It’s now or never for the Sinhala Buddhists to unite to protect their nation
“People who were educated in British schools and who were taught European history and geography, neglecting native history and geography cannot see the true value of their country’s past which they view with the eyes of the foreigners.” – Ivan Minayev
Our island was known as Sinhale and the people were called Sinhalese (just like Japan’s people are Japanese and the people in Germany are called Germans and the people in France are called French). For centuries our island nation had faced incursions. Astuteness by the kings that ruled the country ensured we befriended our enemy’s enemy who assisted us to remain independent. It took our own to hand over the nation to foreign powers first parts of the island to Portuguese and Dutch and thereafter the whole island to the British in 1815. All the while efforts had been afoot to remove or subtly dilute the Buddhist ethnic identity of Sri Lanka and break the majority Sinhala Buddhists. That homework has not stopped since. Unfortunately our own people including our own politically elected leaders had been co-opted to do part of the dirty work and the damage has increased with each year with the strongest of incursions coming after January 2015 now attempting to change the entire ethno-religious composition by breaking up Sri Lanka through a new constitution.
The think tanks employed have worked out how to manipulate the voters. With the minorities and the UNP as one bloc it only requires a segment of the Sinhalese to join to make the necessary numbers unless the Sinhalese Buddhists join as a united front. Bogus Sinhala politicians and rebel movements like the JVP have been co-opted to put brakes on forming such a united front. This is what the Sinhala Buddhists now need to be cautious of.
There is no political party to stand up for the rights of the Sinhala Buddhists. The Sinhala Buddhists have always been used by politicians. Despite the ambitious campaign by the Bauddha Jathika Balavega today the Sinhala Buddhists have realized that neither the SLFP or the more radical JVP will stand up for their interests. On the other hand there are enough of Tamil parties to push demands of the Tamils and the same prevails for the Muslims while the UNP has always taken the side of the minorities at all times. Therefore, today politically the Sinhala Buddhists find no stand out leader to project only the interests of the Sinhala Buddhists who number 14million of a 20million population.
The reason for that sadly is the fact that politicians are enticed by the minorities who are financially strong and religiously powerful blocs (Tamils with 72million in Tamil Nadu, Christians/Catholics with a country and a rich and politically powerful Vatican, the Muslims with over 50 Muslim majority nations and a global populace of 1.6billion) Sinhala Buddhists have only 5 Theravada Buddhist nations who are being targeted using the same incursions Sri Lanka faces.
When power is consolidated via false campaigns it is often one’s own mistakes that lead to downfall and the historical goal to dissipate the Sangha & Buddhism was fast tracked with the move to separate the Nikaya heads against the rest which did not work resorting to the next plan to make parliament bring legislation to bring to book only the Maha Sangha (without other religions inspite of some Christian clergy openly supporting LTTE terrorism). This is not democracy and the plan has obviously back fired with all the Sangha barring the one’s who had been in the purse of the external forces lining up against the move. It is highly likely that the revival and grassroot unity much sought after for the Sinhala Buddhists will once again come via the Sangha as had always happened in the past. Those planning these traps have obviously overlooked the power of the Sangha and the role the Sangha plays in the minds of the Sinhala people.
With the noose tightening having brought into power a unity government that is heavily influenced and governed by foreign/external forces there is a sudden urgency to get a constitution passed. The new constitution is out to remove every aspect of power that the majority currently holds and divide the nation under a federal banner meeting India’s long cherished goal of expanding its empire an effort successfully in place across the rest of SAARC nations. With each day the new government is signing deals with India allowing free flow of Indians and Indian goods into Sri Lanka virtually making Sri Lankans soon to be jobless and even landless in time to come! We are in a situation that we are likely to lose far more than what the colonials took from us if India descends to rule Sri Lanka. These thoughts must now work on ALL SINHALA BUDDHISTS.
The hurry to change the constitution obviously should raise eyebrows when the public are given only 5 days to make their proposals. On such an important matter as a country’s constitution why are the citizens given only 5 days and no guidelines even?
