People had been in search for peace and tranquility since independence but never found them By: M.M. Zuhair PC

M.M. Zuhair PC

National Shoora Council biennial meeting

Foreign arms producers benefitted from Sri Lanka’s 30-year war making us now to beg their governments for food and fuel!

The war launched in 1979 to suppress the uprising in the North, armed with the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act, instead of containing terror, helped to multiply terrorism in the country

Six to seven million Sri Lankans are reportedly undergoing tremendous hardship for their second meal every day. The 303 Sri Lankans who ended up in Vietnam three weeks ago, rescued by a Japanese vessel from a virtually drowning Myanmar flagged fishing boat had one distressing message, ‘take us anywhere but not to Sri Lanka’! This is a damning indictment upon our country. Large numbers of others are leaving the country for good. We all have a national role to play to overcome the crisis.

This was stated by former Member of Parliament M. M. Zuhair PC who was the guest speaker at the biennial meeting of the National Shoora – Consultative- Council (NSC) on Sunday presided by NSC President T. K. Azoor Attorney-at-Law. NSC is the consultative body comprising 14 Muslim national level organisations in the country.
Speaking further Zuhair said, the people of this country had been in search for peace and tranquility since independence 75 years ago but they never found them. We neglected focusing on economic development with dangerous consequences.

Within the first ten years after independence, the country was embroiled in the first notable racial riots in 1956. In 1958, the second such riots engulfed a major part of the country. In 1962, we saw the attempted coup to topple the government, blamed on a powerful minority. In 1971 and again in 1989 the country witnessed a youth uprising primarily from the majority community. In 1979 an uprising in the North, followed by the major island wide 1983 July racial riots put the LTTE on top, becoming Sri Lanka’s formidable foe aiming to establish a separatist State.

The globally shamed 1983 riots laid the foundation for war. The 1984 All Party conference (APC) and the 1985 Political Parties Conference (PPC) came too late. They were mere eye wash!

The war launched in 1979 to suppress the uprising in the North, armed with the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act, instead of containing terror, helped to multiply terrorism in the country. There was no dialogue between the elder brother and the younger one. The globally shamed 1983 riots laid the foundation for war. The 1984 All Party conference (APC) and the 1985 Political Parties Conference (PPC) came too late. They were mere eye wash!
Who benefitted from the war between the brothers? Arms manufacturers in the USA, USSR, Britain, France, Germany, Israel and China were the beneficiaries, though we must blame ourselves for it. The country’s wealth, savings and the dollars ended up in foreign countries for the next 30 years. Today we are pleading with those governments with the begging bowl for food and fuel for the survival of our people.

With the end of the war in 2009 we missed another golden opportunity to unite the people at least for the sake of the country’s economic revival. The unity of the people and the communities was severely dented by allowing anti-minority attacks against the Christians and the Muslims. Muslims were thereafter more specifically targeted with wild allegations about Halal Food, Women’s attire, population canards, discriminatory birth control allegations etcetra!

All these culminated in several anti-Muslim riots in 2014, 2017, 2018 with over 18 Mosques being attacked prior to the reprehensible damaging of Buddha Statues in December 2018 and the widely condemned Easter Sunday attacks of April 2019. Both these acts of Muslim violence were not aimed at toppling any elected government but on the contrary governments allegedly benefitted. They do not come anywhere near any act of treason, though Easter suspects are being treated much worse.

All these came upon a community that ought to be placed first in national patriotism but for the false propaganda by vested interests in sections of the media. Historian Dr Lorna Dewaraja says that 900 years ago during the reign of King Parakramabahu a significant contribution for building the Parakrama Samudra came from the Arab descendent Muslims of Sri Lanka. Since then, the patriotic role of the Sri Lankan Muslims in the progress and development of the country for over a thousand years has been recorded by Dr Dewaraja.  It is in this background that the NSC should continue to guide the community and the country to play this historical role at this time of distress. NSC, Zuhair said, should resist attempts to divide the majority from the minority communities. We have several issues the NSC should address such as the proscription of some Muslim civil organisations in violation of the constitutional protections, proposed rehabilitation without judicial determination, State interferences in Mosque administration, discriminatory restriction in importing Islamic books, North East Merger, the proposed abolition of Quazi Courts etc. We need to resolve these problems expeditiously.

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