29 September, 2020

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An Acquiescent Buddhist Clergy, An Inept Government

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

Much has been said and written of the recent tragic and unrelated events which took place in Ampara and Kandy. Mobs of Sinhala Buddhists attacked Muslim citizens, their homes, businesses, and mosques. A few retaliatory attacks by Muslim mobs too have been reported. The trigger mechanism for the outburst in Ampara was supposedly ‘wanda pethi,’ sterilization pills mixed with food and served in a Muslim owned restaurant to reduce Sinhalese community in numbers. In Kandy, it involved a Sinhalese Buddhist lorry driver who died of injuries inflicted by four Muslim men under the influence of liquor, possibly a case of road rage.

The following narration is a case of communal violence which took place over 70 years ago in neighboring India and the way, Mahatma Gandhi, a true believer of nonviolence, armed only with compassion and moral courage, was able to subdue violence, rape, arson, murder and enforced conversions.


Mahatma Gandhi working out a miracle in Calcutta Courtesy THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

Because of communal violence, Gandhi decided to spend the period August 13 to September 7 in 1947 at the Haidari Mansion in Beliaghata aka Belighata, a neighborhood in Kolkata. These 25 days are considered some of the most intensely heroic days of his life. Beliaghata was a locality where Hindus and Muslims had lived side by side in harmony for centuries. Rioting, arson, rape, and murder had erupted in Kolkata in the run-up to independence. Gandhi’s arrival stopped the violence, temporarily, and both Muslims and Hindus celebrated Independence Day together. After two weeks of peace, trouble flared up again. On August 31, Gandhi began a fast-unto-death. Appeals made in person by his closest associates, Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel besides Governor General Mountbatten (former Viceroy) to give up his fast due to his failing health, was stubbornly refused. His act shocked and shamed the people of the city, who came around, slowly. On September 4, a group of representative Hindus and Muslims met him with a written promise “that peace has been restored in Calcutta once again.” The undertaking added: “We shall never again allow communal strife in the city. And shall strive unto death to prevent it”. Gandhi called off his fast, and two days later left for Delhi.

In the Kandy district, a minority community was subjected to violence by the majority community in the city which is home to Lord Buddha’s tooth relic, considered sacred by Sinhala Buddhists and other Buddhists the world over. Tragically, mayhem was taking place, so to say, in the backyard of Malwathu Maha Viharaya and Asgiri Maha Viharaya, the seats of the Mahanayaka Theros of the Malwatte and Asgiriya chapters of the Siam Nikaya.

The Chief Prelates of the Amarapura and Ramanna Nikayas are not based in Kandy.

Disturbances commenced on Friday night, March 02 in Udispattuwa during the transfer of the body of the deceased Sinhalese driver to Ambala and finally brought under control on March 9, after seven days.

Had all four Chief Prelates, along with as many Bhikkhus they could muster taken to the streets as Gandhi did, and positioned themselves amidst members of the Muslim community in their homes, mosques, and businesses, violence could have been contained. The rioters, so-called Sinhala Buddhists, accompanied by those wrapped in saffron robes, would not have dared to harm such a group of prominent Buddhist clergy and their entourage.

The failure of the Mahanayakas Theros, to try and bring to heel, Buddhists involved in acts of racial injustice, at variance with the teachings of the Buddhist philosophy, is a sign of moral weakness unworthy of their exalted status in the Buddhist order.

March 02 found the government in Colombo in a state of paralysis, following the Local Government elections and the setbacks suffered by the constituent parties of the Yahapalana government. The President was trying to make up his mind whether to continue with Prime Minister Wickramasinghe and his UNP or to go it alone with a working arrangement with the SLPP led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister was fending off a No Confidence motion in Parliament and a leadership challenge within the UNP.

It is pertinent to examine the government’s response time beginning with the initial disturbances on the night of March 02 in Udispattuwa and then spread rapidly to Teldeniya, Digana, Tennekumbura and other areas.

Its paralyzed state prevented the government from doing its duty. The recent disturbances were sufficient for any sensible government to swing into action. A Security Council meeting should have been convened late in the night of March 02 no sooner reports of disturbances began to come in. Inputs could have been called for from civil administrators, Police, intelligence agencies and other relevant state bodies. Most importantly, the first set of instructions should have been issued primarily to Police and STF before lunchtime on March 03, to bring the situation under control.

Government action is evident only from 3 pm on March 05, with the deployment of the army, followed by imposition of districtwide dusk to dawn Police curfew. The President declared an island-wide state of emergency on March 06.