How far are the minorities playing a role in the current impasse?
Minorities may say they wish to live in harmony with other communities but when their political parties seek autonomy and they vote for these political parties it highlights the concerns of the majority. Are the minorities that angered with the Sinhala Buddhists that they wish to divide the nation and have it taken over by India never to be returned? Tamils must realize that their separate state will only be on paper but complete control of North and even East will eventually go to India and West.
The Tamil Diaspora are asking for a UN supervised referendum while the Northern Province Chief Minister is now calling for ‘shared sovereignty within a united Sri Lanka”. Can the Sinhala Buddhists in particular the Sinhala politicians tell us what is the point in promoting ‘reconciliation’ when the goal of Tamil politicians is Eelam. The reference to ‘United’ Sri Lanka falls within ITAK’s constitution for a confederal setup putting alarm bells to the ‘Unitary’ nature of the constitution. While we are being fooled to take part in constitution making the new constitution must have already been drafted overseas with a confederal set up!
What exactly do the Sinhala Buddhists want?
All that the Sinhala Buddhists have said is that this country should not be divided and no ethnic group can claim an area as its own by legally dividing it while also keeping the right to live, work and settle in other parts of the island too. Not a single foreign party/player has taken the logic of this reasoning as valid but keep on harping about the rights of minorities only.
All that the Sinhala Buddhists had asked post-independence local leaders was to reverse the discrimination suffered by the majority Sinhala Buddhists for 443 years in a country that their leaders had governed through 180 kings for centuries.
All that the Sinhala Buddhists ask for is to maintain the Buddhist ethos and Buddhist identity of the country though placing no restriction on the right of other religions to practice their own faiths. The concerns come when Abrahamic religions convert through coercions and put up madrassas and prayer centres across residential areas with hidden intent to change the religious demography via their global religions.
All that the Buddhists seek is for the State to uphold the historically held place of Buddhism, for the state to protect the heritage, archaeological sites, artifacts and make it an indictable crime to distort, change, falsify or replace Sri Lanka’s history with alien histories.
No country has afforded minorities (11% Tamils and 9% Muslims) and their religions the freedom that they presently enjoy. All the main religious festivals have been accorded national holidays, stamps have been issued to minorities and their faiths. Can anyone name a single Catholic/Christian or Muslim/Islam nation that has reciprocated the Buddhists in their country in similar gestures? Only Russia and Austria recognizes Buddhism as an official religion. Kalmykia (federal republic of Russia) is the only nation of Europe whose national religion is Buddhism.
However, in Sri Lanka minority leaders are represented in politics. They have minority ethnic parties. They are part of the Government and hold cabinet and non-cabinet positions. The current chief justice, Central Bank head, Finance Minister are all Tamil. The former Justice Minister, a Muslim even called Buddhist monks “yellow-robed terrorists”
Today, Sinhala Buddhists though the majority find themselves at the receiving end of ridicule by both local and international mainstream media. Not a single objections comes when Buddhists are labelled ‘racist’ ‘extremist’ or even ‘militant’ but the entire world blames Buddhists when they react to the labelling. A very clear campaign to shut down Buddhists from upholding their rights and making a case for their rights.
Other than a handful, the Buddhists have no individual or group to speak on behalf of them and showcase how their culture, archaeological sites, religion were systematically diluted, how their language came to be placed on par with a language spoken by only 11% and how the national flag was amended to even include that of the other minorities which no other country has. It is laughable how time is being wasted signing the national anthem in all 3 languages something that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world.
With each year the space of Buddhists has been compromised and with each year the space of the Buddhists has been taken away and today the Buddhists are fighting to save an island nation from being divided and handed over to minorities simply because its neighbour wishes to expand its tentacles.
Unless these thoughts work on the minds of the Sinhala Buddhists and they unite we will forever lose this precious island nation of ours passed down to us by our ancestors.
Shenali D Waduge