SL Muslim Issues
News of 31st March 2002 Alavi urges swift action to protect Muslims
by Shamindra Ferdinando
Claiming that the LTTE has taken advantage of the Oslo-mediated MoU with the government to the eastern Muslims to their terror tactics, veteran politician Alavi Moulana yesterday expressed the belief that senior UNPer M.H. Mohammed must lead their fight back.
"M.H. has no option," Governor (Western Province) Moulana said while revealing that he urged the one-time UNP chairman and the senior-most minister in the UNF administration to summon Muslim political and religious leaders to an urgent meeting.
"I told him of the danger our people face and reminded him of his duty to act swiftly," he said. He agreed with my stance, Moulana said, adding that he had spoken with the minister several times in the past few weeks in a bid to persuade him to take up the issue with Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Moulana expressed fears that unless they act decisively, what had happened to the Muslims in the Jaffna peninsula and the Wanni over a decade ago would happen in the east. He was convinced that he was not the only one who wants M.H. Mohammed to act now.
SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem would not be able to face the LTTE threat.
"M.H.M. Ashraff would have tackled the problem in a different way," he said expressing fears that Hakeem would not succeed in his feeble attempts to bring the ongoing LTTE harassment to an end. "This is a job for a bigger man. Someone like Mohammed who would be able to persuade the government to act and get the necessary international backing for their cause."
Hakeem was believed to have written to the premier recently urging him to take whatever action necessary to put an end to LTTE actions directed against Muslims in the east. Political sources said that the premier has informed the LTTE through the Norwegians of the SLMC leader�s concerns. A ministerial source said that the government was doing everything possible to address concerns of all people. "We are in touch with MPs representing the east," the source said while adding that as part of the process, the government is in touch with former PA minister M.L.A.M.A Hisbullah.
Moulana said that the LTTE would �overrun� the Muslims in the east if their leader keep quiet. He pointed out that the Information Department in its daily situation reports continued to reveal high handed LTTE actions in the east. "They are doing as they please. Issuing press releases would not prevent the LTTE from continuing their terror tactics," he said while agreeing that Muslim leaders have been slow in their reaction.
Moulana said that no one bothered even to mention the Muslims forced out of the Jaffna peninsula when the premier visited the district early this month.
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Markers of the Peace (read, Eelam) process
By Malinda Seneviratne
There was a time, not long ago, when the animal brigade of Tamil Tribalism, a.k.a the LTTE, rarely ventured out of their hideouts in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. The prophets of Tamil Tribalism, back then, had to sugar-coat their creative historiography. It took several assassinations and years of intimidation for the LTTE to arm-twist the "moderate" Tribalists such as the TULF into "recognising" Prabhakaran as the only representative of the Tamil people. There were the pistol gangs in Jaffna and elsewhere, sure. Still it was not an open season for Tribalist thuggery.
Times have changed, and how! On the 19th, LTTE cadres ran riot in Trincomalee, putting Sinhalese on house arrest, trying to take down the National Flag from the top of the clock tower, closing down schools and government offices, forcing school children to participate in LTTE-led marches, extorting money from businesses, banning fishermen from going to sea, and shouting anti-Sinhala slogans. The army was "negotiated" out of the town (thanks to the MoU) and the police was disarmed while Tamil Tribalists roamed free brandishing pistols. And we are told by the Hon. Minister of Defence, that the LTTE is actually interested in peace. We are told that a "solution" would be within a unitary framework. Well, honourable people, the LTTE is certainly not "acting according to plan".
The LTTE also held a similar show in Nuwara Eliya and plans to have one in Colombo as well. I remember the CWC Tribalist, Arumugam Thondaman, claiming some time ago that the upcountry was the "traditional homeland" of Tamils of Indian origin! He even threatened a "Zimbabwe-style" take over. The white man was an usurper in Zimbabwe. The Sinhalese, in these areas, were the "evicted". If theres going to be any "takeover", it has to be done by the Kandyan peasantry. As for a Pongu Thamil extravaganza in Colombo, all that needs to be said is that it would be nothing less than a calling for a bloodbath. The blood will be of the Sinhala Buddhists for the most part, I guarantee. Meanwhile Ranil Wickremesinghes sentiments on these things remain unknown.
If you still have any doubts about what the LTTE really wants, ask Thamil Chelvam. According to him, "The LTTE will achieve its goals through peaceful means". Two things are clear. The LTTE will not give up its goal of Eelam (and mind you, the 10% or so of the population that remains in these "traditional homelands" are to get almost half the island, accordingly). Two, Thamil Chelvam has a pretty obnoxious idea about what constitutes "peace" if the well documented military preparations of the LTTE since it allegedly ceased firing began three months ago.
