Buddha’s statues symbol of Sinhalese Hegemony!

(Part 1)

V.Thangavelu

On Sunday night May 15, 2005 a 12 ft tall Buddha’s statue was installed on land belonging to the Trincomalee Urban Council by Buddhist monks and Trincomalee Three-wheeler Drivers' Association. This provocative act should not be seen as an isolated incident. There is much more than what meets one's eyes. 

The clandestine installation of Buddha’s statue led to mass protests by Thamils. It was no secret that the Janata Vimukti Peramuna (JVP), the North East Sinhala Association (NESA) and some saffron-robed Buddhist monks were behind the installation of the Buddha statue by the Three- wheeler Drivers Association.

It is obvious to anyone with a modicum of intelligence that a Buddha’s statue near a fish-market is not meant for worship or veneration by Buddhists. If that is the case, it will be a supreme insult to Buddha himself!

The problem of the statues first arose in the Muslim majority town of Potthuvil in Amparai district in April. The Muslims of the town protested against the installation of a Buddha statue in the market place. The issue led to violence. The Ven Omalpe Sobitha Thero of the Buddhist monks' party, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), said that Buddhists had every right to install a Buddha statue anywhere in the country, and added that Muslims were being instigated by the Al-Qaeda and Jehad groups. He said that the Sri Lankan government was not giving the army enough power to deal with the Thamil and Muslim militant groups.

Over the years building and/or renovating Buddhist viharas have been taking place in Thamil villages in Trincomalee district at feverish pace. 

A Buddhist vihara was built in the Thamil village of Vilankulam. Efforts to stop the building of this Buddhist vihara failed. Thamil people of this village were displaced during the war and have not been resettled. Another Buddha statue was built near the famous Paththiniamman temple in Palampoddaru. Thamils protested about this as well, but to no avail. Another Buddhist temple was built at the entrance to the historic temple (Koneswaram) venerated by the Hindus. 

For decades Sinhalese-Buddhist extremist organizations in Trincomalee and Amparai districts have been active in fanning the flames of communalism. It is certainly amusing, but nothing surprising to watch the so called Marxists getting involved in planting Buddha’s statues instead of Marx or Lenin! 

In early May, Trincomalee district JVP M.P. Jayantha Wijesekara made a futile attempt to construct houses for Sinhalese within Mc Heyzer stadium.  The illegal construction was abandoned in the face of vehement protests by Thamils. 

It is suspected the current statues planting spree is a forerunner for re-commencing large scale state-aided Sinhalese colonization that has been going on without halt since the early days of independence.

A court order issued by Trincomalee Magistrate to remove the Buddha’s statue was not executed by the Trincomalee Police. This was a slap on the face of not only the Magistrate, but also to the entire judiciary.  And instead of removing the illegal structure, the Police fortified the statue with a barbed wire fence and stands guard around the clock!

The Police also resorted to a subterfuge by filing a petition seeking the removal of all unauthorized places of worship in Trincomalee town. This is a clear example of the rule of law being subverted by the khaki-clad Police in favour of the saffron-robed law breakers.  This is also a reminder that Sri Lanka does not have a national Police or a national Army that serves all citizens equally and fairly irrespective of ethnicity.   The armed forces consist of 95% Sinhalese and Police 90% Sinhalese.    

A hartal called by the Trincomalee District Thamil Peoples Forum (TDTPF) demanding the removal of the newly installed statue brought the town to a stand still.  While the hartal was on, a second attempt was made on May 23, 2005 by Sinhalese settlers from Vijithapura to install another statue near the Hindu crematorium in Ehamparam Street.  Fortunately the attempt was successfully thwarted.  

In the past Buddhist temples and statues have been erected in villages predominantly occupied by Hindu Thamils. Thiriyai, Velgamvihara and Seruvila are good examples. Ruins of Buddhist viharas were rebuilt and/or renovated followed by moving Sinhalese colonists to occupy such villages. Such Buddhist ruins belonged to Thamil Buddhists and not Sinhalese Buddhists. It is a well known fact that from the 3rd century BC to 13th century AD a large percentage of Thamils professed Buddhism. 

