MUSLIMS THE UNSEEN FORCE OF DEMOCRACY AND PEACE IN SRI LANKA - A reply to Mr. T.Manoharan's "A Citizen's Perspective "dated 12.09.2002.

Noor Nizam

Mr. Manoharan in his "Citizen's perspective" opening para, dated the 12th., September 2002 has attempted to bring out the most negative side of his own self, in making it clear that it is common place gossiping that provided him with the information and awareness of the lack of contribution of the Muslim Community towards Peace in Sri Lanka. If this is the strength of his imputs to his article, and what provided him with the facts he has placed before the readers, then, there is complete agreement, that the article does not meet the required standards of the profession of Journalism/deliberation in writting in the print or electronic media or the presentation of views in a democratic nation or community to which he belongs or lives in. Gossip is not FACTS. It is women talk or kitchen talk as they say in our country.

But it is only appropriate to place before Mr.T.Manoharan some facts about the contributions made my the Muslim Community towards Peace in Sri Lanka, which could , though not that important, create some awareness to the readers and those concerned. It will also enable them to understand the reality of things in a society that now needs to know the truth from the false.

The involvement of Muslims in mending and being the bridge between the majority community and the Tamil community in times of conflicts and crisis in history, has many episodes and events to mention. But, in the present context, let us look to the events that lead to the peace talks which are on the table, as put forward by Mr. Manoharan in his "perspective"

It was a Sri Lankan Muslim from the Eastern Province, who had connections with
Norwewgian Humanitarian workers in Sri Lanka who initiated the cause for Norway's
possible participation in developing a dialogue between the then government and the tamil interests. This was during the era of the Sirimavo Bandaranaike government in the 1970's. The lobbying became so intense and by 1976/1977 Norwegian's were moving in the matter of reconciliation.

The lobby group which expanded with tamil politicians and Academics of all communities intensified the momentum for Norway's involvement as a 3rd.,party mediator and facilitator to the issue/conflict. Leading Muslim Parliamentarians in the rank of Minister's, Deputy Ministers and District Ministers, extended their fullest support to the Norwegians who were moving in the matter - of promoting Peace.
These Muslim parliamentarians are not among the living now. Even during the Presidency of late R.Premadasa, it was a Muslim Parliamentarian who was the main pivot of all Peace negotiations.

With the advent of H.E. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, it was a Muslim again who advocated the need that only the Norwegian's could deliver peace as an
alternate to violence, in the conflict. The sincere and steadfast advocacy of the one or two Muslims, was finally sucessfull when, H.E.Chandrika Bandranaike Kumartunge invited the Norwegian's to Officially Facilitate and or Mediate Peace with Mr. Prabaharan and the LTTE in 1999. Though the Peace initiative Originated by H.E.Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, ended abruptly. The Government of Honourable Ranil Wickremasinghe picked up from where the Norwegian's could not proceed with H.E.Chandrika and made a success of it on 25th., December 2001 and strengthening it on 22nd February 2002, leading to the Thailand talks to be held next week. It is only a few involved and dedicated Sri Lankan citizens who are aware of these behind the screen moves that took place, which today is talked openly and highly published as the NORWEGIAN PEACE INITIATIVE IN SRI LANKA by the local and World press.

So Mr. Manoharan, you did not know nor were you interested to make inquiries and know the facts and the truth, but have been mislead by just "gossip". The Muslim
Community's contribution towards Peace in Sri Lanka is enormous, but untold, yet still more to be told.

Comming to your comments concerning Hon.Rauf Hakeen, Minister of Port Development and Shipping, it is very sad to note the remarks you had made.
Let it be known (but it is known) that if not for the move Hon.Rauf Hakeem made in the political chess board of Parliament and Parliament elections, the UNP would have never won the last elections or Hon.Ranil Wickremasinghe would have become the Prime Minister of the UNF government. I am sure that it was the biggest contribution to democracy and to the PEACE initiative and the negotiations that are to take place in Thailand next week - made by a Politician in Sri Lanka. Don't you realize that he his
a Muslim Parliamentarian and the Leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, now accepted as the sole representative of the Muslim Community of Sri Lanka. He is not a contender, but the Leader of the Muslim Community in Sri Lanka and should, will and be the sole Representative and voice of the Muslims at the talks. Let it be said that Mr. Prabaharan, the leader of the LTTE supported by his Theoretician Lieutenant
Dr. Anton Balasingham has honourably entertained this reality.

So why not Hon.Rauf Hakeem participate as the sole authority of the Muslim Community at the talks. He is not representing the Tamil Muslims at a talk/discussion where Tamil Hindus are talking/discussing with the majority Sinhalese (government), but representing the Muslim Community whose mother tongue is tamil, and in some instances other languages, like malay,sinhalese and even english. Just because a community or a people talk a certain language or it is their mother-tounge, does it mean that that culturally become the community of the language they speak.

In that case, the Tamil diaspora and immigrants living in Europe, North America and Scandinavia cannot be considered as Tamils - but as English/Europeans, Scandinavians and North Americans (Canadians), because, over the years, they have mastered the languages of the countries in which they are living and converse in those languages.

Mr.Manoharan's views about the grievances of the Muslim Community, in comparison to the Tamil Community, again proves baseless. Both Communites have had their turns of being at the receiving end of political, administrative and other forms of oppression and bad governance. But the Muslim Community have been at the receiving end from the Sinhalese and the Tamils. Let me highlight just one example.
Look at the situation of all the Schools in the district of Trincomalee. The percenntage of all Tamil Schools where Tamil students attend are in the best of condition and well maintained, even today.It is suspected that more than 80% of the Central Government funding and nearly 90% of the Provincial allocations are spent on these schools. But take a look at the plight of the Schools in the Muslim areas or where Muslim students attend. You will see them in the WORST condition, and in a stage of NEGLECT. Now that the Peace Initiative has opened possiblilities for people to move freely in the North and East, I kindly request Mr. T.Manoharan to make a tour of all Schools in the Trincomalee District with a camera and for himself to find out the truth and record them through photography.

If one is to deliberate the plight of the Muslim Community at large on the basis in which Mr. Manoharan has misguidedly tried to build up his agruments, I am of opinion that a series of articles/presentations will have to be published, and that is not the intention of the writer. The intention is just to clearly counter the false presentation made by Mr.Manoharan and to bring forth the truth and the realities, both to Mr.Manoharan and to the readers of this website newspaper.

The Muslims and the Tamils have lived in the best of harmony and peace for many centuries in the North and East, just like how they have lived in the South with the Sinhalese. Incidents may have happened, that could have been hurting or lead to the loss of llives and property. But as a people, it is very important that all communities in Sri Lanka should live with HONOUR and DIGNITY as equals, which ever part of the country they live in.

This is what the PEACE PROCESS or PEACE INITIATIVE is all about and to make people like Mr.T.Manoharan change their attitudes and become honourable citizens within the rule of law and respect of all rights.


Manoharan (LankaWeb - 12/09/02)





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