18 October, 2017

WikiLeaks: Sangha Sabha to discuss ‘Fonseka arrest’ was postponed after the monks received bomb threats

By Colombo Telegraph –

“The Fonseka arrest has led to a rift between the Rajapaksa leadership and four mahanayakas (chief monks) of the largest Buddhist sects. The arrest sparked the monks to raise broader issues of democratic governance and to call a Sangha Sabha (council of clergy) to discuss the situation. But the council was indefinitely postponed after the monks received bomb threats. Government apologists retaliated by promising that 500 temples would be split off from the main Buddhist sects and re-aligned with a lesser-known sect from Rajapaksas’ home region in the south.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

The council was indefinitely postponed after the monks received bomb threats. Government apologists retaliated by promising that 500 temples would be split off from the main Buddhist sects and re-aligned with a lesser-known sect from Rajapaksas’ home region in the south

A leaked US unclassified diplomatic cable recounts the reaction of the Buddhist monks after the arrest of the opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka followed by the presidential election 2010. The Colombo Telegraph found the cable from WikiLeaks database. The cable was written on February 26, 2010 by the US Ambassador to Colombo Patricia A. Butenis.

“On February 14, Mahanayake of Asgiriya Rev. Udagama Sri Buddharakkitha, Mahanayaka of Malwatte Rev. Thibbotuwawe Sri Sumangala, Mahanayake of Ramanna Nikaya Rev. Weveldeniye Medhalankara, and Mahanayake of Amarapura Nikaya Rev. Divuldena Ganissara in a joint statement said the arrest of Fonseka was unjustified and unacceptable” the Ambassador wrote. Placing a note she said “In the recorded history of over two thousand years of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, there have been very few such councils of monks. A Sangha Sabha was summoned only when the king exceeded his limits, and the monks felt duty-bound to ask for governance.”

US Ambassador wrote “ The mahanayaka of the Malwatta Chapter went further to criticize attacks on journalists and the current state of democracy in the country.” “Statements by the monks criticizing the Fonseka arrest and warning that democracy on the island was at risk reportedly enraged the Rajapaksas. Two days before the Sangha Sabha was to open, Buddhist contacts from the provinces informed us that temples had been told that bombs would be hurled at buses transporting monks to the council. On February 16, the mahanayake of Malwatte announced the assembly had been indefinitely postponed due to security concerns.”

Placing a comment Butenis wrote “Contacts have told us that the monks’ rebellion against the Rajapaksas was unprecedented insofar as monks disregarded their traditional cast differences to come together against what they saw as abuses by the Rajapaksas.”

Read the cable below for further details;

VZCZCXRO3698
PP RUEHBI
DE RUEHLM #0140/01 0570156
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 260156Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1364
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 2450
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 9466
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 7722
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 5458
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 3889
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 0044
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0860
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 4507
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 0027
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 7261
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO 0239
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0151
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 000140

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INSB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM CE
SUBJECT: FONSEKA ARREST PROMPTS BUDDHIST CLERGY CONCERNS FOR
DEMOCRACY

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Fonseka arrest has led to a rift between the
Rajapaksa leadership and the four mahanayakas (chief monks) of the
largest Buddhist sects.  The arrest sparked the monks to raise
broader issues of democratic governance and to call a Sangha Sabha
(council of clergy) to discuss the situation.  But the council was
indefinitely postponed after the monks received bomb threats.
Government apologists retaliated by promising that 500 temples would
be split off from the main Buddhist sect and re-aligned with a
lesser-known sect from the Rajapaksas' home region in the south.
END SUMMARY.

MONKS' STATEMENT CALLS ARREST UNJUSTIFIED
-----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) On February 14, Mahanayake of Asgiriya Rev. Udugama Sri
Buddharakkitha, Mahanayake of Malwatte Rev. Thibbotuwawe Sri
Sumangala, Mahanayake of Ramanna Nikaya Rev. Weveldeniye
Medhalankara, and Mahanayaka of Amarapura Nikaya Rev Divuldena
Gnanissara in a joint statement said the arrest of Fonseka was
unjustified and unacceptable.  The rough way the arrest of Fonseka
was conducted prompted the mahanayake of Asgiriya (Temple of the
Tooth) chapter to say "he (Fonseka) has done much for the country,
and the way it was done cannot be approved."  The mahanayaka of the
Malawatte Chapter went further to criticize attacks on journalists
and the current state of democracy in the country.

