A LETTER from A Sinhala Collective, in Island, 14 December 2019, where the title runs thus “A Letter to Tamil Citizens from a Group of Sinhalese” …. with highlighting emphasis added by The Editor, Thuppahi
We are saddened by the fact that you want to prevent Sinhala Buddhist settlements in the North/ East and remove Sinhala villages. We have never said we would want all settlements outside the North such as those living in parts of Colombo eg Dehiwala and Wellawatte to leave and go back to the North, have we?
In the 30-year war started by Prabhakaran and the Tamil Tigers, they paralyzed our nation, costing us dearly in terms of precious lives and money. Thousands of innocent Sinhalese people died or were affected by LTTE attacks. The western media talks about the loss of Tamil people but never about the Sinhalese. Your diaspora have done well to misguide the western world, but you know the truth.
In 2009, when you managed to run away from the clutches of Prabhakaran, the most cruel criminal of all time, when you had to be housed in tents, which had to be erected overnight, when you had to be fed, when you had to be kept safe and needed facilities, we were affected too. We, the Sinhalese felt your pain and sorrow, because we knew you were the collateral damage. The government at the time immediately went into action to bring back normalcy for you and your children. Before long, your children were going to school, instead of being child soldiers.
We supported the government and assisted in whatever financial way we could. We the majority Sinhalese donated clothes, food etc. Many gave portions of their salaries. We also gave of our time, helping in whatever way we could. We got donations from overseas. Our Sinhala diaspora sent containers of clothes, medicine and medical equipment. We helped in equipping hospitals so that the sick and injured were cared for. When some of us visited hospitals that tended to your injured and sick people, we were surprised to note that many of the doctors caring for you, were Sinhala doctors who had volunteered. We assisted the government in its effort to feed, clothe, house and care for the huge numbers coming into the camps. Again, let us say once more, we never said, ‘Don’t use our taxes, the taxes that 70% of the Sinhala people pay, to improve your facilities. Many of us gave more than what we could afford, because we felt you needed it more.
When the North had to be developed after the war, roads had to be built, banks set up, administration facilities set up, we never demanded that the taxes we pay should not be used. We never considered you anything less than our own people. We were happy that these were being done and you were being looked after.
When the roads were developed, and the train service commenced from Colombo to Jaffna, did we say “No, don’t do that, give priority to the Deep South”? Hambantota still does not have a train. The only train service ended in Matara then, and only now ends in Beliatte. Hambantota was far less developed than the North then. People went through great hardship to even get water. They had no jobs. Hambantota was a barren land. We waited so many years for this area to be developed. We are still waiting for and hoping that at least now the deep south will have its share of the development that was planned several years ago.
When the Tsunami struck, we never thought we must only help those in the South. Those who donated gave freely irrespective of ethnicity. We helped those in the North and the East as well. Our Sinhala Diaspora poured in donations. They even worked hard overseas to collect money for you too.
Have we ever said we want to give blood to only injured Sinhala soldiers or injured Sinhala civilians? No. We gave our blood to anyone who needed it irrespective of their ethnicity or religious faith. We wanted you to live and live with us.
We don’t have laws that preclude you or prohibit you from buying land in the South, do we? You have. We, have never said that you cannot live in the South. Have we ever said we want only the Sinhalese to get jobs in the South? Have we ever said we don’t want a Tamil Chief Justice or Supreme Court judges? Have we ever said we don’t want a Tamil as a high official in the government? No, we never say that. We think that suitability and qualifications is what matters.
We are a group of Sinhala Buddhists. We consider all human beings as one and the same people. Lord Buddha’s preaching is what we follow. Lord Buddha was an Indian. We have never said we cannot follow his preaching as he is Indian and not Sinhalese. We think that his preaching if followed to the letter is what will be good for the country.
It is time now for you too, not to be fooled by politicians or other people who have selfish agendas. They always have some hidden agenda. Please don’t add fuel to fire when the Diaspora feed you with bad thoughts about us. They don’t live here and have their own agendas. Ask them whether in their country of domicile Deepavali and Thai Pongal are holidays? Seventy percent of our people are Sinhalese Buddhists but we respect all religions.
Why do you think that more Sinhalese voted for this President? It is because people will not tolerate another Prabhakaran or Tamil Tiger extremism. They are tired of war and conspiracies and need a leader who can give us all, a safe country.
Now it’s your turn to behave like a Sri Lankan citizen who loves his country. You need to play your part too, to make this country a place where we can all live in peace. Join us to develop this country and make this a happy and safe place for all of us, our children and our future generations. Join hands with us to make Sri Lanka one of the best countries to raise our children. Alert to the needs of the journey. We all have the same aspirations, to live in peace and raise our children to love their country and its people. Let’s join hands and live harmoniously.
A group of well intentioned Sinhalese