By Dharisha Bastians –
“Last night, I dreamt Buddha was shot dead by the Police, guardians of the law. His body drenched in blood on the steps of the Jaffna Library. Under cover of darkness came the ministers. “His name is not on our list, why did you kill him?” they ask angrily, “No sirs, no, there was no mistake. Without killing him it was impossible to harm a fly” From Buddha Murdered by poet M.A. Nuhman
As the sun blazed down on a warm Sunday afternoon in February, rows of young men and women lined the balcony of a Municipal building in the centre of Maharagama town. They wore white t-shirts bearing a ‘no-Halal’ sign and each carried a small Buddhist flag. On a cue by saffron-robed monks on the ground, they placed their right hands on their chests and took a pledge to safeguard the Sinhala race and the Buddhist faith. Thousands more gathered at the town centre for a massive rally, a Sinhala-Buddhist call to arms against alleged Muslim extremism sweeping through the country.
An organization calling itself Bodu Bala Sena, or ‘Buddhist Power Force’ has been gaining a groundswell of support in recent weeks. The monk led organization is building task-forces throughout the country and insisting on a Government ban on the Halal certification important to Muslim consumers of meat and other food products. At a massive rally in Maharagama in late February, hardline monks launched what they claimed would be a ‘relentless anti-Halal’ campaign and issued an ultimatum to the Government to ban the certification process before the end of March.
And they will not stop there.
The organization is also seeking a ban on sending Lankan women for work to the Middle East, mosque-building and certain contraceptive methods that they claimed were aimed at depleting the Sinhala population. Supporters at the rally cheered enthusiastically when hardline Bodu Bala Sena monks made speeches charged with provocative ethno-religious rhetoric, denounced alleged Muslim extremism and charged that minorities must ‘know their place’ in Sri Lanka.
This virulent anti-Muslim campaign is deeply wounding the trust between the Sinhalese and Muslim communities, especially in urban centres in the country. The Government can crack down on the hardliners – using the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act if they wish to, but thus far, there appears to be a benign acceptance of the status quo. The Bodu Bala Sena and its campaign against Halal Foods is proving an useful distraction from the burgeoning economic concerns of the ordinary Sri Lankan.
This political complacence in the face of a spiralling culture of hate and intolerance has proved fatal for Sri Lanka in the past.
Thirty years ago one week in July defined the country for decades to come. The communal violence directed primarily at the Tamil population left more than 2000 dead and Tamil businesses and homes in ruins in 1983. The carnage and shame of Black July will outlive this generation of Sri Lankans. It pushed the country into full-fledged civil war, provided temporary legitimacy to separatist claims and robbed Sri Lanka – perhaps permanently – of its claim of being a society of pluralistic values, celebrating and embracing the ethnically diverse. Yet July 1983 was no spontaneous uprising against tragic events in a far off battlefield in the island’s north. That week of violence was preceded by years of anti-Tamil sentiment prevailing in the island, fostered in no small measure by the political leadership of the time. Mass hysteria and communal violence may have caused irreparable damage to a nation’s psyche in 1983, but the fires had been fanned for years, with the systematic demonization of the Tamils: as standing in the way of Sinhala jobs, Sinhala enterprise, and Sinhala progress.
Rhetoric is a powerful thing. And the voices of intolerance are being raised again, at forums like the Bodu Bala Sena rally and even across internet and social media platforms. The trouble with this persistent creation of an enemy is that when things spiral out of control, a frenzied mob that no longer recognizes a leader knows exactly which community will be the target of its wrath.
Black July’s most damning legacy is political apathy. The same could be said of the Tamil separatist movement, that the Tamil political leadership initially believed was born of youthful passion; a useful but mostly harmless tool of leverage to win minority rights. It ended in the near-wipe out of the moderate Tamil political leadership in Sri Lanka. One by one, the LTTE called out its former guardians as traitors to the separatist cause and ruthlessly eliminated them. Forces of extremism, once unleashed, like the dogs of war cannot be recalled. Provided the space, they grow quietly in the dark, morphing into monstrosities that ultimately rob a nation’s soul. A political leadership that is unwilling to identify the dangers of the emerging anti-Muslim trend is courting trouble. The kind of trouble that could plunge Sri Lanka back into ethno-religious conflict even as the country struggles to recover from a protracted civil war.
The Bodu Bala Sena thrives on the legitimacy afforded to the organization by its saffron-clad leaders. It veils its patently racist agendas in claims that its efforts are aimed at safeguarding the country’s Buddhist heritage and perpetuating the race that holds custodianship of the religion. If in the short term, the battle against extremist forces like the Bodu Bala Sena must be waged on an ideological level, Buddhism may also be the simplest way to defeat hardline claims. The soft power of Buddhism, the concepts of ahimsa, tolerance and loving kindness may be alien to the monks leading the anti-Muslim charge, but they can still form the basis upon which other sections of the Buddhist community could be swayed. To wage war against a community of people, to declare the superiority of one race over the other, to preach hatred and division flies in the face of the Buddha’s teachings. If this is the land of the Buddha, intolerance has no place here. If Sri Lanka is the heartland of Theravada Buddhism, ahimsa must be the Buddhists’ only battle-cry. The battle of ideas is won here: grounded in the irrefutable truth that Buddhism and extremism are a contradiction in terms.
mike / March 22, 2013
What a coincidence! Last week I dreamt that MR (Hitlerpaksha) was shot dead by a yellow-robed member of the BALU BALA SENA group and the Defence Secretary was arrested!
