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Home > Tamils - a Nation without a State > Struggle for Tamil Eelam   > Sinhala Buddhist Ethno Nationalism - Masquerading as Sri Lankan 'Civic Nationalism' > Niranjan de Silva Deva-Aditya, MEP frequently wonders about converting Tamils to Buddhism

Masquerading as Sri Lankan multi ethnic 'Civic Nationalism'

The Mask Slips: Niranjan de Silva Deva-Aditya, MEP
frequently wonders about converting Tamils to Buddhism

"...Frequently now I wonder whether Sri Lanka would have been a much more peaceful and much more homogeneous place if say 40% or so of the Tamil speaking population had been Buddhists and not exclusively Hindu or Christian. Is taking the Buddhist religion to Tamil people such a difficult task..." Niranjan de Silva Deva-Aditya, Sinhala Member of European Parliament (MEP) from U.K.

Sinhala Buddhist Ethno Nationalism

[see also  Pictures that speak a thousand words...]

Comment by tamilnation.org: It is right that the Member of the  European Parliament, Mr. Niranjan de Silva Deva-Aditya, who is a Sinhalese, should wonder. And that too, frequently.

If Mr. Niranjan de Silva Deva-Aditya wonders frequently enough he may even ask himself why it is that for the past two thousand years and more that which he appears to consider a not 'difficult task' was not accomplished. He may wonder why it is that though the Buddha was born in India, Buddhism is not a significant religion in India. Again he may wonder why it is that though Sinhalese is spoken in an island a mere twenty miles from the Indian sub continent, it is not a language that is spoken  in India.

If Mr. Niranjan de Silva Deva-Aditya wonders even more frequently, he may begin to recognise (albeit slowly) that Buddhism in Sri Lanka has grown, entwined together with the Sinhala language - and it is this which is the Sinhala nation today. Mr. Niranjan de Silva Deva-Aditya may then begin to understand something that his Sinhala compatriot, historian K. M. de Silva said in 1996 -

"...In the Sinhala language, the words for nation, race and people are practically synonymous, and a multiethnic or multicommunal nation or state is incomprehensible to the popular mind. The emphasis on Sri Lanka as the land of the Sinhala Buddhists carried an emotional popular appeal, compared with which the concept of a multiethnic polity was a meaningless abstraction..." - Sinhala Historian K. M. de Silva in Religion, Nationalism and the State, USF Monographs in Religion and Public Policy, No.1 (Tampa, FLA: University of South Florida 1986) at p31 quoted by David Little in Religion and Self Determination in Self Determination - International Perspectives, MacMillan Press, 1996

And, as he continues to wonder, Mr. Niranjan de Silva Deva-Aditya may want to widen his understanding by reading something which  Professor Stephen Grossl said three years ago -

“The central place of Buddhism in the constitution of the Singhalese territorial relation of a nation goes back to the Sinhalese histories of the fourth and fifth centuries of the Christian era, the Dipavamsa and the Mahavamsa. There one finds the myth of the visit of the Buddha to Sri Lanka, during which he freed the Island of its original supernatural and evil inhabitants, the Yakkas. As a result the Buddha had sanctified the entire island transforming it into a Buddhist territory. These histories thus asserted a territorial relation between Sinhalese and Buddhism, the stability of which was derived from a perceived order of the universe, that is, the actions of the Buddha. The reaffirmation of that relation may be observed to-day in the shrines throughout the island at Mahiyangana, where the supposed collarbone of the Buddha is kept, at Mount Samantakuta, where the Buddha’s supposed fossilized footprint may be seen and the most important one at Kandy, supposedly containing the relic of the Buddha’s tooth." Stephen Grossly, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Clemson University on The primordial, kinship and nationality”. “When is the Nation?” Edited by Atsuko Ichijo and Gordana Uzelac Routledge (2005) p 68

Mr. Niranjan de Silva Deva-Aditya  may then begin to recognise why it is that for the past two thousand years and more that which he appears to consider a not 'difficult task' was not accomplished  - why it is  that the Sinhala Buddhist nation which has sought to conquer and rule the Tamil people has failed in its 'allotted' task for  the past several centuries. Mr. Niranjan de Silva Deva-Aditya may even begin to understand (even if no more than begin to understand) that the task of assimilation is a difficult one and usually leads to indigestion.

That in today's world, the Sinhala Buddhist nation seeks to masquerade as a 'Sri Lanka civic nation' (with a Sinhala Lion Flag, with an unrepealed Sinhala Only Act, with Buddhism as the State religion, and with the Sinhala 'Sri Lanka' name)  is understandable - understandable that is in its effort to conquer and rule the people of Tamil Eelam within the confines of an unitary state. But as with all masquerades, the mask slips, from time to time. It is therefore right that Mr. Niranjan de Silva Deva-Aditya should continue to wonder. Indeed, he should be encouraged to do so. And as he continues to wonder, he may even be impelled to reflect on the words of Velupillai Pirabakaran, Leader of Tamil Eelam, in 1984 -

"...If (Sri Lanka President) Jayewardene was a true Buddhist, I would not be carrying a gun..." Velupillai Pirabakaran, Leader of Tamil Eelam, in 1984 Interview with Anita Pratap, Sunday Magazine, India 11-17 March 1984

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 30 July 2008, 20:45 GMT]

"Frequently now I wonder whether Sri Lanka would have been a much more peaceful and much more homogeneous place if say 40% or so of the Tamil speaking population had been Buddhists and not exclusively Hindu or Christian. Is taking the Buddhist religion to Tamil people such a difficult task" wonders Niranjan de Silva Deva-Aditya, Member of European Parliament (MEP) from U.K. and Honorary Ambassador-at-Large for Sri Lanka, in a statement after his recent visit to Sri Lanka as Vice-Chairman of the EU delegation.

