Anti-Buddhist Sri Lankan Government attempt to ban Vesak pandals echoes Vietnam under Nieg Diem & US foreign policy
Posted on April 1st, 2018

On 30 March 2018 the Daily Mirror carried a caption No pandals on Vesak, Poson Poya days” declared by the Buddhasasana Minister Gamini Jayawickrema Perera. The reaction was immediate & quite rightly the majority Buddhists saw it as an act of an appeasing Government adopting an anti-Buddhist policy for its own political survival. It also echoed a similar chilling historical incident that took place in Vietnam also under a US-puppet rule. Vietnamese President Ngô Đình Diệm a Catholic & US puppet in 1963 ordered the ban on Buddhist flag display, days prior to Vesak triggering a mass demonstration that resulted in many deaths, the famous self-immolation of Ven. Thich Quang Duc that ultimately led to a military coup & the assassination of the Vietnamese President by the US in view of the global embarrassment that resulted.

Vietnam April 1963

As per Geneva Accords of 1954 North & South Vietnam were to exist for 2 years as temporary states.

South Vietnam had been a French colony and much of its wealth had been plundered. If the West is present in non-Western climes it is because of oil, gas, natural assets or geopolitical interests. Vietnam was where the opium trade thrived.

South Vietnam rulers were backed by the US & Western allies who installed Ngo Dinh Diem a Catholic as Prime Minister who assured to rule based on Western political & economic values & of course American advisors as well as his 4 brothers though nothing was said against nepotism when it came to Western interests. All of the key posts went to friends & family & of course the Catholic Church. It also meant plenty of gangsters & criminals with state patronage. To the world Ngo Dinh Diem rule was an epitome of democracy. To the South Vietnamese citizen’s the rule became a nightmare & the military too was not so gaga about him. Elections were rigged, freedom of the press was non-existent, private armies & torture chambers echoed of our own Batalanda days. Just like we do not know how many died during the 1980s-/1990s JVP-UNP terror reign, no one knows how many Diem’s Western-backed government killed. Another feature shared by Diem & present Sri Lankan US-propped Government was the rampant corruption and the verbal economic plans presented by both leaders!

Another area that Vietnam under Diem & Sri Lanka under yahapalana draw similarities in is the persecution of Buddhists. In Vietnam it made headlines & resulted in the eventual assassination of Diem.

More than 80% of the South Vietnamese population were Buddhists but Diem’s government favored minority Catholics. In May 1963 on the eve of Vesak (Buddha’s birth, enlightenment & death) Diem issued a ban on the display of Buddhist flags in public. The shock is no different to the announcement in Sri Lanka of the Government banning Vesak pandols.

Diem’s orders banning the Buddhist flag came a week after government sponsored Papal flags had been displayed for Diem’s elder brother who was the Catholic Archbishop.

The Vietnamese Buddhists ignored the order & flew their flags while also engaged in peaceful rallies & hunger strikes.

Diem’s response was to attack the peaceful demonstrators with battery acid. On 11 June 1963 an incident took place that shook the world. A 73 year old Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc peacefully sad down, delivered a short speech & set himself on fire. He sat motionless as the flames spread over his entire body. Đức set fire to himself in protest against religious discrimination and persecution of Buddhists in Vietnam.

 

American journalist Malcolm Browne captured & relayed the pictures all over the world & the photo won Photo of the Year Award & the Pulitzer Prize. David Halberstam, a journalist accompanying Browne, described the event graphically: ‘Flames were coming from a human being; his body was slowly withering and shriveling up, his head blackening and charring. In the air was the smell of burning human flesh; human beings burn surprisingly quickly. Behind me I could hear the sobbing of the Vietnamese who were now gathering. I was too shocked to cry, too confused to take notes or ask questions, too bewildered to even think … As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him.’

Thich Quang Duc’s last words before his supreme sacrifice was in a letter:

Before closing my eyes and moving towards the vision of the Buddha, I respectfully plead to President Ngo Dinh Diem to take a mind of compassion towards the people of the nation and implement religious equality to maintain the strength of the homeland eternally. I call the venerables, reverends, members of the Sangha and the lay Buddhists to organise in solidarity to make sacrifices to protect Buddhism.”

 

Madame Nhu, Ngo Dinh Nhu’s vicious and hated wife called it ‘Buddhist barbecue”. John F Kennedy said, No news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world.”

Diem showed no remorse. He declared martial law and ordered Buddhist temples to be raided & over 1400 Buddhist monks were arrested & some vanished. The pagodas were destroyed & Diem’s forces were uncontrollable. Students of University of Saigon came forward in support of the Buddhists as did all the Buddhists in Vietnam which triggered the change in the US policy – a lesson that all the Buddhist forces in Sri Lanka must take advantage of.