After independence a massive Buddha's statue was erected at the entrance to Fort Frederick and to the historic Koneswaram Temple.  The excuse was that this was once the site of Gokanna Vihare. But, there is no supporting evidence for this contention admitted by serious scholars or archaeological findings.

The deliberate, but random erection of such Buddha’s statues is only the symptom. The disease is the single point agenda of every Sinhalese government to colonize the eastern and northern provinces by Sinhalese. It is done to make the Thamils a minority and to negate the Thamil homeland demand.  Resorting to various subterfuges the Sinhalese have succeeded in reducing the Thamils in Trincomalee district and the eastern province to a minority. 

All governments since independence have strenuously implemented the single point agenda of converting the Northeast into a Sinhalese majority province.  The schedule below gives the names of state sponsored Sinhalese colonization schemes and the respective governments under which they were carried out. 

Kanthalai Scheme           -             D.S. Senanayake government 

Allai   Scheme              -               D.S.Senanayake/ Dudley Senanyake government

Padaviya Scheme         -               S.W.R.D Bandaranayake Government

Morawewa Scheme        -            Srimavo Bandaranyake Government   

Mahadivulwewa Scheme       -      J.R. Jayewardene/ Gamini Dissanayake  

Weli Oya Scheme    -                  J.R. Jayewardene / R.Premadasa/ Gamini Dissanayake

Trincomalee district never had a Thamil government agent not even a Thamil District Land Officer. All these posts have been filled by the majority Sinhalese with two solitary exceptions. In the late fifties Mc Heyzer and Speldewinde who were burghers served as GAs.   

In 2002 a Buddhist shrine was constructed in Vilankulam, a traditional Thamil village, 11 km off west of Trincomalee. Protests made to the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe by the Thamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentary group leader and the Trincomalee district parliamentarians .R.Sampanthan and K.Thurairetnasingham were of no avail.    [ThamilNet, December 25, 2002]

In every case of statue installation the modus-operandi is very similar. First, a Buddha’s statue is installed which then followed by Buddhist monk (s) taking residence nearby. Since the monks need the support of lay Sinhalese for their survival, illegal Sinhalese settlers are brought in from the south to form a new colony. The GA, Police and army ably aid and abet such illegal settlements.

Along with politicians, saffron-robed Bhikkhu brigades are in the front-line of all illegal colonization in the Northeast. They have personally led hordes of illegal Sinhalese to settle in state lands.

When Ranil Wickremesinghe was the Prime Minister, a delegation of hard-line Buddhist Bhikkhus led by Most Ven. Agga Maha Pandita Madihe Pannasiha Mahanayake Thera of the Amarapura Sri Dhammarakshita Maha Nikaya at the Siri Vajiragnana Dharmayatanaya, Maharagama urged him to continue the colonization of Thamil areas in the north and east. Ven. Pannasiha requested the Prime Minister to create settlements in selected jungle land in the North-East and settle people in them according to the communal ratio.  He also told the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that the homeland concept is a historical misconception.  

The Prime Minister responded saying "We have never accepted the homeland concept. Our stand is that Sinhalese, Thamils and Muslims are living in the North and East. This stand has been included even in the Indo-Lanka accord. Therefore the homeland concept will never be accepted. No request pertaining to the homeland concept has been made to us so fare either. We have always clearly expressed our stand on this issue.” (The Daily News – January 20, 2002).

Buddha in his life time taught the virtues of non-violence, tolerance and understanding.  Violence in any form, under any circumstances whatsoever, is absolutely against the teachings of Buddha. 

Buddhism is not a religion in the strict sense, although it has over the years acquired the trappings of faith and ritual based religions. 

Buddha was the only teacher who did not claim he is god or god incarnation or possessed miraculous powers inspired by some divine force. In this respect he differed from other religious teachers. He attributed all his realization, attainments and achievements to human endeavour and human intelligence. He ruled out the existence of an external god or power.  Man, according to Buddha, is supreme. Man is his own master, and there is no higher being or power that sits in judgment over his destiny.  

Buddha taught that every man has the potentiality to become a Buddha or achieve Enlightenment by liberating himself from all bondage through his own personal effort and intelligence. It is self-discipline, self -development and self-purification in body, word and mind. 