There is more, of course. When the Pongu Thamil cultural show was held in Vavuniya, UNF Ministers, T. Maheswaran and Noordeen Mashoor felt it appropriate to participate under the LTTE banner of a carved Sri Lanka (almost 50% of the territory demarcated as Eelam).
Mashoor was reported to have waxed eloquent on what the LTTE had done for the Muslim community. I wonder where this man was living or hiding when Tamil Tribalism thought fit to ethnically cleanse the Jaffna peninsula of Muslims. Or what he has to say to the Muslim fishermen in Kattankudy whose fishing equipment was confiscated by the LTTE peaceniks. Maheswaran seems to have felt comfortable enough to issue threats to the government about what he will do if the "peace talks" failed. Then there was the TNA, virtually spitting on the graves of people like Neelan Thiruchelvam, bending over backwards to salaam Prabhakaran. All these MPs were violating the 6th Amendment to the constitution. Ranil Wickremesinghe for some reason, has remained silent.
Just the other day I read in the Daily News a passionate appeal for "peace journalism". The piece, written by one Lionel Wijesiri, was titled "Charting the course for peace journalism". I believe that the wordplay around "peace" has degenerated into an open capitulation to Eelam-speak.
You ask me, "Are you for peace or for war?", and I respond, "for peace". You then go ahead and tell all and sundry, "Malinda Seneviratne is for the peace process! Malinda Seneviratne is for peace and is supportive of processes aimed at bringing about peace, but he is totally opposed to a process by which significant portions of the country is handed over to Tamil Tribalist Terrorism and by which innocent Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people are brought directly under threat of LTTE brutality. He is opposed to these things, even if they come wrapped in happy wrapping paper replete with peace iconography, doves, olive branches and all.
It is basically a problem with terminology, i.e. the language used and the politics embedded in the phraseology. We dont have to read Derrida to know how political language is. Even the briefest reflection on the word "independence" would suffice to convince anyone how words are used and abused. The National Peace Council, for example, now functions as one of the many propaganda arms of the LTTE. The so-called Journalists for Peace are displaying the same kind of servility. Why? Either they are blind or they are sniffing for the goodies that the word "peace" can bring. In short, they are either puppy dogs or lap dogs.
Wijesiri makes much of a survey done by Sri Lanka Environmental Journalists Forum (SLEJF) about news items published on matters of ethnic strife. What SLEJF was doing dabbling in "ethnic strife" is anyones guess. The numbers, however, are interesting: "There were 1272 clips related to war, peace and ethnicity, of which only 39 were on ethnic harmony. Four hundred and fifty six were news on violent activities and 208 were against peace initiatives".
Wijesiri has remained silent about the fact that "peace initiatives" is not a value-neutral term. Tyranny, he forgets, never wears that label and in fact makes it a point to cloak itself in benevolent garments. And what are these "peace journalists" to do when there happen to be violent activity? Engage in self-censorship? Should newspapers blank out news of LTTE atrocities? Should they ask the LTTEs point of view in order to ensure that "all parties involved in the issue" are embodied in the story? How are they going to record the statements of the dead?
The LTTE has ordered that all government servants in the north-east should pay 8% of their monthly salary to the organisation. Now what are journalists to make of this piece of information? How would Wijesiri classify this? Violence? Ethnic harmony? An initiative for peace?
The LTTE is already taxing all traders and farmers living in areas under security forces control. Under the MoU, the military has been forced to permit all LTTE unarmed cadres to enter areas under their control. However, most of them come with arms and communication equipment. In the latest in a series of such violations, a heavily armed group of LTTE cadres is reported to have paraded at Manampitiya about 17 kms east of Polonnaruwa. They had been carrying 11 T-56 assault rifles, one light machine gun and two hand-held communication sets, and had forced people to part with money, batteries and other essential items. Yes, the LTTE must definitely be doing these things because they love peace so much. HURRAY!
Now lets take a look at a piece which, by Wijesiris standards, would constitute "peace journalism", an article written by Paul Caspersz, S. Rajalingam, Rohan Benjamin and K. Babuji, appearing in The Island of March 7, titled "Satyodaya for building peoples confidence in the East". This is the telling line: "At the Pongu Thamil celebrations held in Batticaloa, we were able to see for ourselves the massive support given to the peace process by the several thousands who flocked to the spacious grounds for the celebrations". I wonder where they were looking.
