Category Archives: communal relations

Reflections on the Violent Buddhist Responses to Islam in Lanka and Burma

Stephen Labrooy

Ravi Velloor’s  article in THUPPAHI drew a private comment from Stephen Labrooy in Sri Lanka which is food for thought in itself, but carries particular value because it comes from Sri Lankan Burgher of some seniority[1] who has travelled abroad and presently serves as President of the Dutch Burgher Union. I have queries on several points and raised just two hurriedly (see below); but the “memorandum” has useful ethnographic information, while running several inter-related arguments. Hence its airing here.

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Dayan Jayatilleka counters Gerald Peiris

Dayan Jayatilleka, in Island, 6 October 2017, with title The rise of the Sinhala fundamentalist new right: Response to Prof GH Peiris” the emphasis below being that of the Editor Thuppahi

Philosophy, said Kautilya (Chanakya) in the Arthashathra, deals primarily with the right and wrong use of force. At least from that time, it was recognized that there is a right way and a wrong way of doing even what is necessary or unavoidable. This was of course the very premise of the Just War doctrine of Christian theologians St Ambrose, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. A war had to be for the right cause and the right cause was not self-evident or merely self-referential and self–proclaimed. It needed to pass certain criteria to qualify. This too was not enough. For war to be just it not only needed to satisfy the criteria for a just cause but be fought by just means, which too needed to meet certain criteria to warrant the appellation. Modern theologians, especially of the Protestant persuasion, have added a third criterion, that of Just Peace, i.e. of the outcome of the war.

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Reconciliation via Cricket and Charity? The Political Ground is a Waterlogged Minefield

Michael Roberts

It is possible that Velupillai Pirapaharan remains a revered leader and symbol of the nationalist drive for Thamililam among some Tamils residing within the island f Sri Lanka today – even though they are circumspect in expressing such thoughts in public. Indeed, it is possible that some Tamils in the island worship him as a deity in the manner espoused in some quarters abroad by Tamils of the diaspora (see image below).

So, how does one measure the political reverberations of the well-meaning efforts towards reconciliation and the bridging of the Tamil-Sinhala divide delineated in several essays presented recently[1] in THUPPAHI?

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Tamils Yesterday, Rohingyas Today: Rohingya Issue and Its Wider Ramifications in a Nutshell

Ravi Velloor,, in The Island, 15 September 2017where the title reads “Rohingya issue and the danger to South-east Asia” … with highlighting being the work of The Editor, Thuppahi

Not since the landlocked Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan swept out its Nepali-speaking Hindu population in the late 1980s has Asia witnessed as relentless an action against a minority group as seen lately in Myanmar. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has called the sustained drive to push Rohingya Muslims out of Myanmar a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. Continue reading

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Buddhist Monks on Violent Paths. How Come? An Essay in Mid-2013

Alan Strathern, in BBC News,  on 2 May 2013, ….  repeat 2013, with the title being  “Why are Buddhist monks attacking Muslims?”

Of all the moral precepts instilled in Buddhist monks the promise not to kill comes first, and the principle of non-violence is arguably more central to Buddhism than any other major religion. So why have monks been using hate speech against Muslims and joining mobs that have left dozens dead?

At the annual Ananda Harvest Festival in Bagan, Myanmar, thousands of monks from all over Myanmar came to receive alms. While walking around the vast temple grounds, I chanced upon this boy monk who was playing with his toy gun. Even though it was only a toy gun, I found this image a disturbing juxtaposition of the peace that Buddhism embodies and the violence that guns symbolise.

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Streamline and Avoid Labyrinths in Making the SL Consitution

Chandre Dharmawardana, in The Island, September 2017, with title “Unit of Devolution – look in cyberspace!

It is interesting to read the debate about what the unit of devolution should be. Recent articles, by Dayan Jayatilleke (Island, Sep. 20, 2017) and Neville Ladduwahetty (Sep. 23, 2017) argue for the Province (DJ), and for the District (NL). Interestingly, both the TNA, and their counter organizations pay homage to “the indivisible nature of Sri Lanka”, the “Orumiththa Nadu” and the “aekeeya Rajya”, while also supporting “maximum devolution”, i.e., the opposite objective! In our view, the issue of power devolution to units of government is an obsolete question. However, we discuss them as usual and lastly look at the enormous technological possibilities that exist to leap frog into a system compatible with the 21st century.

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The Rohingya Issue: Bangladeshi Diplomat in Q and A with Ratnawalli

Darshanie Ratnawalli,  from The Island, 23 September 2017, where the title reads “The Rohingya future generations in danger of radicalization”

When the attractive and affable High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Sri Lanka, called the editor of this newspaper to discuss the Rohingya issue, he was engaging with the people of Sri Lanka in a refreshing act of non-traditional diplomacy.  He was doing for Sri Lanka what the Kofi Annan Report was urging Myanmar and Bangladesh to do, engaging in “dialogue that promotes better mutual understanding, both at the level of the country’s leaders and people-to people ties” because “Myanmar and Bangladesh have different narratives on the challenges along their shared border. Despite the large numbers who have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh, the popular perception in Myanmar is that the problem is illegal immigration into Myanmar. There are also different historical narratives about the origin of communities and their population growth. These differences can only be narrowed by dialogue.”

 High Commissioner Riaz Hamidulla

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