Category Archives: discrimination

Religious Dispensations and the Subordination of Women

Upul Wijayawardhana, courtesy of Daily News

The systematic suppression of women, persisting over centuries, has been legitimised, largely by religions and is an art-form mastered by ‘Men in Robes’. At the dawn of civilisation, women were considered superior for the simple reason that only they could produce an offspring for the continuation of the species. There is evidence to show that in Mesopotamia, one of the cradles of civilisation, if not ‘The Cradle of Civilisation’, there was equality. In the early Sumerian period, “a council of elders”, represented equally by men and women, ruled the population but gradually a patriarchal society emerged.

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Filed under accountability, Buddhism, cultural transmission, discrimination, education policy, female empowerment, fundamentalism, gender norms, heritage, Hinduism, historical interpretation, Indian religions, Indian traditions, legal issues, life stories, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes

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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John Holt rebuts Gerald Peiris: A Focus on Buddhist Extremism

John Holt, A Short Memorandum addressing Gerald Peiris, 28 September 2017

It is 3 years since I gave the keynote address at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (Kandy) conference on Buddhism in relation to other religions.  My presentation was revised an subsequently published as the lead article in the book that was a by-product of the conference.  My thesis was simple:  to illustrate how recent social, economic and political changes in Theravada-dominated countries have had an effect on their respective religious cultures.  My argument about Sri Lanka was also quite simple:  that 26 years of civil war had contributed to the emergence of Buddhist militancy–the BBS being the classic example.  Immediately following that conference, Gerry Peiris sent out sharply critical e-mails about my presentation to an extended group of his like-minded friends.  When I came to know about his rather personal attacks through some of my own Sri Lankan friends, I quietly exchanged several detailed e-mails with Peiris engaging him quite thoroughly and, as I thought at the time, putting the matters to rest in a civil manner.

Muslims stand next to a burnt shop after a clash between Buddhists and Muslims in Aluthgama June 16, 2014. At least three Muslims were killed and 75 people seriously injured in violence between Buddhists and Muslims in southern Sri Lankan coastal towns best known as tourist draws, with Muslim homes set ablaze, officials and residents said on Monday. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

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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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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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US Congress has Sri Lanka in Its Gunsights

Daya Gamage,  courtesy of Asian Tribune, where the title runs thus U.S. Congress Tightens War Crimes Noose on Sri Lanka”

The United States Senate Committee on Appropriations last week approved the FY 2018 Department of State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill with $51.35 billion for diplomatic and humanitarian programs that strengthen U.S. national security and support American values abroad. Despite the Trump administration’s soft-peddling of American values abroad – democracy promotion, good governance, human rights, and rule of law etc. – the Senate Appropriations Bill, co-authored by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democratic Patrick Leahy, independent of the White House budget proposals released last month, underscored policy iteration or ‘riders’ on Sri Lanka’s commitment to “increasing accountability and transparency in governance; supporting a credible justice mechanism in compliance with United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution (A/HCR/30/ L.29) of October, 2015”.

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Bracegirdle as a David taking on the British Plantation Goliath in 1937

Bernard Vancuylenberg, 

During the colonial period of the late 1930s, a tea plantation in the Madulkelle district Relugas Estate, was the place where what appeared to be a simple act of insubordination by an assistant superintendent, was to have far reaching consequences and wider ramifications not only for the company concerned, but for the colonial government of the time and a left leaning socialist political party called the “Lanka Sama Samaja Party” (The Lanka Socialist Party), popularly known as the LSSP.  The “David” in this case was a young assistant superintendent named  Mark Bracegirdle and the “Goliath” was the government of the day –  at first glance an uneven match.

 Bracegirdle with LSSP leaders at Horana– Colvin r de Silva seated and Philip gunawardena, Wilmot Perera and Leslie Goonewardena among those standing behind

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