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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1588

Wolves in sheep’s clothing on advisory panel

By Janaka Perera

The Sri Lanka Government - perhaps unwittingly – has found itself in similar circumstances. It has appointed three dubious characters key advisory persons to the Cultural and National Heritage Ministry.

They are Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri, Jagath Weerasinghe and Premakumara De Silva. All three of them have been consistently supporting the so-called traditional Tamil Homeland theory which was the LTTE’s propaganda slogan from the very beginning of their violent separatist campaign.

We have heard of the saying about getting a fox to guard poultry.

The irony of the ministry appointments is that the Advisory Board of which they are members is headed by a staunch patriot, Venerable Elle Gunawansa Thera, who has steadfastly stood for the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty

In contrast, the three members in question have been justifying right through the war the Tigers’ position through various ‘peace’ campaigns such as the Sudu Nelum Movement. The idea was to give the Tigers a moral boost and demoralize all those who stood against separatism. The LTTE prevented the excavation of and destroyed archaeological sites that disproved their bogus homeland theory. Nirmal Devasiri argued in favour of this theory at a seminar held in the National Library Auditorium, Colombo, three years ago. The Daily News of July 26. 2007 reported Dr. Devasiri as saying that “he is willing to prove the Tamil homeland theory and the rights of Tamils for self-determination if the JHU is willing to come for a debate with him on this issue.” He reportedly said that the Tamils now (2007) did not want to argue on their ‘right’ to self-determination because they have gone far beyond it.

Last year when Sri Lankan armed forces were on the verge of crushing the LTTE Dr. Devasiri and eight other Tamil separatist sympathizers – Dr. Vickramnabahu Karunaratne, Professors Sucharitha Gamlath, Kumar David and Jayantha Seneviratne, Dr. Terrence Purasinghe, Attorney-at-Law Chandrapala Kumarage, Rev. Fr. Yohan Devenanda and Patrick Fernando called for a immediate halt to the anti-Tiger military offensive to “prevent further destruction of Sri Lanka.” On April 24 they issued what they called an appeal to international civil society. It said, “The Sri Lanka Government backed by the Sinhala supremacist oppressors, has almost crushed the struggle of the Tamils for their rights, in order to retain the structure of the Sri Lankan State as a Sinhala Chauvinist regime… We representing the civil society of the island, extend our deepest regrets over the inaction and silent approval given to the Lankan regime by the international good governance systems like UN amidst these unfathomed crimes of Lankan rulers and their allies.”

Obviously the ‘allies’ these so-called anti-war crusaders were referring to were mainly China and Pakistan.

In a media interview sometime back Devasiri called Sri Lankan soldiers ‘mercenaries’ because they were paid a salary whereas LTTE combatants were fighting for a cause. By this strange logic of Devasiri all national armies world wide are mercenaries!

In a paper on ‘Buddhism, State and Nationalism: Reordering a Sacred Site in Postcolonial Sri Lanka,’ Premakumara De Silva referred to “waning multi-religiosity” and alleged that a sacred site (Sri Pada) had been turned into “hegemonic Buddhist religious site.”!

Are these the people who are expected to be guardians of Sri Lankan culture and heritage? Unless a very close check is kept on these wolves in sheep’s clothing the State might end up inadvertently promoting LTTE ideology.

As the pithy Sinhala saying goes there’s no point in screaming, “I am being bitten” after allowing poisonous snakes to creep into the clothes one is wearing.

- Asian Tribune -

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