|Saturday, 10 January 2004|
Communist Party calls for consensus on national issues
The victims of religious conversions largely and invariably come from marginalised groups in cities and rural areas, predominantly in the war-battered zones, estate sector and dry zones, the Communist Party of Sri Lanka said yesterday.
The CPSL said the war-ravaged Sri Lankan society cannot afford to face any more conflicts, leave alone religious conflicts.
The party called upon the national leadership of the country to speed up the process to bring about consensus on the prevailing national questions.
The CPSL said: "The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Sri Lanka considered with serious concern the question of religious conflicts which led to recent violence in the Sri Lankan society.
"It is a proven fact that certain religious groups identified as fundamentalists, lavishly funded and aided from abroad are resorting to insentitive religious conversions. This question needs deeper study and analysis.
Legal measures to contain such activities may not bring any effect and may prove totally ineffective to solve this question, so long as root causes that lead to such religious conversions remain intact.
This is a question that needs the careful study and urgent attention of religious leaders as well as economists and social scientists.
As in the rest of Asian countries, in the context of the Sri Lankan society as well, the victims of these religious conversions largely and invariably come from the marginalized groups both in the cities and in the rural areas, predominantly so in the war-ravaged zones, estate sector, and dry zones.
Coincidentally, they are the same segments of our society who have been marginalized and pauperized by the neo-liberal economic policies since the advent of open economy.
The aggressive implementation of neo-liberal policies in our country has resulted in the widening of the gap between haves and have-not at an alarming rate.
The abdication of the state's role of the fiscal policy in the economic activity has immeasurably contributed to the creation of conditions for marginalization and pauperization.
Consumerism promoted through high-pressured advertising is not only changing people's wants but also creating new wants, which the society is unable to satisfy.
The lower rungs of the society have, as a result, become easy victims of religious conversions seeking both material and spiritual satisfaction through their new-found religious leaders.
The failure on the insentivity of the leaders in the established religions to reach out to their people has distanced themselves from the society, the lower rungs of the society in particular.
This has created a vacuum for the entry of new saviours. It is a known fact that the funds and aid pumped in through various religious groups are generated by the multi-national corporations who are also the brain trusts of the neo-liberal economic policies.
The trends of marginalization, pauperization and religious conversions are all operating in this vicious circle.
The war-ravaged Sri Lankan society cannot afford to face any more conflicts, leave alone religious conflicts.
It is encouraging that the vast mass of the people responded positively to the call of the authorities and religious leaders not to fall prey to the rabble-rousers who attempted to create religious conflicts.
It is our view that the extremist sections of the society - racial, religious, political - are being exploited by the Imperialists and their agents to promote these divisive, disruptive, destructive trends in our society.
It is in this context that the Communist Party of Sri Lanka calls upon the national leadership of the country to speed up the process to bring about a consensus on the prevailing national questions".
Produced by Lake House