1 December, 2020

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An Obstreperous Monk & Ostensible Compassion

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

The letter signed by a set of powerful Buddhist leaders including two Mahanaykes and the Diyawadana Nilame of Dalada Maligawa, and addressed to Buddha Sasana Minister Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, appealing for the release of Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thera from prison, and in turn, the minister’s recommendation to President Maithiripala Sirisena(MS) to comply with that appeal on compassionate ground, seem to be a carefully calculated but sinister move to maximise its political advantage to competing parties. President Sirisena, opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa(MR), and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe(RW): all three would like to claim credit for Gnanasara’s release, but it is the politics behind this ostensible compassion that should worry a discerning public. 

Gnanasara is not an ordinary innocent monk sent to jail without justification. The judiciary found this monk, who is also the General Secretary of the far right Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), guilty of contempt of court over the hearing of the case of missing journalist, Prageeth Ekneligoda. However, he and his BBS, even before his incarceration, have been alleged to have involved not only in planning and executing but also participating directly in a number of racial and religious disturbances targeting minorities.  There is ample video recorded evidence that had gone viral to prove this monk’s un-Buddhist and uncivilized behaviour. Yet, it is disappointing that Gnanasara’s obstreperousness and unruliness have not received at least a public rebuke if not outright condemnation from the Sangha. Instead of him being de-ordained and de-robed to protect the sanctity of Buddhist Sasana and cleanse the Sangha of elements like him who tarnish Sangha’s compassionate and purist image, Mahanayakas are appealing to the President for his freedom, so that he could continue doing in the future what he had done in the past. (See my piece in Colombo Telegraph, 12 April 2018 on “Sangha Needs Cleansing”.) By this move the signatories of the letter have shown their utmost disrespect to the judiciary of the country. One wonders whether these petitioners acted on their own volition and in the interest of Buddhism and the nation or have fallen prey to sinister motives and manoeuvres of some politicians. In all probability it is the latter that seems to have motivated their action. Who is/are actually behind this scheme and why?         

To start with, MS’s unconstitutional parliamentary fiasco and its aftermath has created greater volatility in domestic politics and severe financial strain and productivity loss to the economy. Politically, even though UNF has won a reprieve to govern until the end of its term, the government is actually on life support and can only mark time before facing another election, which MS and MR want to be held soon and they have determined to exploit every opportunity that arises to make it happen. While UNF wants to protect the support it receives from TNA and Muslims, the opposition wants to maximise its vote bank from the Buddhist majority. The President in the meantime, who is more interested in ensuring his chances of occupying the Presidency (with its powers undiminished) for another term than in the welfare of the country and its people, is desperately seeking political alliances (even with the devil) to achieve his objective. The country’s economy in the meantime has fallen prey to these political manoeuvres. Any long term measure and hard choices to be made to reverse the economic descent will be sacrificed in the interest of populism and political expediency. 

In the absence of any sound economic program or blueprint to present before the voters, political contestants will be looking for other vote catching issues to win the race. In the political history of this country almost every election since 1950s was fought on ethnic and religious grounds. It is to exploit these explosive issues that the utility of a person like Gnanasara will become handy to whoever who could buy his and BBS support. The question is who stands to gain most by the release of this confrontationist and rabble rousing monk? 

Because of Gnanasasra’s open hatred of ethnic and religious minorities and direct involvement in a number of anti-Tamil and anti-Muslim violence, RW and UNP that are depending on TNA and Muslim support for survival stand to lose the most by his release. However, the appeal for his release originating from the Buddhist hierarchy cannot be opposed or rejected easily by RW, because the cost of that rejection in terms of Buddhist votes will be greater than the damage arising from his release. Hence, the least costly action for the government would be to recommend the release rather than just forwarding the letter and leave the final decision to the President. This explains the recommendation of the minister concerned. He and his government can claim some credit for Ganasara’s release.

