Is Bodu Bala Sena the only ‘Extremist’ organisation in Sri Lanka?
Posted on April 7th, 2013

Asada M Erpini

“Extremist organisations are disturbing the harmony among different ethnic and religious groups.” “Ban the extremist organisations”, goes a call attributed to another group in Sri Lanka. The media are awash with the threat reportedly caused by these “extremist” groups.

 The writer has no special affiliation to or any antagonism towards Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), which has been in the news in a big way recently, or the Jathika Hela Urumaya that is often referred to as the “monk party” by the media. To refer to BBS, another media forum uses the expression “controversial Buddhist extremist” group.

 The issue that should baffle anyone is why is that the tag “extremist” is attached only to groups that talk of or are ready to fight for the rights of the Sinhala people (75% of the population)  or the Buddhists (70% of the population)?

 The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) that was born with the blessings of the LTTE, which was more extremist than any other group that Sri Lanka had ever witnessed, and was its mouthpiece is always described as the “major Tamil political party”. No one ever says that TNA is extremist in spite of the fact that it is the epitome of extremism, demanding special treatment for the 4% of the population that it could claim to represent. The Tamil language has been given official language status in Sri Lanka, even when Tamil Nadu (the land of Tamils) in India, with its 70 million Tamils, does not have Tamil as an official language. The TNA keeps on demanding a bigger and bigger share of the pie, and its leaders go round the world undermining Sri Lanka, but the TNA is never “extremist”!

 In addition to the above Tamil extremist lot, there are numerous so-called political parties that have Eelam, Tamil, Eelavar or Illankai (some shrewd anti-Sri Lankan would point out that Illankai is the same Lanka!) as part of their identity. All these groups are promoting extremism and divisions, and isolation of their supporters from the rest of the Sri Lankan people, but they are rarely ostracised for their stance.

 Then there are the groups, political as well as civic, which profess the Muslim faith, that have now started accusing some individuals or their gatherings that come from the Sinhala ethnic group or who profess the Buddhist religion of extremism. The former always wanted to have a separate identity, dressed differently and had their ethno-religious enclaves. Over the past five to ten years, Sri Lanka has witnessed an explosion in new dress codes of women in this group, which was never seen in the country during the many centuries prior to that. Sri Lanka is a democratic country and if these groups want to engage in religious, cultural and social practices that they believe in, many Sri Lankans would say that that is fine. But when they accuse others of extemism, that really is going beyond the permissible limits.

 Sri Lanka has managed to come out of a terrorist curse that plagued the nation for nearly three decades. All that it needs now is to repair the damage and move forward. The first step in this would be for those who were classic examples of extremism not to accuse others of extremism now.

 

 

 

13 Responses to “Is Bodu Bala Sena the only ‘Extremist’ organisation in Sri Lanka?”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    TNA and SLMC are the REAL extremists. Blaming BBS is foolish while TOLERATING TNA and SLMC.

  2. Sunil Vijayapala Says:

    let bbs be labelled as an extremist organisation. they are the only voice left for sinha+hela buddhsit people. our conservative, western values appreciating lankans are now worried about bbs, and they should be.
    bbs should not impose on them ‘barriers’ stating they will shun any political moves. people will decide that. what bbs needs to do is to gather momentum banking on the sinhala buddhist card, let it grow and flow on a natural way. let a leader be born to steer them to be the strongest force to challenge the current political adminstration, both government and opposition, who are corrupt to the hilt. finally they can take on the remaining tiger saks and wahaabis.

  3. Charles Says:

    I agree with Lorenzo, why should BBS be called extremist tolerating TNA and SLMC; BBS has a reason to be there to counter TNA and SLMC

  4. Dilrook Says:

    I agree with these sentiments. But there is a bigger current than domestic movements. For the past 2 years, a very powerful global extremist movement is sweeping across North Africa, Western Asia, the Middle East, South Asia and South East Asia. At the moment this ‘wind of change’ (a bad one) is heavily affecting Pakistan, Maldives, Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Burma and Indonesia in the near region.

