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What is the Samagi Balawegaya

November 18, 2013 Leave a comment

For the past few weeks I have been asking people to join the Samagi Youth Corp, and rightly so many of them have asked me what exactly is the Samagi and what are the goals of the Samagi Youth.

I am taking this time to write a brief summary of what the Samagi is and how the youth corp will operate.

The Samagi Balawegaya (Force for Unity) is a coalition of civil society activists, trade unions, media groups, politicians and individuals who are concerned about and are dedicated to working towards a sustainable and all-inclusive future for Sri Lanka. The Samagi as a whole has agreed upon the ten principles detailed below: 

ONE 

Abolishing Executive Presidency 

TWO

Strengthening of Good Governance by re-installing the 17th Amendment to the constitution and removal of the obstructionist clauses under 18th Amendment

THREE

Affirming a united Sri Lankan identity by conserving the rights of every ethnic group in Sri Lanka’s diversity.

FOUR

Strengthening of Parliamentary democracy by repealing “Manaapaya” system

FIVE

Right to Information and Freedom Expression and Freedom

SIX

Re-affirming Rule of Law and Independence of Judiciary

SEVEN

Controlling Cost of Living and Implementing anti-corruption laws

EIGHT

Preservation and Strengthening of Universal Education and Healthcare benefits

NINE

Reducing the poverty and implementing a truly people-centric development plan for the country

TEN

Implementation of LLRC Recommendations

These ten principles will form the backbone of the Samagi as we continue to push the current government towards the change that the people of Sri Lanka are asking for.

What is the Samagi Youth Corp?

The Samagi Youth Corp is an arm of the Samagi that will work alongside the youth of this country who are committed to ensuring a future that we all agree upon. The main aim of the Youth corp is to demand from the government the necessary assistance in helping them build a future that is not only prosperous but also sustainable. 

Politics and politicians have, for too long, been allowed to sneak past the voters with the outdated populist methods. As the youth it is now our turn to take a step forward and start asking the hard questions and once again force the politicians to return to the role of being the representatives of the people. 

Asking the questions alone will not be enough, the Samagi youth will take upon itself the lead role. As we expand through the provinces, the corp will form a consensus among their peers over issues that our generation will be forced to inherit. The tough questions must be asked both of ourselves and the government. The traditional image of the role of the youth in society must be re-evaluated. 

While the demands are made of the government, we the youth must be prepared to work towards achieving the future that we want. 

The Samagi Youth Corp is throwing out an open invitation to all those who are interested to join up.

Intolerance towards religious intolerance

A few Friday’s back the media and activists in Sri Lanka was caught up in the “Dambulla Mosque” incident. For those who do not know, it basically saw a group of near a thousand, headed by the head priest of the Golden Temple, storm a mosque and demand its demolition. They claim it was built on sacred land, the Muslims claim it has been there for over 60 years and have deeds to prove their ownership.

I have seen the deeds and honestly they leave a few doubts over their legitimacy. On the other hand I do know that this “Mosque” has been in existence since 1960 odd and so I am left wondering after all these years why they have caused a stir now.  

Sri Lanka is supposedly a predominantly Buddhist country, one of the few in the world, so I think as a Buddhist we have plenty of land. Just let them keep this, they have done so all these years without inconveniencing anyone. Of course the Buddhist monk claims that there had been plans to turn this in to a proper mosque, it is now only a prayer hall. He says that as it is built on Temple Land his approval was needed, something which had not been sought after. 

Of course, he did not say this straight away. Instead he embarrassed himself, the religion and Sri Lanka as a whole by leading a mob reminiscent of the 1983 riots. He spoke with no class, abused a woman and threatened to tear the mosque down himself if it was down by Monday. 

The Muslim community in Sri Lanka, who I believe have suffered in silence, were finally awoken in anger. Protests spread with Ampara being shut down the next week due to a silent strike, the Muslim leaders finally united in a common cause (this was short-lived). Sri Lanka was urged internationally by our Muslim allies to settle the dispute quickly and peacefully. 

The dispute rages on and no solution seems in sight, with neither side budging on the topic. But what we now have is an issue of a growing “Buddhist Fanaticism”. The Sinhala Buddhists in Sri Lanka are crawling out from the woodwork, demanding that “Buddhists in Sri Lanka remain protected”. I do not understand how Buddhists have been targeted, but according to these groups they have been.

On Monday a “protest” was held in Kalutara by the Buddhist Protection Foundation, no more than 50 people turned up. For a country that seems to enjoy protesting, this was a flop and a bad one at that. But what it did show, to my mind, is that people are sick of intolerance and disputes fought on religious or racial grounds. 

People from all sides of society have shown disgust towards the priest’s behavior in Dambulla, they do not seem to care that the Mosque is on temple land. In fact when the “Dambulla Mosque” incident is referred to, it seems most people know only of the priest’s behavior. 

With politicians looking to capitalize on this so-called Nationalistic sentiment, it is heartening to see fewer and fewer people being drawn in. A sign perhaps of changing times?

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