Dodo / March 22, 2013
The US resolution passed in Geneva. The CHOGM comedy of clowns meeting to be held in Hambantantota which is now a giant environmental disaster and highway in the making will NOT happen.
The wheel of justice turns slowly but surely.The Saffron clad men are running amok with the support of the Rajapassa military dictatorship..
They are NO Buddhists. The Balu Sena are beasts, young men sexually repressed and testosterone-filled, turned venomous and murderous by the systematic DISTORTION of the Buddha’s teachings, philosophy and doctrine.
The WAR CRIMINAL Rajapassas will REAP WHAT THEY HAVE SOWN..
But the fact is, in a globalized world there ethnic politics has a whole new meaning and Balu Sena’s hate campaign will have foreign policy impacts..
Pol Pot / March 22, 2013
Dream On, Mike Dream On! Sometimes Dreams come true.
Lasantha Pethiyagoda / March 22, 2013
None of the ethnic communities that live in Sri Lanka can claim purity of blood lines or undiluted genes from one stream of unpolluted ancestry.
There is definitely “Muslim” blood in “Sinhala” veins, “Tamil” blood in “Muslim” veins, due to so much mixing and marriages between the ethnic groups.
So, this being the case, why not identify ourselves as “Sri Lankan” rather than maintain a label that is merely nominal?
Can’t people have their “unique” identities only within their home walls and not on public streets? Why scapegoat or victimise, or discriminate on the basis of religion?
Is a common identity so hard to accomplish in such a small country?
mohamed fazly ilyas / March 23, 2013
Very true.If the people of this island do not take a immediate personal stand sans the political buffoons who are creating a wedge between the peaceful co-existence to gain theirs low goals, the country will be doomed.
As you say the lineage of a human is impossible to gauge. that’s why even a DNA test is regarded as 99% correct.And God created mankind equal.
justice seeker / March 23, 2013
I am a university teacher from a minority community. I have seen on many instances in which young men from the majority community quite innocently writing in documents or forms where the nationality has to be indicated, as “Sinhalese”. At least two instances come to my mind. A Sri Lankan student who I did not know sat next to me on a flight to London. He was on the overseas trip for the first time. I noticed that he was completing the UK immigration form and was writing Sinhala in the box for nationality. I corrected him to write Sri Lankan. On another occasion I was an attestor for a student of mine who was applying for an overseas professional registration. This student too had indicated his nationality as Sinhala. I had to correct him. These are only two examples. This observation is symptomatic of a culture among Sri Lankans to identify their nationality in a parochial ethnic identity. Until the day we consider our nationality away from the ethnicity this country will not prosper.
Pol Pot / March 24, 2013
You are right ‘Justice Seeker’ Do Sri Lankan Tamils ever write Sri Lankan in the Nationality box? My experience is that they enter ‘Tamilian’ which suggests a separate State, and is even worse than the word ‘Sinhala’. The problem seems to be that the word ‘Nationality’ is construed in a Parochial sense, by these young people who have lived their whole lives in an Ethnic war situation, and they know no better. It started with the separation of Sinhala and Tamil Streams in Schools in the 1950s and after! Do you blame the young people of both Ethnic groups for this situation, or the Politicians who started it all?
Dr.Rajasingham Narendran / March 22, 2013
An accurate recollection and overview of history , pointing to the lessons to be learned by this government. The government pretends to be in contemplative meditation, when alarm bells are sounding on many fronts all around. Mr. President , you tackled the Tiger at its head and it is time you tackled the Lion cubs that are growing up quite fast at their heads too! If you think that you can restrain these Lion cubs by the tail and make them your tool for electoral gain, you are in for a ride of your life and will take all Sri Lankans with you. We do not need this and do not deserve this.
Dev / March 22, 2013
The government is busy contemplating more important things like…..
How to win the northern provincial council elections by any means so that it can crow to the world that the Tamil people are with them and there is no need for devolution or for that anything that the UNHCR demands…….knowing your past I am sure you will be in the fore front to make this a reality !
Dr.Rajasingham Narendran / March 22, 2013
It is not me, but those like you, with your poorly camouflaged agenda who will make this happen. Anyway, is this not what you want? More ammunition in your belt to promote your ill concealed cause.
MR is very likely to oblige, because the alternative will provide cause for the likes of you to claim that the Tamils of NP have given their vote in support of Eelam!
The poor Tamils here would be the ultimate losers in the game that MR and the likes of you play!
Johann / March 22, 2013
M.H.M.ilyas / March 22, 2013
Media freedom is a an important weapon for a developing country like Sri-Lank, while we are gripped by the human rights watch dog today internationally.We lost our honest media men like Lasantha,and after so many.In the past,our think tanks,in fear left us unfortunately were the were brain of the zerendib.
Rambler / March 22, 2013
Moving and well-written. Though it should be noted there were severe provocations by extremists on the Tamil side too that contributed to the 1983 conflagration. You cannot have one hand clapping as someone mentioned on these pages a while ago. And that is what is happening in the current crisis too. I sincerely hope someone with your commitment and clarity from the Muslim community will write denouncing the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism in the country.
