Although Jihadism refers, in the modern context, to the renewed focus on armed jihad in Islamic fundamentalism , in this article, I refer to the 3G Sinhala Buddhist Jihadists; Gnanasara– Gota– Gammampila Combine ( ‘Thun kattuwa’ in Sinhala or the three Sinhala Buddhist Musketeers) who have been leading the way to national disaster through a well-organized campaign to rekindle Sinhala Buddhist extremism. When the collective conscience of Sinhala Buddhists should stir and condemn these turn of events, it is a matter of shame that only few lone Sinhala Buddhist intellectual voices have emerged , while the silent Sinhala Buddhist society looks on, giving the hate groups the much needed oxygen by not condemning their tactics openly. I therefore would call these 3Gs, the pathfinders to another Disaster .
In my considered view, the combined effect of these 3 Gs, (not the individuals, but the lobby they represent), acting in concert , harbour vicious plans , to further their own agenda , to create an intolerant and a majoritarian minded Sri Lanka , with no space for the ‘other’ to exist as equal citizens with self-respect. Did we realize that these ‘Muslim extremism’ stories only came up after the War ended ,which should create suspicions about the credibility of these lobbying groups and that a government which ended a War, is dragging their feet to act against these hate groups which shows their collusion. Fellow Sinhala Buddhists beware!
No Sinhala Buddhist, in his right mind, will consider Gnanasara as a Buddhist monk, whose language or conduct is worse than a street thug and his track record is corrupted to the core. If someone claims that Gnanassara is trying to save Buddhism through his rowdy thuggish tactics, it is like a person claiming to protect the virginity of a woman through raping. I therefore call him, a conspirator-in –monk’s clothing and a Devadaththa ( who entered monkhood and ultimately turned out to be the enemy of the Enlightened One). He let the cat out of his bag at a recent BBC interview. When asked by BBC Sandeshaya ,whether BBS follows Buddha’s philosophy, Gnanasara replied : ‘Don’t forget ! Buddhist philosophy is different; Sinhala Buddhism is different. Thus, Gnanasara is not interested in the well-being of Buddhism, but is part of the conspiracy to destroy it from within by creating his own cult of violence and hate mongering. He represent the face of many anti-Buddhist hidden forces and the puppet , with many conspirators holding and manipulating the other end of the thread.
Those of his elk know the immunity enjoyed by the saffron robe among the people and the easy access it provides to corridors of power to indulge in politicking and backroom deals. During the 1956 Bandaranaike era , we saw how influential Buddharakkitha was and his penchant for theatrics. We can see Gnanasara in a similar light adopting a luxurious lifestyle , with a coterie of civilian body guards and wielding power and acting beyond the reach of the arms of law, despite his hate speeches and insulting other religons.Even, the BBS Chair Ven Kirama Wimalajothi dissociated himself from ‘Gnanassaraism’. A prominent monk, Ven. Malabe Seelarathana says : ‘…The biggest disaster that has befallen the Buddha Sasana in recent times is this organisation known as the Bodu Bala Sena and this monk known as Galagodaatte Gnanasara. We can clearly see that some unseen hand is at work – that is why these bhikkus are behaving like rastiyadukarayas(street thugs). Senior monks are silent on this issue. …. He has the blessings of the government. Without that he would not be able to behave in this manner. We suspect that the defence secretary is involved in this…’
Sinhala Buddhist people should therefore look at ‘who stands to benefit from this G’s street anti-Muslim hate gymnastics? Certainly not the Sinhala Buddhists. Who is financing his luxurious lifestyle and flashy BBS hate campaigns? Why did BBS call an emergency Press briefing and try to impress upon an amused public that BBS has nothing to do with Gota while the Defence Ministry had a similar press conference? According to the commentators, support for Buddhist nationalism could be the result of a strategy of the MR government. Ironically, Gota made an announcement recently of his wishes to enter politics .( Is it to keep power inside their family circles?). He appears to like the image of a re-born Dutugemunu to protect Sinhala Buddhist interests against so called alien attacks – this time from Muslim extremism after successfully defeating ‘Tamil extremism’. Thus, it makes sense to use the saffron clad class as WMD to play ‘the Muslim extremism’ tune ,which is a ready target and an easy to convince explanation, in the light of the strong Islamaphobia campaign being launched worldwide. Politically, MR clan will need to show more enemies to the electorate after the oft repeated chorus about the defeat of the Tigers has lost its’ appeal. Sinhala Buddhist people should therefore not fall a prey to their machinations and safeguard their credibility as a tolerant race.
