Ethnic Discrimination in Sri Lanka
By Sabena Siddiqui
India is indifferent about the persecution of Muslims in Sri Lanka and the situation is in a downslide.
Muslims are either homeless and impoverished or the established Muslim community is attacked , hundreds of violent incidents have taken place .
The Two Nation Theory is proved correct every time , India is responsible for ethnic discrimination even against Sri Lankan Muslims . It seems to be something inbuilt in them , probably a very delayed revenge for having been ruled by the Mughals for a thousand years .
Sri Lankan Tamils are 12 percent of the country’s population and are a majority in the country’s north. A twenty-five year civil war ended in May 2009, it was an insurgency against the Sri Lankan government by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or Tamil Tigers), a separatist militant organization. India trained and armed the LTTE in the 70,s, it has a sizable Tamil population which provided considerable support for the LTTE movement.
Worshipping the Hindu God Shiva is central to Tamil identity , this marginalises the place of all non-Hindu Tamils from among Tamil society and explains the distinct treatment of Muslims even by the India backed LTTE.
The Tigers were harboured by India initially in the time of Indira Gandhi, then Rajiv Gandhi has been said to have harboured separatists, shielding them from Sri Lankan armed forces.
The victimisation of the Muslim community in particular reached a peak in 1990 when 250 Muslims were killed during prayer in mosques at Kattankudy and Eravur, by the LTTE.
In the 80s the LTTE created alliances with separatist groups in India , only this factor made India stop providing support.
In 1987, India sent peacekeeping troops to Sri Lanka but its forces were unable to control the situation and began fighting with the LTTE.
Indian troops left in 1990 , India stopped its involvement in the insurgency and economic trade between the two countries increased. Indian Tamils often express concern about the conditions of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka.
More than 70,000 people died and hundreds of thousands were left internally displaced in the conflict .
400,000 IDPs were to be rehabilitated , the Indian High Commissioner personally supervised assistance provided by Indian NGO’S that were also providing houses to homeless people in troubled areas. Out of those 400000 IDP’s , about 100000 were Muslims , Muslims in Sri Lanka are a group affected by the conflict, yet not a direct party involved. They were systematically and intentionally sidelined in every phase of the project. Out of about 85 villages 27 villages belong to Muslims who are still shelterless.
Northern Ulema Welfare Association (NUWA), is a Sri Lankan Muslim Association, they recently wrote a letter to the Indian High Commissioner , Colombo. The last paragraph of this letter uploaded DO says, ‘We don’t know the actual facts as to why this ethnic dicrimination is being done by the respective authorities. We regret that the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka acts in this manner!’
Muslims from the North are in refugee camps in Puttalam since more than two decades living in inhuman conditions.
No UN official or Western leader visited them and no aid was provided . Indian Government gave aid for Tamil IDPs and nothing for the around 130,000 Northern Muslims refugees. They were displaced by the LTTE which were armed, trained and financed by India ,it should help all the IDPs equally.
Not just the IDPs , Muslims in general are also under attack in Sri Lanka. The Muslims are successful in business and quite prosperous,a hate campaign had been initiated against them.Mosques were attacked and Muslims in general were accused of being anti-state. The Muslim Tamil National Alliance wrote to the Secretary General of the United Nations requesting for protection.
Leading the anti-Muslim wave is Bodu Bela Sena, an extremist Buddhist Force. Their agenda is “Sri Lanka for the Buddhists”. Buddhist monks are playing a retrogressive role .
The Two Nation Theory exists not only in India / Pakistan but also in Indian-influenced Sri Lanka. Human rights organisations need to take notice of this ethnic discrimination, surely something India doesn’t want to own up about it and this issue has been kept quiet even in the Indian media .
The Indian backed LTTE ethnic cleansed the entire Muslim population in the north , maybe this is an extension of the Indian policy of hostility towards more than 150 million Indian Muslims who were marginalized, attacked, and job opportunities were denied to them. This is a new manifestation of the ancient Indian caste system under which entire communities are shunned and turned into outcasts.
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