Racism in Sri Lanka
Many tweets and blog posts have been made about the events that rocked Aluthgama and Beruwala in Sri Lanka. A large number of Sinhala Buddhist extremists mobs descended on these two towns with sizable Muslim population and with military precision looted and then set fire to many Muslim owned shops. It didn’t end there but they also attacked homes vandalized a kindergarten and even attacked Mosques and used petrol bombs and bullets which ultimately caused loss of lives among the Muslims.
So why is Sri Lanka continously suffering from Racism?
Over the last 30 years Sri Lanka has fought a protracted civil war due the the majority Sinhalese community not being able to provide the required leadership to the minority communities and religions in the country – my beloved Sri Lanka.
Many people explain the deficiency in proper leadership among the Sinhala leadership as “Sinhalaya modaya” roughly translated this means – Sinhalese are fools. Which does bear some truth by looking at how the Sinhalese masses react to the inflammatory groups such as the BBS – that uses the gullibility of the Sinhala masses to sell their racist policies of minority extermination by wrapping it in patriotism and religious fervor. But can this alone be used to completely discount all other significant factors that gave rise to the BBS.
I list out some of the other major factors that should not be disregarded in dissecting the nature and drivers of the BBS
- Influence of external forces on the Sinhala monks such as the Burmese “969” movement – famous terrorist organization and also other militant monks in the region.
- BBS seems to have been funded by some mysterious foreign or local entity since they travel in Land Cruisers and Defenders – so who really controls the puppet strings and the purse strings of the BBS?
- How is it that BBS attacks on Muslim shops and houses have been done with military precision – the attack on Harcourts Pharmacy lasted for only 20 seconds! Many eye witnesses stated that Sinhala mobs acted purposefully first looting the shops BEFORE setting fire to them and used lorries and vans to transport the looted goods.
- The BBS has taken the form of a militia as eye witness reports noted many pick ups and jeeps traveling with guns – this militia caused the loss of lives among the Muslims who were defending the mosque full of women and children.
- Army deserters and former army personnel could be swelling the ranks of the BBS if they see a quick way to make money by looting Muslim houses and shops.
- Fear among the Buddhist monks that the Muslim community is in control of the economy of Sri Lanka – even though there is no real evidence to prove this
- GOSL is not able or willing to take action against the BBS since they fear loss of Sinhala votes which they rely on to win elections
- BBS could be the result of a weak Government that relies on extremists to keep the minorities in check and majority Sinhala votes faithful to a failing system of governance that is now in its death-throes
- BBS having delusions of grandeur that the organization will be able to rule by proxy by making any Sinhala Government subservient to its demands using racism and fanatical patriotic rhetoric to blackmail the Government
- BBS has become masters of Reading and misreading of history blaming Muslims of Sri Lanka in 2014 of the destruction of the “Nalanda University” in India by Turkish invaders in 1193
The inability of the GOSL, police and army to stop the BBS has resulted many assuming that the Government is acting in concert with the BBS – which may not be true considering that the GOSL is an elected responsible entity. So what should the GOSL do to control and contain the situation:
- Introduction of legislation to prevent and punish hate speech and hate crimes
- Regulate financing of all religious groups or organizations
- Actively monitor public meetings of religious organizations and disperse meetings that call for violence or religious extremism
- Actively collect and destroy all hate material such as flyers and posters and shut down and fine all presses that print such material
- Provide adequate security to places of worship, minority houses and shops
- Create a conducive atmosphere for a free exchange of ideas among all religions and communities
- Send religious extremists to rehabilitation camps to get education about real teachings of all religions practiced in Sri Lanka
- Teach religious tolerance in schools from an early age and continue till university especially in Schools that have only one ethnicity present