Horror in Aluthgama: Their Crime, Our Shame

Photo courtesy BBC

[Editors note: This was sent by the author directly to us. As a policy Groundviews does not republish what's already gone up somewhere else on the web. Making an exception in this case because of the context in Sri Lanka at present, and the need to get as many readers engaged with this content]

“In this country we still have a Sinhala police; we still have a Sinhala army. After today if a single Marakkalaya or some other paraya (alien) touches a single Sinhalese…..it will be their end.”

Galagoda-Atte Gnanasara Thera (Aluthgama – 15.6.2014)[i]

“Call him a Bikkhu who controls his hand, also his feet; who is well controlled, who is happy within himself; who is collected….”

The Buddha (Dhammapada)

It is a chilling sight. On stage, Galagoda-Atte Gnanasara Thera is raining words of poison and fire. Below, a large crowd, made up of monks and ordinary people, are listening intently. They do not look violent or angry. There is hardly a sign that an hour or so later they will turn into a baying murderous mob. Many of the lay-listeners have their hands together, in the traditional gesture of worship. That and the focused looks on their faces indicate that as far as they are concerned they are listening to not to a political speech but to a religious sermon[ii].

The Jihadists, the Crusaders, the holy warriors are here. And in this place they wear the yellow robe and call themselves Buddhist monks.

All around, the police and the military stand, armed to the teeth, watching and listening. Galagoda-Atte Gnanasara Thera is inciting people to break the law. He threatens and threatens, his words like razor-sharp weapons, fiery missiles. And still the guardians of law and order watch. He is not arrested, produced before a magistrate and put away where he belongs – the jail.

The police are inactive. The law looks dead. The purveyors of hate and violence own the stage.

Holy wars, irrespective of who is fighting whom, are hell. Thanks to the nature of Buddhism – the real thing – this country escaped that hell for most of its history. Not anymore. Sinhala-Buddhism has metamorphosed into the even more bastardised and odious form of Rajapaksa-Buddhism. Galagoda-Atte Gnanasara Thera is its Prophet and Chief Prelate. It is a religion of suspicion and hate, a violent creed and a poisonous one, a faith based on murder and mayhem.

Who Permitted the BBS Rally?

The initial incident – the alleged attack on a Buddhist monk and his driver by three Muslim youths – was an accident. That was the only accident in the bloody tragedy which is being enacted even now. Everything else was non-accidental, deliberate. The BBS instigated the violence. The authorities facilitated the BBS.

After the initial outbreak of violence, calm reigned. And then someone at the top decided to permit the BBS to hold a rally in the still smouldering Aluthgama. That decision could have been made only by a certifiable lunatic or a person to whom law, morality and humanity are totally alien.

Such a momentous decision would not have been made by a police officer; or even the IGP. It would have either originated from or approved by the very top. And at the very top are President Rajapaksa – who from Bolivia tweets vague, Hallmark-type trite messages instead of condemning the violence and the violent – and his brothers. .

The BBS did not hold an illegal rally; they did not hold an illegal demonstration. They were permitted to have their rally and have their demonstration by the authorities. Without that decision Aluthgama would have returned to normal. And innocent lives could have been saved.

What was the aim of the authorities? A little riot? A controlled-riot? A stage-managed riot? A limited Black June? A short sharp lesson to all minorities to mind their words and deeds? A tiny reminder to the Muslims, Tamils and Christians that they live on sufferance? Create a new enemy to divert Sinhala-Buddhist attention? A signal to Narendra Modi and the West that we too are anti-Muslim? Some of this? All of this?

Otherwise why permit the BBS to turn smouldering ashes into an inferno? Why did the police and the STF fail to stop the rioters? Mobs are cowardly. At the first real sign of decisive action by the police and the STF the rioters would have melted away.

I lived through Black July. As a born-and-bred Sinhala-Buddhist I hope I will not have to see that horror happening again, to another minority. But I fear that controlled riots are becoming part of the Rajapaksa arsenal. And someday one of those mini-riots will spiral out of control.

This is no country for minorities; this is no country for decent Sinhalese and Buddhists. This is a moral wasteland and a paradise of lawlessness.

For the violence, for the deaths which have happened and which may happen, the BBS and the Rajapaksas must take responsibility. This is their work. This is their unpardonable crime.

We elected them; we tolerate them. That is our eternal shame.

