Sinhala nationalists plan more protests

[TamilNet, Thursday, 25 April 2002, 14:21 GMT]
(News Feature) Efforts by Sinhala nationalists to mobilise public opposition to the Norwegian peace initiative are continuing with three opposition parties planning a joint protest campaign against Oslo's efforts and the division of the country, press reports said Thursday.

A mass public rally in Anuradhapura is being organised for May 14 by the Sihala Urumaya, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP), the Daily Mirror reported. The three parties have also decided to appeal to the Thai government to cancel the negotiations between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE to be held in the coming months.

The SLFP is the chief constituent of the main opposition People's Alliance of President Chandrika Kumaratunga. The SU and MEP are hardline Sinhala nationalist parties.

The decision to hold the protest was taken at a meeting between representatives of the SU, MEP and SLFP on Wednesday. This rally will be followed by a "Sathyakriya" in the Sri Maha Bodi premises to evoke the blessings of Maha Sanga and Triple gem, the Daily Mirror said.

"As a Buddhist country we are going to request the Thai government not to facilitate this meeting," the Daily Mirror quoted a spokesman for SU as saying.

Sri Lankan police Thursday stopped JVP activists who travelled in a convoy of vehicles from the eastern town Trincomalee to the capital to hand over a memorandum to the Prime Minister, protesting at the cease-fire agreement between the government and the Liberation Tigers. The JVP convoy was stopped at Peliyagoda, 10 km. off Colombo. (Photo:TamilNet)

"The LTTE has caused massive destruction in the country by attacking some of the most venerated places of importance to Buddhists like the Sri Maha Bodhi and the Temple of the Tooth Relic. They had also killed a number of Buddhist monks," he argued.

The three parties also plan to hold talks with the Indian Government asking them to refrain from supporting the "so-called peace process."

Plans for the demonstration come in the wake of a protest Tuesday in Colombo organised by the Marxist-cum-Sinhala nationalist Janata Vimukti Peramuna (JVP) to the possible deproscription of the Liberation Tigers and creation of an interim administration for the Tamil north and east.

The protest, the inaugural event of the 'National Movement for Respectable Peace and Against Division of the Country,' was attended by an estimated five-thousand JVP members and activists, led by the JVP's general secretary, Mr. Tilvin Silva.

It was also addressed by Anura Bandaranaike, President Kumaratunga's brother and senior SLFP official, who switched from the United National Party to his sister's SLFP just before the December elections.

Bandaranaike said that the necessity of saving Sri Lanka from possible threats to its territorial integrity and unitary status has forced all patriotic forces to join hands and protest against the LTTE's deproscription and plans for an NE interim administration, The Island newspaper reported.

Bandaranaike added that although he never thought the SLFP and the JVP would join in a common stage the necessity of the moment had made it possible.

Senior SLFP officials including Mangala Samaraweera, Anura Bandaranaike and Reggie Ranatunga participated in the JVP protest. The leader of the MEP, Dinesh Gunawardena,, Ven. Kalawelgala Chandraloka Thera of the National Bhikku Front, JVP MP Ramalingam Chandrasekara, Dr. Piyasena Dissanayake of the National Joint Committee also addressed the rally.

Feriel Ashraff, eader of the National Unity Alliance, a splinter of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, addressing the rally said that six hundred thousand Muslims who were not involved in the armed struggle with the LTTE would not like to live under an Eelam administration. She called upon all forces to make the country a place where all communities can live in peace and harmony, The Island reported.

Questioning the bona fides of the indefinite ceasefire signed by the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, Mrs. Ashraff said: "I'm a person who was very much confused on this agreement."

MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardane said the proposed interim council would violate the human rights of all communities in the country except the Tamils as it was based on the so called Tamil homeland concept.

"The proposed solution would result in a terrible situation where the non Tamils would be treated as aliens in the Tamil home land, depriving them of equal rights with the superior Tamil community while all communities enjoy equal rights in all other parts of the country" Gunawardane was quoted by the Daily Mirror as saying.

Policemen blocking JVP's vehicle-march from Trincomalee to the capital at Peliyagoda, 10 km. off Colombo. (Photo:TamilNet)

He said that it was very unfair to include the Eastern Province in the Tamil homeland, as 65% of the land there belongs to the Divisional Secretariat Divisions with a Sinhala majority.

Gunawardane said he doubted whether the Norwegian peace mediators could do justice to the Sinhalese Buddhist community as they had clearly shown some anti Buddhist tendencies in the past. "When the Sri Lanka government proposed to the United Nations to declare Vesak Poya Day as a universal holiday, Norway was the only country in the world that opposed it" he said.

JVP MP Wimal Weerawansa said: "We have cleared the front for the patriots to line up with us to save the motherland. All patriotic forces irrespective of party differences can join the National Movement for Respectable Peace and Against Division of the Country."

"We are not against peace but we want a dignified peace in an undivided land. Norway and the puppet government try to hand over the North and East to the Tigers. They define this betrayal as peace. We would unite with anybody who is against this betrayal," he said.

Speaking to the Times of India, Weerawansa condemned the government for censoring the anti-peace sentiments. Earlier this week the government successfully prevented the press from publishing a strong letter, blasting the cease-fire, written by the country's senior most Buddhists monks, he said. The JVP, however, has published a million copies of the letter and is circulating it amongst the public.

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