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The genesis of Sinha le

Sinhale Jathika Balamuluwa explains the rationale behind the sticker campaign:


Sinha le, a hot topic debated on social media these days, has spread rapidly becoming a point of focus in the print media and an intriguing subject for debate almost everywhere.Vehicles promoting the ideology using the Sinha le sticker has become a near ubiquitous sight today with certain shops also joining the bandwagon, raising questions about the force behind the campaign. The campaign has drawn mixed reactions on social media with some opposing it as it would result in fresh tensions between the Muslim and Sinhala communities, while those who support the ideology reject this claim and assert that the objective is not to rouse racial sentiments among communities. Human rights groups, which have been pushing for a stable and peaceful Sri Lanka where the rights of all communities are safeguarded, have also raised concerns over this campaign.

Curiosity

In the face of the curiosity created in public minds about the architects of the campaign, the Sinha Le Jathika Balamuluwa admited it took the lead to launch the campaign and give effect to it countrywide through the social media and the sticker campaign. When asked as to what made them display the sticker in their vehicles many apperaed to have no clear idea about what they were doing.

The Deputy Secretary of the Sinhale Jathika Balamuluwa Aruna Jayaratne told the Sunday Observer the Sinhale campaign was not launched by any organisation and added all they did was to give it leadership in a more organisational manner. Sinhale was yet another strategy adopted to safeguard the identity of the Sinhala people and restore the pride of the Sinhala nation. He said : in February last year I updated the Sinhale image as my Facebook profile picture and shared it among my Facebook friends. I used the yellow picture of a lion in a dark blue background with a Sinhale yellow title.

"I was impressed when I saw some pictures of the Sinhale sticker on a vehicle, which had been sent to me by my Facebook friends who had stressed the need to spearhead the sticker campaign. After that, I started to promote this campaign through my Facebook page in a more organised manner. I tried to give an impression to the people through my Facebook page to join hands to promote the campaign on behalf of the nation rather than pasting stickers with parts of some Sinhala songs in their vehicles".

"Currently over 43,000 people have joined my Facebook page. Sinhale is not my concept. It originated from the people themselves. Sinhale was the name given to the island before the British invaded us. In our campaign, we use the original National Flag of Sri Lanka prior to the British advent".

According to Jayaratne they are carrying out the Sinhale campaign through the Sinhale Jathika Balamuluwa.

Sinhale does not represent any political party nor it is based on any racist ideology and added that it has no motive to cause harm to any community. "We would not point an accusing finger at the Muslim or Tamil communities, but if the Sinhala community has faced any injustice, we would certainly appear on their behalf.

"At various instances, the Sinhalese faced many injustice caused by other communities. Since 1952, the Sinhala nation has been divided based on communal lines to promote the narrow objectives of our own politicians. The sole purpose of Sinhale is to continue its campaign for a unified nation irrespective of any political affiliations. The Sinhale organised a motorcade from Colombo to Kandy on January 23 and over 200,000 Sinhale stickers were distributed among people at the rally," he said.

The Chairman of the National Program for Ethnic Harmony of the Sinhalese and Muslims, Mashoor Moulana told the Sunday Observer though the Muslims follow Islam as their religion their nationality is Sinhala. We have been in this country for several centuries. I think the first communal dispute occurred in 1915. As Muslims, we should avoid petty disputes and confrontation. We are Sri Lankans born and bred with the Sinhalese. One could be a Buddhist, Christian, Hindu or Muslim by his religion, but we all are Sinhalese by race," he said.

Petty issues

"We belong to different religions and it has nothing to do with the Sinhale. In my perception, we have to live together with the majority Sinhalese. Petty issues might crop up and certain sections may attempt to blow them out of proportion, but we have to observe them carefully. At the same time, I call upon the majority Buddhists and other followers, to accept and respect the minorities as brothers and sisters of one family.

"We should cooperate with the majority Sinhalese and we can't differentiate between us, because our forefathers and mothers were Sinhalese. Of course, we are Muslims by religion and that is a different story," he said.

General Secretary of the Sinhale Jathika Balamuluwa Ven. Madille Pannaloka Thera who is at the forefront of the Sinhale campaign pointed out that historically Sinhale was the name used for the country over the past 2500 years and there is written evidence to prove it. He said: The British through the Kandyan Convention on March 2, 1815 invaded our country. The name 'Sinhale' is mentioned in 13 places of the Convention.

"In 1948, the British Government transferred the reins to the 'Sinhale'. After the late 1950s, the political authority changed the Sinhala nation to Sri Lankan nation. As a result, the independence gained in 1948 was nominal freedom.

"The colonialists destroyed our economy, education, culture and religion by imposing their identity. Following the independence in 1948, our rulers failed to reestablish Sri Lanka on its indigenous model. Instead they grafted a multi-ethnic, multinational and multi-religious outlook," he said.

"Democracy means the will of the majority, but our rulers always attempted to entertain multi-ethnic politicians ignoring the majority Sinhalese. In order to realise their narrow political objectives, they created the Sri Lankan nation rather than rebuilding the Sinhala nation on its true indigenous roots. As a result, we have been deprived of many things. During our epic journey to rediscover our lost heritage, the Sinhale campaign was born.

We have contributed our best to promote Sinhale concept. Unfortunately some opportunistic politicians and other groups are vehemently opposing the movement and attempting to suppress the nationalistic sentiments created among the Sinhalese. Even the walls of some Muslim residents in Colombo had been painted with the word Sinhale by some unidentified groups to create clashes among communities and sabotage this campaign. That is why Sinhale Jathika Balamuluwa decided to take the lead and respond to our opponents who attempt to give a wrong impression to the people on the Sinhale campaign.

Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) Chief Executive Officer Dilantha Withanage said the campaign 'Sinhale' came into being at a special BBS convention held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on September 28, 2014 with the participation of over 6000 Bhikkhus. At that convention, the BBS also obtained the approval of Maha Sangha for Sinhale policy document. The BBS at that convention categorically stated that the country's name and the nationality should be Sinhale while the people should be called the citizens of Sinhale.

As a result, Sinhale was converted to a political theme. That was the first time, the theme of Sinhale was discussed at a national forum.

The BBS election manifesto introduced at the 2015 General Election has clearly mentioned about Sinhale. Sinhale has not been based on Le (blood) as claimed by certain sections to distort the picture.

Founder of the Swarnahansa Foundation Gallage Punyawardena said his foundation was involved in Sinhale campaign for over 20 years. Earlier the country was called Sinhale and later it was changed into Ceylon and Sri Lanka by the rulers to gain political mileage.

The change of the name 'Sinhale' is the root cause of all problems in the country. That is why over the past 20 to 30 years, we have been campaigning for the revival of Sinhale. After, we gained independence our Parliamentarians added two stripes to Sinhale flag to represent the Tamils and Muslims. That division in the National Flag led to all these problems.

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