    It is impossible for Sri Lanka (or any other country for that matter) to evade this regional trend. Surprisingly Afghanistan shows no such extremist trend apart from its regular extremist activity. However, things will get worse after December 2014. Indian elections in 2014 is also likely to bring in extremism. Malaysian elections due mid this year is likely to strengthen PSS (an extremist party) though they may not win it. Therefore, things will get worse with extremist groups. When one group resorts to extremism, the others naturally follow as it drives fear into the hearts of others.

    BBS must be stopped by taking the wind out of its sails. The government must allocate and incentivise more economic benefits to Sinhalese. This is the only way BBS can be toned down. Using violence, legal barriers and other harsh measures only strengthen it. If any legal moves are taken, they must be taken against all Tamil and Muslim parties and groups as well. Otherwise BBS will become unstoppable and may even turn violent against apparent unfairness against Sinhalese both in the domestic front and the international front.

    13A has created racist extremist demarcations in EPC. NPC will be even worse. Other elections (except NCPC, Sabaragamuwa PC, SPC, UPC) are due this year. CPC, WPC and Wayamba PC are also likely to produce racist extremism. Coupled with regional and world events, things don’t look promising unless 13A is removed and military camps are retained to maintain law and order.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    I agree with Dilrook. The 13-A must go. Who or what is blocking the removal of the 13-A ? India? Tamil Nadu ? IC ?

    Sri Lanka is ‘divided & ruled’ via the 13-A.

  6. Senevirath Says:

    Kalmunai municipal council has already named B B S as an exreamist organisation.. after vasudeva” cabinet paper to to take action against B B S

    ISLAM Religion is the most exteamist religion in the world

    vasu take action to ban it

  7. Fran Diaz Says:

    This note from the ColombPage :

    “Extremist Buddhist leaders of Sri Lanka to visit US
    Mon, Apr 8, 2013, 08:39 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Apr 08, Colombo: Executive committee member Sri Lanka’s extremist Buddhist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) organization Dilantha Vithanage announced that a group of BBS delegates will soon visit the United States.

    The visitors include the Secretary of BBS Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thero and the national organizer Witharandeniye Nanda Thero.

    Vithanage told media that the purpose of the visit is to construct a worldwide BBS network.

    BBS is a hardline anti US and anti-western Sinhala Buddhist organization which recently launched a wave of hate campaigns against Muslims.

    The organizations’ vehement campaign succeeded in withdrawing Halal certification from food items. The Organization has further vowed to fight against the head covering of Muslim women.

    The militant like organization harassed a BBC journalist and illegally held a Muslim journalist who was covering one of their rallies held in Maharagama.

    Bodu Bala Sena’s hardline attitude towards other religions has drawn concern from moderate Sri Lankans who fear that a Taliban like group is in the formation if the government and the society fail to take action against the group”.

    Our comment : BBS has done good work so far, e.g. Halal issue. They must NEVER stoop to violent actions anywhere. Reason and rational thinking must prevail at all times. Concentrate on the greater good for the citizens of Lanka. Lots of folk are just waiting for any ‘bad action’ by the BBS ! It may prove easy to tip over from action to ill action. Be mindful of
    what happened in 1983. That was the start of the downfall of Lanka.

    Re Dress Code for Muslim ladies : Objections should be very clearly worded and done with respect for the sensitivities of the Muslim community. It ought to be made clear just what is being objected to here. I personally think that covering the head lends dignity to women, while I cannot say the same for the large, black dresses with only the eyes of the wearer visible, as it does not appear seemly. It appears to us that the latter type of dress evolved in the dessert areas to protect from sun and blowing sand, and not suited to a tropical country such as Lanka. All should adapt to the country they live in.

    As far as we can see, BBS is PREVENTING Minority rule & soft ‘take over’ of Sri Lanka. This ought to work well for Minorities of Lanka, and help them to live in harmony with ALL the others.