The one who desperately want to claim credit is MS. There are news reports that the president was already in talks with BBS regarding the matter. By pardoning the monk if MS could win BBS backing, that would enable him to make inroads into SLPP vote bank in case MR and his party were to nominate Gotabaya Rajapaksa (GR) to run for presidency. It is not a secret that BBS in the 1915 presidential elections supported MR.  Did MS therefore engineer this letter to cover a decision that is fait accompli? If the president initiated the letter why should the Mahanayake of Malwatha sign it, who virtually slapped MS when the prelate refused to meet MS during the constitutional crisis? Has the Mahanayake switched side?   

MR and GR always carried the support of Gnanasara and BBS. The two brothers never condemned Gnanasara’s un-Buddhist obstinacy and public unruliness. At best they remained silent. It is to their advantage therefore to get this monk released before the election. So, did MR also have an input into the missive for presidential pardon? From whichever angle one looks at, the political agenda behind this ostensible compassion is crystal clear. If compassion is the ground for his release why shouldn’t the president extend his compassion and release at least a few other political prisoners who are languishing there for nearly a decade without being brought to trial? If at all this monk is going to be released it should be strictly conditional. Let MS consult his Indonesian counterpart, who is also reconsidering his decision to pardon the Muslim leader Abubucker Basheer.   

Recently, even some far right Hindus are appealing for Gnanasara’s release. It is not difficult to understand their motive in the light of rising anti-Muslim feelings among Hindus of Eastern Province. 

On the other hand, all three contestants, RW, MS and MR may have overestimated the political usefulness of Gnanasara, because the voting Sinhalese public is fully aware of the damage this person has caused to public peace and communal amity.     

Finally, what will be the reaction from the judiciary to MS’s pardon? Only the legal community can answer this question.                      

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Latest comments

  • 2
    25

    AmeerAli: He does not look like a cleric Who says Kill Infidels or theonewho hasfour wives including the one in India. None of your religious states gave you proper employment. the anglican state that you live in kicked you out. You writ deregotary remarks on the state that gave you something. How disgustingis that. Even if CT hide this you get to read it.

    • 9
      1

      Dr. Ali:
      The book “Cold War Monks: Buddhism and America’s Secret Strategy in South East Asia”, published by Yale University press in 2017 holds the key to explaining what is going on today in Sri Lanka with Buddhist identity politics and violence against minorities.

      Buddhism is being weaponized and played by Trumpland’s Peace Corps, and Asia Foundation who use ethnic and religious identity politics to distract the people from US plans to set up bases in Sri Lanka with the help of their puppet Bondscam Ranil who should be impeached for Looting the CBSL, in Trump’s Cold War against China in the Indian Ocean.
      Sri Lanka will soon be like Venezuvela, where Trumpland is playing havoc. Or like Syria.
      These are dangerous times.
      Also, Dr. Ali Why do you think the draft “new constitution” was wheeled on now? To distract with the ethnic question from US military footprint in Sri Lanka in connivance with Bondscam Ranil and his incompetent butterfly mafia who have put Lanka into a massive IMF-WB Middle Income Country debt trap.
      The fact of the matter, the big picture, is that religious and ethnic identity politics are being Weaponized by external parties. Trumplan’s Peace Corps and Asia Foundation in Sri Lanka protect Washington’s puppet, Bondscam Ranil Wickramasinghe, by Dividing and Distracting the people of Lanka by weaponizing religion and are pushing the US agenda of setting up “temporary” naval bases in Trincomalee as there is a Cold War with China in the Indian Ocean. Trumpland wants to control Lanka by foul means. Please read the book Monsoon by Robert Kaplan. Also.

      • 3
        1

        Any body who defends Ganasara the dog must get his cheeks cut ear to ear.

        • 2
          4

          Nandamal,

          I am a strong supporter of Ven. Gnanassara. And because I am one, if you attempt to cut my cheek from ear to ear, I will grab your hand and shove it up your rear-end.

