Sri Lanka Buddhist monks oppose peace deal

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 14 January 2003, 18:45 GMT]
Hundreds of Buddhist monks Tuesday vowed to remove Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government if it did not listen to their exhortations against a peace deal with the Liberation Tigers. More than two thousand protestors, led by the ‘Federation of Bikkhus to Rescue the Motherland’, a large umbrella organisation of Buddhist monks, gathered at the Nugegoda Junction, a busy intersection in one of Colombo’s crowded suburbs, Tuesday afternoon to condemn Colombo’s peace negotiations with the LTTE.

The monks declared that nothing could stop them from fighting to safeguard the unitary (Ekkhiya) character of the Sri Lankan state.

Ven. Prof. Kumburugamuwe Vajiranayaka Thero
Ven. Prof. Kumburugamuwe Vajiranayaka Thero speaking at the Buddhist monks' rally in Nugegoda Tuesday.
Legal experts say that the unitary nature of the Sri Lankan state as defined by Articles 2 and 76 of the island’s constitution is the chief impediment to granting regional autonomy to the Tamils.

The Sinhala Buddhist clergy considers itself the historical guardian of the unitary Sri Lankan state – a predestined protector and propagator of Theravadha Buddhism.

Addressing the meeting, Ven. Prof. Kumburugamuwe Vajiranayaka Thero,a leading monk, charged that “western forces have joined together” under the pretext of facilitating the peace process to destroy the country. He said that the northeastern province should be de-merged into two separate provinces.

Ven. Kalawalgala Chandaloka Thero, leader of National Bikkhu Front, said that the United National Front government had falsely persuaded the (Sinhala) people that the ceasefire agreement was good for the country before it was signed. He said it is now apparent that the LTTE is availing itself of the agreement to set up its own system of government in the northeast.

The powerful monk asserted that Prime Minister Wickremesighe’s government would be removed from power, if he did not heed their warnings about the Tigers.

Nine resolutions were passed at the Buddhist monks meeting. The first says: “Wickremesighe’s plot to divide Sri Lankan should not be allowed to succeed. Buddhist monks are prepared to even lay down their lives in the “fight against the plan to divide the motherland”, according to the resolution. The second resolution calls on the government not to dismantle the Sri Lanka army’s high security zones until the Tigers agree to decommission their weapons.

The growing opposition in the ranks of the Sri Lankan Buddhist clergy to Colombo’s peace talks with the LTTE might easily erode the Sinhala people’s confidence in the peace process, analysts say.

This is because Buddhist priests who preach and interact regularly with the Sinhala people at the grass roots level remain the main purveyors of the idea of a unitary Sri Lanka even today, according to the analysts.

Budhist monks

 

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