Sri Lankans must welcome President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s assurance to the UN Chief Antonio Guterres on Sunday that the Tamil diaspora would be invited for talks with his government, former UPFA MP M.M. Zuhair, PC said, adding equally welcome is the UN Chief’s assurance of ‘full support to Sri Lanka in moving forward to promote unity among different communities’, as highlighted by a media statement issued by the President’s office.
The following is the full text of the statement issued by the former National List MP: “The multi- faceted problems and serious economic woes the country is facing, in addition to the Covid-19 complications, can never be overcome without promoting ‘genuine unity’ among the communities. The underlying issues that prevent unity and reconciliation need to be addressed and resolved. Sri Lanka’s President and government must talk not only to the Tamil Diaspora but also the elected representatives of the North and the East and the country’s religious cum civil society leaders.
Criminals, violent extremists and terrorists must not be allowed to change the course of the future or the history of the country. Repeated attempts to equate ISIS ideology with Islam need to be condemned. Such attempts will only multiply Sri Lanka’s problems. ISIS is an anti-Islamic ideology, whose handlers are widely believed to work for the Western arms industry.
The Sri Lankan President’s UN General Assembly ‘speech-script writers’ have dragged ‘religious extremism’ into the picture. The reports of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Easter Sunday Attacks and the Presidential Commission of Inquiry have blamed ‘Buddhist extremism’ nourishing ‘Islamic extremism’. What has Buddhism, Islam or other religions got to do with extremism or terrorism? Were those who massacred 33 Buddhist monks at Arantalawa in June 1987 and murdered 147 Muslims at worship in Mosques in Kattankudy in August 1990,‘religious extremists? Why blindly follow Western conversations on the matter? Who gave terrorists and criminals a religious face?
Buddhists in the Far East, Vietnam in particular and believers in Islam in the Middle-East and West Asia, Afghanistan in particular, have been the victims of US-NATO sponsored wars. Post 9/11 wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan have resulted in nearly 3 million deaths and over 20 million rendered refugees cum internally displaced. Why was no appeal made to the US-NATO to stop unceasing invasions of third world countries, with the next theater of war said to be in South Asia, our region? Sponsors of wars manufacture weapons, so they need wars. Struggling nations like Sri Lanka need peace for their economic survival. We need to stop blaming extremism on religions but must declare that stopping invasions of third world countries by powerful countries rendering millions into refugees, can stop extremism.
The President’s initiative and the UN Secretary Generals support for promoting unity among communities could succeed substantially if we take the cue from New Zealand PM Jacinda Arden’s carefully crafted speech of September 3rd 2021 and desist from blaming extremism on any religion. There is no ‘Islamic Face of Terror’! There is no ‘Buddhist Face of Terror’ either as Time magazine years ago wrongfully but hysterically accused.”