Feature Article

Buddhist military monks behind structural genocide: Tamils in Ampaa'rai

[TamilNet, Saturday, 18 July 2015, 23:39 GMT]
Sinhala settlers brought down from South into Ampaa’rai under the Gal Oya scheme carried out the first ever large-scale massacre against Eezham Tamils in June 1956 when Ceylon was a British Dominion. The fundamentals for the future genocide were laid under the British rule since 1833. Invading Buddhist monks and the occupying SL military played the crucial role in the genocide project in Ampaa'rai district in the Eastern Province. The first monk entered the place Buddangala, situated 8 km away from Ampaa'rai town in 1964 with the agenda of Sinhalicisation and Buddhicisation of the Tamil villages. After the SL military seized the full control of the Eastern province from the LTTE, Major General (retd) Ananda Weerasekara, a former war criminal and associate of extremist Sihala Urumya, has been spearheading the Sinhalicisation of Ampaa'rai as ‘Buddhangala Ananda Thero’.

Uddhalanga Ananda Thero
Former Major General Ananda Weerasekara is now Buddhangala Ananda Thero at Ampaa'rai
Since Ampaa'rai district was carved out of Batticaloa district in 1961, a systematic demographic genocide was committed against Eezham Tamils reducing them from 23% of the district's population (1963 Census) into 17% (2012 Census).

At the same time, the Sinhalese population increased from 29% to 39%.

Tamil-speaking Muslims remain as the majority population constituting 43% of the population.

Sinhala settlers in Ampaa'rai under the Gal Oya scheme carried out the first big-scale genocidal massacre in the chain of the State-sponsored anti-Tamil pogroms.

Ever since then, the Eezham Tamils were chased out from their traditional and later settlements.

Late S.J.V. Chelvanayakam (1898 - 1977), a prominent leader of Eezham Tamils for three decades, who brought out the Vaddukkoaddai Resolution in May 1976, collectively termed these continuous acts of violence together with other discriminatory programmes of the unitary State as cultural genocide against Eezham Tamils.

The British colonists had laid down the fundamentals needed for the Sinhalese to effect the genocidal ‘transformation’.

Ceylon was a Dominion in the Commonwealth of Nations between 1948 and 1972. The Sinhalese changed this dominion status by imposing the republican constitution, not only changing the name Ceylon, which had become the name of the island in the colonial times into ‘Sri Lanka’, but also by constitutionally transforming the island into a Sinhala Buddhist unitary State without the democratic consent of the nation of Eezham Tamils.

Even before the British granted ‘independence’ to Ceylon in 1948 ignoring Tamil Sovereignty, the fundamentals enabling the Sinhalese to carry out a structural genocide against Eezham Tamils were laid down in 1833 (Colebrook-Cameron Commission) when the Tamils, who were the majority population in their traditional homeland in the north and east in the island were seen as ‘minorities’ for the first time. The British went on abolishing even the parity of status between the communities by getting rid of the communal representation in their Legislative Council of Ceylon in 1931 amidst Tamil protest. The Tamil fears were already proved right when the ‘ethnic majority’ came out with an ‘All Sinhalese Cabinet’ in 1936.

The Sinhalese dominated governments began colonizing strategic Tamil areas, especially along the borders and in the East, in order to de-link the contiguity of the homeland.

The Sinhala ministers in Ceylon started Gal Oya irrigation settlement in 1940s with the aim of Sinhalicising the Eastern Province. The existing administrative provinces at that time were British innovations.

More than 50% of settlers under the Gal Oya scheme were Sinhalese brought from South.

Even the 6 Tamil settlements created under Gal Oya Scheme at Naavithan-ve'li DS division are now fully Sinhalicised.

Tamils were not able to enter their settlements and agricultural lands for which they were in possession of land deeds.

In 1964, extremist Sinhala Buddhist monks from South established a hermitage 8 km away from Ampaa'rai town at Uddangala. These Buddhist monks, occupying more than 1200 acres of lands from Tamils were chasing Tamils away from the Tamil settlements.

During the times of late TULF leader A. Amirthalingam, legal suits were brought against the illegal occupation in Colombo High Court. Even though the verdict was in favour of Tamil landowners, the Tamils were not able to enter the lands due to armed actions by the SL military and the Sinhala paramilitary.

A section of lands that came under Chammaan-thu'rai DS division have been absorbed into a Sinhala division later, complicating the issue further, Tamil officials in Ampaa'rai said giving details of 200 acres of lands in Varampu-va'laintha-veddai, 171 acres in Pazhave'li-measan-mummaari, 175 acres in Thoddach-churungki Puthukkaaddu-veddai, 180 acres in Malaiyadi-veddai.

Former Chairman of Kaaraitheevu division, Selliah Rasiah, has registered at least 27 complaints from Varampu-va'laintha-veddai and 26 cases from Pazhave'li-measan-mummaari with the Dispute Settlement Committee (DSC) under the SL National Land Commission in 2012. But, there has been no resolution on these cases.

Apart from the above seizure of lands in Naavithan-ve'li and Chammaanthu'rai, Tamils have also lost their lands in Kalmunai, thu'rai, Akkaraip-pattu, Thirukkoayil, and Poththuvil divisions of Ampaa'rai district, the Tamil civil sources in the district said.

Buddhist monks play a lead role in the seizure of lands from their occupied base of Buddangala forest hermitage in Ampaa'rai.

A former Sinhala Buddhist military commander in the Sinha Regiment, Major General Ananda Weerasekara, who was the ‘Commanding Officer of the North Central Province’, has been serving as ‘teacher’ at the Buddangala forest hermitage Establishment. Major General (retd.) Ananda Weerasekara entered the Buddhist Order by the name of Buddangala Ananda in May 2007.

The same Ananda Weerasekara was accused in year 2000 of torture and murder during the JVP uprising in late 1980s in Anuradapura. He has been very close to Sinhala extremist group Sihala Urumaya, informed media sources in Ampaa'rai said.

Major General (retd) Buddhangala Ananda Thero
Major General (retd) Buddhangala Ananda Thero delivering a sermon at Ampaa'rai

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External Links:
Damrivi Foundation: Buddhism & The Soldier: Major General Ananda Weerasekara



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