Native Vedda / March 22, 2013
“Though it should be noted there were severe provocations by extremists on the Tamil side too that contributed to the 1983 conflagration.”
Could you site examples of severe provocations by extremists on the Tamil side.
Could you also define what “conflagration” is.
I am learning new words, phrases everyday so please bear with me.
Could you also site examples of “severe provocations by extremists on the Tamil side” in 1956, 1958′ 1977, 1981………
Was there any “severe provocations by extremists on the Muslim side in 1915?
Was there any “conflagration” though there were severe provocations by JVP extremists on the Sinhala/Buddhist side in 1971 and between 1987 and 1991?
Please educate me.
David Blacker / March 22, 2013
Education requires comprehension, Booruwa. Reread the comment, and ask intelligent questions if you wish to be enlightened. Rhetorical questions aren’t really questions.
Native Vedda / March 22, 2013
“Rhetorical questions aren’t really questions.”
What are they?
Rambler / March 22, 2013
“Conflagration” is what you cause every morning when you part your Kos Kola Amude, settle behind a Katu Andara bush, and let go…pa…pa…pa ……..paraaaaaaaaaazzz.
Look buddy, as I’ve told you already I’m not in the business of reinventing the wheel.
Native Vedda / March 22, 2013
I never knew I had a buddy called Rambler.
Please, please, please respond to my questions.
We can later discuss what is in your head ” go…pa…pa…pa ……..paraaaaaaaaaazzz.”
Shan Youdi / March 22, 2013
This government may be appreciated and respected because of ending an internal conflict between two communities, which started as a racist movement by the government and Sinhala extremists. The group who called themselves the LTTE was formed to protect the Tamil community from being harmed and killed, which was the only choice they had to protect their respective community (though they also became a threat when they abducted children to be soldiers).
It is a shame that this very government is going to become the sole reason for another conflict between communities. If it starts and Muslims form a group to protect their community, who should we be blaming? The Muslims or the Government?
May god bless us all!
Rana / March 22, 2013
BBS not against muslims BUT muslim extremists who trying to establish a Wahabi system in SL. The various pro-LTTE web sites and INGO’S propagate internationally that BBS against muslims in SL. So that they can make false allegations against SL supressing minorities rights etc…
These extremist muslims funded by Saudi and some sector’s of Pakistan, brain washing young muslim’s,students in Colombo,Kandy and the Eastern part of the country.
These Muslim extremists few activities are, persuade parents of muslim girls to marry foreign males and then apply citizenship here.[especially Pakistani’s and Maldivian’s].My wife worked as a nurse in CMC maternity center and there was a muslim couple with 06 pretty girls. The mother told my wife that they sending them all to Pakistan to get marry when the time comes.
Secondly persuade muslim boys to marry sinhala girls. For this purpose they recruit pretty sinhala girls to their mega shops. Or spying on rich sinhala girls, and then somehow tackle them and finally with or without girls parents consent they get marry.
Thirdly bring foreign muslims here and make false ID’s using dead or missing people’s names and become citizen of SL. These are few examples.
Even most of normal muslims not aware of these kind of activities. But underneath it is a big conspiracy going on. Because BBS enlighten govt. and the common pople about these scruplous activities, now they start mud slinging campaign against it.
Lanka Muslim, UK / March 22, 2013
Sri Lanka’s intelligence service is claimed to be one of the best in the world that was capable of finding everything about the LLTE which was helpful in defeating them. So why cannot the Govt. use this expertise in intelligence to first identify the so-called ‘Wahabi Extremists’ and bring them before the law. The term ‘Wahabi Extremists’ is being liberally used by a some Sinhala Buddhist groups to create the impression that all the Two Million or so Muslims in Sri Lanka are belong to this so-called Wahabis. This is just a hoax. My friend, you too are mentioning a few incidents in support of the baseless accusation. The manner in which you have related them itself shows that they are your imaginations and complete untruth. All the reasons given by the Boda Bala Sena to support their anti-Muslim Campaign have been proved to untruths and they keep on looking for more untruths to continue their campaign. Of course do not they have to beat the drums to justify the pay they receive – Ganna Kuliyata Beray Gaalama Innaonaneda?
Rana / March 22, 2013
Kamal,Hemas and Lanka Muslim, I did not say all muslims are connected to these elements. Only few extremists doing this. But they brain washing young muslims very fast.
In Passara,Badulla area is one example of marrying sinhala girls by muslims. These young muslims coming by luxuary vehicles and deceive sinhala girls marry them.
Actually recently police arrested these muslim aliens whom posses fake ID’s,passports etc.. an deport them. But a thing like marriages to foreigner’s what govt. can do. It is better to tighten our immigration regulations.
I did not reveal about drugs mafia and the money laundering. In a one day they earn millions of rupees.
Lanka Muslim, UK / March 23, 2013
Are there no Sinhalese men who deceived Muslim girls into marrying?
