“When the saffron robe has the final say” The Hindu

A monk’s cremation on a temple’s premises, in violation of a court order, has triggered protests.
The recent passing away of a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka and his subsequent cremation in the northern district of Mullaitivu has brought to the fore an old concern — the power wielded by the Buddhist clergy and the impunity shielding them. It wasn’t the monk’s cremation that was the problem, it was the site.

On Monday, a group of saffron-robed men, led by controversial monk Gnanasara Thero (in picture) of the Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force), gathered near the Neeravi Pillaiyar Kovil (temple) well in Mullaitivu, even as their supporters swiftly made arrangements for the cremation to be held there. They completed the final rites, defying a court order barring it on the temple’s premises. Around noon the same day, the Mullaitivu magistrate court had ruled that the cremation be held by the sea, near the Army camp facing the temple.

“When I returned from the court to the temple, I was shocked to see the monks going ahead with the cremation there, despite the court ruling against it. There were some 40 bhikkhus (monks) and maybe around 200 supporters with them,” said Kanagarathinam Sugash, attorney-at-law, who appeared for the temple administration in the case.

As the news spread, several locals — mostly Hindu Tamils — gathered around the temple in protest. “When I tried to draw the monks’ attention to the court order, one of them, speaking in broken Tamil, turned very aggressive towards me and told me — ‘This is a Sinhala Buddhist country and monks come first, they are above all’,” recalled Mr. Sugash, who was assaulted in the ensuing clash. The Jaffna-based lawyer found the monk’s remarks most telling. “He [the monk] was effectively telling me that monks are above the courts, above law and order.”

via: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/when-the-saffron-robe-has-the-final-say/article29543715.ece?fbclid=IwAR1axiUgfCI1NMF_cpgA-2zsQ-aHOeU5Mg0nPHtsvHHaJcSqA0kdtCPo39Y

“Freed Sri Lanka Buddhist monk vows to expose Islamist militancy” Reuters

“Gnanasara was convicted in 2018 on four counts of contempt of court. The case stemmed from a 2016 court hearing on the abduction of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda over which military intelligence officials were accused.

Gnanasara shouted at the judge and lawyers because the military officials had not been given bail. He also threatened Eknaligoda’s wife.”

via: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sri-lanka-monk-pardon/freed-sri-lanka-buddhist-monk-vows-to-expose-islamist-militancy-idUSKCN1SY1CH?fbclid=IwAR1QbGOcXCU31EcJbVboI-MWCaXrF7Gy32TFhwJclF_pkNOXM_E7VQEpdrA

“Why South Asia’s majorities act like persecuted minorities” by The Economist

When it is pointed out that Sri Lanka has, in fact, never experienced an act of violence attributable to Islamists, and that at this rate of conversion it will take the island’s Muslims about 10,000 years to convert the rest of its 21m inhabitants, Mr Gnanasara simply shrugs. His hoard of evidence does not really need to add up. In Sri Lanka, as across most of South Asia, surprisingly large numbers of people among groups that enjoy overwhelming numerical superiority seem eager to convince themselves that their identity is somehow in mortal danger.

via:https://www.economist.com/news/asia/21740416-no-conspiracy-theory-about-minorities-too-implausible-cause-outrage-why-south-asias-majorities

“Tolerating religious intolerance” by Meera Srinivasan (The Hindu)

Developments unfolding in Sri Lanka over the last few weeks look ominously similar to those in 2013-14, when a surge in targeted attacks against minority Muslims and Christians went unchecked by the Rajapaksa administration. The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, an umbrella organisation for civil society groups, has recorded 25 attacks on mosques and Muslim-owned establishments since April, and the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka has reported over 40 incidents in 2017.

via : http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/tolerating-religious-intolerance/article19141628.ece

“Sri Lanka: Hope for Minorities?” by Neha Sinha

However, the key question remains: Does Sirisena have the political will and capability to actually resolve the fundamental problems that drove the country to almost three decades of civil war?

via: http://thediplomat.com/2015/02/sri-lanka-hope-for-minorities/

“Radical Buddhists, the violent face of a peaceful religion” by Global Post

According to Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives and co-convener of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence, the existence of BBS is intrinsically linked to the Rajapaksa government and in particular to ex-Defense Minister Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the former president’s brother.