          Nandamal, did you hear me? I will grab your hand and shove it up your rear-end.

          I am a veteran of the armed forces of Sri Lanka and when it comes to combat, you cannot show me anything I haven’t seen already in the battle field. You get that?

          • 4
            1

            Retarded Shamal Perera – I suggest that you put your tongue out and try to shove it up on Venereal Gandasara’s rear. I am sure Gandasara will like it!

    • 3
      0

      Dr. Ameer Ali,

      Thanks for the article. This has become a olitical football, just like the illegal and unconstitutional coup. In the absence of the wimpy parliament not impeaching the Traitor Sirisena, the Judiciary can appeal to the Supreme Court claiming that this release is political and is travesty of justice and unconstitutional, and makes a mockery of the law and order the the constitution expects,

      Let the chips fall, where they may.

      The Para-Sinhala
      “Buddhist “ monks are not following pristine Buddism, and not following the Vinaya of the Monks, the Buddha expects. That is why Para-Sinhala “Buddhism’s” is Not Pristine Buddhism.

  • 15
    0

    My worry is not about this single case..My worry is about independence of Sri Lankan judiciary. Sri Lanka has had a long tradition of free and fair legal system. Sometime ago politicians feared judges and legal system of the country. Since MR came to power, his clan bought every one by money. Look today universities. Many fake PHD holders, many VCs, Deans/Heads are appointed by order of politicians; Lecturers are appointed by order of politicians: billions of rupees are wasted by unqualified academics. all this happened because, politicians think they could do anything.. Now, if this monk is released by the influence of politics, or religious influence.. it would be bad for the integrity of justice system. then, What is point to have judges, court, and lawyers. let the jungle rule prevail in Sri Lanka? Why not Veda courts will be better than this. I’m not against the releasing of any one.. but there must law and order to all.. So, bad Sri Lankan is descending into lawless land.. Lawyers, judges, law society, , law colleges, legal firms, all must take some responsibility on this matter. Let the judges do their jobs.. Whoever it is? Even if President found guilty let him pay the price As in South Korean case, Former president is now in Jail. Law is law for all. There is no one law for Sinhalese another for Tamil. Justice is unconditional to all. Whither Sinhalese logic and wisdom? what are you going to teach next generations. so sad Sri Lanka. So, proud to say she is good in literacy and numeracy and yet, people are idiot in application of justice.. Who’s fault is it? Idiot politicians.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 6
    2

    “Obstreperous” ???

    • 8
      0

      somass.

      “Obstreperous” ???

      Noisy and difficult to control.
      unruly, unmanageable, disorderly, undisciplined, uncontrollable, unrestrained, rowdy, uncontrolled, disruptive, truculent, difficult, refractory, rebellious, mutinous, out of hand, riotous, out of control, wild, turbulent, uproarious, tumultuous, tempestuous, unbridled, irrepressible, boisterous, roisterous, rackety; noisy, loud, clamorous, raucous, vociferous; informalstroppy, bolshie, rumbustious; informal rambunctious; archaic rampageous.

      • 0
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        Obstreperous-Incorrect Word. The ‘monk’ in question is a Rasputin. Racist, with murderous inclinations. Antisocial element with criminal mindset. Should be incarcerated for ever.

  • 5
    2

    Am I the only one who looked for the definition of obstreperousness ?

    • 4
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      Spelling bee
      I thought YOU would come to my rescue.

      Soma

    • 0
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      Spelling bee ,

      Indeed ,I am lost too , just going to find out. You are not alone.

  • 0
    13

    The severity of his punishment is far out of proportion to the seriousness of his crime. A full pardon merely after six months is too lenient in proportion to his crime. The latter is a political consequence of the former. This is what happens when people lose their balance. When emotions overtake logic and political reality. Let those who are uncomfortable with this pardon explain us the government inaction towards Tiger commemoration events in the North. Does the law apply equally to all in all circumstances? Where is that TNA lady who wanted to bring the Tigers back?