Hamas / March 22, 2013
Wow what an enlightened soul you are!!! If you know so much..you also must be knowing exactly the people who does it…Why dont you go after them??? These things are the makings of the imaginations created in the intoxicated mind of Adolf Gnanasera (or whatever his name is)of BBS..There isn’t any law saying that SL muslims should get married to SL Muslims only…So please man…do yourself a favor and stop swallowing hook,line and sinker everything BBS thugs throw at you…
Kamal / March 22, 2013
You have forgotten to include giving away toffees to abort babies of Buddhist mothers. Toffees made by Uswatte Confectioneries. No Muslim father will persuade his son to marry a Buddhist girl; just like you would tell your son. This is a figment of your imagination. This is the fear psychosis that is created by BBS. Unfortunately, it is the common, well meaning Buddhists who are misled into believing that the Muslims are taking over everything in this country. You seem to be an educated person. Please check before you make sweeping statements.
Peace Lover / March 22, 2013
Rana i hate to say this but your well and truly a first class idiot,first you guys have a problem with the tamils and then now the muslims
if you say Buddhist are not against ordinary Muslims then
1)why the thuggery at Dambulla? do u want me to embed the you tube video where your monks are acting worser than street thugs?
ii)why assault lawyer inside law college?
iii)why suddenly go after burkha clad women when all these years you didnt say anything
iv)What kind of bullshit is this to say that Sinhala girls are videoed inside NOLIMIT’s rooms and then forced to marry Muslim boys (for your good information 95% of the Wala videos (Sri lankan ones) are Sinhala men and women (i can give the URLS if u want to verify it) and they seem to enjoy it too
v)if SL CID is so clever in arresting buggers like KP how come they ddnt know this ?
vi)Do you want me to list the no of Bhikkus who have been charged with sexual crimes in SL and abroad?? so much for trying to protect Buddhism,they just thugs in Yellow robes and fools like you worship them
mike / March 22, 2013
Such IDIOTIC statements! It appears you are suffering from some kind of mental aberration coupled with racism? I am sure GOATASENA will invite you for a pigshit (his own words) meal!!
Hade Sheriff / March 22, 2013
You have sucked the baseless lies of BBS like honey, substantiate with evidence.
kaputakukula / March 22, 2013
If the true genuine buddhists in Sri Lanka follow the Tamil Nadu’s last week ‘actions’ the growing BBS ‘rowdy’ situation in SL can be contained.
rajo / March 22, 2013
Abandon evil, O monks! One can abandon evil, monks. If it were impossible to abandon evil, I would not ask you to do so. But as it can be done, therefore I say, “Abandon evil!”
If this abandoning of evil would bring harm and suffering, I would not ask you to abandon it. But as the abandoning of evil brings well-being and happiness, therefore I say, “Abandon evil!”
Cultivate the good, O monks! One can cultivate the good, monks. If it were impossible to cultivate the good, I would not ask you to do so. But as it can be done, therefore I say, “Cultivate the good!”
If this cultivation of the good would bring harm and suffering, I would not ask you to cultivate it. But as the cultivation of the good brings well-being and happiness, therefore I say, “Cultivate the good!”
SU / March 22, 2013
MUSLIMS are getting rejected from civilized society due to there cunning opportunistic antisocial attitudes. this is happening NOT only in sri lanka. france said them to go away if they wants to practice there new faith. Australia also warned them. japan never give land rights to any muslims as they know the danger of that.
they wants the president to apologize!!!! they took the low in to there hands and issued HALAL certificate violating the existing low of sri lank for years and raised funds. DID THEY APOLOGIZED FOR WHAT THEY DID. DID THEY PUBLISHED THE ACCOUNTS TO SHOW WHAT THEY DID WITH THAT BILLIONS OF MONEY!! if they wants the protection of low they should practiced it they need the protection of low while they misuse it for there own benefits. THEY SAY ALL THIS HAS TO BE FAIR AS THIS IS A BUDDHIST COUNTRY!!!
THEY CAN THROW STONES TO COURTS, THERE POLITICOS SHOULD BE ABLE TO MINGLE EXAM RESULTS IN A WAY SO THERE PEOPLE WILL GET BENEFIT. they can build mosques in lands belong to Buddhist temples. what they expect is while they do all this anti social things others should keep there eyes closed. sri lankan muslims, it is time for u to correct your bad immoral things if you really need peace in sri lanka.
Dhaksha / March 22, 2013
This is indeed another rabble rouser. The hatred for ALL Muslims are obvious in such comments.
This is the Geert Wilders propaganda about ALL Muslims being bad and dangerous. So far all the dangers Sri Lanka has seen has come from saffron robed thugs and goons on the streets, who have been used as pawns by some Islamaphobic elements. Have we seen ANY Muslims storming temples, attacking Sinhala businesses, or harassing Sinhala women for what they wear? So comments like this are weak and only reflects on the writer’s insecurity, and attempt to turn ignorant people agains their own Sri Lankan people.
Who are these rabble rousers, and why are they instigating violence against a minority?
Comments like this, show ignorance, intolerance, and with absolutely NO regard for peace in this country.
Hade Sheriff / March 22, 2013
You are another sucker of lies, stone throwing is done by Mahinda Rajapaksas Henchmen (Golaya), substantiate your accusations with evidence without singing the same song sung by thuggish BBS like parrots.
Wickramasiri / March 22, 2013
SU The information you give is not correct. Please verify the following:
1.Land rights of Japan. Does it not apply to all non Japanese?
2.Isn’t Halal certification accepted by Law?
3.Aren’t the Halal certification accounts not published?
