“How to Celebrate Buddha in Sri Lanka? Stop Partying, Some Say” by Maria Abi-Habib

It was time to reclaim the holiday. To put the Buddha back into Vesak, so to speak.

But as Sri Lankans prepared to celebrate Vesak, the holiday this week commemorating the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death, the government shook a stern finger. The celebrations had become too indulgent, a directive warned.

via: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/02/world/asia/sri-lanka-vesak-buddhas-birthday.html

Disparition de Sobitha Thera, moine politique

Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera est décédé à Singapour des suites d’une intervention chirurgicale. Né en 1942, ce moine bouddhiste influent, supérieur du monastère de Kotte, s’était imposé sur la scène politique de Sri Lanka dans les années 1980-1990 en défendant avec virulence la cause nationaliste cingalaise contre le mouvement séparatiste tamoul. Après la défaite des LTTE en 2009, il avait pris ses distances vis à vis de la politique triomphaliste menée par le Président Mahinda Rajapaksa, puis avait mené campagne contre la corruption du régime, fédérant les mécontentements au point d’envisager de se présenter aux élections présidentielles. Il avait finalement soutenu la candidature de Maithripala Sirisena, contribuant à son succès, et avait infléchi ses positions dans le sens d’une ouverture aux revendications des minorités et d’un dialogue interreligieux constructif. Sa disparition prive le nouveau régime d’un important appui symbolique.

“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.


“Top line survey results: Democracy in post-war Sri Lanka” by CPA

According to the latest ‘Democracy in Post War Sri Lanka’ survey conducted by Social Indicator, the survey research unit of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, divisions between people’s opinions when it comes to reconciliation still persist. The state of the economy and cost of living continue to adversely affect the household with people compromising on food quality and medical care. With Presidential elections due early next year, it is interesting to note that 44.3% of Sri Lankans think that the Constitution should limit a President to serving a maximum of two terms.

On the Sri Lankan economy, 31.9% of Sri Lankans believe that the general economic situation in the country has got a little better while almost 27% say that it has got a little worse and 18.5% say that it has got a lot worse. When it comes to the current economic situation of the country, 36.7% of Sri Lankans believe that it is somewhat good while 30.6% say somewhat bad and 19.5% say that it is very bad.

The financial situation of the household seems to have got worse in the last 2 years – almost 30% of Sri Lankans say that it has got a little worse while 25.6% say that it has got a lot worse. 24.2% of Sri Lankans state that they have gone without medicine or medical treatment in the last year, with the Up Country Tamil community (58.2%) being the most affected. Compromising on food quality, 42.7% of Sri Lankans say that they have cut back on the amount or quality of food they have purchased with again the Up Country Tamil community being the most affected (almost 60%).

When it comes to reconciliation, divisions in opinion between the communities persist. 40.8% of Sri Lankans believe that the Government has done a little, but not enough to address the root causes of the conflict, which resulted in thirty years of war. 39.9% from the Tamil community and 33.3% from the Up Country Tamil community believe that the Government has done nothing to address the root causes of the war while 35% from the Sinhalese community said the Government has done a lot to address the root causes.

Around 54% of Sri Lankans say that they approve of the increase in the role of the forces in civilian tasks, with 17% saying that they strongly approve. 41.6% from the Sinhalese community said that they somewhat approve of this role while 30.2% from the Tamil community said that they strongly disapproved.

With Presidential elections due next year, it is worth highlighting that 44.3% of Sri Lankans think that the Constitution should limit a President to serving a maximum of two terms while 27.6% say that there should be no limit. From the four communities, it is mainly the Muslim community (69.7%) who believe that there should be limit of two terms while 59.5% from the Up Country Tamil community, 57.3% from Tamil and 38.4% of Sinhalese say the same.

Commenting on the media in Sri Lanka, 30% of Sri Lankans said that they somewhat agree that the media in Sri Lanka is completely free to criticise the government as they wish. 40.5% of Sri Lankans believe that the media should have a right to publish any views and ideas without Government control while another 34% of Sri Lankans believe that the Government should have the right to prevent the media from publishing things it considers harmful to society.

On the role of religion and ethnicity in politics, 37.9% of Sri Lankans said that the role of Buddhism in Sri Lankan politics is the right amount while 37.8% of Sri Lankans said that the role is too much. The view that the role of Buddhism in Sri Lankan politics is too much is felt by majority of the Tamil (79.3%), Up Country Tamil (91.1%) and Muslim (83.4%) communities while only 23.1% from the Sinhalese community felt the same. Close to 50% of Sinhalese believe that it is the right amount.

‘Democracy in post-war Sri Lanka’ sought to record public perspectives on democracy in Sri Lanka today and the findings are presented under five key sections – Economy and Development, Post War Sri Lanka, The Government, Media and Role of Religion and Ethnicity in Politics. The first wave was conducted in 2011 and the second wave in 2013.

Conducted in the 25 districts of the country, the 2014 survey captured the opinion of 1900 Sri Lankans from the four main ethnic groups. The selection of respondents was random across the country except in a few areas in the Northern Province where access was difficult. Fieldwork was conducted from June – July 2014.

Access the full report from here.


Social Indicator (SI) is the survey research unit of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and was established in September 1999, filling a longstanding vacuum for a permanent, professional and independent polling facility in Sri Lanka on social and political issues. Driven by the strong belief that polling is an instrument that empowers democracy, SI has been conducting polls on a large range of socio-economic and political issues since its inception.