Though unrelated, incidents in Ampara a few days earlier should have been considered an early warning. Initial disturbances in Udispattuwa and Teldeniya had been on a small scale. Rioting had commenced in earnest and spread to other parts only after the subsequent arrival of outsiders in Kandy. An immediate clamp down in the morning or evening of March 03 would have prevented outsiders from joining and aggravating matters. It would probably have put an end to rioting.

One of the primary responsibilities of any government is to ensure the safety and security of all citizens regardless of caste, creed, race or religion. In this instance, it was the safety and security of the Muslim community, their property, and Mosques in Kandy district.

In its paralyzed state, the government failed to do what it takes to bring rioters under control. The inaction of the then government during the Darga Town violence in 2014 and lessons learned should have been a guiding light.

The government’s failure to declare curfew till March 05 evening amounts to criminal negligence.

The government should take responsibility for its inaction between March 02 evening and 3 pm on March 05 and the resulting tragic deaths and events until March 09.

Violence in the Kandy area resulted in the death of three people besides 22 persons sustaining injuries. Over 200 Muslim-owned houses are in ruins. According to Police spokesperson SP Ruwan Gunasekara, in the Kandy district, 19 religious places have been damaged, and 60 cases of vehicle damage reported. He has also confirmed the arrest of 280 suspects, 178 persons from Kandy and a further 102 persons from elsewhere.

Some Muslims have accused the Police and STF of inaction. Elements in the Police force may have done so due to prejudices. However, the STF is a well-trained highly disciplined paramilitary force even though they are members of the Police force. A more plausible reason for their inactivity, if true, may have been the absence of clear directives from the political leadership in Colombo.

Meanwhile, it has also been reported, on March 5, a mob rioting in Digana had retaliated by hurling projectiles at the Police who had used tear gas and water cannon to control those rioting.

Minister Rauf Hakeem is on record requesting the government to issue a ‘shoot at sight’ order. It is understood, the President had declined to give instructions to fire at rioters. Making difficult yet necessary decisions is a part of governance and duty of an Executive President. If the President is unable to rise to the occasion when required, he should heed the advice given recently by Ven. Dambara Amila Thero in an address which has gone viral receiving many endorsements and call it a day.

A Police curfew on March 03 backed by a directive to ‘shoot at sight’ curfew breakers would have prevented isolated incidents developing into a full-scale riot as well the arrival of outsiders.

Several Buddhist priests in the Kandy district, together with a group of youths have walked through villages from dusk to dawn, dissuading rioters and preventing violence. Some other priests have given refuge to Muslims in distress, inside their temples. Heroic acts indeed, worthy of emulation by all Sinhala Buddhists. If these monks were not harmed, there is no reason to believe the Mahanayaka Theros involved in similar acts would have been harmed.

The Chief of Defense Staff is on record, quite rightly, branding rioters as ‘traitors,’ given the many Muslim men who provided invaluable services in military intelligence during the civil war due to their proficiency in the Tamil language.

It is but also correct to remember the likes of Capt. Shahul Hameed Nilam, Lt. Col. Tuan Nizam Mutallif and many others formerly of the Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP). Nilam and Mutallif had been the commander and deputy commander of the unit. The former with his family has disappeared without a trace while the latter and nearly 80 operatives and informants were systematically murdered by LTTE terrorists, some including Mutaliff in broad daylight in Colombo. The unit’s existence and identities became public knowledge after their safe house in Athurugiriya was raided by the Police. The then government, who believed the group was planning to assassinate high-level government leaders including the Prime Minister (the allegation was later proved to be false) did nothing to prevent the raid, the arrest of LRRP operatives and disclosure of their identities. The PCoI Report concluded the raid “illegal and immoral” besides “total betrayal and absolute treachery to the nation.” Those who did nothing to prevent the debacle in 2002 occupy the office of the first among equals and Ministerial, Ambassadorial and Advisory positions today.

The CDS will no doubt agree, rioters in Kandy, the Athurugiriya raiders, and leaders who did nothing to prevent the raid all belong to the same group of traitors.

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Latest comments

  • 15
    3

    The so called Mahanayakas NEVER come forward even to open mouth against all Budda Terrorists .. Muslims are scared seeing terror , scary face of Galagodaya and his golayas…

    Definition of Terrorist – ” A person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”

    So Govt of SriLanka must declare Gnanasera as a Terrorist as Time Maganzine did for
    Budda Terrorist Viradhu.

    • 7
      1

      ceylonee,

      “So Govt of SriLanka must declare Gnanasera as a Terrorist as Time Maganzine did for
      Budda Terrorist Viradhu.”