4.What is the amount of money made by the act of certification?
silva / March 22, 2013
Bodu Bala Sena to tone down its stance on Muslims
Colombo, 18 March, (Asiantribune.com):
Bodu Bala Sena has agreed to make public announcement that – ‘Bodu Bala Sena will be in no way responsible for creating a situation of religious discrimination in this country.Mr. Dilantha Witharanage
This was agreed upon by Mr. Dilantha Wirharnage, the coordinator and the only lay committee member of the Bodu Bala Sena.
Chief of Bhodu Bala Sena is Ven. Kirana Vimalajothi Thera. Secretary of Bodhu Bala Seana is Ven. Galagadatthea Gnanasara Thera. Other executive committee members are Ven. Haputhalea Paghgasara Thera, Ven. Vitharandheniyea Nandha Thera and Dilantha Vithanage (Lay Member).
Bodu Bala Sena has been told not to be the cause for any allegations by the international community as the main cause for religious disharmony and discrimination in the country.
Since of late, they have taken a battle against the Muslims regarding the halal food issue and this has created much cause for religious disharmony in the country.
Religion is a subject of private belief of an individual. Unfortunately not only in Sri Lanka, but world over religion has become a hot political subject. Islam and cross are state symbols in many countries.
Even earlier Mahavansa made a virtue of killing in deference of Buddhism, but Buddhism values human life as being the one and only condition from which nibhana is attainable.
Unfortunately in Sri Lanka allegations are surfacing, that since of late Buddhists are grudgingly trying to propagate Buddhism in the country at the cost of the religious beliefs of the minority communities.
It became clearly evidenced that after the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – 19th May 2009, several Buddha’s statutes have been erected in Vanni where no Buddhists live.
Similarly many Buddhists statutes are being erected in Colombo Roads which are being used not only by the Buddhists but by all those who professed different religious beliefs. Many are of the view that these are seen as practicing religious discrimination in the country where multi- religious, multi-ethnic groups live.
Latest is the attack on the religious beliefs of the Muslims. They have been challenged on their food practices and their religious sentiments have been unnecessarily tampered with.
These attacks had brought about the ire of nearly 50 Muslim countries in the world and last time almost all the Muslim countries – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Mauritania, Maldives Islands, Indonesia, Bangladesh supported Sri Lanka against the US resolution.
For the 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council, there are 13 Muslim countries and their support is very crucial for Sri Lanka. But if Bodu Bala Sena continues to irritate Muslims in Sri Lanka, it would be difficult for Sri Lanka to count the support of the Muslim countries.
Asian Tribune brought it to the notice of Bodu Bala Sena and appealed to them to not to be a party to the allegation of religious discrimination in the country.
Asian Tribune contacted Dilantha Wirharnage, the coordinator and the only lay committee member of the Bodu Bala Sena and appealed to him to refrain from involving in any attacks on the minorities religious beliefs.
Given below the excerpts of the interview Asian Tribune had with Mr. Dilantha Witharanage:
Asian Tribune : What is happening in Sri Lanka?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: In what sense?
Asian Tribune: Regarding – Bodu Bala Sena- Muslims’ – halal foods, while the international community is watching very intensively the unfolding drama in the country.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: It is a very complicated issue and answering your question is all about a very complex situation here, anyhow, I can speak only on behalf of Bodu Bala Sena.
Asian Tribune: Kindly tell us about the position and involvement of Bodu Bala Sena in the present complex situation?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: I don’t think, things are moving in the right direction. As an organization – Bodhu Bala Sena does not want to have any communal disturbances or any communal disharmony or anything of that nature. But for some reasons, whatever we have demanded that were taken up by some other groups – it can be Sinhalese groups, Muslims groups and so on.
We were talking about rights of the Buddhist Sinhalese in this country, preserving the Sinhala Buddhist culture in this country. We never wanted to tamper with any other people’s rights.
But for some reasons or other, some extremists’ groups and some fundamentalists’ groups both Muslims, as well as Sinhalese – I blame primarily Muslims, because they are unnecessarily creating tension in this country.
Also I have to blame media as they are also not reporting things in a responsible manner. I think what we are preaching here is to develop the country and to have peace and ethnic harmony here. Unfortunately lot of things are happening and they are happening not in the right direction.
Look at the Facebook’s posts by different groups. We request authorities to take stern actions against those anti-social elements. For example some have sent SMS to various people in the country stating that Bodu Bala Sena –(with our telephone numbers, address and everything given), that there was in 1915 Muslims attacking the Sinhalese and the one hundred year celebrations around the corner and Sinhala Buddhist should take action against Muslims. This was completely wrong. We never sent such SMS to people.
But such SMS messages are circulating in the country. We have complaint to the authorities about this and we must find out who are at the bottom of all these mischievous condemnable activities.
At the same time, unethical posters using all the filthy words and vulgar languages are now available on the Facebook. I think that Government should take serious action against them. I personally met last time our President with the Buddhist monks in a meeting and raised this issue that authorities should take serious measures to stop this.
Asian Tribune: When did you last met Sri Lankan President?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: I think you know about the meeting we had with Sri Lanka President, I can’t come up with the exact date. Bodu Bala Sena group had a two hour discussion with him. In that meeting we also requested, the Inspector General Police who was also there, to take actions against those anti-social elements, because those were unethical practices.