[i] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOxPJzlXDJs

[ii] BBC

  • Nick Hart

    Christianity was once a violently proselytising and and extremist religion that held believers and non-believers alike in forced and often barbaric servitude. Islam, particularly the radical and fundamentalist Islam that embodies murderous confrontation and extremist religious and cultural conformity, still is.

    Anyone who is aware of world events knows that Islamism is an acute and growing concern for Western and emerging democracies alike. Battle lines are bing drawn across Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere, and include all aspects of cultural cohesion and national sovereignty. This is not ideological exaggeration or political agenderising. This is fact.

    Christianity and Islam are both Abrahamic religions that have much in common, a principal difference being that Islam regards Jesus as being just another prophet alongside Mohamad, and not the son of God.

    Both are inimicable to, if not antithetical to, Buddhism. This is well know to the Buddhist leadership in Sri Lanka, for whom the proselytising nature of Islam, and the increase in the Muslim population in the country, particularly in the north-east, is of particular and mounting concern.

    Whether this concern is fully or even partially justified is beside the point. It exists. The question is, can—should—this concern be addressed, and if so, how?

    Denial is a wonderful thing, particularly for the liberal elites who seek to fashion the world in accordance with their own beliefs and mindsets. But denial of reality is a delusional and dangerous practice, one that also needs to be addressed, the sooner the better, and without the moralising hand-waving that this piece personifies.

    • Fitzpatrick

      Nonsense and a look at your previous comments on various thread using DISQUS reveals this !

      As for the population increase of Muslims, Buddhists increased too, what do you say to that ?

      • Nick Hart

        I live in Sri Lanka. Do you?

        • Fitzpatrick

          Yes I do. Does your passport have the Sri Lankan emblem and are you Sri Lankan?

          All of which is is used by the likes of you to distract from the main point made by Ms. T which is Buddhist monks have been responsible for this carnage and have been since 1956 when they forced the abrogation of the SWRD-Chelva pact and for which we paid for with a 30 year war !

          • Nick Hart

            Sri Lanka is a majoritarian parliamentary democracy, of which Buddhism is the official religion (or cultural underpinning, whichever you prefer). Many Western and other democracies are increasingly concerned about the impact of Islamisation on their social cohesion and legal sovereignty. Do you believe that Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka have cause to share that concern?

            This is not a loaded question. I would genuinely like to hear your views.

          • Fitzpatrick

            Raising concerns YES, not inciting violence but this is NOT the first time they have done that. Read about the pogrom of 1983, yes go read that and you will see the role monks played in that pogrom. What was it then?

            The root cause of this can be traced to the 19th century revival of Buddhism, go again and read what anagarika dharmapala said and you will see that what you see today is flowing from him.

          • Nick Hart

            Good points. But the point of my comments is that focussing on legacy grievances is not helping the situation today. The essential question is, do these monks have a genuine cause for concern that Sri Lanka’s state religion—and possibly it’s sovereignty—is, or might be in the future, threatened by the spread of Islam? Perhaps more to the point, do they genuinely BELIEVE they have cause for concern, even if it is not justified?

            If a rational and dispassionate consensus suggests that they DO have cause for concern, or they genuinely believe they have, this should be addressed, and attempts made to mediate some kind of practical and achievable conciliation. Ignoring the issue in the forlorn hope that it will go away is not a sensible way forward.

          • Fitzpatrick

            There is no legacy grievances at all. The only one’s having “legacy grievances” seem to be Buddhists who blame the British for favoring the Tamils and still go on about it 66 years later !

            Look at my previous comment, no need to dilly dally, when the arrest (given that there is video evidence) the monk we can talk.

            By the way I am still awaiting the arrest of this monk from 2011

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St-9xtfiZIY

          • Nick Hart

            This might be one of those many occasions when it is right to blame the British (and, by the way, I am one!) They DID favour the Tamils, to the disadvantage of the Buddhist majority, and we all know where that led. Perhaps the focus should shift to reconciliation—national unity—and not recrimination. Be a Sri Lankan, first and last.

          • alex f

            Concerns should always be engage and discussed. Violence, such as that in Aluthgama should be met with the law and the perpetrators jailed. Really can’t understand why that is so difficult to understand – stop defending these thugs in robes.

          • Nick Hart

            Perhaps the violence is occurring because concerns are NOT being engaged and discussed. And I am not defending—or attacking—anyone. I am asking questions that need to be answered.