Despite many intellectuals from among the Sinhala people and civic groups such as BASL, Friday Forum as well as HR groups clearly identifying BBS and Gnanasara’s speech as the main cause for the Aluthgama disaster, and there was a clear well-orchestrated hate campaign to hit at the economic base of the Muslims, and to instil fear in them, MR government and Gota failed to identify them as such; but instead sought to whitewash them. Besides, Minister Rajitha, and MP Thewarepperuma from the area swore to that effect that even Police and STF were complicit in BBS led violence and destruction apart from their inaction. Still, there is no official condemnation of BBS and no concrete steps to arrest the real culprits. Therefore, Gota and MR government will have a utopian task in their hand to clear their name as the Patron Saint of the BBS and the godfather of Gnanasara, in the light of many emerging pieces of incriminating evidence, including what Victor Ivan and Mangala Samaraweera revealed.
Further, if MR seriously thinks that this is a minor matter and let these destructive forces to continue to play dangerous games based on religious sensitivities, then history will one day judge him as a leader who let down his country at a crucial time. The inaction of the government to call a spade a spade and to reign in the BBS and condemn/stop their hate campaign had already created an irreparable image about the entire Sinhala Buddhist population among the international community. Besides, the MR government’s sorry attempts to make the victims the perpetrators for example in the official statement to the envoys and at the UNHR Council, have made the country, a laughing stock in the world, especially when the technology available at everyone’s palmtop has revealed to the world who the real culprits were. Needless to say that both Gota and the MR government were caught with their pants down , attempting to use or allowing Sinhala Buddhist nationalism, to reinforce their hold onto power ,which is likely to backfire.
Adding to these 2Gs, the barks of another G lobby is getting louder by the day, holding candles for these hate groups and raising wolf cries about the existence of Jihadi cells. Gammampila, who once stated in his weekly column THE GUARD POST in the Ceylon Today , that he “strongly feels a repetition of the 1915 Sinhala Muslim clash is imminent”, was seen to be vociferous in recent times , in whitewashing and defending BBS against many accusations of hate crimes , thus, betraying the moderate mainstream Sinhala Buddhists in this country who voted for them.
It was comical to read the recent interview given by Gammampila to ‘Ceylon Today’, totally twisting the Aluthgama story, completely whitewashing the BBS and making the Muslims as the ones who cast the first stone and as the perpetrators ,when the true chain of events ,properly documented and reported by groups untainted by prejudice, were stating otherwise. It was equally comical to read his commentary when he quotes Anura Senananake DIG with credibility, when everyone knows that he is a strong Gota caddy, eternally grateful to Gota for having giving him extensions after extensions. It was foolish to expect DIG Anura to relate the correct chain of events when he was supposed to relay his Master’s Voice . How can he implicate Gnannasara or BBS? Incidentally, Gota is also Gammampila’s Super Hero, and even invited the former to support him at his recent PC Elections, which led Srinath Perera -the UNP candidate to raise objections. This whitewashing exercise by Gammampila was therefore nothing, but part of a well-coordinated plan to keep the ‘threat looming against the Sinhala Buddhist interests’ story well- oiled in the minds of the Sinhala Buddhist public. He was certainly a Goebbels!
Obviously, the views of Gammampila were not his own, but that of his interest group –JHU and the likes , who finds their influence and image being eroded in the minds of the Sinhala Buddhist people in view of the lack of a coherent policy even to safeguard the Buddhist interests, but instead picking contentious issues based on racist and communalist themes, just to keep them on the Sinhala Buddhist radar screen, for their own political survival. JHU’s inner justification to do menial work for the hate lobby to survive, may be understandable. What was not understandable was how YMBA , and ACBC which represent moderate Sinhala Buddhist opinion, also joined to whitewash the BBS, which was a much more dangerous trend. Recently, they issued a Press statement, unashamedly, whitewashing hate mongering BBS, condone their irresponsible disgusting hateful verbal diarrhoea and put the full blame on the Muslims for the disaster, without a word of apology to the thousands of Muslims who suffered extensive losses in terms of lives, properties and business , compared to the losses borne by the affected Sinhala people. This statement also included a denial of the hate speeches of BBS and Gnanassara, despite clear confirmation on Youtube clippings. This step shockingly sends out a message to the world that this hate campaign was not the ramblings of a fringe group, but the views of the mainstream Sinhala Buddhist people as well.
