Open Letter to UN Rapporteur on Minority Issues: Rights are for Individuals not Minority Ethnic Communities Only
By Shenali D Waduge
We challenge the UN Rapporteur Izsak Ndiaye to give a list of rights that legally & constitutionally are denied to the minorities in Sri Lanka which are legally & constitutionally given only to the Sinhalese majority. Name any instance where a law or judgement has been changed simply because the offender was from a minority? Officials cannot land in Sri Lanka make glaring accusations without evidence. We demand that your office make public what are the rights the minorities are legally and constitutionally denied which Sinhala majority only enjoys.
We would like to know how relations between communities can be fostered when priority status is given only to minorities when rights have to be equal by all in front of the law. If someone has committed murder he should be punished as per law irrespective of whether he belongs to the majority or minority. If the Rapporteur is proposing independent commission for minority issues – the same must be implemented for majority issues, because they too have issues that everyone has conveniently ignored. Those elected to Parliament are representatives of the citizens of the country. It is only those who are elected coming from ethno/religious political parties represent only their group. This is what should be stopped. The rest of what was covered during the 10 days was nothing but gobbledygook parroting what every envoy arriving to Sri Lanka are asked to say.
No UN official or foreign envoy can get away with statements and proposals without basis and evidence to substantiate them. Name a country that has entertained demands to change their national anthem, national flag etc without answering the basic question – what is it that the minorities are denied. Name a country that has given status to the minorities in their countrys national flag as Sri Lanka has done (orange denotes Tamils/Green denotes Muslims) These two strips were not in the original version of the flag. Not even India where Tamils are a minority but with 72million Tamils do not have one Tamil word in the Indian anthem. What country has violated its constitution to sing the national anthem in Tamil. Was there any point in changing the national anthem when these Tamil parties are seeking separatism? We have even welcomed Maldivians who numbers have risen to 300,000 just because Maldivians is said to be drowning. Reciprocation by Maldives is that Sinhalese are not even allowed to take a Buddha statue to Maldives!
The Sinhalese evolved in Sri Lanka. There is no country that has Sinhalese, the Sinhalese language or the Sinhalese traditions/cultures. Tamils find their origins to Tamil Nadu. Muslims arrived from Middle East. Christians& Catholics came following forced conversions of Sinhala Buddhists and Tamil Hindus
There are 76million Tamils globally. There are 1.3billion Muslims globally. There are 2.2billion Christians globally. There are only 14.8million Sinhalese. Sinhalese built the nation evident from archaeological, hydraulic and historical data.
In India a populace of 1.3billion Tamils in Tamil Nadu though numbering 72million are a minority. Tamil is not used in the National Anthem. Tamils are not denoted in the Indian National Flag. Sri Lanka’s Tamils number less than 2million while Muslims are less than 1.8million.
No country has given to the Sinhala Buddhist minority in their countries as the minorities are currently enjoying in Sri Lanka. Everywhere that the Abrahamic religions are in the minority the strategy is to use UN and demand secular rights and minority rights so that they can bring dharmic religions on par and thereafter use the wealth of their religious institutions to take over these nations. Pongal was hijacked by Christians in 2004 in Singapore, Christian have even created photos of Jesus meditating like Buddha, Christian missionaries are accused of hijacking yoga, Bharatanatyam, Churches are accused of building Hindu-type ‘ashrams’ and referring to the Fathers are ‘swamiji’s all with long term intent to show that there is no difference in Christianity& Dharmic faiths with long term plan to eliminate these dharmic faiths. When dharmic faiths react these are immediately shot down as hate speech or acts by racists, religious intolerants, fascists etc
Has the Rapporteur taken a tour of Sri Lanka. If so she should have seen the increasing religious structures by Christian/Evangelical, Islamic and Hindus all over the island while the Northern Chief Minister and some Islamic groups in the East are vandalizing Buddhist structures/statues (it’s a war crime to destroy historical artefacts)
We hope the Rapporteur has a list of all minority leaders holding cabinet level positions in Government. Is she also aware that the PM’s financial advisor is a Tamil. The Governments Central Bank Governor is also a Tamil. The Constitutional Council has a Tamil – sister of the Governor. The Bar Association President is Tamil. The Chief Justice is a Tamil. The CEO of The Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka is a Tamil. Name countries that allow minorities such strategic positions?
