Buddhist clergy stage protest rally

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 01 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The interim report of the Sinhala Commission continued to create powerful reverberations in the Sinhala polity as more than 1500 people, including five hundred Buddhist monks, gathered yesterday to muster public support for the 'Sinhala cause'.

The 500 Buddhist monks and a thousand supporters assembled at Colombo's Victoria Park (now renamed Vihara Mahadevi park) to publicise their 'Sinhala cause'. This is anticipated to be the first of many such meetings as the monks who spoke yesterday threatened to carry their campaign to all parts of the Sinhala region.

It is no idle threat. The Buddhist clergy wield considerable influence with the Sinhala public, particularly in the rural areas of the south. The clergy has traditionally been able to whip up public sentiment against the Tamils with relative ease.

The Sinhala commission is an organisation formed by the Buddhist leadership to look into the grievances of the Sinhala people since independence. It has no official status, but is accorded considerable status by the clergy, which in turn gives it authority within the Sinhala public.

A succession of Sinhalese governments have ruled Sri Lanka, implementing laws, such as the Sinhala Only act, which discriminate against other races on the island. The Sri Lankan military is also overwhelmingly Sinhalese.

The Sinhala commission unveiled a report last week campaigning against the Sri Lankan government's devolution proposals. Despite being considerably watered down, the Buddhist clergy are firmly opposed to the package, saying it would lead to the break up of the country.

The Buddhist clergy have consistently opposed any concessions to the Tamil people and maintain that there is no discrimination in Sri Lanka.

Wary of the Buddhist clergy's influence, the government's proposals give Buddhism 'a first and foremost place in Sri Lanka' and make it illegal to even solicit public opinion on separation.

However, the volatile situation has been fueled by the contempt openly expressed by a government minister for the Sinhala commission's report. The Buddhist clergy are asking the government to apologise for the 'insult' and have blacklisted the minister, effectively barring him from entering a Buddhist temple.

Political observers in Colombo said the People's Alliance regime is already showing clear signs of buckling to the hard-liners pressure, by issuing confusing statements and offering lame excuses to prevent this protest campaign from developing into general unrest.

Such unrest could easily snowball into considerable public opposition to the Sri Lankan government, particularly as the skyrocketing cost of living and widespread corruption are contributing to widespread dissatisfaction.

 

Latest 15 Reports
21.10.17 21:46  
Unitary constitution imposing choice irrelevant to fundamentals needs rejection by Tamils
20.10.17 07:02  
Jaffna University students boycott classes against manipulative justice of genocidal Sri Lanka
19.10.17 17:11   Photo
Sirisena disappoints student leaders, Cooray humiliates families of hunger-striking prisoners
18.10.17 23:45  
Eastern Provincial Land authority discriminates Tamils
17.10.17 18:46   Photo
Paramilitary operative employed at Cooray's secretariat in Jaffna harasses public servants
16.10.17 07:15   Photo
UN Refugee agency ignorant of stranded Tamil refugees in Indonesia
15.10.17 19:12  
Tamil fisherman rammed by intruding Sinhala fishermens’ boat, fishing disputes escalate in Jaffna
14.10.17 07:34   Photo
Tamil protesters confront Maithiripala Sirisena in Jaffna
13.10.17 17:40   Photo
North at standstill, Sampanthan not to accompany Sirisena to Jaffna
12.10.17 23:35  
SL military postpones land release for 2 years as UN awarded Colombo with 2 more years in Geneva
11.10.17 23:48   Photo
20 Tamil organisations to lay siege to SL Governor's office on Friday
10.10.17 22:05   Photo
SL ‘Manipulative Justice’ exposed once again in Tamil political prisoners’ case: Sivapalan
09.10.17 22:09  
Protests gain momentum as hunger-striking political prisoners’ health deteriorates
08.10.17 23:00   Photo
SL constitutional discourse seen coupled with ‘Vision 2025’ policy of genocidal Sri Lanka
07.10.17 23:21  
Colombo brings Sinhala private partnerships to wage structural genocide in Vanni
 
Find this article at:
http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=64