In Buddhism there is no place for belief, prayer, worship or ceremony. Buddha said “You should do your work, for the Tathagatas (One who has discovered the Truth) only teach the way. But you have to work out your own emancipation.’ (Source – What the Buddha Taught by Ven.Dr.W. Rahula) 

The five Noble Truths and the eight-fold path is the path to emancipation or Nirvana according to the teachings of Buddha.  In addition Buddha laid down 10 precepts (Thasa-Seela), the first 5 (Pancha-Seela) for the laymen and the rest for the Bhikkhus.

 

 


 

Buddha’s statues symbol of Sinhalese Hegemony!

(Part 11)

 

All Samaneras, because of their full-time ethical endeavour, proceed to take the following  Samanera code of conduct-

1. To abstain from killing all living beings.

2. To abstain from stealing.

3. To abstain from sexual indulgence.

4. To abstain from telling lie.

5. To abstain from liquor and intoxicants.

6. To abstain from eating in the afternoon.

7. To abstain from dancing, singing, watching musical performance.

8. To abstain from using garlands, unguents, or ornaments.

9. To abstain from sitting and sleeping on a big or broad bed.

10. To abstain from receiving gold and silver.

For all who seek purity and liberation, the Samaneraship is conducive to peace and happiness. The ten precepts fulfill the need to purify the mind and win higher and deeper knowledge. Truths can be realized by higher morality and insight. Thus the ten precepts and 227 Vinaya rules of bhikkhus are basic requirements to maintain the Sasana pure. The true Sasana needs good Samaneras who will become great bhikkhus in due course.

In Buddhism violence in any form, whether physical or verbal, under any pretext is absolutely against the teachings of the Buddha. Also in Buddhism there are no just wars or unjust wars. There is no room or excuse for hatred, cruelty, violence and massacre. Buddhism preaches non-violence and peace as a universal message and does not approve of any kind of violence or destruction of life. But not very long ago, we saw in newspapers photographs of monks visiting army camps, performing pirith, blessing the soldiers and their weapons and fix auspices times to commence military attacks! 

The reality today is Buddhism as a philosophy has degenerated into religion of rituals, myths, miracles and superstitious beliefs. Buddha himself has been elevated to a position of a super human being and an object of worship.  The Mahawamsa speaks of Buddha flying though the air to visit Sri Lanka and summoning Hindu gods to do his bidding! Although it is claimed that Theravada Buddhism found in Sri Lanka is the pure form, in many aspects it is hardly distinguishable from Mahayana Buddhism. 

As for the observance of the 10 precepts by Bhikkhus, it has become a huge joke in Sri Lanka. There are still many pious minded Bhikkhus, but they are in a minority. Bhikkhus who took to politics without discarding their robes and ditching their oath have breached all or most of the rules governing their conduct.  

The Dasa Dhamma Sutta of the Anguttara Nikaya lays down guide-lines for the Bhikkhus. It contains Ten Reflections which a monk should constantly bear in mind. The first four are:-

1) I have become casteless.

2) My life style is different from a layman.

3) My life is dependent on others.

4) How do I spend my days and nights?

Contrary to the oath taken, a majority of Bhikkhus in Sri Lanka live a life of luxury. They have acquired ultra-expensive properties, travel in Mercedes Benz  cars,  run businesses, run tutorials,  run Ayurvedic clinics, hold salaried jobs, hold bank accounts,  practice black magic to drive devils etc.  

Bhikkhu by definition is a ‘mendicant’ or ‘one who begs food’, but hardly anyone is seen these days with the alms- bowl! 

Therefore, Buddhism found in Sri Lanka today is a brand of virulent Sinhala Buddhism which has nothing to do with the teachings of the Great Teacher. A philosophy that was founded on the bed-rock of non-violence and enlightenment is being manipulated by Bhikkhus to fan violence and hatred towards Thamils and Muslims.    