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    Absolutely.

    BBS is NOT an extremist group.

    SL Muslims are now tuning into DISGUSTING EXTREMIST RADIO JIHAD on the internet. This is terrorism. ALL those who visit that site should be tracked down and punished before it is too late.

    BATHUSHA FM is sometimes spreading hatred in Kalmunai.

  9. Lorenzo Says:

    Kattankundy is a completely Muslim town in Batticaloa district which boasts of having the largest number of mosques per square kilometer in the world!

    After Kalmunai, it will be Kattankundy.

    This Tamil Madu style racist resolutions AT TAX PAYERS’ EXPENSE must be stopped.

  10. dingiri bandara Says:

    Despite what ever said and done, I believe that it is because of the BBS actions some of extremist group like ACJU was, at least for the present curtailed. I hope the same thing will happen with the crazy evangelical groups and traitorous NGOs.
    We Sinhalese Buddhist and moderates belonging to other faiths cannot be complacent. We need to unite under one banner and work together against these extremist groups attempting to harm the Sinhalese ,especially the Buddhists without resorting to violence. This has to be done while we are still in the majority.

  11. Fran Diaz Says:

    I am reproducing a part of an interview, from the Asian Tribune. the interview is between Dilantha Withanage & the Editor, Asian Tribune :

    Asian Tribune: You know that there are a few Buddhist countries in the world – China did not have the vote in the last UN Human Rights Council, but South Korea and Japan who were eligible to vote did not vote in favor of Sri Lanka. Thailand was the only Buddhist country which voted in favor of Sri Lanka. But out of the 13 votes Sri Lanka received 7 Muslim countries voted in favor of Sri Lanka.

    Unfortunately you are now targeting Muslim women about their purdah – dress code.

    Mr. Dilantha Withanage : No we are not doing that. It is completely wrong; we have no such campaign against the Muslim women. We had meetings with lots of Muslim people and we have told our position that we are not targeting Muslim women for their dress code and they believe us. Some political groups are creating problems for the Government. They are simply playing a political game by making such frivolous allegations against us.

    Asian Tribune: We will definitely carry your denials. One more thing I like to ask – We receive information to say that Bodu Bala Sena is receiving funding from Norway. Is it correct?

    Mr. Dilantha Withanage: Definitely not. We deny it.

    Asian Tribune: Then how are you getting your funds?

    Mr. Dilantha Withanage: Ours is an organization of mainly Buddhist monks. We get funds from our own people. It is the people who spent their own money and organize our meetings in the cities, towns and villages. Furthermore, we are running our organization from the contributions we receive from the common man in the country. They contribute, ranging from a few hundred rupees to a few thousands and more. Out of the poor people’s contribution we are running our organizations.

    We don’t receive any funding from any other sources. Mr. Mangla Samatrawera was alleging that Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa is funding us. No we don’t get any fund from the Government or from anywhere except from the people of this country.

    Asian Tribune: One more question. We were told that Buddhist monks who went along with you to Norway agreed to organize the Buddhist outfit – Bodu Bala Sena and you all were encouraged by some vested interest groups in Norway to organize this outfit?

    Mr. Dilantha Withanage: No. It is completely wrong. Norway has nothing to do with the organization of the Bodu Bala Sena. I firmly deny it.

    Asian Tribune: OK we will conclude this interview and I will contact you again if there any further developments.

    Editor: The three parts news report of Bodu Bala Sena is temporarily concluded. We will file more very soon.

    – Asian Tribune –

  12. Fran Diaz Says:

    It was also reported in the news that the BBS intends to open a Tech/Commerce College. We do applaud such an idea. All good wishes to the BBS in their life supportive activities.

  13. Lorenzo Says:

    I’m more and more IMPRESSED with BBS everyday.

    Way to go!

    Mangala Saramaweera! He is well known for creating BS stories no one believes.

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