by M.I.M Mohideen
Muslims throughout Sri Lanka totally rejected Tamil militants’ call for the division of the country and firmly stood for territorial integrity and unity only to face death, loss of properties, livelihood and unlawful displacements. Despite all these sacrifices and sufferings Muslims remain the most discriminated community in Sri Lanka to-day.
Contrary to the common belief that the Muslims float in wealth, most of the Muslims today suffer from extreme poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and inadequate housing which have driven some Muslim youths to take to underworld activities and drug trafficking for survival.
Muslims do not have State Land, employment in state sector, adequate housing and university admissions according to our national ethnic ratio. The university entrance cut off marks for badly neglected Muslim schools are the same for the highly developed Government patronized Sinhalese schools.
The other important issues faced by the Muslims today: The vacancies of Teachers and Infrastructure Facilities in Muslim Schools, Denial of admission to Muslim students to study in Sinhala or Non-availability of teachers to teach Islam in Sinhala.
A Presidential directive for the appointment of Moulavi teachers is also not fully implemented. The right to return is denied to 11,058 Muslim families forcibly displaced by the LTTE Tamil terrorist in the North during the ethnic cleansing in October 1990. 15,000 Muslim families in the Eastern Province are denied their right to Title Deeds for the 60,000 acres of Agricultural land cultivated for more than 30 years on annual temporary permits.
The President approved prayer room for the Muslims like the Sinhalese at the Colombo National Hospital but was refused by the Health Minister. Limits of “Tsunami” buffer zones were not demarcated in the coastal Muslim villages in the Eastern Province. Non-implementation of the constitutional provision in Section 22(1) for the use of Tamil Language in Government Institutions causing immense problems for the Muslims’ island wide. Army Camp in the Mosque in Kurangupanchan village in Kinniya and the resettlement of displaced Muslims.
India, United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and many more countries generously donated billions of rupees for the resettlement activities of about 280,000 Tamil IDPs whose suffering began only after May 2009. On the eve of the defeat of LTTE, top political leaders from the West-British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon rushed to the island to show their humanitarian concern.
A few days later UN Secretary General dispatched his Deputy Lynn Pascoe on September 16, 2009 to visit the Tamil IDPs and press the government to speed up their resettlement activities. Furthermore, Head of the United Nations Refugee Agency Antonio Gutteres promised further help for caring and resettling the Tamil IDPs. Indian Government has set aside Rs. 500 crores for the resettlement of Tamil IDPs.
All these acts of Western and Indian human kindness dry up completely when it comes to the sufferings of Muslims driven out at gunpoint by the LTTE from the North in October 1990, and have been languishing in refugee camps in and around Puttalam for 20 long years.
It has become an absolute necessity for the President or to the politically conscious members of the Muslim Civil Society to set up a Special Task Force immediately to plan a quick work programme for the resolution.