What is more frightening is the conduct of Bhikkhus who have taken to full-time politics. The venom they spew inside and outside parliament is totally un-Buddhistic. When a bhikkhu becomes a M.P. on puerile and shallow grounds, he is breaking every vinaya rule in the book.  A well known Sinhalese politician has lamented that “It is very unfortunate that these saffron robed people are deceiving the innocent and the unsuspecting Sinhala Buddhists in Sri Lanka with help from Buddhist business tycoons!” 

Buddha preached non-violence not only in regard to living things but also in regard to non- living things like trees and forests, but what do we see today in practice?  

Today the very Buddha’s statue has become the symbol of Sinhalese hegemony.  Unauthorized Buddha’s statues are planted in unholy places to make claim to land!  This is the stark reality and Thamils have no other choice but to face this menace squarely. 

Ever since independence it has been the policy of both the UNP and the SLFP to undertake state aided Sinhala colonization schemes with the sole aim of altering the demographic profile of Northeast.

D.S. Senanayake, the first Prime Minister of independent Ceylon, was the master brain who initiated and executed large scale state-sponsored Sinhalese colonization in the East.  It is he who launched the Paddippalai (Gal Oya) Allai (Seruvila) Kanthalai (Gantalawa), Pathavikkulam (Padaviya), Muthalikulam (Morawewa) and Maduru Oya colonization schemes. What he left unfinished was completed by his successors. 

In 1936, D.S. Senanayake as Minister of Land and Agriculture  arranged to examine the entire valley area of Paddippalai Aru (in Thamil - Aru means river) to construct  an earthen dam across the river at Inginiyagala and divert the Gal Oya river waters to form a large reservoir, which was called the Gal-Oya multi-purpose project.

The dam was 3,600 feet long and 154 feet tall at its highest point. It was the idea of J. S. Kennedy, the Director of Irrigation, to have a deep-water reservoir rather than a wide one, in order to prevent loss of water by evaporation. This water reservoir was appropriately named Senanayake Samudra (sea) – the biggest man-made tank in the whole of Ceylon. Gal Oya Development Board spent a staggering US67.2 million dollars to build the infrastructure and settle the colonists. The building of the dam was entrusted to a firm of American engineers, Morrison Knudsen of San Francisco, and they completed the project in 1947.  

D.S. Senanayake went on to enact Act No.51 under which the Gal Oya Development Board was established. It was officially inaugurated by him on August 28, 1949 at Ingniyakala.

In 1948, Parliament allocated Rs700 million for the restoration of abandoned tanks, such as the Padavilkulam, Kanthalai, Huruluwewa, Kandalama and Kaudulla tanks.

D.S. Senanayake  in his independence day anniversary broadcast on February 4, 1951, declared, "Colonization of land development activities are going at full speed and we are now able to bring more [Sinhala] colonists to lands that have been fully developed and provided with irrigation and other facilities than we have ever done before."  

By 1960 an entirely new electorate called Amparai (now called Digamadulla) was carved out for the Sinhalese colonists. Besides certain Sinhala areas from the adjoining Uva province were also merged with Amparai district.  

On 10th January 1961 the government created a new administrative district called Amparai out of the then existing Batticaloa district on the recommendation of the De-limitation Commission appointed in 1959. This sharply increased the tempo of Sinhalese colonization.

The Sinhalese population in the undivided Batticaloa district in 1911 was only 4702. In 1921 it was 7, 243. But after the Gal Oya scheme was launched the Sinhalese population began to rise by leaps and bounds.

The ethnic distribution in Amparai district in 1963 was Sinhalese 29.34 per cent; Thamils 23.8 per cent; and the Muslims 46.39 per cent. But by 1981, the percentage of Sinhalese went up to 37.64, and the percentages of the Muslims and Thamils went down to 41.43 and 20.5 respectively.

In 1981 the Muslims were the single largest community with 41.6 %. The Sinhalese were a close second with 37.6 % and The Thamils were a distant third with 20.5 %.

In the 2001 census, the population of the Thamils registered a further decline. It had gone down to 18.70 per cent, while the proportion of Muslims went up marginally.

Today Amparai district   demographic profile has changed dramatically resulting in the Sinhalese emerging as the majority community.  