3. (SBU) These statements were followed by a call for a Sangha Sabha
(council of clergy) by monks of all four sects at Kandy on February
18, which was to have assembled hundreds of monks from temples
across the island.  (NOTE: In the recorded history of over two
thousand years of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, there have been very few
such councils of monks.  A Sangha Sabha was summoned only when the
king exceeded his limits, and the monks felt duty-bound to ask for
good governance.  END NOTE.)

THREATS FORCE CANCELLATION OF MONKS' COUNCIL
--------------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Statements by the monks criticizing the Fonseka arrest and
warning that democracy on the island was at risk reportedly enraged
the Rajapaksas.  Two days before the Sangha Sabha was to open,
Buddhist contacts from the provinces informed us that temples had
been told that bombs would be hurled at buses transporting monks to
the council.  On February 16, the mahanayake of Malwatte announced
the assembly had been indefinitely postponed due to security
concerns.  General Secretary of the main opposition UNP Tissa
Attanayake claimed government ministers were directly involved in
threatening the mahanayakas to stop the Sangha Sabha.

RAJAPKSAS SEEK OWN BUDDHIST SECT
--------------------------------

5. (SBU) Government apologists then made it known that the
government would retaliate against the Malwatte chapter (its
mahanayaka led the call for convening the Sangha Sabha) by removing
500 southern province temples (of the central province-based
Malwatte chapter) and re-aligning these temples with the
lesser-known Rohana sect of the south (the political home turf of
the Rajapaksas).  They also discussed the creation of another major
Buddhist sect with its loyalties to the Rajapaksas.

BACKGROUND ON BUDDHIST SECTS
----------------------------

6. (SBU) The Siyam Nikaya (high-ordination clergy of the Asgiriya
and Malwatte chapters) has been the guardian of orthodox Buddhism
for over a thousand years.  The Asgiriya chapter is the older and
holds the Kandy tooth relic of the Buddha, which was regarded as the
symbol of sovereignty of Sri Lankan rulers.  The Malwatte chapter is
the largest Buddhist sect in Sri Lanka.  Both the Asgiriya and
Malwatte chapters permit higher ordination only to those of the
Govigama caste (to which the Rajapaksas belong).  The Amarapura and
Ramanna Nikayas were founded in the late eighteen century to open

COLOMBO 00000140  002 OF 002

higher ordination to those of the non-Govigama caste (to which
Fonseka belongs).  These two nikayas were founded on the initiative
of Colonel Henry Steele Olcott of the United States, a theosophist
who led a Buddhist revival in colonial Ceylon.

COMMENT
-------

7. (SBU) Contacts have told us that the monks' rebellion against the
Rajapaksas was unprecedented insofar as the monks disregarded their
traditional caste differences to come together against what they saw
as abuses by the Rajapaksas.  The significance of this step can
hardly be over-estimated.  President Rajapaksa has often made highly
publicized visits to temples and has relied on the support of the
mainstream Buddhist clergy.  That the clergy now has so publicly
registered its dissatisfaction with the country's governance is an
indication of the deep rifts within the Sinhala majority community.
Religious-freedom experts told us that the Buddhist clergy was
perhaps closer to the pulse of the rural masses than anyone.  "They
summoned a Sangha Sabha with the full knowledge of the hurt feelings
of the Sinhalese.  They have only postponed the Sangha Sabha."

BUTENIS
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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Shows where the country heading to. Thus final desitination is certain. Digging need to stop when we are in hole. Unfortunately politicians do not seem to understand. :-(

  • 0
    0

    The Sangha Sabha has no authority to discuss the “Sarath Fonseka” issue. All roads lead to the RAJAPAKSHA SABHA – the King of all Kings!!!!!!