    Soma

    • 7
      0

      somass.

      “Obstreperous” ???

      Noisy and difficult to control.
      unruly, unmanageable, disorderly, undisciplined, uncontrollable, unrestrained, rowdy, uncontrolled, disruptive, truculent, difficult, refractory, rebellious, mutinous, out of hand, riotous, out of control, wild, turbulent, uproarious, tumultuous, tempestuous, unbridled, irrepressible, boisterous, roisterous, rackety; noisy, loud, clamorous, raucous, vociferous; informalstroppy, bolshie, rumbustious; informal rambunctious; archaic rampageous.

      • 1
        3

        Thanks. I thought it is an Arabic word out of Sharia law book.

        Soma

        • 3
          0

          Soma,

          Please don’t forget to take your eye-glasses to the polling both next time. Even Sirisena might look like Sharia to you :-)

    • 0
      1

      11 thumbs down!
      Donkeys are multiplying like hell.

      Soma

  • 6
    0

    Dr Ameer Ali ,

    Thank you for the post, some food for thought.
    Well some one jailed him and some one else will let him out it is a case of ” here we round the mulberry bush “.
    Lets really hope for zero tolerance for senseless acts of violence.

  • 20
    1

    What is this? A joke? The law is applied and then circumvented according to the whims of an unscrupulous few?
    Keep the thug in there…period

    • 1
      5

      You are having a period?

      Understandable, you bleeding mess of a man.

  • 4
    1

    Soma: I think, it is not correct to justify “Pardoning” of “Ganasara” by arguing or questioning “What did the Government do in the case of lady who wanted to bring back LTTE”. Look at both as “Violations of Law and Order” of the country. If that “Lady’s” statement is deemed against the LAWS of the country DEAL with that too in the most appropriate manner. I understand your concerns; (mainly the disparity) but why can’t the PEOPLE think in terms of MAINTAINING Law and order and meeting out JUSTICE to each and everyone in EQUAL TERMS depending on the legal standards? The whole trouble originates at the highest levels of the “Authoritative Individuals” of the Government. This is what the people have to KNOW and IDENTIFY and send a STRONG MESSAGE to all those who make these WRONG DECISIONS by kicking them out at the most appropriate opportunity, which is the VOTING TIME at elections. My opinion on this “Ganasara” case is: He MUST pay off the punishment in full as decreed by the Judiciary. So goes with all other cases too. NO PARDON for anyone who has been found guilty of any offence and subjected to punishment by the Judiciary. If the Guilty Party is not agreeing, let him/her follow the path laid down and find their own freedom. This provision “PARDONING” by the President stated in the Constitution must be ERASED OFF. Period.

    • 0
      1

      Douglas
      Thank you very much for your decent , well argued reply. This is the standard I wish to see established. In general I feel strongly about those LTTE suspects in prolonged detention without trial. I am subdued after reading your comment. Knowing that TNA is so rich in legal talent to challenge I have to conclude that the government is well within the legal framework in doing so. When LTTE was the most ruthless terrorist outfit ever known Sambandan requested the Tamils and the international community to accept them as the sole representatives of Tamils. Doesn’t that fall within the purview of aiding and abetting terrorism? Haven’t we forgiven him? Wasn’t it wrong for Rajapaksa to release 12,000+ terrorists without parliamentary approval?

      Soma
      (In order to facilitate upcoming war crime trials I am launching a campaign to rearrest the 12,000+ terrorists irresponsibly released by Rajapaksa.)

  • 12
    0

    Dr Ameer Ali, I come from a diametrically opposed religious background to yours but I fully concur with your comments on Gnanasara (or more appropriately ‘Gandassara’) and his ‘balu sena’.
    :
    This fake monk is a disgrace to my religion. He’s basically a thug wearing robes for taking advantage and covering up.
    :
    It’s disgusting, although it is not surprising, to see disgraceful politicians are falling on each other in cohort with shortsighted Mahanayakas to get this criminal an early release from jail, where he should be locked out to rot for the rest of his life and the keys thrown away.
    :
    These idiots will get more than what they bargained for when the out-of-jail and out-of-control Gandassara will go on rampaging and inciting violence against followers of other religions bringing Buddhism and the whole country into disrepute.