Now let us ask the UN Rapporteur what she has found out to claim minorities do not have rights.
§ Are Tamil pregnant mothers denied entry to State hospitals to deliver their baby because they are Tamil? NO
§ Are Tamil patients denied State doctors and nurse care because they are Tamil? NO
§ Are Tamils denied admission to State schools because they are Tamil? NO
§ Are Tamils given less marks because they are Tamil? NO
§ Are Tamils denied State scholarships because they are Tamil? NO
§ Are Tamils denied employment in State sector because they are Tamil? NO
§ Are Tamils not allowed to travel in public buses because they are Tamil? NO
§ Are Tamils given separate seats in public places because they are Tamil? NO
§ Are Tamils made to stand in separate queues because they are Tamil? NO
§ Are Tamils denied right of freedom to travel throughout the country? NO
§ Are Tamils denied right of residence because they are Tamil? NO
§ Are Tamils denied right to worship because they are Tamil? NO
§ Are Tamils denied burial/crematorium rights because they are Tamil? NO
§ Will public or private entities refuse or deny to serve a Tamil because they are Tamil? NO
§ Will parcels, letters and postcards not be accepted or delivered because people are Tamil? NO
§ Are there separate areas for Tamils? NO (but Tamils & Muslims are creating minority ghetto areas – has the UN Rapporteur visited areas of Wellawatte, Mattakkuliya, Amparai, Kalmunai, Mawanella, Puttalam)
§ Have Tamils being terminated from service because they were Tamil? NO
Nevertheless, there is also the need to look at the reciprocity.
§ While Tamils can live, buy property, indulge in business, educate their children throughout Sri Lanka even in the South of Sri Lanka where most Tamils now live and have lived, do Tamils and in particular Tamil politicians want Sinhalese to live in the North? NO. How fair is this behaviour from those demanding equal rights?
§ While Tamils buy property, build houses/flats etc are people aware that the majority of them sell or rent/lease only to Tamils? NO. How fair is this behaviour from those demanding equal rights?
§ While Tamils own businesses and the wholesale market is virtually run by the minorities in Sri Lanka as are most coated companies why are Sinhalese not allowed to run businesses in the North and everyone together shouts ‘colonization’. People seem to have forgotten that Sinhalese were living in the North evidence of which can be proved by the architectural/archaeological remains as well as the fact that all bakeries in the North were run by the Sinhalese. Today, in the commercial capital of Colombo the Sinhalese are a minority and the Tamils and Muslims make up the majority. This gives the minorities access to all the leaders with ease and thus able to get their ways through any other means! Go through areas of Kotahena, Wellawatte, Dehiwela to see and people will be surprised to see how the Maldivians have taken over entire parts of Dehiwela/Mt Lavinia too!
§ How many job adverts purposely omit Sinhalese by declaring that Tamil is a must (these are all NGO/INGO jobs/projects) discriminating Sinhalese from applying and getting the job.
We challenge the UN Rapporteur to give examples of countries where the majority is 7 out of 10 but has given 1% equal language status as Sri Lanka has? One language unites all – two languages doesn’t. Every country only the language of the majority is the official national language.
Do the Tamils living in Germany, France, Japan, demand that these countries introduce Tamil as a minority language? Are they not singing the national anthem in the language of these countries? One language and English unites people. Is the UN Rapporteur aware that even in the Madras High Court the language of the Court is not Tamil but Hindi!
Nobody can land in our country and accuse the majority without evidence and expect to hand over all powers to the minorities claiming it is a path towards reconciliation and to foster better relations. We need to first have those making the allegations put into the public domain the evidence of what the majority is being accused of.
