Friday, December 7, 2007

UNESCO or a FIASCO

by Dr. Edward Perera

When I started writing this note to express what I felt about the reaction of Koïchiro Matsuura, the Director General of the UNESCO concerning the bombing of Tamil Tiger Terrorist broadcasting centre, I had a moral conflict whether to respect the individual or to respect his role as a high ranker in the UN. One thing clear to me is that as a matter of generosity from an ethical point of view, I have to respect every human being with no regard to his caste, class, creed, or status.

Question therefore, does not arise here that I have to respect his rank in the UN namely the Director General to the UNESCO. On the other hand, anyone who reads his condemnation of bombing of the LTTE Voice, the propaganda radio, would raise the question why he did say anything on this issue. The fact that the Japanese Navy bombed Colombo on 5th April 1942 comes to my mind involuntarily. Mr. Matsuura must be reminded how this bombing killed a number of psychiatric patients at Mulleria Hospital and one bomb was dropped on Ceylon Radio Station in Colombo, which was then known as Voice of Colombo. While quoting Lord Buddha’s preaching that hatred cannot be overcome by hatred, the Ceylon delegate at the San Francisco Conference made an appeal to the world not to punish the Japanese government but to give the hand to this totally defeated country to raise the head from ashes. Exactly after 65 years, a member of that pardoned country points the finger to the government of Sri Lanka for having bombed a terrorist propaganda radio station. Does Koichiro Matsuura justifies the bombing of Sri Lankan Air base at Anuradhapura recalling what the Japanese Air Force Kamikase Pilots did to Perl Habour in 1941?

The face value of his protest may attribute to his role as the Director General of the UNESCO but not because that he and Yasushi Akashi (the Japanese mediator involved in the so-called reconciliation process between the government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tiger terrorists) come from the same country. I have no clues to see any co-relation between Matsuura’s conduct and Akashi’s emphasis concerning this conflict. But it is the general attitude in Sri Lanka that Akashi was another blonder.

Japan as a country, which went through hell during Second World War knows much about cancer in mass scale after bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US Air force during this war. This immeasurable disaster caused many hundreds of thousand deaths and cancer amongst millions of people in Japan. But this harmful effect was confined only to Japanese territory.

There is a valuable reason why I started with the cancer issue. The LTTE, the most ruthless terrorist movement in the world is an evil malignant cancer not only in the region of its birthplace but also on a global scale. Cancer is also a cell but it is different to the healthy cells in a body. A person, who does not know the intrinsic properties of a cancer cell, cannot distinguish it from a healthy cell.

This is exactly what is happening in Sri Lanka. With all their expertise and conviction of humanism, this Japanese dignitary and his close international associates are fighting the healthy cells but not to eradicate the cancer cells in the context of so-called ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. Is this an indication of common ignorance or a clear demonstration of double standards?
It could be both because he and his other associates who interfere unnecessarily in this issue seem to be sharing an unethical commitment.

Ignorance is worse than a cancer. A group of so-called human right champions have challenged a democratically elected government for having taken drastic measures to curb terrorism. A malignant cancer is perceived as a liberation movement and the malice not dealt with appropriate measures. Like the medical personnel engaged in curing a cancer patient, a democratic government has launched a war on terrorism in order to eradicate this evil in the same manner as any other civilized governance does.

The USA and its allies like Great Britain, Germany, Canada, Australia, and Poland have sent their troops to fight terrorism in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Japan has nothing to say other than saying yes to what her allies do in these regions and most interestingly the same group champions the cause for human rights in Sri Lanka while massacring innocent people in millions in other countries.

We do not need the assistance of such hypocrites to restore democracy in our country because Sri Lanka is one of the most ancient countries, which enjoyed a long tradition of civilized social order. The secret behind the success of this uninterrupted socio-cultural and religious order is the homogeneity in its composition. If not the continuous invasions from south India did not take place and the western colonial powers did not tried their fortune in our countries, this homogeneous composition would have prevailed up to present days like in China, Korea and Japan. As an exception in the western world, 98% of the population in Germany is Germans. Though the Bavarians claim that they are not Germans and they have their own language, the Bavarians had to accept the conditions imposed by Otto von Bismarck of Prussia in his historical task to bring all divided parts to one solid state namely Deutschland (Germany). The pressure from Bavaria to the Sri Lankan government is relatively high when compared to other federal states in Germany. The reason is the Catholic Church and we are not supposed to ignore the fact that the Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger comes from the same state. Historically there would have been no Hitler without Bavaria.

