Rohingya and the local divide

The Buddhist-Muslim tensions in Sri Lanka took a different turn last week when a group of monks stormed a safe house where some of the refugees from Rohingya were housed. They were being looked after by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The incident triggered criticisms towards the monks, and the UNHCR. But what seems lost is humanity. Some argue that the UNCHR had not followed protocol in bringing in or looking after the refugees, thereby justifying the actions of the monks. 

Yes, we do live in a society where we cannot blindly lend a helping hand to anyone. We live in a society where one’s goodness and generosity is taken for granted, misused, and abused. But does that mean that we have to be suspicious all the time? These refugees took a boat because their lands were not safe.

We who are away from the chaos may have our personal views and opinions about the crisis in Rohingya. We may also be of the view that the community to which the refugees belong is the reason for chaos. But they are helpless. No religion preaches to harm the helpless.

Every religion calls upon humans to have compassion. Unfortunately, humanity has lost its way amidst divisions. But what is still worrying is the visible gap between the Tamils and the Muslims. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) issued its condemnation on the attack two days after the incident.This should not be the case.

The relationship between the Tamils and the Muslims were strained after the latter was forcibly evicted from the North in 1990. During the subsequent years too, Muslims in the North and East faced immense hardships due to the war. It is important that both communities stand by each other at times like these in order to rebuild the confidence that was lost during the war.

Sri Lankans are considered to be the most hospitable people.

However, actions of a minority in instances such as these create a negative picture among the international community. No matter how far humans reach, they should keep in mind that humanity has to prevail above ethnic, religious, and political divides.

Published in the Nation on October 1, 2017


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