e-Con e-News

US threats and the Great Temple Robbery


Just the ‘intro’ of this week’s E-Con E-News post. Check the juice @ www.eesrilanka.wordpress.com.

“The king’s death was most probably a planned assassination orchestrated by the new Portuguese viceroy Afonso de Noronha (1550-54), who subsequently forced Bhuvanekabāhu VII’s grandson and successor Dharmapāla (r 1551-97) to relinquish not only the contents of the royal treasury but also the treasury of the Buddhist private royal temple, with its gold tableware, jewels, and rare gems.

“The plundering of princely and temple treasures was an important source for local Portuguese authorities in Asia to finance war and a secure way to obtain luxury gifts for diplomatic exchange.” – Gems in the Early Modern World, Bycroft & Dupré

Someone should remind the UN Secretary General (who is from Portugal) about matters yet unresolved since 1505. Meanwhile, the USA – latest avatara of what Lisbon once wrought – is going to wreak revenge on Sri Lankans for rejecting their MCC ‘free money’:

What else is new? But so thunders a ‘renowned’ economist, who delivered their purple bull this week; the Sunday Times adding “serious repercussions” to their headline.

They did not say if the SOFA and ACSA agreements, which allow US troops to enter the country, are not revenge enough. Or that the continuing import-export plantation economy, adored by the US and such economists, is already retribution.

The first US shot across the bows, post-MCC, is to grease protests against the government on the frosty road to alpine Geneva. The US embassy also tête-à-têted with the separatist TNA leader.

From Reuters to BBC to AP to Nikkei Asia to Al Jazeera, a simple internet news search on Sri Lanka reveals the latest flavors of the hour that the ‘Concert of Empire’ prioritizes for popular consumption. ‘Muslim’ burial is now the latest gaga, perhaps to reduce West Asian solidarity. Class issues catalyzing such ‘ethnic’ bristling will not be investigated, only exploited.

So…so…so…. what does all this have to do with the privatization of public lands?

The colonial plunder of treasure was immense, but it’s the English robbery of temple lands that truly haunts the body politic to this day. This great fraud of over 180 years loomed large during the recent MCC tempest. It also links to the thwarting of rural revival, which included reducing monks from national leaders into disengaged recluses.

Buddhist temples were once the largest guardians of land in the country. “One of the greatest scandals of the 19thC”, is how forensic economist SBD de Silva characterized the loss of these lands. The national archives, especially the diaries of government agents, he recalled, provide ample evidence of what took place. Students don’t need to go rent expensive London garrets to dust out English libraries, and get a PhD.

These vast tracts offered a basis for a comprehensive and uniform agricultural policy, but were stolen for plantations, with the rest of the country fragmented into uneconomical plots.

This scandal popped out this week, with regard to continuing attacks on the head of the National Archives. A newspaper columnist alleges the attacks are to prevent legal records of the viharagam and devalagam being produced in court. He doesn’t mention the US MCC ‘free money’ to hurry the ‘digitization’ of land ownership.

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