The Pongu Thamil celebrations are not about "peace" although that word is prominently tossed around. It is about celebrating Prabhakaran, the LTTE and the demand for Eelam. Perhaps all this is coterminous with "peace" as far as these gentlemen are concerned. Perhaps nothing short of Eelam would be "just" for them. But a "just peace" of that order would be grossly unjust as far as the Sinhala people are concerned. This particular article is unadulterated celebration of terrorism and tribal chauvinism.
I am not skipping lightly over the use of the word "plural" in Satyodayas brief for Prabhakaran. This business of multi-ethnic, ethnically heterogeneous, by the way is grossly misleading. In no country has a minority the size of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka demanded anything of the magnitude of that which encompasses the Eelam dream. And this in a country where no Tamil can stand up and claim that their "rights" have been denied them or point their finger at the Sinhalese. The LTTE has in fact acknowledged that the Sinhalese have not been unjust. The call is not about Tamil rights, but Tamil aspirations, let us remind ourselves ladies and gentlemen. And in case we have forgotten, this business of "aspirations" will not be happy with anything other than Eelam.
The power of word-play is such that all of a sudden anyone who dares question the wisdom of the Govt-LTTE MoU or raises eyebrows about whats happening in the north and east is either a "war monger", a "Sinhala chauvinist" or is "anti-peace". RIDICULOUS! Let us face it. The Sinhala press has been virtually gagged. The only word that the Sinhala people are allowed to hear is "peace". They are neither given the opportunity to deconstruct "peace" or to hear or read any deconstruction. The Sinhalese have been denied the right of information. Tell them about everything that is happening in the name of peace, and ask SLEJF or anyone else to conduct a survey about this "peace process". The results will be very revealing, I am sure.
A well-played down fact unearthed by that other front for Tamil Tribalism, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), is that only 13.4% of the Sinhalese surveyed believed that the LTTE is committed to peace. This constitutes less than 10% of the total sample surveyed. And still, the CPA, the National Peace Council, other apologists for Eelam, spokespersons for the UNF, and our new colonial masters from Norway, are trying to tell us that the Sinhalese are thrilled to bits about the MoU!
Today we live in a country where the vast majority of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims have been denied their right of self-determination. We have as a people been subjected to cultural genocide, thanks to capital expansion and the well orchestrated dismantling of the state to serve capital interests. We have been at the receiving end of untold violence by these processes which are advertised as the harbingers of prosperity. Almost twenty five years into the "free economy" mode, we know that capitalism just doesnt work. In this context, what we really cant afford is to be tricked into surrendering the last vestiges of sovereignty in the name of peace.
Monday 1st April, 2002
- Hakeem says Muslims ignored But pledges he won't damage peace process
By Nilika de Silva
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Leader Rauff Hakeem at a meeting with Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has expressed disappointment that the
Muslim community had been ignored in the peace-making process so far,
but has vowed not to disturb the peace process.
Mr. Hakeem told The Sunday Times he cautioned the Prime Minister that
the Muslim community was disillusioned about being ignored in the
"There is some disillusionment that the reference made to the Muslims is
in such a way as to lump them together with the residue," Hakeem said
referring to the cease-fire agreement between the government and the
However, he pledged his party would act responsibly and would not damage
the peace process.
"We are not the JVP, we cannot act like the JVP. We need to take a
responsible stand," Mr. Hakeem said. "However, the price the Muslim
community has to pay for peace need not be a higher price than everybody
Earlier in the week there were reports that Mr. Hakeem had written to
the Prime Minister, saying his days in the government were numbered. But
he denied writing such a letter.
However Mr. Hakeem who was listed to speak during the second reading of
the budget debate did not speak and instead allocated that time to
Highways Minister A.L.M. Attaulla.
Mr. Hakeem visited the Eastern Province during the weekend, reassuring
the apprehensive and restless Muslim community that their needs would be
Confirming that the Eastern Province Muslims were becoming restive, Mr.
Hakeem said: "We believed the Eastern Province is a key to the peace
process,. Therefore concrete steps must be taken to enable its people to
have faith in the peace process."
"The international monitoring team must make its presence felt on the
ground. Complaints should be fully probed and highlighted," he said.
The SLMC high command also took up the matter and Mr. Hakeem assured
concerned members that every step would be taken to ensure the security
of the Muslims.
Make love, not war
With the bells of the ceasefire ringing aloud, the LTTE also appears to
be untying some nuptial knots.