  • 1
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 0
    1

    Jesus Christ, Holy Buddha, Allah hu Akbar, Has everybody gone mad or what

  • 1
    0

    i think all those who are recommending this release are commiting harakiri.
    dayal

  • 1
    0

    Dear Dr Ali,
    I believe I am a better Buddhists than the so-called mahanayakes and the other clergy you refer to herein as I do not try to twist and turn the teachings of the Buddha for political and personal gain like the indisciplined and miserable Buddhist leaders we have amongst us.Other than a very few they rarely ,if ever, follow the Vinaya Rules and the directive purposes for which the Buddha allowed ordination into the Community of Maha Sanga of ordinary people like you and me,so we could learn to deliver extraordinary service to the spiritually needy human beings.Those lessons and directions have been long lost on our Sangha community. Quite a few of them are simply yellow robe donning Businessmen, Politicians, Womanisers, Drunks, Sorcerers, Rascists, Thugs and god only knows what else. I hope I have the liberty to speak in those terms as I come from Buddhist Sinhala stock who in the past have donated land to build temples, built temples and schools and done many other things so-called pious Buddhist did in the days the Dhamma remained a source or the means for spiritual upliftment for the weary pilgrim in search of liberation from the burdens of Samsara or this cycle of birth and death with no guarantee of any permanent state of bliss or put simply never-ending happiness. With Bandaranayake opening the gates of political hell to the Mahasangha as a trick to get elected’ which tragically backfired on him, the sangha grabbed the privilege with both hands and Gnanissara is the outcome of that illegitimate union. The ill effects of it has spread like cancer and we have seen over particularly last 10-12 years the misery and devastation it has caused to the country ably assisted by the totally indisciplined(one would say criminal) and corrupt behaviour of the vast majority of politicians on both sides of politics.

  • 0
    0

    Douglas
    Thank you very much for your decent , well argued reply. This is the standard I wish to see established. In general I feel strongly about those LTTE suspects in prolonged detention without trial. I am subdued after reading your comment. Knowing that TNA is so rich in legal talent to challenge I have to conclude that the government is well within the legal framework in doing so. When LTTE was the most ruthless terrorist outfit ever known Sambandan requested the Tamils and the international community to accept them as the sole representatives of Tamils. Doesn’t that fall within the purview of aiding and abetting terrorism? Haven’t we forgiven him? Wasn’t it wrong for Rajapaksa to release 12,000+ terrorists without parliamentary approval?

    Soma
    (In order to facilitate upcoming war crime trials I am launching a campaign to rearrest the 12,000+ terrorists irresponsibly released by Rajapaksa.)

  • 3
    1

    He wasn’t jailed due to his verbal or physical attacks on minorities. Even though minorities have the rights to fight his clemency being part of direct victims, it is not a right thing to do so. True Muslims cannot deny benevolence, clemency and mercy – Who knows his jail life might have changed him?

  • 0
    1

    Opposing extremism is not racism. we can say Tamil political parties say north & east is Tamils Historical traditional home land. Sinhalese have every rights to Oppose it and work against it. likewise koran Islamic basic document says All none believers vile animal on earth. do you think None believers should accept it and keep quite and let Islamists act against None believers like in Syria beheading journalists of other faith & eating their hearts while Islamic opposition members were killed over running Armed vehicle over them. here in Lanka we can see same trends. destruction of Buddha statues and recovery of lots of arms in Mavanella & Vanathavilluwa. But you muslims want same status in constitution like Buddhism given. It is the duty of monks to teach followers of Buddhism on Threat pose by islamism on Buddhist’s religious places & demand to take actions against it If possible demand banning of that perticular religious litreature , nothing wrong with it. it does not mean He is a racist. More recent in Indonesia some religious places were attacked by Islamists. Day before Yesterday In phillipine one Cristian church attacked 25 worshippers died. That is due to this particular religious litreature demanding believers to destroy none believers. In my opinion that perticular religion should be banned here as well. We can see it effects on our country as well. see the situation in countries like saudi Arabia. can any the religions be practiced except islamism Why.?????????????????

