Editorial

No spokesmen for the oppressed of the east?

The Muslim Congress has had a pow-wow with the LTTE on harassment of Muslims by the latter following the ceasefire and the ethnic cleansing of around 100,000 Muslims from the Northern Province that took place in 1990. It has been reported that further talks are scheduled for the weekend. The LTTE, it is reported, has tendered an apology to the Muslims last week, 12 years after they asked Muslims to quit the Northern Province within 24 hours.

The Sinhalese who were also long resident in the Northern Province in sizable numbers suffered the same fate as the Muslims. This was at a time when the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ was not in common usage in the west. Muslims and Sinhalese appeared to be some sub-human species to most human rights activists and NGOs because for 12 years they were ignored. Now, with allegations that the ceasefire is being violated by the LTTE and that Muslims have been subjected to extortion and other forms of harassment, the SLMC has swung into action and even threatened to take the issue before the Organization of Islamic Countries.

But who speaks on behalf of the 25,000 Sinhalese who were driven out of the Northern Province and those who are living in the Eastern Province where, with the ceasefire, the LTTE has conferred on themselves the authority of overlords of the province?

The Sihala Urumaya has raised the issue of the status of the estimated 25,000 Sinhalese who were driven out of the Northern Province, along with the Muslims, at a recent meeting with Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe. These unfortunate displaced Sinhalese people should be thankful to the Sihala Urumaya for taking up their cause. Other political parties had forgotten about them. However, it has to be pointed out that the Sihala Urumaya has little or no political clout left after its extremely poor performances at recent polls. While the fault is basically with the organisers of this party for lack of political maturity, it has to be pointed out that the Sinhalese electorate has consistently rejected communal based parties since the 1950s and instead backed the UNP or the SLFP which claim to be national parties.

The Sinhalese, particularly those in the Eastern Province who comprise about a third of the population — almost in equal proportion to the Tamils and Muslims — are today left without a leader or spokesman. While the Muslims in the Eastern Province have been making protestations loud and clear, has there been a whimper of protest from these Sinhalese? Have the parties which they have been consistently supporting over the years, the UNP and the PA, voiced concern or assured them of justice?

The Sinhalese may claim that they too have rights and privileges as much as the minorities or even more. But do they? Today, the acolytes of western academe keep repeating a newly concocted concept of ‘majoritarianism’ which deny the rights of the majority as against the rights of minorities. This ‘majoritarianism’ is considered as dirty as fascism, racism, bigotry and as they say ‘Sinhala Buddhism’. This subversive balderdash, it appears has been successfully fed to the leadership of both the UNP and the PA.

Thus, the moment the question of rights of the Sinhalese, who comprise one third the population of the Eastern Province, is raised, the questioner becomes an obnoxious supporter of ‘majoritarianism’. "Minoritarianism is now the divine and just doctrine of the righteous.

The plight of the Sinhalese in the Eastern Province is now the same as that of the Tamils. The Tamils too have no spokesman or leader to speak against the violations of their rights by the LTTE. Today, the TULF has sold all the rights of the Tamils, lock stock and barrel to the LTTE and proclaimed them as the sole representatives of the Tamils. When the Tamil kids are forcibly torn away from the arms of their mothers and conscripted into the LTTE baby brigades, they have none to go to. The government forces will not do anything in the fear that they be accused of sabotaging the Peace Agreement. They have become prisoners of ‘Peace’ just as much the Sinhalese are. The Sinhalese dare not speak of their rights lest they be accused of endangering the ‘peace process’ and the ‘Ceasefire Agreement’.

Are there no spokesmen for the oppressed of the east?


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