Buddhist Anti-Muslim Racism & Violence in Sri Lanka

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Original Chinese Language Article By: http://www.chengshiw.com

(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

Translator’s Note: Racism is a political ideology that originates within the rightwing and is premised upon prejudice, discrimination, and hatred.  It operates from the false premise that expedient culture is the product of skin colour (and other physical characteristics), and that one ethnic group is superior to another.  Racism demand violence and feeds on the human suffering it causes.  The Buddha, who rejected the racism and politics of the Brahmanic religion and caste system, taught that all human suffering originates from the presence of greed, hatred and delusion in the human mind.  He also taught that through meditation, greed, hatred and delusion can be permanently uprooted and all human suffering prevented through the realisation of nirvana – or a state of mind (and body) that is nolonger moved by base desire, and which does not generate greed, hatred and desire.  The Buddhist monks described below are a disgrace to the Buddha, and to Buddhism.  They are ordinary and deluded beings pointlessly dressed in robes, whose minds are infected with the disease of racism, the hateful actions of which are tolerated by a prejudiced government of Sri Lanka. that has hopelessly lost its way in the world, and completely forgotten what the word ‘Dharma’ means.  I apologise to the Muslim communities of Sri Lanka.  ACW 15.3.2016

A News article dated the 18th of June, 2014, reports that recently religious and ethnic violence broke-out 60km south of Colombo in the town of Aluthgama, Sri Lanka, which saw large numbers of ordained Theravada Buddhist monks (as members of the rightwing nationalist group known as ‘Bodu Bala Sena’ or ‘Buddhist Power Force’) deliberately and violently attack Muslim neighbourhoods in the area.  Prior to running wild in a frenzy of uncontrolled violence that saw three Muslims killed and 52 injured, the Theravada monks had held a rightwing political rally calling for ordinary Sri Lankan people to attack their Muslim neighbours.  The Buddhist monks shouted anti-Muslim racist slogans as they smashed-up shops, cars, and set fire to property along the roadside.  Many terrified Muslim men, women and children hid in the local mosque during the height of the violence.  In an act of sustained racial violence against the local Muslim community, perpetuated by these ordained Theravada monks, not one Buddhist was hurt – but the police did arrest 12 monks.

A United Nations Observer called upon the Sri Lankan government to do more to stop this Buddhist violence aimed at minority Muslim communities.  The majority of people in Sri Lanka are Buddhist, and the UN asked for a greater effort to prevent hate-speech and racist attitudes from exploding into religious and ethnic violence in the country.  The Sri Lankan Minister of Justice – a Muslim from the southwest named Rauff Hakeem – stated that the national government was trying to balance the different ethnic groups that comprise the Sri Lankan nation, and prevent an intensification of inter-communal violence.  The Sri Lankan population is comprised of 70.2% Sinhalese Buddhists, 12.6% Hindus, 9.7% Muslims, and 7.4% Christians.  This mixture of very diverse ethnic and religious groups often creates flash-points of cultural tension.

Sinhalese racist nationalism has grown in recent years in the lay community, particularly within groups of idealistic young men, who then ordain for a time as Buddhist monks. Once a member of the ordained Sangha – far from transcending greed, hatred and delusion, these young men – encouraged by older Buddhist monks, give full expression to their racist views, spreading hatred to other monastics, as well as out into the community of lay-Buddhists.  When this faction of Buddhist monks are not directly committing the violence themselves, they often incite poorly educated lay Buddhists to carry-out the destruction on their behalf.  This faction of Buddhist nationalists believe that they are defending the Sri Lankan nation from foreign invasion, despite the fact that many of the Muslims they attack are from families that have been resident in Sri Lanka for generations.

Much of the ‘Buddhist Power Force’ racist rhetoric stems from the civil war that occurred for many years in the north of the country between Buddhists and Hindus led by the LTTE – although the government of Sri Lanka eventually won that war without meeting the Hindu demands for independence.  Relatively peaceful and isolated Muslim communities in the south of the country are deliberately and falsely equated with the formerly militarised Tamil Hindu communities in the north (that were often materially assisted by India).  The problem is that the Sri Lankan government is condemning the ethnic violence, but is not directly criticising the rightwing Buddhist group ‘Buddhist Power Force’.  The danger is that the racist nationalism that this Buddhist faction represents will eventually win open support within the Sri Lankan government and cause untold suffering as a result.

 

©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2016.

Original Chinese Language Source Article:

http://www.chengshiw.com/news/2014/412955.html

斯里兰卡佛教僧侣袭击穆斯林教徒 3人死亡52人受伤

本次宗教冲突发生在位于科伦坡以南约60公里的奥兹嘎玛镇,一群来自于激进民族主义佛教社团”武道巴拉塞纳”的僧侣,在一场大型集会之后,一群涉嫌攻击僧侣的穆斯林青年发动了袭击。

他们高喊反穆斯林的口号,示威游行通过穆斯林社区,并打砸了路旁的街道,让穆斯林的汽车和商店遭到了烧毁,并迫使很多穆斯林居民躲到了当地的清真寺之中。

当地警方发表声明,宣称已有12名”武道巴拉塞纳”成员遭到了逮捕,他们都是占斯里兰卡多数的僧伽罗人。

正在这一地区巡查的联合国观察员皮莱敦说,斯里兰卡政府必须尽一切可能阻止这一暴力事件引发更大规模的煽动仇恨言论及民族与宗教冲突,她说,少数族裔必须得到应用的保护。

而该国的司法部长,一位来自于西南地区的穆斯林,奥拉朱旺表示,政府正在权衡民族间的关系,并表示作为一名政府中的穆斯林,他很惭愧没有帮到他的同胞。

斯里兰卡,作为一个刚刚结束内战不久的国家,其国内的政治局势仍未能真正的稳定下来,伊拉姆猛虎仍在少数民族地区煽动着叛乱与分裂,而宗教矛盾亦在不断的激化,在斯里兰卡其人口组成中70.2%是佛教徒,12.6%信奉印度教,9.7%信奉伊斯兰教、7.4%信奉基督教而各个宗教间又掺杂着民族矛盾。

作为佛教的主要信仰者,也是斯里兰卡的主体民族僧伽罗人之中,近年来,出现了激增的佛教民族主义思潮,而这造就了“武道巴拉塞纳”,这一斯里兰卡最强大的佛教组织,它信奉自己是僧伽罗人与小乘佛教的捍卫者。

提到斯里兰卡就不得不提到,其国内另一个隐藏的政治威胁,泰米尔人,信仰印度教的泰米尔人居住在斯里兰卡北部,曾经在猛虎组织的带领下进行了将近三十年的武装斗争,虽然目前斗争已经失败,但其分离的血液尚未流干。

而“武道巴拉塞纳”的鹊起与泰米尔战争时,其政府所需要的民众支持密不可分,未来这股民族主义将走向何方,及这股政治力量的治理,相信将成为未来斯里兰卡政府最为头疼的事情之一。

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