                                   Sinhalese                   Muslims               Thamils

1963                            98170                         62180                  50480

1981                           168481                      168481                  77728

1994                           263652                      233748                111076   

 

 

  

 


 

 

Buddha’s statues symbol of Sinhalese Hegemony!

(Part 111)

 

Sinhalese Colonization of Trincomalee District  

The Government took up the restoration of Allai Kulam (Kulam in Thamil means - tank) in the Trincomalee district. Also, they restored the Kanthalai Kulam in the Trincomalee district, which was an ancient irrigation tank that had silted up and fallen in disuse during the centuries of colonial rule. Another was the Pathavik Kulam (Sinhalese - Padaviya) where lay the fertile lands of West and North of Trincomalee. These three tanks were restored; forests were cleared and blocked into units to settle Sinhalese colonists brought from the south under the cloak of giving land to landless peasants. Both Allai and Kanthalai colonization schemes changed the demographic map of Northeast province irrevocably.

The Allai Scheme was inaugurated by constructing an anicut across the Verugal river, a tributary of the Mahaweli Ganga. The entire region that received irrigation waters from this scheme was called the Koddiyar AGA’s division. Today, in its place, there are three AGA’s Divisions viz the Muthur AGA’s Division, the Seruvila AGA’s division, which was created in the late eighties when W. Dahanayake was the Minister of Home Affairs under Dudley Senanayake (1965-1970) government). The third is the Verugal AGA’s Division, located at Ichchilampattai. This last AGA’s division was created in the mid 198O’s when K.W. Devnayagam was the Home Minister.

Under Allai colonization scheme 65% of the allotments were given to Sinhalese, 35% to Muslims and Thamils none. Under Kanthalai colonization scheme the intake was 77% Sinhalese and 23% Thamil speaking. Several new Sinhalese villages sprung up swallowing many ancient Thamil villages.

The AGA’s division of Seruvila is located at Serunuvara which was originally called Arippu. The old village of Kallar is now called Somapura. The Thamil village of Neelapalai is now called Neelapola. Part of Poonagar is called Mahindapura.

Thirumangalai is now called Srimangalagama. Dehiwatte, Lankapatuna and Pulasthigama are some of the other new Sinhalese villages in the present Seruvila AGA’s division. This AGA’s division has a population of 20,187 with 17 Grama Sevaka officers divisions. It could be said without contradiction that 99% of the 11,665 Sinhalese living in this division were brought from the south and colonized by the government.

Muthalikulam (Morawewa) tank became the centre of a colonisation scheme in the 1960s.  Under  this scheme though initially allotments were made on a proportionate basis, subsequent violence directed against Thamil settlers on a regular basis by  Sinhalese forced many Thamils to evacuate. A new AGA’s division was created in the early 1970s for Morawewa, bypassing the priority list originally sent by the Government Agent, Trincomalee, for the creation of AGA’s divisions in the district. The proposal to create an AGA’s division at Nilaveli got shelved as a result of this move.

The Morawewa AGA’s Division has a population of 9271 and 10 Grama Sevaka officers divisions. The Sinhalese constitute 56% of the total population while the Thamils constitute 37%. A considerable percentage out of the present population of 5101 Sinhalese in the Morawewa is outsiders.

Periya Vilankulam (Mahadiulwewa) colonisation scheme in the Morawewa AGA’s Division was  undertaken in the 1980s. Funds received from the European Community were utilised by D.J Bandargoda, Govt. Agent, Trincomalee and Gamini Dissanayake, then Minister of Lands, Land Development and Mahaweli Development, to launch this scheme.

Pathavikkulam (Padaviya) scheme was another major colonisation scheme undertaken by the state to settle Sinhalese in the traditional Thamil homeland.  This scheme was executed when C.P.de.Silva was the Minister for Land and Irrigation in S.W.R.D. Bandaranayake government (1956-1959). This scheme played a key role in the 1958 riots and the activities of the Land Development Department employees during the riots had been vividly described in the book “Emergency ‘58 “, by Tarzie Vittachi.

Colonization of Padavia resulted in the creation of an AGA’s division called Padavi Sripura, with a population of 11,804, almost all of them Sinhalese.

