Peace and communal harmony in Sri Lanka – Part 1

| by Dr S.L.M Rifai

( October 30, 2013, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) No doubt each one of us loves to see a prosperous and thriving Sri Lanka. Whether we come from Tamil community or Singhalese community or for that matter from any other community each patriotic Sri Lankan wish to see a flourishing Sri Lankan economy and they hope for the rapid development and progress of our nation: This is the inner feeling of all Sri Lankans in SL and Abroad. No one wishes destructions and devastation for our nation. Every patriotic Lankan wishes that Sri Lankan should become one of the wonders of Asian countries. This is the expectation and hope of the majority of Sri Lankan people across all communities. This is indeed, the prayers of most communities in Sri Lanka. It is a natural instinct of people to love their mother lands. It is a human nature to have some patriotic feelings on birth places.

In this sense, each and every Lankan who are born in Sri Lanka love this Island. This is the general perception of all communities in Sri Lanka. Yet, to claim that only Singhalese are true inhabitants of this land gives negative implications and impacts in our communal relationship between communities in Sri Lanka. All minority communities love this country as the majority community loves it. All minority communities manifest and show their loyalty to this country as does the majority community. BBS and its cohorts have made some deliberate attempts to say that minority communities have no loyalty to this nation. They have made some deliberate attempts to denounce the historical heritage and antiquities of minority communities in this country.

In fact BBS and its cohorts failed to recall that like all other community their ancestors too inhabited this Island sometime ago in history. Historical evidences indicate they hail from the Bengal region of India. In this sense all communities are new comers to this Island sometime in history. Some may have come early in history and some might have come later in history. But it can be argued that all are new arrivals to this Island except indigenous people of this Island. They live now in some part of Mehiyangane. They are the native Vedas of this Island.
The point I’m trying to make here is that there is a common feature to all contemporary Sri Lankan communities. That common feature is that all communities are migrants to this Island except the native Vedas who live in some parts of Island. If anyone has got ancestral and historical rights in antiquity to claim the real native people of Island it should be Vedas of this Island. In this sense all communities should be treated equally without any discrimination. All should have equal rights and equal privileges. We all live in a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country. This should be acknowledged and proclaimed openly by all communities in Sri Lanka.

We have majority community and minority communities. Each community shares some common human values and each community have some differences in culture, traditions and faith. How do we get on with all these differences and make unity among communities with all these differences. How do we make peace and harmony with all these differences between us? Rather than highlighting the differences between us we should focus on the factors that unite all of us. Our human nature and human sense should unite us all for the goodness of entire country.
First and foremost we all are human beings. We may have different faith and different ethnicity or language and yet we all belong to human one human race. This universal human brotherhood should unite us all for the goodness of humanity. In this sense this universal brotherhood should unite us as Lankans for the goodness of all communities. All we should have sense of humour to share happiness and sadness of each community.

I think that religious leadership in our country should emphasis on this universal brotherhood of humanity and indeed, this is one of the teachings of Lord Buddha; He did not discriminate humanity in terms of their colour, faith, language or ethnicity. To build a long lasting peace and harmony among Sri Lankan communities we should make some awareness among public about this basic human brotherhood. Of course we have all differences with us and yet we too have common humanistic features between us. Yet, some of us try to highlight the differences at the expense of our common humanistic features. This universality of human brotherhood is lost today in our modern world not only in Sri Lanka but in the entire world. Sometime animals have better treatment in the hands of some people than their follow human beings.

Look at how millions of people die out of hunger and yet, some people spend billions to feed their pats and animals at the expense of starving their follow humans. I do not say that we should starve animals to death. If we do that it would be animal cruelty and there is no place for that in religion but what I’m saying here is that millions of people go hungry each day and yet, rich people and rich nations do not care about these hungry people. Millions of people die out of huger in some parts of world and at the same time millions people are suffering from obesity. This is the so called modern civilised world we live: a world of self –contradictories. Because, this universal brotherhood of humanity has already dead in this materialistic and capitalistic world.

We Sri Lankans have been maintaining some supreme human qualities such as love, compassions, affections, sympathy, kindness and respect. I wonder if these human qualities are eroding in our modern time. Some inhuman qualities are overriding our basic human qualities today in Sri Lanka. Look at how communal hatred and racism are overriding love and affection of human race. When we live in multi-ethnic country we should have some ethical and moral principles and protocols in dealing with people. These moral and ethical principles should be maintained at all levels at official and public levels. These should be maintained in all our dealings and interaction. There must be some fair legal and judicial systems to deal with all communal and social issues in accordance with rules of laws.

Unconditional justice for all should be the basic principle in dealing with communal and sensitive issues. The equality of humanity in the eye of law should be the second basic principle in dealing with different ethical groups. Law and order should be applied to all communities equally without any bias or discrimination.
Unconditional justice to all communities without bias:

Justice is unconditional. It should be applied equally to all communities. There is no one system of justice for Singhalese and another type of justice for Tamil community. There is no one sort of justice system to the majority community and another type for minority communities. There is no one sort of justice for rulers and another type of justice to his subjects. There should not be one type of justice for powerful people and another type of justice for weak in the community. We should not have one type of justice system for the party in power and another type of justice for the party in opposition. The miscarriage of justice is taking place in Sri Lanka across all communities and political parties. This miscarriage of justice is unprecedented in our history.

Any discriminative attitude in the application of justice will lead the country into chaos and people would not have any trust and confidence in the rule of law. Unfortunately, in recent time justice is not applied equally in Sri Lanka. Justice system and courts of law have been fully controlled by the politicians. This put the judges of this country in precarious situation even if they wanted to apply justice equally to all they cannot do that because they under immense political pressure. In case of hate campaign against Muslims police and justice systems in Sri Lankan could not take any necessary steps to curtail the activities of BBS and its cohorts. It is apparent that they are acting against of the rule of laws and yet no action has been taken against them. It is apparent that BBS and its cohorts take the laws in their hand and yet, no one objects it. It is shame on the legal system of this country that the judges could not take any actions against this open hatred campaign.

(To be continued next week)