Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision to implement a “Presidential Task Force for Archaeological Heritage Management in the Eastern Province” is a move that “threatens minorities” and puts their “inclusive democratic rights into question,” said Rev. Fr. Rajan Rohan, the secretary of Inter-Religious Forum in Batticaloa.
The all Sinhala task force is the latest move that the government authorities have sanctioned that aids the building of the “huge gap between Sinhala Buddhist majorities and the Tamil Muslim minorities,” he stated.
While Rev. Fr. Rajan Rohan believes that “it is important that we should preserve historic sites,” he argues that using a Presidential Task Force to preserve the archaeological sites under the command of Sri Lanka Defence Secretary “has caused unrest as it directly affects the Tamil and Muslim communities”.
He insisted “Tamil, Hindu, Christian and Muslim communities feel directly affected. The Sinhala Buddhists are colonising and encroaching the motherlands of Tamils and Muslims.”
He mentioned the task force would “encourage” land reallocation;
“The government allocated some land to Tamil dairy farmers and cattle herders in the 1980’s. This move directly affects their livelihoods and with the COVID-19, this will be a double crisis to the people,” he emphasised.
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The government has been criticised and condemned for its Sinhalisation efforts in the North-East and this has been highlighted by PEARL in the case of Pulmoaddai.