Tue, 2013-09-03 08:35 — editor
The Anglican Bishop of Kurunegala, Reverend Shantha Francis said that the disinformation campaign by the Tamil diaspora and its supporters in Sri Lanka is causing irreparable harm generally to the Tamil society in Sri Lanka and especially to the nation which is trying to live in amity and harmony.
Reverend Shantha Francis
He said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is a leader with a genuine desire to promote national reconciliation. “It is the duty of the majority and the minorities to extend fullest support to his efforts to bring in reconciliation. He tries his best to establish a closer relationship with the Tamil people and he is the first leader ever to speak in Tamil language at the United Nations. We all should be grateful to him for that symbolic effort.”
He pointed out that for the first time in Sri Lanka there is an overwhelming enthusiasm by ordinary Sinhala people to learn the Tamil language. “When you go to any leading town, you see posters advertising Tamil language tuition classes. That is a very positive thing I find in the post war Sri Lankan situation. Sinhalese too are learning Tamil as the second language. This is a very positive sign”.
“One may be Tamil or Sinhala in terms of language and culture, but the Sri Lankan identity is very important. In Malaysia, Malay is the official language and you will have to learn Malay but all Malays also learn Tamil and English. When you enter that country, you feel there is oneness. People look different to each other physically but they can communicate in any language. That is the kind of reconciliation that I am looking forward to,” Rt Rev Francis said.
He said that the Tamil people are not interested in separation or self rule. “They are not interested in the same slogans, autonomy, self-rule and so on. It is only a minority within the minority who still think in such terms. During the war there was the cry for self-rule. But I don’t think the present generation thinks in those terms.”
Bishop Francis pointed out that there are actually four Tamil speaking communities, the Northern, mainly Jaffna ?Tamils, the Eastern mainly Batticaloa Tamils, the Up-country Tamils and the Tamil speaking Muslims. Their issues are different, educational levels are different. He expressed the hope that these groups can fall in line with the majority community.
“The Up-country Tamils, never wanted self-rule. They always wanted to become part and parcel of this nation.?That is what I meant in terms of falling in line. With regard to the Tamil people of the north and east, they never had the opportunity to mix with the Sinhala people because of the geographical isolation.” He lamented over the misunderstandings caused due to lack of communication.
The Bishop said that in 2011, when the Ban Ki Moon advisory report on Sri Lanka was released, he made a very strong statement against it, saying that Sri Lankans could manage their own affairs without outside interference. “There was a negative reaction to that in some Tamil parishes. There is a Tamil parish in Kandy consisting mainly of traders of Indian origin.? Soon after the service, some parishioners came and spoke to me and one of the teachers said I did not have a right to make such a statement. So I pointed out that he can speak like that as an individual. But I speak as your leader, as a leader, my country comes first.?If anybody comes and interferes in a negative manner in the affairs of my country, I will definitely respond strongly.? I was able to convince the parishioners who were there but not this particular young man. I later found he was a product of Jaffna University.”
Elaborating his objectives, Rt Rev Francis said that as a religious leader, it was his duty to work towards a country with a new vision. “Otherwise we may be leading the coming generation into another war. Whether I become popular or not, it is my duty to voice this opinion. ?Let us learn each other’s languages and learn to live together. There are people with extreme views who say, no we have to be separate, and that you have to be always critical of the rulers, but I cannot be that.”
He urged the fellow Tamil community to live in peace and harmony with the Sinhalese and to extend all possible help to President Rajapaksa who is absolutely committed to usher in a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka.” ?
– Asian Tribune –