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SRI LANKA: Mahanayake Theros

needs to demonstrate courage &


intervene to stop the violence
une !"# $%!&
It is to the credit o' some (uddhist monks that they have taken active role in e)tending
support and protection to the Muslims victim to vicious attacks across Sri Lanka* The
attacks +egan a'ter the Secretary o' ((S# Reverend ,alagoda-Atte ,nanasara Thera#
spoke at a recent meeting at Aluthgama*
Image courtesy: The Financial Times, daily newspaper based in Colombo, Sri Lanka
.ideo 'ootage o' the une !/th meeting sho0s this monk using provocative 0ords and
gestures# inciting violence against the Muslim community* In one instance# he sought a
promise 'rom the cro0d that they 0ould smash +ags 0ith 1alal sym+ols on the
ground* Re'erring to +usiness premises +elonging to Muslims# he threatened that such
places 0ould +e at 2our mercy3 42ape sarranay35*
The end o' the
meeting has +een the +eginning o' 'erocious attacks across Sri Lanka# sending
thousands o' Muslim men# 0omen# and children to seek re'uge outside their homes*
T0o incidents demonstrate the nature o' the criminal acts o' the attackers*
The 6N7 Mem+er o' 7arliament Mr* 7alitha The0araperruma has 0ritten a+out an
attack he 0itnessed against elderly 0omen# pregnant 0omen# and children +y a group
o' people 0ho had s0ords and 0ooden poles in their hands* 1ad it not +een 'or his
active intervention# these 0omen and children 0ould have +een killed# according to a
statement posted on the M78s 9ace+ook account*
The statement details that among the victims 0as an elderly mother# a pregnant
0oman# and other 0omen and children* A'ter the M7 took them into his van# the
criminal gang attacked the van 0ith stones# iron poles# and +ottles 'illed 0ith sand* The
M78s eyes 0ere cut +y +roken glass* The van# 0hich 0as a ne0 one# 0as heavily
damaged*
:ne o' the children# an in'ant# 0as hit 0ith a rock* The in'ant is no0 in a ;olom+o
1ospital in critical condition* The mother has also su''ered in<uries a'ter +eing hit 0ith a
sand-'illed +ottle* The M7 has 'urther stated that 0hen all these violence 0as taking
place# the police and the Special Task 9orce 0ere standing near+y* In 'act# they 0ere
aiding and a+etting the criminal gangs# re'using to intervene to stop the crimes
un'olding in 'ront o' their eyes*
Reverend =atareka .i<itha Thera# a monk 0ho is a mem+er o' the local government in
Mahiyangana# and the leader o' athika (ala Sena0a# has pu+licly e)pressed his
opposition to Reverend ,alagoda-Atte ,nanasara Thera and the provocative activities
o' the ((S* Last night# Reverend =atareka .i<itha Thera 0as a+ducted and +eaten*
This morning he 0as 'ound near a +ridge in the (andaragama area and admitted to
7anadura hospital* 1e has no0 +een trans'erred to ;olom+o National 1ospital 'or
'urther treatment*
=hile the 7resident o' Sri Lanka has said that those responsi+le 'or violence 0ould +e
dealt 0ith# there is no indication that either Reverend ,alagoda-Atte ,nanasara Thera
or other individuals# 0ho are the +rains +ehind these organised attacks against
Muslims# 0ill +e +rought +e'ore the la0*
It turns out the une !/th meeting is not the 'irst time the Reverend has resorted to
in'lammatory pu+lic statements* 7revious speeches o' ,nanasara Thera demonstrate
schemes to attack places o' 0orship# +usiness premises# and homes o' Muslims*
The inaction o' the police and the Special Task 9orce point to directions 'rom a+ove to
aid and a+et criminals engaged in violence and 'ail to carry out their duties* I' the
7resident is genuine a+out his promise o' protection to the Muslim community# then it
is his duty to arrest all those o''icers that aided and a+etted this violence and 0ho
'ailed to carry out their duties as re>uired +y la0*
It is evident that the BBS and its leadership are engaged in a plan to make Muslim businessmen
leave their business premises and also to get Muslim residents to leave certain areas. The BBS
has made it clear that all those who oppose them, including any Buddhist monks, will be dealt
with severely. The attack on Reverend Watareka i!itha Thera there"ore comes as no surprise.
The Mahinda Ra!apaksa government is betraying an incapacity or unwillingness to en"orce the
law. The primary "unction o" a government is to en"orce the law against all criminal elements,
and to curb every "orm o" crime. The #resident is "ailing in his duty to command his "orces to
ensure peace and security.
$one other than the Minister o" %ustice has admitted the "ailure o" the government to en"orce
the law and provide protection to the people. When a government lacks determination to stop
violence, it encourages more violence, particularly when riots break out.
&nder these circumstances, the leading Buddhist clergy o" the country, which includes the
Mahanayake Theros, should demonstrate their solidarity with the Muslims under attack and
demonstrate moral courage by intervening to stop the violence. Some Buddhist monks have
already intervened by visiting Muslim communities and indicating their opposition to these
pogroms.
I" the Mahanayake Theros were also to step out and visit the places where Muslim re"ugees
have sought protection, it would be a clear indication o" compassion towards all sections o" Sri
'ankan society.
# # #
About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental
organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for
justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The
Hong Kong-based group was founded in !"#.