Chairman of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday highlighted how even a well known British newspaper and an international Non Governmental Organisation were distorting the unfortunate incidents here to suit their agendas.
The text of Prof. Peiris’ statement: The London based The Guardian carried an article on its web edition last Tuesday about the incidents in Kandy where Alan Keenan of the International Crisis Group had been quoted as saying among other things that “…the previous president, the staunch Sinhala nationalist Mahinda Rajapaksa, had condoned instances of anti-Muslim violence and hate speech. The renewed violence in past months could be related to the growing strength of Rajapaksa’s opposition movement,..” Keenan had further stated that “…the inter-communal violence is a product of the search for a new enemy to replace the Tamils, unite the Sinhala, and win votes by cultivating a sense of Sinhala Buddhists under siege…”
We are not surprised at all that Alan Keenan whose loyalties are well known, would make such a statement.
From the moment the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna became the main political party in the country soundly defeating the two established political parties at the recent local government elections, there have been several desperate attempts to line up Muslim voters against the SLPP. Within hours of our resounding victory, a letter was circulated in the social media stating that SLPP cadres had caused harassment to some Muslims in Kandy and Agalawatte for not supporting the SLPP. The party leaders of the Joint Opposition issued an immediate rejoinder drawing attention to the strategies that were orchestrated before the last presidential election to alienate the Muslim community from the Rajapaksa government.
We made specific mention of the book written by prominent Jathika Hela Urumaya activist Asoka Abeygunawardene titled ‘Yuga Peraliya’ which has explained the strategies adopted to send the Muslim community en masse onto the other side before the last presidential election. The Muslim community has now realized the deception that has been practiced on them, and despite all the efforts of the likes of Alan Keenan, the Muslim people living in Sri Lanka are unlikely to fall for that story again. They all know that the persons behind these incidents during the previous government and the present one, are the same.
Following the latest outbreak of violence, the leader of the SLMC, Mr. Rauff Hakeem making a special statement in Parliament, asked for a Commission of Inquiry to be appointed to look into the incidents that took place in Ampara and Kandy. However, he stopped short of asking for a Commission to probe the incidents that occurred before this government came into power. We as the Joint Opposition have however, asked for a Commission to inquire into all events that took place from 2012 to date. It is only then that the real parties behind these incidents will be revealed to the public.
It should also be noted that there is a major difference in the manner in which incidents like this have been handled during the Rajapaksa government on the one hand and the present yahapalana government on the other. When the Aluthgama incident took place in 2014, the then President and Defence Secretary were overseas. Despite this, instructions were issued to the police and the armed services to bring things under control and to prevent the disturbances from spreading. The moment the President came back to the country, he went straight to Aluthgama to meet those affected. The military was also deployed to immediately begin reconstructing the damaged houses and buildings. Today however, what we see on the part of the government is paralysis and indecisiveness.