This is an example how the people can be brought under control by any authority depending on the historical, geographical, and economic conditions. The Bavarians had their own territory, language, and customs and deeply rooted other cultural traditions. The size of the state is very similar to the size of Sri Lanka but there was no claim for a separate homeland similar to the Tamil “Eelam” (Traditional homeland). There was neither an armed struggle nor terrorism for a separate state though they were independent in the past. What sort of example can the Bavarians set for the Sri Lankans in relation to the present conflict while preserving the homogeneity with other federal states and preaching a separate for handful Tamil terrorists?

Germans do not like to see their society becoming heterogeneous like the Japanese. Nevertheless, they like to see Sri Lanka as a heterogeneous country. With some differences in the accent and in expressions, a great majority of people in Germany share a common language, common culture, common religious believes and a democratic capitalist system.
They are also the pioneers of European Union, which brought many western and eastern countries to one single political, social, and economic body. The borders are open. A common currency namely the Euro is introduced. As a result, the economy is booming in each individual country. It proved that the unity is mighty. Most unfortunately, these people cannot see how our nations in the south Asian region were enjoying this privilege since many thousands years. In India or in Sri Lanka, there were no religious or ethnic wars for many centuries until the “divide and rule” strategy was implemented by the colonial “masters”. They join hand in hands to develop their countries but they never let people in former colonial countries to feel united.

Sri Lanka is an exception with an excellent example for harmony with a social, cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity. There are ample prehistoric evidence to prove that even before the Dravidic incursions (10th century) took place, Hela Diva (The Island of Helas) gave the shelter to various heterogeneous groups like Naga, Yakshas, Deva and Raksha.
(see. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Sri_Lanka.

Some scholars presume that the Dravidians were present in this island before the Sinhela ethnic group came into being. According to the Lanka Academic Forum, “Indeed, archaeological records confirm the existence of humans in Sri Lanka, long before Vijaya”. “….”However it was the advent of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, that saw the distinctive evolution of the Sinhela race - a mixture of the original inhabitants naga, yaksha, tamils<*1> who had been in Sri Lanka for a long time and who embraced Buddhism and the Vijayan colonists. They were united by Buddhism and the newly developed Sinhela language” (see: The origins of Sri Lankan Tamils and Sinhalese. –Lanka Academic Forum – (http://www.theacademic.org/forum/viewtopic/).

(<*1> My personal opinion on the usage of this term in the historical context is not appropriate. Small groups of Dravidian origin would have been living in this island without a strong ethnic identity. Some Anthropologists<*2> infer that Veddas have certain physical resemblance to Dravidians and Australian Aborigines. Even if it is a fact, there is no evidence that Dravidian civilization was established in pre-Vijaya era. If there were a Dravidian social organisation, Tamil, Malayalam, Kanarese or Telugu would have been the language of the pre-Vijaya era).

(<*2> Malcolm D. Prentis, Science, Race & Faith: A Life of John Mathew, 1849-1929, Sydney: Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity, 1998, pp.240. ISBN and Aboriginal Man in Australia, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1965, pp.31-33)

Though the above inference of the Lanka Academic Forum is obviously disputable, this presumption has some significance in shedding light to the ancient social structure of Hela Diva. It is Buddhism, which paved the way to the harmony of ethnic diversity finally carving out one of the fabulous civilizations in the world. It was the historical task of Helayas to bring unity amongst this heterogeneous people under one significant culture. The consequent incursions of Dravidian rulers from South India clearly indicates that there was no historical evidence for a specific Dravidian cultural line that existed side by side in the evolutionary process of Sinhala Buddhist culture in this island. All that we can see as the remnants of the Dravidian culture in Sri Lanka are the work of invading groups from South India. They had to introduce every cultural aspect from the beginning, as there was no historical evidence for Tamil language or Hindu religious rituals before these invasions.

The facts behind this consequent religious and ethnic harmony even after these invasions clearly indicates that Sinhala speaking Buddhist Helas and Tamil speaking Hindu Dravidians had no problem to share the land and the brotherly warmth in every aspect of their daily lives.
It is ultimately the enemies of Sinhalese Buddhists (Helas) and the Hindu Tamils (Dravidians) have sown the seeds of germs on our soils and we only enjoy the harvest of bloody violence.

Let me appeal every decent Tamil speaking person to join hand in hand in order to eradicate the terrorist malice from northern Sri Lanka. This will open new avenues for our proud nation to build the country leading to peaceful co-existence and economic prosperity.

Germany
07.12.2007

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