Asian Tribune: I wish to draw your attention that the country is facing a big problem. Do you know anything about that?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: That is about Geneva?
Asian Tribune: Including about discrimination of religion in Sri Lanka? We reliably learnt such clause is introduced due to Bodu Bala Sena showing discrimination to Muslims.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: No, that is completely wrong.
Asian Tribune: You say that it was completely wrong but international community thinks otherwise –
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: We challenge the international community to come up with any incidents of Bodu Bala Sena’s involvement of any such attacks on Muslim places of worships or on any Muslim persons.
Asian Tribune: But there are already reports available that you have attacked Muslim places of worship as well as on Muslim people.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: No – I flatly deny this.
Asian Tribune: Even I have carried those news reports.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: You mean to say about attacks by Bodu Bala Sena?
Asian Tribune: Of course … by Bodu Bala Sena.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: No it is completely wrong and I deny it. It is false information. I will challenge you or anyone about it.
Asian Tribune: Don’t challenge me I am only a journalist and I only report facts as it evolves. Any how I will ask anybody to make a statement that Bodu Bala Sena was never involved in any such incidents.
There is an allegation that Bodu Bala Sena has put the country in a big dilemma. The international community doesn’t believe you or me, but they allege that Bodu Bala Sena is bringing about religious discrimination in this country. And also you are trying to sideline and get rid of the Muslims of this country.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: No … No …never.
Asian Tribune: Do you know that there are nearly 50 Muslim countries in the world. Out of them, 13 Muslim countries are members of the Human Right council which total around 47 members in all.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: When did they have that resolution?
Asian Tribune : Asian Tribune had already carried the third draft of that resolution proposed by US against Sri Lanka.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: Did they use Bodu Bala Sena’s name in that resolution?
Asian Tribune: No … they did not use Bodu Bala Sena’s or anybody’s name. It is all about religious discrimination. But they did not use any names, but if you read the third draft then you will understand.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: Then we can’t answer? What I say is that I can answer on behalf of Bodu Bala Sena. But you say that our names are not there?
Asian Tribune : International community never used to name any organizations that are within a country. But they only blame that Government of that country as solely responsible for aiding and abetting organizations and thus practicing religious discrimination in a country. There were allegations that you were having a militant youth organization. The issue of Religious Freedom in Sri Lanka was raised as follows in the third draft of the US Resolution against Sri Lanka:
PP9 Expressing concern at the continuing reports of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, including enforced disappearances, extra judicial killings, torture, violations of the rights of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as intimidation of and reprisals against human rights defenders, members of civil society and journalists, threats to judicial independence and the rule of law, and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: There is no truth behind such allegations. We don’t have militant groups.
Asian Tribune: What you say is not acceptable. There were allegations that you have semi-paramilitary youth groups. Do you have one?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: We don’t have.
Asian Tribune: They say …
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: I can’t comment on that. But we don’t have any para-military group.
Asian Tribune: So you don’t have any youth groups? Any youth organizations?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: We have some youths who work with us. They are not involved in taking any arms.
Asian Tribune: You know the Barathya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) parent organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) they had militant youth organizations. They only had a stick. Have you heard of RSS?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: Listen, recently at our Maharagama meeting as well as at our Malabe meetings, we definitely spoke about this and requested not to have any communal problems in the country.
Asian Tribune: Last time one of your offices was declared opened by Defense Secretary.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: Actually one German person who was in Sri Lanka, created a trust with Buddhist Cultural Centre in Sri Lanka. The Head of our Buddhist Cultural centre is Ven. Kirana Vimalajothi Thera. He is the Director of the Buddhist Cultural Centre and he invited Defense Secretary Mr. Gotabaya Rajapakse for that function.
Asian Tribune: Who is this Ven. Kirana Vimalajothi Thera?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: Ven. Kirana Vimalajothi Thera – he is the President of the Bodu Bala Sena, but he is also the director of the Buddhist Cultural Centre. And he invited Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa to this function.
Actually what happened was when this German man wanted to donate the land, he basically came to Bodu Bala Sena and met with us.
As we don’t want to own properties or temples, we told him to speak to our Nayaka Thero, because he was running couple of Buddhist cultural centres. Of course he helped to establish these centres and support various programmes. You know any organization can invite Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and there is no issue about that.
Asian Tribune: You have said that Bodu Bala Sena does not own any properties. But how come you own 12 storied buildings?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: What …? You mean to say Bodu Bala Sena?
Asian Tribune: Yes?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: It is completely a false information. That building is also owned by Ven. Kirana Vimalajothi Nayaka Thera’s organization called Buddhist Cultural Centre. This was established during the 2600 years of Lord Buddha’s ceremony. It was established by them. We have only a two-room office and the building doesn’t belong to Bodu Bala Sena.
Asian Tribune: That 12-stoery building is located where?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: In the Thunmulla junction.
Asian Tribune: Whether this building is owned by Ven. Kirana Vimalajothi Nayaka Thera or by Bodu Bala Sena – I think both are the same. It doesn’t make any difference.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: No … no it is completely different. When we wanted to find an office space, he has kindly allocated two rooms for us in that building.
He has taken around Rs.240 million loan to construct the building.
