ICC: Destroying shrines is a war crime – Sinhala Buddhists must showcase the war crimes committed by LTTE-TNA & Muslim fundamentalists
Shenali D Waduge
The International Criminal Court has charged Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi of war crimes for the destruction of cultural heritage in Mali in 2012 declared World Heritage sites by UNESCO. On 20 July 1983 the late Cyril Mathew sent a comprehensive report to UNESCO to safeguard and preserve the cultural property in Sri Lanka endangered by racial prejudice, unlawful occupation or wilful destruction. That report covered only a handful of sites that had been subject to rape by parties and individuals attempting to eliminate evidence of Sinhala Buddhist occupation in the North and East and replace with Hindu, Christian/Catholic & Islamic new sites and claim them to be their heritage sites manipulating political correctness, and riding on the bogey of multiculturalism and reconciliation. Such treachery needs to be exposed and the real heritage sites needs to be identified and protected.
There are some key factors to take note of.
The Sinhala Buddhist heritage sites has been target of destruction by Indian invaders, colonial occupiers (Portuguese, Dutch and British & the Church) LTTE-TNA and now Muslim fundamentalists. That historical objective has continued with the modus operandi only changing.
All the while attempts have been made to wipe out the Sinhala Buddhist history of Sri Lanka, denationalize the people of their historical roots and memories and craftily remove Sinhala Buddhist culture, events, traditions etc. An excellent example is the well-funded campaign out to stop the Dalada Perahera by creating a notion of cruelty to elephants while the same activists are stoic silent on animal sacrifice/ritual sacrifice and animal killing and other forms of animal cruelty. Their campaign is only surrounded around stopping the perahera and using the elephant as the scapegoat.
Whether it is the Tamil vellalas, the LTTE or their political arm the TNA, the quest has been to claim a tract of land as their own for which they had been moving earth and heaven. Just because some loose cannon politicians and paid activists claim homelands without historical basis an island nation cannot be separated. This is what foreign envoys, the UNSG, the UNHRC head and even the Western Bloc nations needs to realize and understand. Cross examination of all homeland claims only lead back to Tamil Nadu and ascertains the false notions at play.
With no historical evidence to prove that Tamil language, Tamil people, heritage originated and evolved in Sri Lanka’s north or even east, given the heavy evidence to showcase the Tamil Nadu links to Sri Lankan Tamils the next option was to generate a hyped propaganda of lies and deception through falsified ‘history’ and by attempting to destroy, ruin and deface the artefacts in the North and East of Sri Lanka by Tamil vellalas, TNA-LTTE, the Church-NGOs and Muslim fundamentalists.
In the case of Muslims, who first arrived as traders and were treated as aliens by the Sinhale kings and the colonials initially began trading in coastal areas and were allowed to live as guests though they did not have land rights till after 1800s, therefore they cannot claim any historical area as being their heritage sites given that land rights were not given to them prior to this period. Technically only claims after land rights have been given to Muslims are valid. However, there is much contention with Muslims claiming Buddhist heritage sites to be ‘theirs’ and using media and churning incidents in their favour to win over political correctness and thus ‘secure’ these Buddhist heritage sites as theirs. We can give examples of Kuragala, Muhudumahavihara, Dambulla and a pattern now to claim sites close to all Buddhist heritage sites as a means to surround Buddhist sites and create animosity.
In 1932 Charles Collins the British Civil Servant and GA for Ratnapura in his “The Archaeology of Sabaragamuwa, Bintenna” makes note of 7 places - Budu-gala, Kura-gala, Diyainna, Handa-giriya, Kottimbul-wala, Sankha-pala Vihare in Pallebedda and Galpaya tracing inscription to second century B.C http://ratnawalli.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/The-Archaeology-of-the-Sabaragamuwa-Bintenna..pdf please read http://ratnawalli.blogspot.com/2014/03/kuragala-lessons-fighting-with-honour.html
What is important and has to be reiterated is that incursions have a history. Territories and lands have been confiscated and taken by force with the use of the sword through history and people have been converted with death threats. This is how Islam and Christianity/Catholicism has increased globally. In the modern era, in lieu of swords have been at the extreme end terrorism and at the other more sophisticated end the manipulation of multiculturalism and reconciliation using NGOs and other sophisticated methods all of which have demanded that Buddhists keep quiet while their heritage sites are usurped and replaced with others. Objections by Buddhists is declared as going against reconciliation and multiculturalism and voicing these objections are promoted as racism and those flagging the wrongs are branded as fascists, fundamentalists, radicals and whatever name they can concoct to ridicule the messenger whereby the aim is to dilute and conceal the message.
While Cyril Mathew boldly generated a report with facts, figures and images and sent to UNESCO the present day incursions, destructions and incursions upon Buddhist heritage sites are available and now need to be collected, compiled and correlated to demand that no individual, group or politicians can eliminate or destroy ancient heritage as by virtue of the ICC judgement these are now construed as war crimes.
Moreover, political parties and politicians must be told to desist from using their office to be influenced into allowing incursions by non-Buddhists into Buddhist heritage sites and build new religious sites which lay the foundations for animosities when they demand that their new construction be given prominence over the ancient site. There is a pattern to all these incursions and this needs to be clearly exposed.
The Buddhist organizations must establish a website where they can upload all these incursions so that the truth can be made public as against the falsehoods that are being promoted because money and power & mode of communications are vested in non-Buddhists clearly signalling in imbalance and injustice.
To protect our heritage we must assert our rights. In not asserting our rights we forfeit our right to demand justice and in so doing we will lose what our ancestors had toiled to erect and protect to pass on to us to also protect and preserve. It is our duty and we must do justice to what has been passed down from history. Such magnificent and ancient past that goes back centuries before Christ cannot be replicated even with modern technology which is why anyone attempting to destroy or deface and replace them should be treated as war criminals and the offence a war crime.