This writer was attached to the Trincomalee Kachcheri (1957-59) when some of these schemes were in full swing.  

Kumaresan Kadavai (Gomarankadawela) and Mudalikku­lam (Morawewa) were originally Katukulampattu West and Katukulampattu East, which included the present Kuchaveli division.

In the late 60s the government started the Air Force farm near the head-works at Morawewa with a commanding position over the use of water. From that time Thamils became subject to small scale attacks by air force men and Sinhalese hooligans. The largest number of killings of Thamils took place along the Anudharapura Road and the matter was raised in parliament. This was the first instance in the island history of stationing forces permanently in the middle of an agricultural scheme. As a result the proportion of Thamils kept falling.

More Sinhalese were brought in under the   Mahadivulweva   (Periyavilankulam) scheme and their proportion rose to 56%. With the violence of the 8Os the gradual displacement of Thamils became a total retreat. The AGA’s office, since the outbreak of war has been shifted to the Sinhalese town of Mahadivulwewa.

In 1972 Nochchikulam was re-named Nochiyagama and Sinhalese were settled down in 5,000 acres of land forcibly acquired from Thamils living in Kappalthurai and Paalampoddaru. The brain behind this scheme was no other than K.B. Ratnayake, M.P. and the then SLFP Organizer for Anuradhapura District. In 1973 during Srimavo Bandaranaike’s rule a total of 10,738 Sinhalese families were illegally settled in the Trincomalee District.  

Sinhalese colonists were planted all along the Thamil coastal villages like Kuchchaveli, Pulmoddai, Kumburuppiddi, Thiriyai, Thennamaravadi etc. For example in 1983 hundreds of Sinhalese illegally encroached and occupied the land adjoining Pulmoddai Agricultural Development Society.

On December 2, 1984 these Sinhalese colonists attacked Thennamaravadi village situated North of Pulmoddai, and burnt down 165 houses and 7 shops belonging to the Thamils. This resulted in the displacement of 749 Thamils constituting 147 families who were forced to irk out existence as refugees in adjoining villages.

During the sixties and seventies many Sinhalese villages sprouted in and around Trincomalee town. Srimapura (Named after Srimavo Bandaranaike), Mud Cove or Sumedhankarapura , Abayapura, Mihintapura and Pattispura were some of the Sinhalese villages thus created often after driving the Thamils away. In 1984 Thamils living in China Bay and Kavathikuda were uprooted and Sinhalese took their places with the help of the armed forces.  

These settlements were established with the express intention of choking the Thamils in the district by hemming them from all sides and laying siege of the town.

In late seventies and eighties feverish attempts were taken to Sinhalise Trincomalee under the cloak of development.

Gigantic tracts of state and private lands were acquired by or were vested with state corporations or boards.  The projects for which these lands were earmarked were intended to bring in a large influx of Sinhalese. About 500 acres of state land in China Bay was released to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. The entire extent of land from Maddikali to Palampoddaru (Monkey) Bridge on the eastern side of the Trinco - Kandy Road was vested in the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. An extent of over 2000 acres of land off Marble - Bay, in the Karumalaiyoothu area in the Town and Gravets AGA’s Division was reserved for the Ceylon Tourist Board for tourist development.

Land acquisition proceedings commenced in the early 80s to take over all the land - both private and state lands - on the eastern side of the Trincomalee - Pulmoddai Road from 3rd Mile Post (Uppuveli) to the Salappai-Aru Bridge, a distance of 11 miles, for tourist development.

These projects deprived Thamils of several thousands of acres of land belonging to them in Sampalthivu, Athimoddai, Nilaveli, Gopalapuram and Irakkandy. An extent of about 500 acres (originally leased to the late R.G.Senanayake) at Kumburupiddy was handed over to the National Youth Services Council to set up a training centre and a farm. About 2000 acres at Thiriyai was earmarked for use by the State Cashew Corporation.     

Several state-run industrial projects have been established in the Trincomalee District. Mineral Sands Project at Pulmoddai, Sugar Factory at Kanthalai, Fisheries Harbour Project at Cod- Bay, and Bulk Petroleum Depot at China Bay are some of these projects.