The Sinhala speaking MEP is tagged with a title, 'Vishwa Keerthi Sri Lanka Abhimani' (universally famous pride of Sri Lanka), bestowed onto him by the Buddhist clergy of Sri Lanka.

The Conservative MEP, Mr. Niranjan de Silva, who is popularly known by his shortened name Nirj Deva, is also a member of the EU committees on Foreign Affairs, delegation for relations with India, delegation for relations with the countries of ASEAN and committee on development.

The recent EU delegation to Sri Lanka, led by Robert Evans, Labour MEP and Chairman of the European Parliament's Delegation to South Asia, came down heavily on the Sri Lankan government, in its report last Friday.

According to observers, the aim of the statement on Tuesday by Mr. Nirj Deva, was to clear him from the wrath of Sinhala extremists and media for being a part of the delegation and to reassert his sympathies with the Sinhala agenda. Mr. Nirj Deva has extensive business interests and owns property in Colombo.

The delegation was forced to cancel its main program of visiting Trincomalee due to failure in deliberations between the delegation and the government in facilitating travel to Trincomalee.

Briefing on the cancellation, Mr. Evans has said: “The last minute cancellation and a catalogue of chaos and confusion meant that the delegation did not fly to Trincomalee, despite repeated assurances and endless complications resulted in the party being turned back from Ratmalana Airport destroying months of preparation, time and expense."

The report of the delegation read out by Mr. Evans at the press conference on Friday while condemning LTTE's violence and urging them to come to the democratic process, accusingly pointed out the Sri Lankan government's deficiency in defending human rights.

The press briefing welcomed the beginnings of the democratic process in the East, but expressed concerns about disarming the 'former paramilitaries' and the continued use of child soldiers by them.

On All Party Representative Committee (APRC) initiated by the Sri Lankan government to come out with constitutional means to resolve the Sri Lankan crisis, the delegation's view put forth by Mr. Evans was that the APRC is incomplete without the participation of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

Talking about threatened media, Mr. Evans mentioned the killing of 12 journalists and the continued detention of M. Tissainayagam. There was a veiled warning that Sri Lanka will not qualify for the GSP+ trade concessions, the way the pre-requisites such as human rights and other international conventions are handled at present by the government.

Nirj Deva, who was part of the delegation, differed with the Chairman later. In 2006 he was awarded the title of “Vishwa Keerthi Sri Lanka Abhimani,” by the Buddhist clergy in recognition of his services to Sri Lanka.

It was at a conference organised by a foundation of Sri Sri, in Norway, Nirj Deva was inspired with the idea of 'taking Buddhism' to Tamils, after listening to a Buddhist monk speaking in Tamil. Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Nirj Deva, hit out at the EU delegation head for coming to Sri Lanka and attempting to preach democracy, reported Daily Mirror.

He even apologised on behalf of the British Conservative Members of European Parliament for diplomatic failure in engaging Sri Lanka.

Contradicting the spirit of the EU report, Nirj Deva, in his 9-page statement, sympathetically 'advises' the Sri Lankan government to sort out at least one or two human rights cases so that it can be in the good books of the International Community. He was hinting at the cases of the killings of 5 youth and 17 aid workers in Trincomalee.

He appreciates the 'mature parliamentary democracy' and 'visible independent judiciary' in Sri Lanka.

Comment by tamilnation.org: A mature parliamentary democracy? "...The progressive destruction of the political process in Sri Lanka has led to both domestic and international tolerance of an enormous amount of violence by the government (regardless of party affiliation) against its citizens. Increasingly, it seems that the government of Sri Lanka is accountable to no one - not its citizens, and not its foreign counterparts who rubber-stamped the recent parliamentary elections. In Sri Lanka's current political climate, power seems to be determined by the number of thugs a given politician has at his/her disposal..." Sri Lanka's Elections 2000: Fear and Intimidation Rule the Day - An Observer's Report - Laura Gross in Democarcy, Sri Lanka Style

He says that the Government of Sri Lanka's "remarkable achievement" in resettling "over 90%" of the Internally Displaced People of the East in a short time should be acknowledged.

Comment by tamilnation.org: A remarkable achievement?

Sri Lanka colonisation of Tamil Homeland

"...whilst the current landscape in the East is one of humanitarian crisis and endemic human rights abuses, the current focus on human rights issues, which whilst performing the essential task of exposing the authoritarianism and violence of the current regime, is insufficient to capture the cold calculations and reasoning in the intentions of the Sri Lankan State which has once again returned to the the logic of Sinhala colonisation.." David Rampton, Lecturer, SOAS, University of London,22 September 2007

The facts and figures brought out on 23rd July by TNA leader R. Sampanthan in the Sri Lankan Parliament on the plight of IDPs and planned Sinhalicisation in the East in recent times totally contradict the claims of Nirj Deva.

Mr. Nirj Deva is a dual citizen of U.K. and Sri Lanka. He is proud of his Sri Lankan heritage. He claims that he has great affection for Sri Lanka. He also cites to his Rajput origins from North India.

"It is an irony that having so much attachment to his own 'identities', he fails to see that it is an insult and perhaps a blasphemy to expect the Tamils to change an identity of theirs, just because the Sri Lankan state has failed in coming out with a viable model of nationalism," commented a leading Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian to TamilNet.

"This is in line with the Sri Lankan state thinking that by Sinhalicising and Buddhicising the Tamil homeland the Eezham crisis could be resolved."

"The views of such politicians in handling Sri Lankan affairs at such a crucial stage of the crisis, gravely undermines the credibility of the European Union," he further said.


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