Asian Tribune: Ven. Kirana Vimalajothi Nayaka Thera is one who has renounced all the material benefits of the world and how come he was able to obtain such a big amount as a loan from a bank?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: I don’t know anything about that. You have to ask this from him. I don’t get involved in all these things. They are trusted people. There is a Bank of Ceylon branch also there. There are number of offices also housed in that building.
Asian Tribune: However the general perception is that the building rightly belongs to Bodu Bala Sena. What is the name of this 12-storey building?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: The name is Sri Sambuddathwa Jayanthi Mandiraya. For more information about that place kindly go to http://www.buddehistcc.net.
Asian Tribune: Do you have information in the English language?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: Yes all is in English.
Asian Tribune: Then why Bodu Bala Sena’s website http://www.bodupalasena.org is only in Sinhala language?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: We are going to do it in English language. But we don’t have the capacity. We started to have it in Sinhala and English, but we could not update it because we did not have the capacity and money …
>Asian Tribune: I can’t agree with you. If Bodu Bala Sena does not have money then who in this world has the Money?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: Actually we don’t have. I am not joking.
Asian Tribune: The most important thing I want to bring to your notice is that according to country’s constitution Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country and I don’t know why you Buddhist people are creating more and more problems to the country?
I am not worried, you can fight, but internationally you are creating problem to my country. No Muslim country in the world will support Sri Lanka if you all try to suppress the rights of the Muslims living in this country?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: We are not creating these problems. These problems are indeed created by Muslim groups.
Asian Tribune: You can’t simply pass the blame on somebody. Listen to me. I am not a Muslim,
I am not a Christian, I am not even a Hindu. I am a Sri Lankan. That is my religion, Nationality and everything. Also understand that I am not a Sinhalese, I am not a Tamil, but I am a Sri Lankan. I am only interested in the welfare of my country – Sri Lanka.
In the third draft of the resolution they have sharpened their fangs and attacking my country. According to the last addition in the draft, they have included another accusation – Religious discrimination – It is all because since of late Bodu Bala Sena and the Muslims are up in arms against each other.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: I don’t think that Bodu Bala Sena is involved in any religious discriminatory activities.
Asian Tribune: It is not what you or I think about, but what actually matters is what the international community think about us. Therefore, be sensible and tone down your activities.
In fact if you want to promote Buddhism you may do it. Nobody is going to stop you from promoting Buddhism, but not at the cost of Islam and Muslims.
Why? Lord Buddha was a very great preacher and his preaching is more than enough to promote Buddhism not only in Sri Lanka but in all the other countries in the world.
You may be aware that it was the Tamil Buddhist monks such as Dinnaga a celebrated Buddhists logician was a student of Nalanda and later lived at Kanchi, Bodhidharma who went to China to preach the doctrine of Lord Buddha was a monk from Kanchi, South India and they all preached and propagated Buddhism in Thailand, China and in many other South Eastern countries.
Lord Buddah was a great teacher. You can propagate Buddhism based on his teachings. Why do you want to have someone like Muslims to promote your religion? You don’t need it at all.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: Yes we don’t need them. If you come to Colombo I can show you our position very clearly. I will show you lot of things which will show very clearly that Buddhist are in a very dangerous situation because of certain elements.
Asian Tribune: How can that be? When Buddhism is given the topmost position and protected by country’s Constitution, there can’t be any danger to Buddhism. Then what about others – like Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, which are not given any privileged position as given to Buddhism in the Constitution.
Buddhism enjoys this privileged position since 1972 – for the first time this position was given in the Republican Constitution of Mrs. Bamdaranayake and followed it up in the 1978 constitution of J.R.Jayawardebne,
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: In the meantime I wish to bring to your attention that three thousand acres of prime forest lands in the Wilpattu jungle reserves are to be allocated to the Muslim IDPs.
Asian Tribune: Dear Sir, you have got your information all mixed up and wrong. It is not in Wilpattu. It is in Mannar, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu areas where Muslims lived before they were being chased out by the LTTE in 1990.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: Then why they have to get the clearance from the Wild Life Department?
Asian Tribune: As far as I am aware, those lands are now suddenly claimed as jungle lands, therefore they have to bring to the notice of the Forest Department to get their lands back. According to geographical location Mannar is in the North and Wipattu is in the North Central Province.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: Then what are this environmentalist talking about it?
Asian Tribune: I don’t know who those environmentalists are.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: What I will do is that I will fax you those documents we received from these environmental specialist.
Asian Tribune: Please don’t refer them as ‘specialists’. Please look at the Sri Lanka map and see where Mannar is located and where Wilpattu is located? Furthermore Bodu Bala Sena is not an environmental organization to be worried about Wilpattu.
In 1990 Muslims were chased out by the LTTE. They were living in Puttalam area for the last 23 years. Unfortunately Government did not consider resettling them with the other three hundred thousand IDPs. Government termed the Muslims as ‘old IDPs’ and failed to resettle them along with others to their original places.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: But Wilpattu Jungle Reserves are not the original places of the Muslims.
Asian Tribune: Those Muslims IDPs are not coming to Wilpattu, but they are coming to Mannar, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu where they lived before 1990.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: We are not worried if they are coming to their original places. But Wilpattu was not their original place.
Asian Tribune: I am sorry to say that somebody is misleading Bodu Bala Sena.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: I might not be sure and I am not going to argue with you. I will try to send that information then you decide on that.
