A Response to Army Gen Fonseka’s interview with National Post
October 01, 2008
(October 01, Toronto, Sri Lanka Guardian) Gen. Sarath Fonseka in an interview with the National Post (September 28, 2008) claimed “I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people,” he says.
“We being the majority of the country, 75%, we will never give in and we have the right to protect this country. “We are also a strong nation. They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things.”
There is nothing surprising about Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s claim that Sri Lanka belongs to Sinhalese who constitutes 75% and the minorities can live only at the mercy of the majority Sinhalese. He has said that before. Many politicians before him have said the same thing. Leading Buddhist bhikkus have claimed the Sinhalese – the chosen people of Buddha – are the real landlords of Sri Lanka and Thamils only tenants. This mindset is popularly termed the Mahavamsa mindset.
The Buddhist chronicle Mahavamsa (Great Chronicle) covers events from the supposed arrival of prince Vijaya up to 300 AD. It was written in Pali in the fifth century AD by a Buddhist Monk named Mahanama for the “serene joy and emotion of the pious” whose aim was to glorify Buddhism and the Buddhist kings who ruled Anuradhapura.
According to Mahavamsa Buddha just before his death, summoned Sakra the king of gods and the divine protector of Sasana (the dhamma doctrine as taught by Buddha) and instructed him “Vijaya son of Sinhabahu has come to Lanka …. together with 700 of his followers…. In Lanka O Lord of Gods will my religion be established, therefore, Do thou, O lotus-hued One, protect with zeal Prince Vijaya and his followers, and the Doctrine that is to endure in Lanka for full five thousand years.” Thus following Mahavamsa’s effort to eulogize Sinhala – Buddhist kings, the Thamils came to be presented as invaders, vandals, non-believers, marauders and destroyers of Sinhalese civilization. It is this Mahavamsa mindset. – A lethal cocktail mix of race and religion – that has defied any just and reasonable resolution of the conflict!
Buddhist monks frequently visit battle fronts to recite pirith (Buddhist sermon) and invoke the Triple Gem to guide the soldiers and their weapons in warfare. But the spirit of nonviolence permeates Buddhism and the first of the five precepts that all Buddhists should follow is “Avoid killing, or harming any living thing.” Nothing in Buddhist scripture gives any support to the use of violence as a way to resolve conflict. Buddha says “In times of war Give rise in yourself to the mind of compassion, Help living beings, and Abandon the will to fight.”
In an interview with the government-controlled mouthpiece the Daily News on July 19, 2008, he said “The Sinhala nation has to sacrifice if you want to protect the country and survive….. In any democratic country, the majority should rule the country. THIS COUNTRY WILL BE RULED BY THE SINHALESE COMMUNITY WHICH IS THE MAJORITY REPRESENTING 74 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION…. though we give political solutions those politicians in the North and East cannot solve all the problems faced by the people living in the North and East. In any country, the majority community is running the administration.”
In Gen. Fonseka’s view, Sri Lanka is the patrimony of the Sinhalese. The Sinhalese have the birthright to rule Sri Lanka and they must sacrifice willingly to protect their dominant status from minority challenges. If this ultra-Fascist theory is applied to Canada, the break-up of that country would have been a fait-accompli long ago.
In any pluralist democracy the majority rules, but it is an electoral rather than an ethnic or religious majority. In fact, in most pluralist democracies ethnic/religious communities are divided along party lines; politically and administratively party loyalty often takes precedence over primordial ties.
Gen. Fonseka’s sadism knows no bounds. “Sometimes” the Tamils “are living much better than the Sinhalese and Muslim community,” he complained
“I don’t think the people in the north and east are subjected to any injustice,” he told the same state-controlled Daily News.
This military officer does not think that air strikes dropping over 6,000 bombs on a daily basis on the heads of Thamil civilians in the North is not injustice. He does not consider expelling UN and other INGO staff out of Vanni and restricting essential supplies such as food and medicine citing “security reasons” does not constitute an injustice. People of conscience must ask what he is fighting for since it is clearly not to ‘liberate’ the poor, starving Thamils of the Northern Province.
And what was the Army Commander’s justification for the starving and hardship of the majority of the people of Sri Lanka? “Like any other country in the world where people have to fight wars to safeguard the territorial integrity of their countries they have to go through hardships. They have to spend a lot of money. They have to sacrifice. The Sinhala nation has to sacrifice if you want to protect the country and survive.”
How Fonseka can expect any self-respecting Tamil, Muslim, Burgher or other ‘breed’ to “go through hardships” or “spend a lot of money” to ensure the survival of a “Sinhala nation” is simply beyond belief.
The Army Commander’s candid interview should make everyone to understand the regime’s attitude to a number of other important issues, from human rights to political solutions. The repeated attempts, despite a Supreme Court ruling, by Gotabhaya Rajapakse to expel North-Eastern Tamils living in Colombo lodges and the anti-minority phobias of the likes of Jathika Hela Urumaya Minister Champika Ranawaka belong within this paradigm of majority domination. It is another example of the fascist and racist nature of president Mahinda’s Rajapakse’s government. (Sri Lanka Guardian)