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Weliweriya and the challenge of demilitarizing the North

Photo courtesy Ada Derana Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake, a former military spokesman and decorated combat officer, assumed duties on the 1st of August 2013 as the 20th commander of the Sri Lanka Army. No former commander ever assumed duties under more inauspicious circumstances for barely had the ceremonial takeover of command concluded than straightaway came reports that […]

Archiving ‘Her Stories': In conversation with Radhika Hettiarachchi

Her Stories, a unique archive of oral history, was conceived of and curated by Radhika Hettiarachchi. We begin by Radhika going in to what the archive is, and how it came about. Featuring 240 stories of mothers, the archive’s website avers, These histories or ‘Herstories’ showcase a shared history and highlight how we Sri Lankans […]

A quotidian response: Letter to President regarding religious extremism

On 4th July 2012, along with printed and bound copies of the over 1,400 comments in Tamil, Sinhala and English generated by Not In Our Name (coming to over 300 pages), a letter was penned and delivered to the Presidential Secretariat, with copies to relevant Government Departments and the Mahanayaka of the Rangiri Dambulu Chapter, […]

Not In Our Name: 1,400+ signatures against religious extremism in Sri Lanka

Not In My Name (NION) ran from 27th April to 31st May 2012. The blog was created and launched late on the 26th, just under a week after a violent attack on a mosque in Dambulla, led by Buddhist monks. At the time, the situation was very volatile. Islandwide, despite appeals for calm, there was […]

Mobs, Monks and the Problems of Political-Buddhism

  Original photograph REUTERS/Damir Sagolj It is always a curious and odd little matter, to witness how even Buddhists become so obsessively attached to ‘sacred’ lands and in protecting them, commit acts seemingly prompted by hatred, delusion and ill-will. Ideally, lands should not become ‘sacred’ for simple reasons. The Buddha, in attacking the rigid and unethical […]

Dambulla Mosque Attack: A Litmus Test of a Nation in Transition from Chauvinism to Civility

This Koran is tattered because Buddhist monks had been tearing the pages out of it. Asked if the monks had tried burning a Koran, I was told no – Caption and photograph by Navin Weeraratne This is in response to the comments to my previous post – Dambulla Mosque Attack: Is there a hidden hand? At […]

The Mind of Compassion: Buddhism and Violence

A lion carries a dead wild boar in his mouth. He is walking through the grasslands, victorious after the hunt. On the dead boar is a crudely imprinted crescent moon and star.  This is an image found in a Sinhala Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/මාගේ-හෘද-සාක්ෂිය/351343628228268) that among other things compares Sri Lankan Muslims to wild boar, puppies […]

Photo essay: Freedom, Religion, and Dambulla

Navin Weeraratne’s photo essay around the recent violence in Dambulla has already been shared widely on Facebook, and elsewhere on the web. Describing himself to us as “an amateur photographer, toy painter, and pub quizzer”, Navin has succeeded in capturing some of the best photos on the controversy surrounding the mosque ostensibly within the “sacred […]

The middle finger to the middle-path in Sri Lanka

A week ago, we disgraced ourselves. Racist louts, some in the garb of Buddhist monks, engaged openly in speech and behaviour so violent, even those who led it were forced to suggest later the footage broadcast on TV and now globally viewed on YouTube was doctored. This was, of course, not the case. Sri Lanka’s […]

Not In Our Name: Against religious extremism in Sri Lanka

A week ago, a violent a mob of about 2,000 Sinhalese, including a group of Buddhist monks led by the Mahanayaka of the Rangiri Dambulu chapter Inamaluwe Sumangala thero, stormed and vandalised a mosque in Dambulla. The mosque was declared an illegal structure, but it is unclear how this far this is accurate. The shameful […]

Fake video and lies: The strange case of Dambulla’s Inamaluwe Sumangala thero

The Mahanayaka of the Rangiri Dambulu chapter Inamaluwe Sumangala thero, one of the key figures in the on-going tensions in Dambulla over the presence of a mosque and kovil near his Temple, perhaps in response to the public outcry against the violence instigated by him, has told the BBC that TV footage that showed monks […]

Deeds of mosque in Dambulla and photos of damage: How is this structure illegal? (UPDATED)

Groundviews was sent a copy of what we were told was the deed of the mosque at the centre of an on-going controversy in Dambulla, Sri Lanka. We were also sent photos of the damage and vandalism wrought by the mob violence a few days ago. We’ve uploaded the document to Scribd as a PDF, […]

Dambulla Mosque attack: Is there a hidden hand?

Image courtesy BBC The storming of the Dambulla Mosque on Friday the 20th April and chasing away of the Muslim worshippers attending Friday prayers by a mob led by Buddhist priests is epoch making in modern Sri Lankan history. The majority of the people of all communities are shocked and incensed by the way Buddhist […]

Bigoted monks and militant mobs: Is this Buddhism in Sri Lanka today?

Frame grab from News 1st TV broadcast As noted by Raashid Riza, the Multimedia Editor of The Platform, Last Friday a mob of about 2,000 Sinhalese, led by a group of Buddhist monks, stormed into a mosque in the historical city of Dambulla. They caused disturbances so severe that Friday prayers had to be cancelled. […]