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
21.05.20 15:56   Photo
TYO-UK pushes back on British Foreign Secretary's May 18 tweet
20.05.20 22:09  
SL TID interrogates outspoken Tamil activist VS Sivakaran in Mannaar
19.05.20 16:23   Photo
IBC's sister-media Gagana used to threaten Tamil villagers in Trinco on 18 May Remembrance
19.05.20 07:42   Photo
Eezham Tamil and Muslim solidarity non-negotiable in true spirit of Mu'l'livaaykkaal
18.05.20 23:20   Photo
Occupying SL military desecrates Remembrance Day candles, harasses Tamil politicians
18.05.20 07:11   Photo
Remembrance event urges Tamils to own justice project, establish genocidal intent of Sinhala state
17.05.20 05:18   Photo
Break paradigm that regards Tamils as victims to achieve equitable solution: Balakumaran in 2004
16.05.20 16:54   Photo
The Guardian succumbs to pressure from SL High Commission on indigenous term Eelam
15.05.20 12:26   Photo
SL Army fires at Tamil youth in Point Pedro, Jaffna
14.05.20 21:28   Photo
IC deceived Tamils on genocide investigation: Students of Faculty of Art at Jaffna University
13.05.20 22:55   Photo
Remembrance of Tamil Genocide and Resistance commences in occupied Tamil Eelam
12.05.20 23:03  
India neither ‘balancer’ or ‘challenger’ to China in Indo-Pacific: Aussie think-tank
11.05.20 20:25  
Outspoken CCP called back from North, former commander appointed as top health bureaucrat
10.05.20 21:24  
Mannaar fishers confront off-season right after Pandemic curfew ravaging their livelihood: Alam
09.05.20 11:31   Photo
Occupying Sinhala soldiers mete out revenge assaults against Tamil families in Jaffna, Vanni
 
Find this article at:
http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=64