Reports from LTTE-controlled areas say a spree of weddings have taken
place there over the past few weeks.
This came after the LTTE relaxed age restrictions for marriage among its
cadres. Now any male above 29 or female above 24 could get married
without obtaining any special dispensation.
Hakeem denies deadline for pull-out from govt.
by Franklin R. Satyapalan in Kalmunai
SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem yesterday shot down reports in two Tamil dailies
alleging that he had set a deadline for withdrawing his support from the
UNF government in a letter to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe saying
this was a "canard" and "absolutely untrue."
While Hakeem did not deny that he had written to Wickremesinghe
expressing disappointment over the postponement of the local polls in
the north-east and the noninclusion of SLMC demands in the Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) with the LTTE, he said that there was absolutely no
truth in the statement that he had threatened to withdraw his support
from the government on these issues.
Hakeem who addressed several meetings in the eastern province referred
to his disappointment over the postponement of the local elections in
the north-east and also said it was unfortunate that the Muslim
standpoint was not reflected in the MoU.
During the ministers eastern swing, he also indicated that the Muslims
will hold "awakening" rallies on the lines of the Pongu Tamil (Tamil
awakening) events organised by the LTTE. The first of these is due to be
held in Kalmunai on April 16.
Hakeem said that he was endeavouring to bolster the peace message among
the masses stressing the urgent need for the Muslims to take a united
stand on their aspirations, especially of those members of their
community living in the north and east.
"That is why I am seeking the endorsement of party members and the
community in the east for a unified stand on the future of the Muslim
people. There is overwhelming support for our decision to invite all
Muslim MPs from different parties to present their views and proposals
on the aspirations of the Muslim people, he said. He argued that just
because the SLMC was predominantly a Muslim political party, that should
not prevent them from reflecting the aspirations of all Sri Lanka for a
united stand for a permanent peace at this crucial and historic moment.
Hakeem said that there had been a belief in the south that the security
of some areas could only be guaranteed militarily. Similarly, some
sections of the Muslim community too felt that their security also
necessitated a military role.
"I wish to say that it is only in an atmosphere of peace that the
security of all communities can be guaranteed and we Muslims must grasp
this at this time when the winds of peace are blowing. We must have
faith in Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and support his government
in its peace efforts," Hakeem said.
BBCs Sandesaya programme reported last week that Mr. Vidar Helgesen,
the Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister, had said during an interview in
Bangkok that they were well aware of the situation of Muslims in Sri
This was in response to a question stating that Hakeem had written to
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe complaining that Muslims of the east are
being continuously harassed by the LTTE.
Helgesen had told Sandesaya that the position of Muslims is explicitly
stated in the ceasefire MoU and measures to restore normalcy and stop
harassment are included in the agreement.
If there are continuing allegations of breaches of the ceasefire
agreement, they should be dealt with by the Sri Lanka monitoring
mission, Helgesen was quoted having said.
http://origin.island.lk/2002/03/31/ Sunday 31st March, 2002
- Muslim MPs to meet monitors
by Ranga Jayasuriya
Both the Government and the Opposition Muslim Parliamentarians are
expected to meet the Prime Minister today and the ceasefire monitors
tomorrow to discuss the overall situation in the East under the
Ceasefire Agreement, Western Region Development Minister M.H. Mohamad
told the Daily News.
Mohamad who is supposed to head the delegation of Muslim representatives
of all political parties said the meeting with the Prime Minister which
was scheduled for yesterday was put off for today since the Prime
Minister was busy.
He said the delegation will discuss about the overall situation in the
East including the alleged violation of the Ceasefire Agreement by the
LTTE and the status of the Muslims in the East under the Ceasefire
"Protection of the Muslims in the East has already been guaranteed under
the Ceasefire Agreement, but still there are reports of extortion,
abduction and intimidation of Muslims by the LTTE," he said. Every thing
which affects the status of the Muslims will be taken for discussion at
today's meeting, he added.
He said the delegation will draw the attention of the ceasefire monitors
to the alleged incidents of violation of the Ceasefire Agreement by the
LTTE when they meet the monitoring team.
The delegation was formed on Monday in a Parliamentary committee room
with the participation of 20 Muslim MPs of the UNP, PA, SLMC, and the
JVP. Minister Mohamad said all Muslim MPs, except National Unity
Alliance leader Ferial Ashraff whose absence he said was 'tragic' will
participate in today's meeting. Last week SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem met
the Prime Minister to draw his attention to the intimidation and
harassment the Muslims in the East are undergoing at the hands of the