          • Dev

            NO need to beat about the bush Nick. The question to answer is, did the BBS buddhist monks behave as you expect of a TRUE Buddhist or not. The video evidence is very clear that they did not.

            Whether the western regimes are worried about the rise of Islamisation has no bearing on the matter that Tisaranee has raised. These monks need to be charged with inciting violence. So please don’t muddle the waters with Islamisation and such matters. This was simply a criminal offense and the world is watching what happens to the perpetrators ! Going by past history, NOTHING will happen is my prediction !

          • Nick Hart

            1) How, exactly, do ‘we’ expect ‘true’ Buddhists to behave? Where is it codified? ‘Our’ expectations and theirs might be different. Who decides?

            2) The law of the land should be applied equally to all citizens, including Buddhist monks. And if it came to a trial, which is the only conclusion of applying the law, what would be their defence? If it is likely to include fears—justified or not—that Sri Lanka is facing the same kind of Islamification—including the demand that Sharia law supersede the law of the land—being experienced elsewhere, that needs to be addressed now.

          • Sean Neil

            Good points old guy……Im with you

          • Godfrey Fernando

            Nick Hart,

            Sri Lanka cannot be officially called Democratic country. The reason is unless you are a Sinhala Buddhist, (and the caste counts too) the possibility of getting peoples vote is minimal. Even many Sinhala Christians had to change their religion to Buddhism in order to get peoples vote. From SWRD Bandaranaike to J.R. Jayawardena to Ranil Wickremasinghe, to Mahinda Samarasinghe (He was Michael Samarasinghe before) Jayaraj Fernandopulle etc, are few of those who changed their religion to Buddhism in order to get into Parliament.

            Therefore you cannot say Sri Lanka is really Democratic country. But a Buddhist Sinhala Racist country.

            The point is 90% of Parliamentarians are sinhala.Buddhist.

            90% of parliamentarians do not have a basic degree.

            60% of Parliamentarians do not have High a school certificate (GCE Advanced level)

            Some Ministers have only Grade 5 and grade 8 certificates.

            These are the characters who run our country today.

            The bottom line is only crooks and thugs mostly with illicit businesses who could throw millions of rupees to contest for elections get a chance to enter into parliament.

            There’s a saying that money talks and Sri Lanka is a good example.

            65 opposition UNP party MPs crossed into Government after receiving mega perks, gifts and Ministerial posts. Parliament has become a respectable first class whore house.
            Sri Lanka’s most reputed Drug dealers, ethenol importers, Cocain importers, bar owners and casino and night club owners are in the Parliament.

            Chances of Honest, educated and intellectuals to get into Parliament is very rare.

            It’s only a dream for a minority to be a President or Prime Minister in Sri Lanka, where you see a Black President in USA.

            Hope you understand what I mean. Sri Lanka is currently run by a bunch of uneducated, uncultured Buddhist Sinhala Racist political Jokers who have duped 70% of Sinhala Buddhist Villegers for their vote who are mostly under educated and who will vote for a small gift or a favour.

            As long as you say Sadu, sadu they are with you. Remember most actors and film producers are the rich in the world. Same with Sri Lanka’s politics.All are actors and jokers.

            This is the truth about Sri Lanka today. Hope you understand.

          • Aia

            Good point, but then even the well educated ones in the cabinet has no say, Prof GL is a classic example. Would not surprise even the 90% will be captured by monks in next 10 or 15 years with our champion Ven Gnana holding the reign. Game is on for minorities.

    • The D

      Dude people are people!! And everybody has the freedom to believe whatever they want!! the best thing u can do is stop talking so much abt Islamism… thrs are good n bad people in all religions… so stop [edited out] and smoke a joint n think of world peace… ur name sounds better as Mr. [Edited out] ;) GOD BLESS SRI LANKA!!!

  • karnan

    wake up you all sri lankan educated and forward thinking people , in this day and age why this type of things going on in our country ? do you still want the country rulled by thugs ? why you guys still voting for those who dont have a mentality to treat all humans as same and respectfully . vote for someone as a leader who can control and punish those hardliners and bring real peace to sri lanka . peace doesnt mean that there is no war in the country , the ordinary hard working people should feel the freedom and feel safe .i am sure you can do it but first you guys need to deny the gundas in power.

  • Sami

    So it is an “accident” to Tisaranee that a Muslim group attacked a Buddhist monk, and an “accident” that Muslims stoned the BBS protesters? Ok…..