trap laid by the extremist Sinhala Buddhist establishment in the district of Ampaa'rai. The Tamil politicians, who were attending the hunger-strike in which the role of Ven Ranmuthugala Sangharathana Thero had become the ‘foremost’ attention-drawer, were contributing to severing the ties between the Tamils and Muslims in the future. By making their presence at the platform promoted by the Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary Gnanasara Thero, JHU Parliamentarian monk Athuraliye Rathana Thero and Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna, they were betraying the legitimate cause, including their objective criticism of the Quisling hierarchy of the TNA.

When comparing the visit of the Tamil politicians showing their faces at Kalmunai protest with the courage demonstrated by SL Minister Mangala Samaraweera in exposing Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith for visiting the extremist monk Athuraliye Rathana during his hunger-strike in Kandy, the Sinhala politician was scoring higher in his moral conduct, at least for once.

Tweet by Mangala Samaraweera

Kalmunai protest start
The protest was launched together by four participants, Ranmuthugala Sangharathana thero, Sachithananthan kurukka'l and Tamil councillors A. Vijayaratnam and T. Rajan, in front of the divisional secretariat on 17 June 2019.
Kalmunai protest continued
Athuraliye Rathana thero
Athuraliye Rathana thero visited the hunger-striking monk on Friday
Gnanasara thero visits Kalmunai
Gnanasara thero visits Kalmunai to conclude the fast-unto-death on Saturday
There is no doubt that the grievances of the Tamil people in Kalmunai North are genuine.

The protest should have been against the hierarchy of the TNA which had failed to act for so long.

However, the Tamil politicians, who are opposed to or competing with the TNA, utterly failed to make use of the political space, which had been created by the failures of the hierarchy of the TNA.

They were not prepared to come and advance the struggle of the Tamil people in Kalmunai.

It was this political space which was exploited by the extremist monks to whip up anti-Muslim prejudice among the Tamils.

Ranmuthugala Sangharathana thero, who claims his conduct was not ethnically biased, has been regarded as a hostile personality by the Tamil-speaking Muslims in the district.

The monk has emerged as a dominant personality at the local level. He has been sophisticatedly projecting the ‘foremostness’ of Theravada Buddhism in the district.

When he controversially installed a Buddha statue at Maayak-kalli-malai, the Tamils were told not to support the Muslims who were resisting it.

Even now, a day before he took part in the hunger-strike protest, the incumbent monk of Kalmunai Sri Subadrarama Viharaya was staging Poson Full Moon Poya decorations forcing the Muslim traders in the town to contribute to the event to be marked much more visible than the previous years. He was calling the move as ‘religious harmony’.

The move came after he recruited Tamil youth to put up Buddhist decorations in massive scale during the Vesak celebrations as never before on May 18 diverting the Tamils away from attending the 10th Mu'l'livaaykkaal genocide remembrance.

Monk at Kalmunai on 18 May 2019
The monk was happy to deploy Tamil youth to decorate Kalmunai with Vesak decorations on 18 May 2019 diverting them from attending 10th Mu'l'livaaykkaal Tamil Genocide Remembrance
Kalmunai town on 18 May 2019
Kalmunai town on 18 May 2019

The Sinhala Buddhist monks insinuating the suppressed Tamils to turn against the Tamil-speaking Muslims was a pattern observed since November 2016.

However, the trend goes even back in history.

In March 2014, the ruling establishment in Colombo identified Kalmunai as the hotspot for staging a rally in support of SL Mahinda Rajapaksa projecting it as mobilisation coming from ‘Kalmunai Tamil Civil Society’.

Pro-Rajapaksa rally in Kalmunai
File Photo - The so-called Kalmunai Tamils deceived to stage a pro-Rajapaksa rally in March 2014

In December 2010, Ranmuthugala Sangharathana was made to witness in front of the LLRC panel in the Tamil language by the Rajapaksa establishment.

The monk has been successful in sophisticatedly deceiving the sections of Tamils in Ampaa'rai with the motive of setting them against the Muslims as reported by TamilNet since November 2016.

The pathetic reality, as experienced by the Tamils in Kalmunai North, is that their case was being taken seriously at Colombo circles only after the monk jumped into the protest ‘on their behalf’.

However, what the monk has ‘achieved’ is adding scar and wounds to the already challenging task of creating Tamil-Muslim unity for the joined protection of ‘the other’ in genocidal Sri Lanka.