      President Sirisena accompanied the Terrorist Ganasara to Japan.

      The president Sirisena, the Traitor, Patholaya, Sevalaya and Perethaya must be impeached for harboring aiding and abetting terrorists.

      • 3
        0

        Rajeewa did you hear that there was a demonstration in Chennai against violence on Muslims in Sri Lanka, where the participants carried LTTE flag. The fact that police did not take action despite LTTE ban still in force, should ring a bell to you.

        • 1
          0

          LTTE ban is political. Indra Gandhi provided aid, trained LTTE to struggle against Sinhala Buddhist oppressive regime; Many Tamils in Tamil Nadu, Eelam, Tamils Diaspora still admire their struggle but deceived by many nations as they supported Buddhist terror and Apartheid policies; Politicians too criminals and brand freedom struggle as terrorists like Nelson Mandela too was branded as a terrorist but later won Nobel Prize, Canadian citizenship and much more.

          Tamil Nadu will have to separate first to support Eelam struggle and end Buddhist hate crimes.

          • 2
            0

            S Siva

            “Nelson Mandela too was branded as a terrorist but later won Nobel Prize, Canadian citizenship and much more.”

            Are telling us the psychopath VP had the same stature as Nelson Mandela?
            Aren’t you kidding yourself?

            “Tamil Nadu will have to separate first to support Eelam struggle and end Buddhist hate crimes.”

            Seriously you keep on kidding us? Please stop.
            By any chance you have an interest in Tamilnet?

    • 7
      0

      Mr. Jayaweera,
      You write “Some Muslims have accused the Police and STF of inaction. Elements in the Police force may have done so due to prejudices.” The STF may be as highly trained as you say, but I don’t believe they are as impartial as one would want. They are a part of the larger Sinhala Buddhist society. A good example would be the old lady ( around 70) who looks after bags at our local supermarket. She looks perfectly harmless, but suddenly gave me an unprovoked harangue about how the Muslims are multiplying like rats. If this is the mentality of little old ladies, their sons must be much worse.
      As to the Mahanayakas, you must remember that these are not Buddhists, but Sinhala Buddhists. They are so assured of their own importance that they refused to go meet the pope not so long ago.
      I don’t think they would be very keen to meet Gandhi either if he was still around.

      • 2
        1

        old codger

        “I don’t think they would be very keen to meet Gandhi either if he was still around.”

        Did the public racist first Aryan Anagarika Homeless Dharmapala meat the half naked fakir?

        • 0
          0

          It seems that Dharmapala invited Gandhi to visit. ” For its sender was the Anagarika Dharmapala, its recipient, Mahatma Gandhi. Dated February 7, 1924, the cable read: “Ceylon Buddhists delighted your release (from Yeravada jail). Invite you and family to Colombo. Quiet seaside residence ready”.
          Not clear whether they met.

    • 6
      3

      What can we expect from these sexually dysfunctional monks

      • 4
        3

        They are not “sexually dysfunctional .” they rape and molest their younger counterparts regularly: I know this is hard to do, but try to find a right minded monk and ask. One you get tp know they, they will tell you this is the truth. All the kids who becomes monks in their very young age become sexual tools of older monks. This is an open secret.

    • 2
      6

      Ceylonee,

      Still no one knows exactly who master minded Kandy and Ampara incidents. Probably Tamil Diaspora would have paid these guys because then they can tell the Western countries that are planning to send Demala refugees to Sri Lanka that the situation is not safe for minorities. Anyway what happened in Kandy and Amapara is nothing compared to Demala terrorism prevailed in the country for three decades.

    • 3
      1

      Rajeewa Jayaweera

      “Mahatma Gandhi, a true believer of nonviolence, armed only with compassion and moral courage, was able to subdue violence, rape, arson, murder and enforced conversions.”

      You have gone bit too far insinuating that the none in the Mahasangha believes in non violence, void of compassion and moral courage unable or unwilling to subdue violence, rape, arson, murder and enforced conversions.

    • 4
      0

      Mahanayakes have no authority over the younger monks. The hierarchy is very different to that of the Christian and Catholic Churches.

      The Mahanayakes are not intersted in harmony and peace.

      These chief monks enjoy all the privileges including duty free permits to buy luxury cars. They have no clue about the teachings of Buddha.

      The shameless politicians keep worshiping these monks with no self respect.

      • 2
        0

        Absolutely right Jagath, you hit the nail on the head. Most people do not know the truth.

      • 0
        0

        Jagath Fernando

        “The shameless politicians keep worshiping these monks “

        That is only for public consumption. They do not worship in their heart but only act pretending to worship. Politicians and the monks are all the same brand cheating on the people. Wehn you adone a yellow robe that means they have given up on materialistic life but that hardly holds water as they are living in luxary in their Vihare homes.

