Society

Voices of Humanity in Negombo “Bombs Cannot Defeat Us!”

PRASAD PURNAMAL JAYAMANNA

The people of Negombo emphatically feel that the Easter Sunday attacks will not damage community bonds.

Sri Lankans who have moved past racial prejudices believe that a leading factor towards the collapse of societal co-existence is the segregation of education based on nationality. They strongly believe that this distancing has direct correlation to current societal unrest. The people of Negombo emphatically feel that the Easter Sunday attacks will not damage community bonds.

“We studied at a mixed-school of all communities; Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers. The Hanifas, Raufs, Hakeems and Nadesans among them still speak to us like brothers,”

These are the words of the Registrar of Social Development of Sri Lanka, Ramange Nikaya Venerable Karakkuliye Piyadassi Thera, while speaking at a walk and rally themed “Let us oppose all types of extremist terrorism, let us be together today and tomorrow for humanity,” This rally was organized by the Negombo civilian collective. Religious leaders and social activists representing various fields were present at this occasion.


Results of dividing and separation

It was pointed out by Piyadassi Thera that there are historical implications pertaining to the divisions between the Sinhalese and Tamils.

The difference was rearing more animals. Other than that, there were no differences between villages. Now when you go to a Muslim village its completely different. When entering a village, the name boards are in Arabic and there is no brotherly feeling. Although we live in unity, the difference in the village is strong. It is felt in our hearts..”

Regardless of the current situation, there is still hope for harmony. Social ativist Mohamed Arshard, who was present at the rally, added,

“Honestly, there is distance between us. It is not partiality towards a particular religion but due to the current situation in the country. I went to a Sinhala-medium school and all my school friends were Sinhalese, but such relationships in the present generation have decreased.”

While we believe we are on the right path to create total racial harmony within the village, we can identify that there is some unrest prevailing and we are working hard to overcome it.  We should learn from these problems to create a cooperative environment to live in  like the historical Mammale Marikkar and Soora Saradiel.


1956 bombings

Reverend Father M. Sathyavel, a human rights activist who was also present at the occasion said that although he respected the views expressed by Piyadassi thera and Muslim religious activist Mohamed Arshard, we must remember that this situation commenced after 1956.

“Co-existence was bombed in 1956. That is why current society is warped. That is why it has become impossible to build the society. In order to have their rule in 1956, the statement ‘Sinhala Only’ was broadcasted, causing other communities and followers of other religions to be pushed into a state of thinking where they felt they were not protected in this country. The 1972 and 1977 constitutions made them feel responsible for their own security and the protection of their language and culture.”

After thirty years of war the Tamil community had been silenced. Now the rulers want to make the Muslim community as tame. Soon after an ethnic war, a religious war was launched. After this, suppression will take place against Christian community.

Reverend Sister Christine Fernando who spoke on the responsibilities of religious leaders given the current situation remarked that the leaders of the country took correct decisions following Easter Sunday bombings. However religious leaders should not interfere in the administration of the country.

“Our Cardinal took steps to guide people on the correct path after the Easter Sunday attacks. But after that, when schools were opening, Catholic schools would not be opened. Religious leaders cannot take decisions on behalf of the community. It should be done by the governing bodies of the country. We have elected and sent politicians to parliament to do that.


Voice of Negombo

Negombo experienced a significant amount of damage and disaster in the Easter Sunday attacks. The Katuwapitiya village still looks like a funeral home. The people of Negombo want to see their village rise up again and continue to be a city of many colours. Herman Kumara, a leader for this cause, believes that the people of the village are waking up. We were against terrorism and still are. We say not even a thousand bombs will cause us to reject our communal ties.

This article was originally published on the catamaran.com

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The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Sri Lanka Press Institute.

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