Another worrying concern was the identification of two dangerous trends in recent events. One being according to several eyewitness accounts, many of these hit squads came from outside which means that it was a set game by BBS and they were brought in to do their ‘duty towards their race’ (Jathayalaya) following the ‘Arise Sinhalese against alien attacks!’ speech by Gnanasara. In fact, as said by Rajitha, Jathyalalya acts (referring to plundering and looting acts in the name of love for the Sinhala race) have been going on in this country since 1958. Secondly, many eye witnesses also vouched to the fact that many of their Sinhala neighbours also connived under cover, with the complicity of the law enforcement authorities. ( perhaps they were responding to the appeal by Gannasara to the Sinhala Police to cooperate). If these trends continue, in the event of any future incident involving a Sinhalese and a Muslim, then summary justice will be meted out by these hate hit squads brought from outside areas and if the people of the same area also join in, then time is not far away for another 1983 riots to emerge.
It was very clear that this hate monk Gnanassara clearly called the Sinhala Buddhist people to arms when he threatened the Marakkalayaas (Muslims) that they will be ‘finished’ if they ever lay their hands on a Sinhalese. ( It was comical why Gnanasara did not act when an entire Sinhala village recently assaulted a monk and made him to put on a female dress. Perhaps that was not done by Muslims! ) . Also he exhorted the Sinhalese people to refrain from selling lands to Muslims. Finally he said ‘Aba Saranay’(death knell) to the Muslims businesses which meant that they will be sitting ducks for Sinhalese to attack them. He also alluded false accusations against the Koran. Still for Gammampila and the Sinhala Organizations to deny that there were no hate speeches is to adopt an ‘ostrich head inside the sand style’ approach and exposes their nakedness before the wider world. It was amusing to note that Gammampila quotes a monk in that interview who said;
We wanted them ( Sinhala People of Aluthgama) to calm down. They should be made to calm down by a person in whom they have confidence. That is why we invited Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera to speak there. Our message is simple. “Please place confidence in us. If such an incident takes place hereafter, we will severely deal with it”.
Inviting a thug Gnanasara to calm down people! Are we from a different plant? Should we as Sinhala Buddhists be more sensible? If Aluthgama was a calmed down scenario, then how would it look like if it was a fully blown riot? Another 1983 ?. Therefore, Gammampila ( as well as his partner Champika)’s intimate links with Gota and his acting as a poodle for the BBS, should sound an alarm bell not only in the minds of Muslims, but also in the minds of all Sinhalese as well, regarding their joint dubious plans to drag Sri Lanka into the depths of communalism, racism and bigotry.
The disease has therefore totally invaded the body-politic of Sri Lanka- flesh, blood, veins and marrow. Manifestations of symptoms such hateful Gnanasara and BBS, accessories like JHU are being treated with a kid’s glove and more often than not, with veneration. If we consider these rogue monks specially Gnanasara, who were directly or indirectly involved in the riots in Aluthgama or if not involved but surely incited persons with hate speech, they broke rules of our Common Law and Vinaya Rules. Yet, they remain free and robed! More than that, MR government is going to the extent of even fabricating JMO findings which BASL claims will set a dangerous precedent. Mahanayake Theros have spoken out against the Night races ( of course with no success) but failed to speak against the rowdy behaviour and acts of the BBS. It is why it is being asked that the question after Aluthgama was whether the BBS represents the official stance of the government in dealing with minority rights, and whether it has hijacked the views of the Sangha community as well as the moderate Sinhalese populace ? The nation is begging for a frank and an honest answer, as it will have far reaching consequences on the mission to create a Sri Lanka –tolerant and accommodating to others’ beliefs as it was before.
Due to lack of evidence, government was compelled to accept that there is no merit in the claims about ‘Muslim terrorists’ in the country as alleged in Indian intelligence reports, as JHU and BBS would like us to believe. However, it would need to warn itself that its’ apparent reluctance to rein in racist elements, and ban these hate speeches /groups, are reinforcing people’s and world’s views that it is acting in collusion for a common purpose. Further, this strategy will definitely backfire. Sri Lanka has just emerged from a civil war and it should concentrate on nation-building and reconciliation. Allowing the ethnic and religious fault lines to further open up will spell disaster. We have seen how countries that have promoted religious fanaticism for short term gains, such as Pakistan, suffered as their policies backfired. Sri Lanka risks going down a similar path. Furthermore, a sense of insecurity breeds radicalism and minority groups in the country could turn to violence if they feel threatened. Thus, if the Muslims feel that the government is not safeguarding their rights to practice their religion and culture, then their level of tolerance may get exhausted and even invite some foreign Muslim Jihadi groups to lure in youngster among them with relative ease. This has already occurred in Sri Lanka with its’ Tamil minority. May sanity prevail in our mother-land.