Please contact Iromi Perera at iromi@cpasocialindicator.org for further information.

“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/

“Sri Lanka’s Militant Monk Rejects Dalai Lama as Spiritual Leader” by Agence France-Presse

A firebrand Sri Lankan monk criticised the Dalai Lama for urging the island’s Buddhists to halt violence against minority Muslims and rejected him as a global spiritual leader.


“Remains of the hate” by Frances Harrison

Many Sri Lankans do not recognise the extremist Bodu Bala Sena as embodying Buddhist values at all, but they are increasingly unwilling to speak out about their opposition to it—op-ed by Frances Harrison

via: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/remains-of-the-hate/article6145815.ece

“Cultural Domination and Subordination among the Sinhalese: Colonialism, Resistance, Religion and Critical Discourse” by Dr. Siri Gamage

There is a close nexus between institutional/ceremonial Buddhism and the dominant caste and classes that sustain the state. Each blesses the other, rationalise and sustain. Ceremonial Buddhism –in contrast to spiritual Buddhism – contributes to the maintenance of domination-subordination process as it seemingly tolerates the continuation of the ‘unequal social order’, continued appropriation of labour, land and other resources by the upper classes (supiri classes) to the detriment of lower classes and subordinated masses. Only at the symbolic level through rituals and public ceremonies (such as perahara) that these differing classes and dominating/dominated groups are brought together as one audience. At the relational levels, inequalities and disparities continue, though they do not exist in the eyes of those who are placed at the apex of class and caste hierarchies. One has to wonder whether the lack of any serious and critical discourse about these inequities from the Buddhist clergy is indicative of institutional tolerance for an unequal social order?

Via http://groundviews.org/2014/03/11/cultural-domination-and-subordination-among-the-sinhalese-colonialism-resistance-religion-and-critical-discourse/

source: Groundviews

“Reception of Buddhism in Lanka: An entanglement with worldly sovereignty ?” by Sajeeva Samaranayake

Buddhists of Lanka need a worldview and sense of self that is not devastated by the likes of Kalinga Magha, western colonial powers and colonising politicians of the present day. They cannot be enslaved to old forms that clothe self-interest, greed, caste, hatred and parochialism. They must strive to make a living adaptation of the Buddhist message for their own time and place by returning to the path. A timeless teaching cannot be trapped in verbal formulas and hackneyed ancient ceremonies. Those are for followers – not leaders; and a Buddhist is never the follower of another person or a blind imitator of tradition.

Via http://groundviews.org/2014/02/10/reception-of-buddhism-in-lanka-an-entanglement-with-worldly-sovereignty/

source: Groundviews

“Meet Sri Lanka’s radical Buddhist”by Rosie DiManno

Everything in this man’s disposition radiates the peaceable philosophy so widely associated with gentle Buddhism.

But Rev. Iththbekande Saddhatissa is a radical, accused of spreading xenophobia, religious intolerance and Sinhalese domination over Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils.

He preaches politicized Buddhism.

He organizes rallies aimed at suppressing Tamil aspirations for autonomy in the north of a deeply divided island nation.

He embodies Sinhalese chauvinism.

He has the ear of a government that has embraced a version of fundamentalist Buddhism unrecognizable elsewhere on the planet — and the state’s official faith in a country where Buddhists comprise 70 per cent of the population.

He is secretary general of the small and extremist but disproportionately influential National Organization for Ravana Balaya, named after the mythological 10-headed king of ancient Lanka.


source: www.thestar.com

“Sri Lanka religious ‘extremism’ causing tensions” BBC News Asia

Sri Lanka’s long civil war, arising out of ethnic tensions between the majority Sinhalese and the Tamil minority, disfigured the country’s politics and hobbled economic growth.

Now there are signs of development across the country but critics say the peace has come at a cost.

The BBC’s George Alagiah reports from Colombo.

Via http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24950787

source: www.bbc.co.uk

“Sri Lanka, behind the headlines of the Commonwealth Summit” BBC World News

The meeting of Commonwealth heads of government has started in Sri Lanka. But the summit’s attendance list has already narrowed. Leaders of Canada, India and Mauritius have boycotted the gathering. The reason stems from concern over the Human Rights record of the Sri Lanka government, particularly with the regard to the last few months of the end of the civil war in 2009. Coverage on Impact included an in-depth report on the issues underlying the controversy by George Alagiah, followed by a studio discussion by Impact presenter Lucy Hockings with Sri Lankan Democracy Activist Nirmala Rajasingam, and Dushy Ranatunge, a London based journalist for the Sri Lankan newspaper, The Island.

via: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qn31CUxh_mk

source: BBC World News (via Youtube)

Buddhist “Nuns and Gendered Practice: In Search of the Female Renunciant” Nirmala S. Salgado

Based on extensive research in Sri Lanka and interviews with Theravada and Tibetan nuns from around the world, Salgado’s groundbreaking study urges a rethinking of female renunciation. How are scholarly accounts complicit in reinscribing imperialist stories about the subjectivity of Buddhist women? How do key Buddhist “concepts” such as dukkhasamsara, and sila ground female renunciant practice? Salgado’s provocative analysis questions the secular notion of the higher ordination of nuns as a political movement for freedom against patriarchal norms. Arguing that the lives of nuns defy translation into a politics of global sisterhood equal before law, she calls for more-nuanced readings of nuns’ everyday renunciant practices.