        If we could only follow them after their death, they are certainly goinng to hell.

  • 1
    2

    Mr. Jayaweera you talk about inept govt. Rajinakanth is coming to politics and he says I am coming not to steal but I take if they give me. He has said that with Veritas – Phillipine Catholics. In Sri lanka to Tamils in Tea estates, one minister who said his job was so difficult and he does not have time becasue if JET LAG to submit a certain legislative act to the parliament (he does not know how to) because he is so busy and he deals with overseas work. Anyway, he had mentioned in Walasmulla, what happened when he visited a Tea Estate. He had told that he would modify the Tea plucking according to the scientific method which is mechanisation. women had got scared and said NO. We do this way. We are not doing this free of charge and we are also paid. I heard Kanimoshi came with some gentlemen to see the anti-muslim violence and stayed with them in private house. They all were estate Tamils.

  • 0
    1

    Rajeewa comes up with some choice red herrings.
    Mahatma Gandhi believed in non-violence and peaceful coexistence of races and ethnic groups. Can you name a Ceylonese (now Sri Lankan) Mahathma? Gota?
    Rajeewa sheds tears ~ “The failure of the Mahanayakas Theros, to try and bring to heel, Buddhists involved in acts of racial injustice,………………….”.
    The Theros never did on several earlier occasions. Why now?
    .
    Way way back in 1958, emergency was declared but the police did not quite know what to do till Sir Oliver G shouted sh….sh….sh…shoot……(as Vitachi puts it in Emergency 58). The loyalty of the police was not in any doubt.
    Several pogroms and emergencies later the police do not take any meaningful steps to quell disturbances. But this time armed services are also involved.
    Of course MS and/or RW cannot count on their loyalty.
    .
    Rajeewa says rather patronisingly ~ “Minister Rauf Hakeem is on record requesting the government to issue a ‘shoot at sight’ order. It is understood, the President had declined to give instructions to fire at rioters………….”.
    MS doubted whether the Army and/or police will do that. Bu the way this projects Hakeem as a bloodthirsty monster.
    You have somehow brought LTTE in your narrative. Why?

  • 4
    2

    the mahanayaka want a genocide, as they follow mayanmar.

    • 1
      2

      YES..All these crooked , hard line Budha Mahanayakkas do enjoy the Genocide of all Muslims . That is the only reason these Mahana yakkaas Never points finger against Terrorist Gnanasara. MahanaYakkas will order Bootha Champikka , then he will order Gnanasaraya and he will order Police.. Then the fire ball will engulf lanka.

      as I many time recorded here , If Sin kele Barbarians with the help of Police Rowdies start to wipe out Muslims in the name Buddha , then Muslims specially woman , girls even children will be RAPED and Killed as Myanmar State Budda Terrorists doing as yet..

      Muslims will find NO where to escape . The only way and choice will be DO or DIE…

      The election commissioner says even though some Bikkus and Budhists come forward to help some Muslims before and after these violence, the Sin Kele , as a whole , are very happy inside seeing these destructions happened to Muslims.. This is the TRUTH..

  • 2
    1

    I agree with the writer that the Buddhist monks who do not agree with violence, should have gone to the streets, and spoken strongly against the violence on Muslims. These Sinhala Buddhist thugs and killers, show a viciousness, and a hatred, that surfaces, easily, and too often. This was another day of shame for the country. The entire world condemns this violence, and peace loving leaders like Desmond Tutu, and Kofi Annan, have also requested the government to solve this peacefully, and to stop the attacks on Muslims, before it escalates. Shouldn’t we be ashamed that after decades of ethnic conflict, wars, suicide bombers, and bloodshed, we still see the majority attacking a minority on false rumors, drunken road rage, and pills that supposedly sterilize men, that does not exist anywhere in the world? There is a limit to what the minority can take, the attacks on their homes, businesses, and even their places of worship. What we should all fear is that there will be organized retaliation, leading to a larger conflict, which is what the evil elements behind these marauding mobs, simply wait for, another Myanmar.

    • 1
      0

      @ Navin you do your own dirty work, other monks are not your tools to clean up the streets off “Dusseelas” (undisciplined). Put your feet where your mouth is get to the street yourselves. If not ask yourself, why not, then you will get your answer. If the governance of the country is proper, and if the pot bellied monkies in the House that wear robes of Black Suits, National Dresses and Waitties were not corrupt and did their duty to the country honestly, none of this would happen. People int he streets because of that, or if not through the agitation of those very monkies, trying to get the bigger part of the cake, right? So as voters, go and disrobe those monkeys first, and you are legally entiteld to do it by the constitution.

