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Sajith Premadasa intensified heritage genocide against Tamils through departments in his ministry

[TamilNet, Friday, 25 October 2019, 23:36 GMT]
The successive governments of the occupying unitary state of genocidal Sri Lanka have gazetted 167 ancient heritage monuments, which they want to convert as ‘Sinhala only’ Theravada Buddhist monuments in the traditional homeland of Eezham Tamils in the North-East after 2010. Rajapaksa government gazetted 123 sites in two notifications in May and August 2013. The regime led by Maithiripala and Wickramasinghe has gazetted forty-four monuments in May 2015 and March 2016. The heritage genocide accelerated under Sajith Premadasa as minister of cultural, housing and construction affairs. A range of departments from the SL Department of Archaeology to Central Cultural Fund, which sophisticatedly undermines Tamil heritage involving Tamil and foreign academics function under him, Tamil civil officials and activists in Jaffna and Mullaiththeevu told TamilNet.

V Navaneethan, a leading grassroots activist in Vanni with local and foreign experience as a former UN field officer, has gone through the list of monuments in the various gazettes and prepared a chart detailing the figures.

In an audio comment to TamilNet, Mr Navaneethan said the SL Archaeology Department has not consulted any research institutions in the North East including the University of Jaffna or the district-level civil authorities before gazetting the monuments as belonging to Sinhala Buddhist heritage. The claims were not based on scientific research, he said.

For example, the systematic anti-Tamil heritage activities witnessed at Neeraaviyadi temple and along the border between the North and East were also intend to permanantly wedge the territorial integrity of the North-East, the activist who hails from Mullaiththeevu said.

Sinhalicisation and Theravada Buddhicisation targets Kokku'laay
Sinhalicisation and Theravada Buddhicisation targets Kokku'laay and the border between the North and East. The intention is to wedge the territorial contiguity of the homeland of Eezham Tamils [Satellite image courtesy: Google Earth, Legend by TamilNet]

Also the state agencies and programmes coming under the Housing and Construction Departments of Sajith Premadasa's ministry covertly advance the ‘foremost place to Buddhism agenda’ as well as giving preference to Sinhala colonisation schemes.

The Department of Cultural Affairs is more or less overt in their modus operandi. There are a number of SL state institutions and programmes along with the Archaeology Department under the Cultural Affairs of Sajith Premadasa's ministry: Department of Cultural Affairs, Department of National Affairs, Department of National Museum, Central Cultural Fund, National Film Corporation, National Arts Council, Folk Arts Center and Public Performance Board.

An overwhelming majority of the sites of Buddhist places of worship are put up in places where no Sinhala Buddhist, except the occupying Sinhala military, live.

The mainstream parties from the South were canvassing for the construction of a large number of Sinhala Buddhist temples in the North-East during the rural elections in 2018.

The UNP was claiming in its election manifesto that its government had already allocated money to erect one thousand stupas in the North-East.

UNP wants 1000 viharas in North-East
UNP election manifesto claiming construction of 1000 viharas in North-East as ‘reconciliation’

Article 9 (Chapter II) of the current constitution of the unitary state of genocidal Sri Lanka promulgated in 1978, states that “[t]he Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place, and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana..”

Eezham Tamils say that this Article constitutes a particular obstacle in negotiating any degree of autonomy with the genocidal State of Sri Lanka because it is an ‘entrenched’ section of the constitution.

The entrenched articles could only be amended or repealed with the support of two-thirds of all the members of the SL Parliament and even so, only after the people approve or abolish such amendment in an island-wide referendum. Besides, the executive SL President should also support that change.

Such conditions cannot be met under any internal circumstances through electoral politics due to the ethno-nationalist nature of the Sinhala Buddhist establishment in the South.

The unitary paradigm has been directly and indirectly promoted by the global and the regional powers that have been trading strategic inroads into the island with the unitary state in Colombo.

Article 2 of the SL Constitution says that ‘Sri Lanka’ is a unitary state.

Similarly, the articles in the first two chapters that deal with the national flag, national anthem, language status, are all entrenched clauses in the SL Constitution.

There were three conjunctures of state formation in the island. And in all three constitutional discourses (1947, 1972 and 1978), the Tamils of the northeast refused to accede their sovereignty, on the grounds that the Sinhalese were only intent on establishing a unitary system of government that would concentrate power over the affairs and wealth of the island solely in their hands.

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