The monk, Ashin Wirathu, the leader of an extremist movement in Myanmar called 969, was the guest of honor at a convention of Buddhist hard-liners in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital.
Ashin Wirathu, who addressed thousands of Sri Lankan Buddhist monks at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium, expressed his gratitude to President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka for allowing him to take part in the event despite calls from Muslim and Christian groups for the government to cancel his visa.
He arrived in Sri Lanka on Friday night and was received at the airport by a large delegation from the Sri Lankan organization Bodu Bala Sena, or Buddhist Power Force, which has been accused of instigating attacks against Muslims in Sri Lanka.
On Sunday, Bodu Bala Sena’s general secretary, Galagodaththe Gnanasara, said that “the time has come for Buddhists to ally internationally,” and that Ashin Wirathu “understands the situation.”
Speaking at the convention, Bodu Bala Sena’s leaders called for a new constitution to protect the majority Sinhalese community and for a new national flag that would recognize only the Sinhalese and no minority ethnicities and religions. Harshly criticizing the government, they vowed to field their own candidate for president if the current administration failed to protect Buddhists in the country.
“This is not a multireligious country,” Bodu Bala Sena’s founder, Kirama Wimalajothi, said. “This is a Sinhalese country.”
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, the country’s main Muslim party and a government ally, urged the authorities to step up protection for Muslims in the capital ahead of the Bodu Bala Sena convention.
Religious violence has been on the rise in Sri Lanka. In June, three people died and hundreds of Muslim homes and businesses were damaged in rioting in Aluthgama and Beruwala in the worst sectarian violence here in decades.
Last year, a mosque in Grandpass, a suburb of Colombo, was attacked by a mob at the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy season.
Sri Lankan Government-owned ‘Daily News’ response to this article, September 30, 2014 http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=editorial/guided-liberal-policy-they-tell-us