  • 3
    1

    This is a complicated issue. Both the Muslims and the Sinhalese extremists should be blamed. We should not forget that the communities in Sri Lanka are noble races. It is the politicians and some religious extremists who instigates the violence. The foundation was laid in the preaching of the misinterpretation of religious teachings. The teachings of ‘killing all the infidels’, ‘modes of cruel punishment on women’, ‘conversion of faiths and thereafter threatening if reconverted’, ‘patriotism towards the country regardless of race and religion’, ‘some acts of officers in manipulating National Identity Cards’ etc, have given rise to suspicion in the eyes of the Sinhalese race. The death of the Sinhalese person who was beaten to death by the Muslims by the Muslims was unacceptable. Remember, he lost his wife three months prior to his death and was a community social worker. Has any Muslims condemned such uncivilized act. Even the burning of buildings belonging to Muslims are unacceptable. It is evident that this unpleasant incident created an opportunity for unscrupulous persons to loot. The non-violence preached by Gandhi cannot be compared to Sri Lanka. When Swami Vivekananda was about to address a meeting at Anuradhapura, stones were thrown by Buddhists and the meeting was cancelled. When S.J.V.Chelvanayagam performed a satyagraha, he was assaulted. The significance of Buddhism were disregarded by all narrow-minded politicians, religious extremists and the military officers, who are still instrumental for a fractured Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is not well matured to practice tolerance, which is a curse. What is required is a CHANGE from the bottom of the heart for co-existence, as CHANGE is the base for everything.

  • 1
    1

    I think Rajeewa Jayaweera was asked not to write about the Sri Lankan Air lines. So, he is crying out loud about the anti-muslim violence. YOu all want to hide the bond scam violence and the so many financial, land management, Txa related regulations and changes going inside parliament. If you are looking for the truth some muslims are actually has become a nuiscance. Other muslims oppose it. Catholics (Veritas)/christians,), INGOs are behind it. Politicians tried to use it. there should be another foreign connection. there is dislike among Wahabis and ISIS too. IT looks even though you are not obnoxious towards the buddhists, you do not know who doing this is.

  • 2
    1

    There is a clear violation of buddhist human rights by some muslims. Muslims know that.

    • 0
      0

      The backward world of troll Jim.

  • 1
    0

    Rajeew, be fair …..no idea if you are a Buddhist or not, but no point in having a go at Mahanayakas. They are not the heads of a religious police force, but learned monks appointed to those posts on the basis of their seniority and acceptance by the vast majority of clergy. They do speak against injustice softly as they did when MR was victimizing SF, to be initimidated by MR threatening that Asgiri-Malwatu would be dissolved to make way for politically biassed Southern Establishment. MR would go to hell for attemting to create a “Sanga Bedha” (dissension of Sanga), and as you know that he has been in hell in this own life time since 2015 to this day.
    If monks do not follow the code of conduct of the Vinaya pitaka they cease to become pious monks, and there is no need for mahanayaka’s to declare what they are or what they are not. They cannot go and disrobe them, as if a soldier or an officer is drummed out of the army. Laymen may do it if the civil and criminal laws of harrassing or violence towards a fellow citizen allow it, but we know it would be against the law. Anybody can don a yellow robe and pretend to be a monk, for personal gain or influencing the people, but it is up to the people to differentiate what is a true monk and what is fake. So, don’t use these situations to denigrate Buddha’s teachings or Vinaya rules; they are above your criticism and you do not have the right piousness do such mischief. It says in Dhammapada, the wise is like a rock that does not get moved by storms. Try to be one like it, if you could!

  • 0
    0

    Buddha ????? Not a Terrosist. . Sinhala Buddhists are not terrorists.
    So stop this nonsence.. . Be careful in using the language..
    It was the Sinhala Buddhists who saved the Muslims.
    It was the Sinhala Buddhists who saved the innocent Tamils in the past.
    Is it the Sinhala Buddhists who are involved in terrorism in the rest of the world?
    Dirty politicians of all communities are responsible.for what is happening.
    Don’t think the people of other communities are all SAINTS.
    We have to live as Sri Lankans, members of one family.
    NO TO ANY FORM OF TERRORISM

  • 0
    0

    President Sirisena did not accompany Gnanassara terrorist to Japan but he advised Gnanassara and paid the costs of his trip to join him in Japan.

    What action can you expect from Sirisena if he has secret deal with BBS.

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