In terms of listening to the TNA – we like to remind the UN Rapporteur that the EU Election Observer Head John Cushnahan in 2004 in his report confirmed that LTTE and TNA were one and the same. Recently the Canadian Federal Court upheld the investigation by the Canadian Immigration Bureau that LTTE and TNA were one and the same. When LTTE remains banned can we have an explanation as to why TNA demands which is basically LTTE demands should be given?
Either the Rapporteur has not done her homework or the UN is trying to hide the facts but these are the rights that the minorities in Sri Lanka enjoy, some of these are not even given in Western countries.
§ Pongal national holiday in January
§ Mahasivarathri Day a public holiday in March
§ Deepavali Festival Day a public holiday in October
§ Tamils have held cabinet portfolios in government
§ There have been Tamil IGPs, Tamil Foreign Minister, Central Bank Governor, 3 Tamil Chief Justice, Judges, Ambassadors
Stamps issued for Tamils
§ Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam 1977
§ Ponnambalam Ramanathan, lawyer, educator (1975)
§ Ananda Coomaraswamy (1971)
§ G G Ponnambalam in 1986 (founder of the first Tamil political party the All Ceylon Tamil Congress, pushed for 50-50 representation for Tamils & Sinhalese which were rejected by the British as a mockery of democracy given that Tamils were less than the Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka at the time of request)
§ Vipulananda Adigal
§ Jaffna Central College 1996
§ Swami Vivekananda, Indian Hindu monk (2013)
§ S Thondaman, Politician
§ Jeyraj Fernandopulle, assassinated by LTTE
§ Birth Centenary of Dr. Pandithamani Kanapathipillai (Tamil scholar) 1999
§ 2nd World Hindu Conference 2003
What Muslims/Islam enjoy
§ Id-Ul-Fitr (Ramazan Festival Day a public holiday in July
§ Id-Ul-Alha (Hadji Festival Day) a public holiday in September
§ Holy Prophet’s Birthday – Milad-un-Nabi a public holiday in December
§ Muslims have held cabinet level posts including Justice Minister.
Stamps issued for Muslims
§ M.A, Azeez (Sri Lanka’s first Muslim civil servant) 1986
§ Centenary of Zahira College 1993
§ Abdul Cafoor in 1993
§ 120th Birth Anniv of Abdul Cader (lawyer) in 1995
§ Translation of The Koran into Sinhala 1985
§ 95th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Badiudin Mahmud (Islamic politician) 1999
§ All Ceylon Young Men’s Muslim Association conference 2000
§ A C S Hameed, former Minister 2002
What Christians/Catholics enjoy
The spread of Christianity/Catholicism began after the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505 and as a result of forcibly converting Sinhala Buddhists and Tamil Hindus to create a new group of Sinhala Christians/Catholics and Tamil Christians/Catholics loyal to the Church before loyalty to their native country (the enlightened have realized that country comes first)
§ Good Friday a public holiday in March
§ Christmas day a public holiday in December
Stamp issued for Christians/Catholics
§ Every year Christmas
§ 150th Anniv of Talawila Church
§ Papal Visit and Beatification of Father Joseph Vaz 1995 (the person responsible for mass forced conversions of Tamils & Sinhalese and killing those that refused)
§ Anthony’s Shrine – Kochchikade 2010
§ Anniversary of St. Patricks College, Jaffna 2000
§ 300th Anniv of De La Salle Brothers (Religious Order of the Brothers of the Christian Schools) 1981
§ Reverend Father Tissa Balasuriya, Roman Catholic priest and theologian (2013)
§ Pope John Paul II, leader of Catholic Church from 16 October 1978 – 2 April 2005 (1995)
§ Joseph Vaz, Indian Catholic missionary, Apostle of Sri Lanka” (1992)
§ 300th Anniv of Arrival of Father Joseph Vaz in Kandy 1987
§ Centenary of St. Lawrence School 2001
§ Diocese of Kurunegala, Golden Jubilee
§ Centenary of St. Servatius’ College, Matara 1997
§ Centenary of the Freemansons Hall Colombo 2002
§ Holy Cross College, Kalutara, Centenary 2002
§ Uddupiddy American Mission College 2002
§ Kopay Christian College 150th Anniversary 2002
§ Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya – Centenary 2003
Isn’t it legally accepted that one cannot demand what one is not prepared to give?