These projects overwhelmingly assisted the inflow of Sinhalese into the Trincomalee district. Development projects not only brought additional Sinhalese into the district, they also resulted in the re-naming or creation of new villages.

There was a proposal to re-name Pulmoddai a traditional Muslim village as Kanijavelipura. Pudawaikadu, another Muslim village, was renamed Sagarapura after settling in a few hundreds of Sinhalese fishing families.  There is a model village called Dhanyagama in China Bay. This is an NHDA assisted housing scheme to house Prima Flour Mill employees. A large village called Agbopura has sprung up near the Kanthalai sugar factory.

When Cyril Mathew was the Minister of Industries and Scientific Affairs in J.R. Jayawardene’s cabinet, he embarked on a massive restoration programme of ancient Buddhist temples. The Seruvila, Vilgam Vihare and Thiriyai Buddhist temples were restored with the assistance of the Town and Country Planning Department, the Department of Archaeology and the other state agencies. The powerful minister was the chairman of the restoration committees of these three temples.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Buddha’s statues symbol of Sinhalese Hegemony!

(Part 1V)

V.Thangavelu

In addition as the President of the Federation of Government and State Corporation Employees Buddhist Societies. (Rajaye Ha Raajya Sangsdha Sevakayihe Baudha Samithi Sammelanaya) he began to restore several small Buddhist temples in the Trincomalee district. The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation was entrusted with the restoration of Rankiri Ulpotha Buddhist temple in the Gomarankadwala AGA’s division. The Ceylon Plywoods Corporation handled the restoration of the Ilanthaikulam Buddhist temple in the Kuchchaveli AGA’s division. The restoration of the temple at Vannathi Palam (Samanala Amuna) was handled by the Ceylon Steel Corporation.

In the case of the Prima Flour Milling Project managed and run by a private Singapore based firm, it was laid down that all appointments have to be cleared by Government Agent, Trincomalee.  Security was the excuse given by the government.  (Source – UTHRJ Report - Appendix 11 and 111)

In October, 1998 132 Thamil families living in Linga Nagar, a village 1 ½ miles from Trincomalee town, were forcibly ejected by the army on the pretext of expanding the nearby Sinhalese army camp. Earlier in September 1996, 47 Thamil families were forced out for establishing the original camp.  

Until the early 1980s areas targeted for Sinhalese colonization was confined to Thamil areas of mixed ethnic communities. This policy was subsequently ditched for obvious reasons and Sinhalese colonies came to be established in areas exclusively inhabited by the Thamils. This no doubt is ethnic cleansing of the Thamils in their land of birth with a vengeance by a racist government bent on imposing Sinhalese hegemony.  

As mentioned above, Trincomalee district has not seen a Thamil Government Agent since independence in 1948. District Land Officers posts are also filled by Sinhalese to ensure smooth implementation and accelerated colonization without any clichés. The following Table 2 shows the dramatic increase in the Sinhalese population over the years.  

Table 2: Changes in Ethnic composition of Trincomalee District (1827-1981) 

 

Year                 Sinhalese                        Thamils                              Muslims                           

                         Number       %                Number       %                   Number               %                 

 

1827                  250               1.3                15663            81.8              3245              16.9                

1881                  935                4.2                14394            64.8              5746              25.9                

1891                  1109             4.3                17117           66.4               6426              25.0                

1901                  1203              4.2                17069            60.0              8258              29.0                

1911                  1138             3.8                17233            57.9               9714              32.6                

1921                   1501             4.4                18586            54.5               12846            37.7               

1946                   11606            15.3               33795            44.5              23219             30.6                

1953                   15296            18.2              37517            44.7              28616            24.1               

1963                   40950            29.6               54050            39.1               42560            30.8               

1971                  54744            29.1               71749            38.1              59924             31.8               

1981                  86341            33.6               93510            36.4               74403            29.0                

 

INCREASE

1881-1981         85406            9134%          79216            550%            68657            1194%           

 

Source: Census data on Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for the period 1881. No census was taken in 2001.