    • 0
      0

      Ranjith,

      “Islamists act against None believers like in Syria beheading journalists of other faith & eating their hearts”

      No saints, No terrorists or an ordinary like us had the choice to select our religion before being born, it is by accident. Thus, we can not deprecate a religion for a human behavior, be it Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism.

      For example, in Buddhism there are no literature that demands believers to kill non-believers like in Islam (as per your direct translation at least). In Sri Lankan history, who has killed who more for the same reason that people don’t belong to a particular religion? Even Myanmar. Are you going to say that Myanmar follows Islamic religious literature only on that?

      It is human error, not a religion’s

      • 0
        0

        In Myanmar At First It was a Political issue like in Lanka. .british colonial masters brought workers from east Indian region to work in their estates(farmes) as Myanmaries did not cooperate with their colonial masters.most of them were Muslims from now bangladesh region.After Independence Myanmar wanted to sent them back.Then East pakistan refused to accept them. Myanmar banned citizenship rights for all and asked them to go back. Some Hindus like tamils & Azamies accepted myanmar government terms and got citizenships rights.But Now bangladeshi descendants Mainly Islamists & few Hindus called Rohingyas followed then east pakistani extremist politicians instruction and staged boldy protest burning down buddhists temples and killing buddhists monks.Then Myanmar government banned all the rights of those people & sever discrimination started .Further violence broke out Rohingyas Muslims had to seek refuge in bangladesh their ancestral country.Still few groups of muslims Rohingyas doing terrorist activities with the help of bangladeshi extremist islamic groups. It is Myanmar government duty to quall those extremists to restore peace.Like in everywhere backlash from majorities taking place. That is the Myanmar situation. Here in Lanka our kotte kingdom given refuge to muslim refugees from south India who came here after collapse of delhi sultanate rule in South. You people are descendants of those refugees. Got citizenships rights after collaboration with British rulers to qualled Sinhalese Agitation against British like Wellassa armed agitations. yes our Ancestors Fought bloody wars against south Indian Invaders. That is our right. nothing to do with Buddhism. But in your case you follow your so called Almighty Allah’s instructions to destroy the other religions to make whole world reign your almighty’s instructions. no place for others. The others have every rights to fight back and chase Islamist away.

  • 0
    0

    Does Sirisena have the intellect to comprehend to what extent is he rejecting and disrespecting the Judiciary and the Rule of Law release .

    The Apex Court of the country has upheld a conviction and political power has dismissed court order. What a fail nation, this is.

  • 1
    0

    Make no mistake, much is at stake in the upcoming elections, and all our main parties want to keep this racist, rabble-rousing ‘monk’ in their stable. Even if the decision to pardon a contempt of court constitutes sending the judiciary a two-fingers salute, stuff you!

    The President, and any politician who has a hand in this foolish pardon will live to rue the day.

    This disgraceful monk must spend every second of his sentence.

  • 1
    0

    There is a sad and sad irony. Sinhala Buddhists preach Buddhism. Westerners practice Buddhism.

    • 0
      0

      By nature, Sri Lankans are bookworms..

      • 0
        0

        Amila W

        “By nature, Sri Lankans are bookworms..”

        There is a stark difference between learning and reading.
        Since you consider yourself a bookworm I suggest you find out the differences for yourself.

  • 0
    0

    This dirty monk is a personification of all that is bad in the so called Sri Lankan Buddhist clergy. It would be recalled that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was his Patron Saint. Bensen

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