“They were sponsored by the former defense minister. They were generating an internal conflict to provoke clashes between religious groups, which would mobilize Buddhists around the government,” Saravanamuttu explained to Efe.

via:http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/150204/radical-buddhists-the-violent-face-peaceful-religion

“Lasantha, Mahinda and the significance of polling day – Open Letter to President Rajapakse” by Sonali Samarasinghe

Sonali Samarasinghe to Mahinda Rajapaksa:

“The irony of the presidential election being fixed for the sixth anniversary of the day on which my husband and your ‘friend’, Lasantha Wickrematunge, was assassinated, may have escaped you. It has not escaped me.”

via: http://www.lankastandard.com/2015/01/lasantha-mahinda-and-the-significance-of-polling-day-open-letter-to-president-rajapakse/#.VKzChYYvfVA.twitter

“Will Sri Lanka Elect the Devil It Knows?” by Samanth Subramaniam

New Yorker take on the election: “If a Presidential candidate refers to himself as a devil, chances are he’s in trouble. Last week, campaigning ahead of this Thursday’s election, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the incumbent Sri Lankan President, tried hard to endear himself to an audience in the northern city of Jaffna. The crowd consisted almost entirely of Tamils, the island’s largest minority, a community that regards him with suspicion and anger. ‘There is a saying that the devil you know is better than the unknown angel,’ Rajapaksa said. ‘I am the known devil, so please vote for me.’ These two sentences encapsulated the swift and intriguing fall of the once-mighty President.”

via: http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/will-sri-lanka-elect-devil-knows

“Sri Lanka’s Violent Buddhists” by Rohini Mohan

“No matter who wins in January, the message is unmistakable: To be truly considered Sri Lankan these days, one must accept the primacy and glory of the country’s Sinhalese Buddhist past. Unless it is challenged, this mindset will pose a far greater danger to Sri Lanka than the blows of hard-line thugs.”

via: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/01/03/opinion/sri-lankas-violent-buddhists.html?referrer&_r=0

“Hardline Buddhists in Myanmar, Sri Lanka Strike Anti-Islamist Pact” by Voice of America

A Myanmar monk accused of inciting violence against Muslims and a hardline Buddhist group in Sri Lanka said on Tuesday they would work together to rally other Buddhist groups and defend their faith against militant Islamists.

via: http://www.voanews.com/content/reu-hardline-buddhists-myanmar-sri-lanka-anti-islamist-pact/2467590.html

“Muslims Pose A Threat In Sri Lanka”, Ranay Sharma Interviews Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara

Just like in Burma, the recent years have seen the unrest between the Buddhist majority and the Muslim minority on the upswing in Sri Lanka. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, general secr­etary of the Sri Lankan ultra-nationalist Buddhist organisation Bodu Bala Sena (BBS)—Sinhalese for Buddhist Power Force—actually claims to perceive an international Islamic conspiracy that aims at marginalising the Buddhists in Sri Lanka. He believes his organisation can unite all the Buddhists of the island and turn them into a nationalist force, thus countering this ‘foreseen’ Islamic threat. He has been widely accused of being the mastermind of many anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka and gained notoriety for publicly avowing his racist inclinations.

via: http://www.outlookindia.com/article/Muslims-Pose-A-Threat-In-Sri-Lanka/291662

“Surge of radical Buddhism in South Asia” by Roma Rajpal Weiss

Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UN Dayan Jayatilake insists that the government is not taking concrete measures to curb the activities of extremist Sinhalese Buddhists in the country. “Everybody talks about the role of the Buddhist clergy in mobilising the mobs. And yet I don’t see sufficient robust efforts being made by the government or even voicing critique of such organisations as the BBS. Rioters and looters have been rounded up but nobody really knows how the investigations are proceeding.”

via: http://en.qantara.de/content/anti-muslim-violence-in-myanmar-and-sri-lanka-surge-of-radical-buddhism-in-south-asia

“Is Sri Lanka sinking in to an abyss of racism and apartheid?” by Riza Yehiya

More than twelve centuries of peaceful cohabitation between Buddhists and Muslims in Sri Lanka has made both communities interdependent. Therefore safety and security of the one lies in the safety and the security of the other mutually.

via: http://groundviews.org/2014/08/11/is-sri-lanka-sinking-in-to-an-abyss-of-racism-and-apartheid/

“A blow-by-blow commentary of the mob attack on families of disappeared” by Khana

On the 4th of August a private sharing of experiences session organized by civil society inside the Centre for Society and Religion [CSR] is disrupted by an organized gang led by what appeared to be a group of Buddhist monks.”

via: http://groundviews.org/2014/08/07/a-blow-by-blow-commentary-of-the-mob-attack-on-families-of-disappeared/