Asian Tribune: I think you have to contact Minister Basil Rajapaksa who is responsible for North and East and he will be able to give you the right information. Ask him where these Muslims are going. You may telephone him or send him a letter.
I may come by the middle of April, but what I am now worried about is that on the 22nd March, US is going to have the vote against Sri Lanka in the 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council. I, like many other Sri Lankans, wanted the situation cleared. That is all I am interested.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: Last year also they did the same thing.
Asian Tribune: Last year is different and this year they are too vigorous against my country.
I doubt that US and the West are trying to bring about a Kosova situation in Sri Lanka. What they planning and plotting – the international community is to separate the North and East from rest of the Country and create a Kosova state in Sri Lanka. Does Bodu Bala Sena want to be the very organization that would be responsible for such a situation in Sri Lanka?
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: Please understand that for all what is happening in Geneva and if somebody is going to put the entire blame on us, then it is completely wrong. The other thing is that Bodu Bala Sena has not contributed in any way to create this problem. There are a lot of the elements. What we are saying is that please take action against them.
Asian Tribune: I think I must make a suggestion. If you are so interested in the welfare of Sri Lanka, then you have to immediately make a public statement in English saying very clearly that Bodu Bala Sena was in no way responsible for creating a situation of Religious discrimination in this country. You may make a statement immediately maybe by tomorrow.
Mr. Dilantha Witharanage: Yes definitely we will issue a statement and send you also a copy.
– Asian Tribune –
Vizzy Pooh / March 22, 2013
Some of the myths that are believed by Bodu Bala types is amazing. This can be seen from some of the comments. The wrong perceptions that are going around is shameful. As a Buddhist myself, I feel insulted by these kinds of Buddhists. If there are Salafis or Wahabis have a dialogue with them. If one has a problem with halal it should be discussed in a structured way by communities. This nonsense about sweets and oil which reduce fertility of the Sinhalese is laughable.
There is no more time to delay
1. A huge dialogue is needed as a country at several large fora
2. Myths need to be busted big time
3.Set up an Interfaith Council where problems could be brought before Erudite monks, Priest, Kurukkals and Moulavis. They could resolve these at a high level.
Su / March 22, 2013
Please wake up, get your facts straight and stop talking like an idiot. And please keep you antisocial tendencies to yourself. Our country has enough misguided individuals like the BBS taking the ‘LOW’ into their hands. Do you believe you work for the intelligence department too? like that other delusional chap who had quite an interesting list of confabulated crimes the Muslims are supposedly guilty of? this is not France, Australia or Japan… We have for centuries lived in peace with our Muslim brothers and sisters. dear girl you need to get out more, mingle with a wider group of ‘sane’people, make friends, socialize peacefully(its good for health you know), do some reading,and learn to talk. you’ll become a much happier person and it will help you get rid of this ‘persecution complex’ you seem to suffering from.
and unfortunately we share the same name :S
Shiva / March 22, 2013
Can i pl know which MUSLIMS you guys are all refering to.
In Colombo i see muslims getting about their lives quite fine and they dont seem worried..going about in fancy cars, totally ignoring traffic rules, some in bizarre looking attire that spells uncleanliness,
going interior ..you will see the housewives in black robers more whilst the colombo women some even in micro minis….hanging out ..
all honky dory … stop this nonsense of ANTI…slogan.. its just not happening.
passing by liberty cinema i heard the most loudest mosque loudspeaker.. IS THIS NOT PROHIBITED UNDER THE SUPREME COURT ITERIM ORDER.
One idiot says Anti-Muslim and theres a habit for the anti-Govt to jump along… this is the problem as i see it.
Cmon give the Govt a break… i mean they are trying…
Probono Publico / March 23, 2013
shiva shiva sing for your supper and sing praises to the Government and live on their handouts worse than a beggar!
Nabil / March 23, 2013
So now Muslims are the only ones breaking traffic rules? :) :)
Quote – “some in bizarre looking attire that spells uncleanliness” How in the world did you arrive at this conclusion?
Dr.Rajasingham Narendran / March 24, 2013
The situation has not assumed dangerous dimensions yet. However, the poison is spreading , is being spread wider and can prove dangerous. Such issues should be viewed with alarm at their onset and nipped in the bud. Our post-independence history should teach us at least that much.
mohamed fazly ilyas / March 23, 2013
If the irresponsible deeds of the BBS is not nipped in the bud, they will very soon be invading the Police Stations, the courts of law and perhaps the Parliament to establish what they think is right. Here, ‘MIGHT IS RIGHT’ therein lies the difference. Let sanity prevail.We cannot afford another ‘black july ‘
RELIGION GIVES MEANING AND PURPOSE TO HUMAN LIVES.
THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAN TRANSCENDS THE SOVEREIGNITY OF NATIONS.
May God protect us all.
Pol Pot / March 24, 2013
Bodu Bala Sena’s methods are wrong. So are Muslim groups that are creating ‘Muslim only’ schools in Sri Lanka and other countries in the West. They are creating an isolationist Group of children, who will grow up being aliens in their own Countries. Whom will these children blame when they cannot fit in with the Mainstream, either in Sri lanka or the West? They will be claiming discrimination and persecution, just as it happened when schools in Sri Lanka were separated into Sinhala and Tamil streams. Reconciliation has to come from all sides, not from just a Government.