Trincomalee District covers an area of 2618.2 sq. km.  This district has 11 Divisional Secretary divisions out of which Sinhalese constitute a majority in 5 of them viz Padavi-Sripura, Gomarankadawela (Gomarasankadavai), Kanthalai, Morawewa (Muthalikulam) and Seruvila.  All these 5 DS divisions are situated in the Seruvila electorate which stretches from the border of Batticaloa in the south to Mullaitivu district in the north. Only three DS divisions have Thamil majority.

The Delimitation Commission appointed by the government in power in 1976 carved out a new electorate encompassing all new Sinhala settlements and named it Seruvila electorate.  In the general elections held in 1977, this electorate returned a Sinhalese to parliament for the first time. Currently the one time Thamil village Kanthalai is the capital town of Seruvila electorate where 80% of the population is Sinhalese. 

Pankulam, Muthalikulam, Panankattimurippu and Nochchikulam in the north of Trincomalee district and Eachilampathu and several Thamil villages are included in the Seruvila electorate.

There are three electoral divisions in Trincomalee district. Seruvila is for the Sinhalese, Muthur for Muslims and Trincomalee for Thamils. Trincomalee electoral division covers an area of 461 sq. km. Muthur electorate covers 570 sq.km. But Seruvila covers 1,598 sq.kms almost 4 times that of Trincomalee electorate.

The area covered by jungles in Trincomalee district is 17, 180 hectors. Out of this 9,180 hectors belong to Seruvila electorate (the 5 DS divisions) in which the Sinhalese are in a majority.  

It will be observed that while in 1881 the Sinhalese population was a mere 4.2%, it increased to a staggering 33.6% in 1981 and constituted one- third of the total population of the Trincomalee District.

According to Sampanthan, M.P., Trincomalee, between 1947 and 1981, the Sinhala population went up in Sri Lanka, as a whole, by 238 per cent. But in the eastern districts, the increase in the Sinhala population in the same period was 883 per cent. In Trincomalee district, it had gone up by 549 per cent. In Amparai district, it was even higher, at 1250 per cent. (The Hindustan Times – May, 2005)

To further reduce Thamils a minority in Trincomalee, seven new colonization schemes have been carefully designed by the government and are being implemented at rapid speed.

These seven schemes are:

1. The “Thiriyaai” scheme:

This scheme is situated in the main Thiriyaai junction. The work is progressing under the supervision of a well-known local businessman named Prasanna and with the help of the Sri Lankan navy.

2. “VillangKulam” Buddhist shrine and Colonization scheme.

3. “Aandaan Kulam” Sinhala colonization scheme.

This scheme is being developed in the land owned by ‘National Water-Supply and Sewage Board’. Several new houses are being built in this land at rapid speed.

4. “Kandhalaai Sugar Factory” Scheme.

5. “Sinnathoduwaai Siththi Vinaayagar” Temple area scheme.

This scheme is being developed in the vast amount of land forcefully taken from the Thamils in 1983.

6. Sea-Side project.

In this scheme, numerous boutiques are being built by the Sinhala businessmen (also brought in to the area by the government) to cater for the large influx of new Sinhalese.

7. “PaalamPoddaaru” Buddha Shrine.

This shrine is being built right next to the “Pathiniyamman” temple. Again, a new Buddha temple to cater for the new Sinhalese settlers.

 

The expansion of these Sinhalese settlements was pointed out by the LTTE at the sixth session of talks held in Berlin and a request was made that they be stopped. The government agreed and the government's chief negotiator G.L.Peiris gave a written statement. Yet some of those settlements are still continuing. It was expected that at least this time, since there is international facilitation, the infringement would stop, but that does not seem to be the case. (LTTE Peace Secretariat)   

The ground situation is that out of three districts in the Eastern province Thamils are in a clear majority only in the Batticaloa district. Trincomalee district which was once a Thamil majority district has lost that status now. 

The future of Trincomalee and the Northeastern province looks bleak for the Thamil people.  Thamil villages are obliterated and buried by the avalanche of state sponsored or backed Sinhalese colonization schemes. There is no sign that this land grabbing will cease or slow down any time soon.  The subject of state-sponsored colonization of Northeast province should have been raised during the peace talks, but for some unexplainable reason it was not done.