  • 0
    0

    The Corrupt Family Dictatorship would not even spare Veneral Buddhist Monks if they do not stand by all the illegal activities committed by them.

  • 0
    0

    It’s easy to say ‘contacts’. add to the vagueness the fact that KNOWN contacts include known LTTE sympathizers and regime-haters, AND the fact that Butenis was rooting for Fonseka all along and this cable is quite laughable, never mind the fact that the Mahanayakes (like may others) did object to the way Fonseka was treated (even though they may not have supported him or saluted his own vindictive and indeed treacherous nature).

    • 0
      0

      Malinda, finally you have removed your bandana. You like dayan is nothing but a rajapakse [Edited out].

  • 0
    0

    @ Malinda…do you live in a dreamland? xxxxxxxxxxxxx like you too will have to find a bokkuwa soon along with Moda Hora Raja. Lets wait n see…

  • 0
    0

    Time has come to React ! General Fonseka gave 40 years of his life to the Nation and for our freedom.

    Please do your part to save his life and freedom by giving 30 seconds of your time to sign the online petition.

    Link: http://wh.gov/jmh

    2. Click on “Create an account” button. Then enter your details. (For people living in Sri Lanka, it is not essential to enter the ZIP Code and Address)

    3. Then check your mail (the white house will send you an e-mail) and click the activation Link and sign in ( if not received with in few minutes, select password reset option and add your mail )

    4. Click on the “Sign this Petition” button.

    5. And then click on the “Facebook” button to share the link.

    ( Please share with your friends to achieve our goal of 25000 signatures)

  • 0
    0

    “Time has come to React ! General Fonseka gave 40 years of his life to the Nation and for our freedom.” Fonseka is a very ungrateful man. He could have retired to oblivion if the Rajapaksa’s did not appoint him to lead the army by passing many other capable individuals. Think about that. He joined the local and international enemies of the Rajapaksa and the country. Apsara Fonseka should simply ask the question even if she get one million signatures, It is Rajapaksa–the president of Sri Lanka who must approve Fonseka’s release. Neither Obama, nor anybody else. This is is the same mistake that your father made: betrayed the country’s leadership.

  • 0
    0

    The venerable monks are/were facing political reality from the time SWRD was murdered by one of their ilk for purely economic considerations – Buddhrakkitha’s financial progress was thwarted by SWRD’s political/financial decisions.
    Now they realise that buddhist precepts have to be modified to suit the Rajapalse State – even pardon by the president of convicted murderers and withdrawl of indictments against government politicians by the attorney general cannot be questioned/commented upon. Even socalled former ‘terrorists’ guilty of murder can be made ministers and be entrusted with financial projects – and even be sent abroad on bogus passports engineered by important functionaries.
    Buddhism has now to be shaped to fit ‘state considerations’.
    In Burma, in 1970 & 1973, I saw monks out on roads with ‘alm bowls’ collecting food from households and passersby.None rode in any vehicles. Monks were confined to ‘monasteries’ each on extensive square areas bordered by shops with busy populace purchasing essentials – the ‘day’ market stopped at 6pm and the ‘night’ market ran till midnight.
    But this style of living after forsaking the ‘worldly life’ as preached by the Buddha – some laymen even were permitted to give up ‘worldly living’ temporarily, usually for two years and become monks, later to revert,cannot any longer happen in sri lanka.

  • 0
    0

    this we knew long before.
    Since no Maha Nayaka is willing to speak out / or comment on any thing after that it is interesting to know what keeps them in so deep silence now?
    fear or bribe or something we don’t know?
    What factors will make them to speak out? MR is cleaver in presenting himself as the only saviour of the Rata/Jathiya/Aagama without an alternative. So they will digest the dictator with his corruptions
    the discourse should be to show how in fact MR is destroying the foundation of the future Buddhist ethos

  • 0
    0

    It is time to drop [Edited out]

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