A former Sinhala Buddhist military commander in the Sinha Regiment, Major General Ananda Weerasekara, who was the ‘Commanding Officer of the North Central Province’, has been serving as a ‘teacher’ at the Buddangala forest hermitage Establishment. The military-turned-monk Major General (retd.) Ananda Weerasekara entered the Buddhist Order by the name of Buddangala Ananda in May 2007, seven years after he was accused of torture and murder during the JVP uprising in the late 1980s in Anuradhapura. Buddangala Ananda has been very close to Sinhala extremist group Sihala Urumaya.

Major General (retd) Buddhangala Ananda Thero
Major General (retd) Buddhangala Ananda Thero delivering a sermon at Ampaa'rai

These monks are experts in wedging communities for the advancement of Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism. It doesn't matter whether they do it brutally or in a sophisticated manner. The latter is more dangerous in the long run.

The task of Tamil politicians and the Tamil-language media must be aimed at forging strategic unity in the North-East. However, the conduct of the Tamil media, mainly those driven by the commercial actors and the politicians seeking votes thinking of making a presence at Kalmunai protest site, were selling the project of the monks, instead of guiding the disillusioned masses along the right path.

* * *

Explaining the modus operandi of the monks, veteran Muslim journalist ALM Saleem from Ampaa'rai, who has been promoting Tamil-Muslim unity, said it was critical for Tamil and Muslim leaders in the East to grasp the warning.

The monks are also seeking to snatch away the international justice for Tamil genocide by setting Tamils against the Muslims in the East, he commented.

He also condemned the attitude of the Muslim politicians operating against the justified demands of Kalmunai North Tamils.

* * *

Since Ampaa'rai district was carved out of Batticaloa district in 1961, a systematic demographic genocide was committed against Eezham Tamils reducing them from 23% of the district's population (1963 Census) into 17.4% (2012 Census).

The Sinhalese population has increased from 29% to 38.7%.

Tamil-speaking Muslims remain as the majority population constituting 43.5%

Sinhala settlers in Ampaa'rai under the Gal Oya scheme carried out the first big-scale genocidal massacre in the chain of the State-sponsored anti-Tamil pogroms.

Ever since then, the Eezham Tamils were chased out from their traditional and later settlements.

Tamil-speaking Muslims live in large numbers in eight divisions: Akkaraip-pattu, I'rakkaamam, Chammaanthu'rai, Kalmunai-Muslim, Chaayntha-maruthu, Ninthavoor, Addaa'laich-cheanai and in Poththuvil DS divisions.

Sinhala people live predominantly in seven divisions: Dehiattakandiya, Padiyathalawa, Maha-oya, Uhana, Damana, Lahugala and Ampaa'rai.

Tamil people are found in large numbers in five DS divisions: Thirukkoayil, Aalaiyadi-vempu, Kalmunai-Tamil, Kaarai-theevu and Naavithan-ve'li.

Despite a decision made to upgrade the 28 sub-divisional secretariats in the island to full-fledged divisions, including the Kalmunai-North (Tamil) division, it was the only division that has remained neglected from such upgrade. All the remaining 27 sub-divisions have been upgraded

The protest was launched on Monday with the demand for immediately implementing the upgrade. The fast-unto-death campaign was waged jointly by a Hindu priest and the Buddhist monk with the support of fellow priests and monks. A Christian pastor was also taking part in the supportive rotational protest to support the hunger-strike.

Although, the SL Government had agreed to implement the upgrade, it was asking three months time to complete the process. But, the protesters demand the Colombo government to gazette the decision and warned that the protest would continue until it is done.

The monks, seizing the opportunity to whip up the anti-Muslim campaign, also vowed to expand the protest in Polonnaruwa and Vavuniyaa on Friday.

Triggered by the anti-Muslim nature of the protest and the comments coming from the extremist monks urging Tamils to join hands with the Sinhalese to confront the Muslims, the Muslims also started a counter-protest, escalating the ethnoreligious tensions.

Counter protest by Muslims
Counter protest staged by Muslims from 20th June to 23rd June at Saanthaan-kea'ni [Photo courtesy: metronews.lk]

However, the intensity of the hunger-strike protest was reduced as JHU monk Gnanasana thero ‘convinced’ the monk to drop fast-unto-death mode of the campaign on Saturday.

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