Sri Lanka appoints radical Buddhist monk to create equality law

The Sri Lankan government has appointed radical Buddhist monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara to chair a group that will be in charge of preparing an equality bill, an election that this Wednesday unleashed criticism among activists defending minorities such as Hindu or Muslim.

The latest extraordinary issue of the Sri Lanka Gazette, dated Tuesday and released today, announced the appointment of a thirteen-member working group to study how to apply the government-driven target "One country, one law".

The main idea is to ensure that all citizens are treated equally regardless of their religion, caste or any other aspect, based on which a bill will be prepared, a mission that clashes with the profile of Gnanasara, known for his speeches. incendiaries against religious minorities.

This monk, leader of the extremist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS, Buddhist Force Energy), has publicly stated that Muslim and Christian minorities put the Sinhalese Buddhist culture of 70% of the country’s population at risk. In 2017, he was arrested for contempt, obstruction and threats and incitement to hatred.

The thirteen-member working group is made up of representatives of different religious communities that for years have suffered discrimination and attacks by Gnanasara and its affiliates, which has sparked criticism in the island country.

"This is an insult to those who think, to the people who respect the law in this country"Sandya Ekneligoda, whose husband, the journalist and cartoonist who disappeared in 2010 Prageeth Ekneligoda, had been persecuted by Gnanasara, told Efe.

During the investigation for this case, the Buddhist monk was found guilty of criminal harassment and intimidation after threatening Sandya during a hearing on the disappearance of her husband.

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"I wonder how the members of the Muslim community in the task force will feel?" that they will have to carry out the project together with Gnanasara and that for years they have suffered discrimination from the BBS, said Sandya.

The BBS is an ultra-nationalist formation with saffron habits, a sacred color for Buddhism, which is accused of promoting violent confrontations against Muslims.

"This is really troublesome. Gnanasara is a criminal. He is known for instigating violence against the Muslim community. I should be behind bars"Human rights activist Shreen Saroor sentenced Efe, who stressed that this new law will divide rather than unite the population of the island nation.

Following his resounding electoral victory last year, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, frequently accused of abuse of power, promised to reinforce the Sinhalese Buddhist identity of the country, which has significant minorities such as the Hindu (15.5% and mainly Tamil ), Muslim (7.6%) and Christian (7.5%).

The former president and current prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotayaba’s brother, was the one who led the final offensive against the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Homeland (LTTE) guerrilla that ended 26 years of civil conflict in 2009, amid accusations of strong human rights violations.

 

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