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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2521

Rauff Hakeem flays the government after crossing over to Opposition

Colombo, 13 December, (Asiantribune.com):Rauff Hakeem, Lader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and the Minister of Post and Telecommunication spoke to "Asian Tribune" after crossing over to the opposition yesterday afternoon. He said that he has misgivings about the capability of the government to address the grievances of the minorities; both Muslims and Tamils. He said that they cannot suffer the type indignity they have been suffering for several months. He added that they have been very patient looking at the continuous derogation of our rights and that of our people and also the general disregard for all norms of good governance.

He alleged that Muslims are facing new issues everyday and he is concerned of the growing restlessness among the Muslim community.

“There are huge issues pertaining to land, security, economic interest and our rights to exercise our religious freedom”, Hakeem said.

He alleged that Muslims are facing new issues everyday and he is concerned of the growing restlessness among the Muslim community.

“There are huge issues pertaining to land, security, economic interest and our rights to exercise our religious freedom”, Hakeem said.

Referring to the land issue, SLMC leader Hakeem said, “Muslims people are facing problems they had never faced before making them feel that they are outcasts in their own land”

The northern Muslims have been languishing in Puttlam and neighbouring areas for nearly seventeen years and now expected to return to their original places without any security guarantee, he added.

This is due to fear psychosis of some members of the government that long time presence of Muslims in Puttlam would disturb the traditional democratic pattern of the area, SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem added.

Given below the excerpts of the interview with Rauff Hakeem:

Question: What made you to cross over?

Rauff Hakeem: I have already made a statement in the floor of the house. I think we cannot suffer the type indignity we have been suffering for several months and we have been very patient looking at the continuous derogation of our rights and that of our people and also the general disregard for all norms of good governance. We have tolerated it too long and we cannot be part of this charade anymore. We have quiet patiently endured many incursion into our land and many desperate attempts to change the very demographic pattern in the East after the so called liberation and we have seen very malicious and very deliberately designed such a program being encouraged to grab land held by Muslims and Tamils in the Eastern province and there are other issues of policies and thoughts, carefully designed to implement the program to restrict the religious freedom we have enjoyed in the country.

Question : Are you referring to restriction on the use of loud speakers?

Rauff Hakeem: No, that is not simply the kind of loud speaker issue and there are also other issues relating to in the guise of preventing cruelty to animals and bringing in law which will seriously jeopardize the exclusive interest of minorities, they have all been very carefully put into place. So targeting the economy of minorities is the other issue we feel that there is a very covert and systematic program that has been taken place. We can feel the impact of it in many areas in our community. We also are well aware that the agencies and departments going ahead with the implementation of down right racist discrimination and policies aimed at punishing and penalizing and targeting just the minorities.

Question: Whom do you mean by minorities?

Rauff Hakeem: Minorities means both Tamils and Muslims. Also when they have political opponents, they need to use the high handed tactics and resort to all types of undesirable means and then it tends to break down law and order in many areas particularly in the East. Active support for all types of Para-military group and then encouraging even armed groups amongst Muslims.

Question: What is the name of the armed group you are referring?

Rauff Hakeem: They seem to be naming it in all types of fancy names. People in the area know and then there is a very deliberate patronage being given to armed groups. Ultimately this is not going to limit it. In the guise of meeting the prevalent LTTE threats, they are evoking the atrocity against the minorities and the armed groups are taking over the law and order functions and also taking over the law enforcement functions.

Question: Are you referring about the Wahabist and other Saudi sponsored Muslim groups.

Rauff Hakeem: All kind of issues such us of Wahabist and others are being projected as a big threat. This kind of religious extremism is eschewed by the community. The community is very alive to that kind of thing and extremist religious philosophies and cannot have any lasting roots in this country.

The armed groups in the East are operating with total impunity mostly in the Tamil area. You know well that the Government must take over the law and order issues. Some of the senior police officers are helpless, in ways these things are happening. There are incursions into the lands held by Muslims under various pretext, these are the things we cannot live and survive with dignity in a proper multi-ethnic environment without trying to give very various means to change. There are various programs they have put and which mean we have endured all of this, hoping that we can use the little leverage that we have put into use the people to change. We don’t want to be part of the charade.

Question: Are you being persuaded by the opposition to cross-over?

Rauff Hakeem: No, why should the opposition need us. We are not bothered whether the opposition is able to take fight with the Government. The opposition is also fragmented with various ideological differences now particularly in the kind of differences that the JVP and UNP have. There are difference of opinion and difficulty in forging a common platform. Our hope is that on issues of good governance, issues of erosion of freedom of the people, issues of corruption, issues of equality for all and issue of even basic human rights and if we can build a common platform but then unfortunately JVP has a different yardstick regarding the human rights abuses in the war affected areas.

- Asian Tribune -

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