Name a single Christian/Islamic country that has reciprocated by issuing a stamp in honor of the world’s greatest visionary/philosopher Buddha or any country other than Russia and Austria that has given official religious status to Buddhism?
Can anyone name a country that allows minorities to declare areas as belonging to them when they have no historical or indigenous roots to showcase except well-palmed propaganda? In the North Tamil politicians cry no Sinhalese while in the East the Muslims are putting up Arabic towns with Arabic names/culture which even the Muslims cannot read.
Name any country that allows laws like Thesavalamai to exist where purchase of land is denied to others and is an affront to equal justice. There should be ONLY one LAW for ALL – that is equality. It applies to Minorities and Majority alike. The UN has no business to be creating Minority Laws and Majority Law. The fundamental truth is that there should be only ONE LAW for ALL.
Let us move on to showcasing the divides among the minorities. Is the UN Rapporteur aware that of the caste divide among the Tamils so much so that the high castes do not donate blood because they do not want their blood to get mixed with low caste Tamils? It was the soldiers donating blood to the hospitals in the North. It was the soldiers who were building homes for the IDPs. It was the soldiers building toilets for the IDPs. Some of these soldiers did not even have proper homes or even toilets. Does the Rapporteur also know that high caste Tamils will not allow low caste Tamils to even enter their homes!
If minorities are discriminated
§ Can you think of any sizeable population where industry and property are dominated by the minority communities as in Sri Lanka?
§ Colombo the commercial hub of Sri Lanka is populated by Tamils and Muslims leaving Sinhalese in the minority
§ The largest supermarket chain – Cargills is owned by the Page Family who are Jaffna Tamil Christians
§ The largest brewery – Carsons (brands Lion, Three Coins Beer) is owned by the Selvanathan family who are Tamils
§ The largest media network – MTV, Sirasa are owned by the Maharaja family who are Tamil
§ The largest hardware manufacturer – Slon, Kevilton are also owned by the Maharaja family who are Tamil
§ The largest construction conglomerate – St Anthony’s (Anton, Tokyo Cement) are owned by another Tamil family the Gnanam’s.
§ Tamils and Tamil speaking Muslims dominate gem/jewellery industry as well
§ Tamils and Tamil speaking Muslims dominate the wholesale trade too.
§ Tamils and Tamil speaking Muslims dominate the property ownership in Colombo as well
§ The rich list of minorities include the Captains, Kundanmals, Pestongees, Mahendrans and now Patels and Singhs are entering too.
§ Go around Colombo on a Friday noon time to gauge the number of Muslim owned shops which would all be closed including the supermarkets owned by them.
§ When the LTTE prevailed the Hindus never celebrated or demanded to celebrate Vel… now virtually every month there is a kovil procession blocking the traffic systems across Colombo.
§ Has no one wondered how minorities can thrive if the majority did not buy from them when 7 out of 10 are Sinhalese? How can minority owned businesses succeed if the majority do not buy from them? If there was discrimination shouldn’t you now ask how minorities have come to dominate important areas of business and property throughout the country?
§ By this same logic why is no one asking why Tamils can buy property in South and live and why they should say Sinhalese cannot do the same in the North, when the constitution affords right of residence anywhere and right of movement.
There are many other examples to showcase the rights and privileges enjoyed by all the minorities in Sri Lanka but no one has stopped to ask what the majority grievances are – an independent commission on issues faced by the majority is the need of the hour not the reverse.
The UN Rapporteur and her office are kindly requested to not throw this into the dustbin but to answer the questions raised. Obtain the facts for yourselves. See the truth with an open mind. The links given below bring out plenty of other examples that will showcase that a lot of falsehoods are creating more problems than solutions.