Feature Article

Muslim grassroots activists from East call for unity with Eezham Tamils

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 14 March 2018, 17:20 GMT]
Batticaloa-based veteran writer and journalist HLM Hanifa and Ampaa'rai-based national organiser of the All Ceylon Government General Employees Union (ACGGEU) Ismail Mohamed Lebbe, interviewed separately by TamilNet this week, came with the same analysis of the causes, effects and the aftermaths of the recent anti-Muslim pogroms in the island. HLM Hanifa warned that the next wave of the pogrom, which he predicted after a future island-wide elections, would be more intense and destructive than what shocked the Central Province and Ampaa'rai in the Eastern Province this time. Both of the veteran grassroots activists underlined the urgent need for unity among Eezham Tamils and Tamil-speaking Muslims in the North-East, and they were highly sceptical to the exploitative attitudes prevailing among the political elites among the Tamil-speaking Muslims.

Unless the political leaders and the sections of Ulamas among the Tamil-speaking Muslims realise how they had succumbed to the designs of the Sinhala exclusivist Establishment and its cunning diplomacy in the past, it would be difficult conceive a joint programme with the Tamils in the North-East, said 68-year-old trade unionist Hajj Ismail Lebbe.

Mr Hanifa was little optimistic about the future discourse and described the scenario for such unity as a positive dream. He was more concerned about the global paradigms that have caused the adverse trends among the political elites in the North-East, both among Tamils as well as the Muslims.

However, as a blessing in disguise, the global powers and the SL State were now confronted to revisit the human rights-related promises they promulgated in Geneva, he said.

The ground reality of the unchecked Sinhala Buddhist extremist ethnonationalism was again exposing the fallacy of the global powers which caused the root conflict in the island and nurtured the war in the past, he added.

Both the grassroots activists were indirectly exposing the farce of the so-called transitional justice in the aftermath of the genocidal war against Eezham Tamils.

Mr Hanifa is a long-time friend of Sivaram Dharmeratnam (Taraki), the late senior editor of TamilNet.

He said that the United Nations Security Council would continue as usual with its business of whitewashing the SL military by inviting it to take part in the peace missions worldwide.

The SL military, which claims itself as a winner of a bloody war so-called terrorists [the LTTE], was not able to curb the 25 Sinhala Buddhist extremists, who were behind the anti-Muslim pogrom in the Central Province, he said. But, the UN Security Council would have no concerns about this and will continue with its ‘peace’ deployment of the SL military, he added.

Sinhala Buddhist extremists have now started to instruct the Tamil-speaking Muslims to go to Saudi Arabia as they used to tell the Tamils to go to Tamil Nadu in India, Ismail Lebbe said.

Driven by a materialistic culture, the politicians who are greedy of raising assets to last at least for seven generations of their families were always changing their allegiance towards the ruling Sinhala elite in Colombo. This political culture has come into being since the mid-1970s, Mr Hanifa observed.

The Colombo-centric ‘political space’ always accommodates this ‘rare species’ of politicians. Those who have succumbed to this culture would not be prepared to enter into struggle-centric politics with the Tamil people, he added. “If you stand with Tamils, you will not get the material benefits from Colombo is the attitude of the politicians among the Tamil speaking Muslims,” he said.

The materialistic paradigm prevailing among the people is also not conducive to a positive change, he said.

The people are trapped in the materialistic rat race. They are producing engineers, doctors and lawyers to sustain the system. This culture has also shaped the education system to its needs. The people are no more interested in creating artists, philosophers and thinkers needed for the society, he observed.

Further, the memory of past events, trauma and the learned lessons, is also short-lived among the population, he said.

Mr Ismail was of the opinion that Tamils didn’t commit crimes of the nature of ethnic cleansing, as being claimed by some. His brother, who had joined the SL Police, was killed by the Tigers. During the times of war, there were consequences by taking sides, he implied.

However, if LTTE were there today, the Sinhala extremists would not have gone to the extent of committing a pogrom against the Muslims, he said.

The 68-year-old trade unionist said the current situation has brought Tamil-speaking Muslims to engage constructively with Tamils and was hoping that Muslim politicians, who were united in approaching the UN in the aftermath of the pogrom, could also consider a joint programme with Tamils.

Hanifa and Ismail called for a joint programme among Eezham Tamils and Tamil-speaking Muslims in the North-East to effect a positive change in the attitude of all the three peoples in the island.



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