It was too much for the US administration & days after the anti-Buddhist raids President John F Kennedy asked the US State Dept to investigate the options as Diem was now a liability. US envoy was Henry Cabot Lodge to whom US announced its change policy. US had decided to stop its support to Diem. the American mission in Saigon maintained secret contacts with the plotting generals through one of the CIA’s most experienced and versatile operatives, an IndoChina veteran, Lieut. Col. Lucien Conein. https://www.nytimes.com/1971/07/01/archives/us-and-diems-overthrow-step-by-step-pentagon-papers-the-diem-coup.html

When anyone becomes a liability to the US, the US will get rid of them. Similarly, the US envoy in Sri Lanka would not be able to stop any changed US decision in Washington either! The nod was given to the South Vietnamese military whom US already had links too.

Diem and his brother were thus captured & assassinated on 1 November 1963. Ironically, 3 weeks later US President Kennedy himself was assassinated. But, there was no relief for the Buddhist majority, US became more involved in Vietnam.

Ever since the Ranil-Maithri Government came to power helped by US & India, the majority Buddhists & their heritage had been a key target. Funds were withdrawn, Buddhist priests were arrested on flimsy charges & put into prison without bail, Buddhist sites were attacked & desecrated with little or no international reaction or condemnation, Buddhist heritage sites were being turned into multicultural sites, attempts to change the constitution with insidious attempts to remove the foremost place given to Buddhism in Article 9 are just a handful of anti-Buddhist actions. Going overboard with the latest announcement to ban Vesak pandols requires the present government to refer to Vietnam & how US-propped President Diem lost his legitimacy when he alienated the Buddhists. Diem planted the seeds of his own downfall & the actions of both the Sri Lankan President & Prime Minister are taking that same self-destructive path. Diem was hailed as the miracle man” of Southeast Asia just as the PM was promoted as Mr. Clean a fast waning title.

It is prudent that we step back in time to Ceylon during Diem’s rule. L.H. Mettananda, leader of the Bauddha Jatika Balavegaya (BJB) and N.Q. Dias key members of Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s government were all vociferous in their speeches on the persecution of Buddhists in Vietnam. Mrs. Bandaranaike took a bold stance by instructing her envoy R S S Gunawardena to speak on behalf of the Buddhists of Vietnam at the UN which led to a fact finding mission headed by Gunawardena proceeding to Vietnam in October 1963 which became a key trigger that led to President Kennedy deciding to depose of Diem just days later.

Returning to the present announcement by the Ranil-Maithri Government to ban Vesak pandols and then immediately afterwards reverse their statement clearly indicates that this Government does not know what it is doing or the Government is being advised by some dimwits whose objectives to alienate and remove Buddhism is turning an already unpopular Government into a laughing stock by its actions. Vesak is celebrated even as a UN holiday since 1999 thanks to the initiative of the then Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

Therefore, the present Yahapalana government are advised to be mindful of their actions as history does repeat & their current friends are likely to be their worst enemies.

 

 

 

Shenali D Waduge

Martyrdom of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc

http://archives.dailynews.lk/2013/06/12/fea01.asp

End of an anti-Buddhist tyranny

 

 

7 Responses to “Anti-Buddhist Sri Lankan Government attempt to ban Vesak pandals echoes Vietnam under Nieg Diem & US foreign policy”

  1. ranjit Says:

    Peace loving citizens specially the sinhala buddhists must stand up unitedly at this very moment to say to this undemocratic treacherous Yamapalanaya government to step down and leave immediately. Enough is enough. Bashing Buddhism and destroying buddhist religion, buddhist culture and harassing sinhala race is a master plan of para suddas and the evil forces within and outside to hurt our feelings and break our Motherland in to pieces to satisfy the minorities in the country. Somebody must take the lead to stop these evil forces before they destroy us Sinhalese and buddhist monuments and erase our ancient history. These 8th grade politicians must be kicked out immediately to safeguard our beloved nation. We cannot allow them to make rules and regulations which are not suitable for this country. We need visionaries, educationists with brains to govern not drugs lords, thugs and highway robbers like what we have in the current parliament. Time has come to change the system and the ruling elite. Let’s do it.

  2. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Traitor catholic run anti Buddhist, anti Sinhalese, anti Sri Lanka UNPatrioticrats destroying Buddhism, Sinhalese
    race and Sri Lanka since john kota. He wanted to paint all Buddhist monks heads with tar. Why all this hatred
    against the Sinhalese Buddhists by these traitor low lives in their own land? After SWRD Sinhalese became
    divided and UNPatriotic_rats had to lean on tamils, mussies and catholics for their votes mainly. Then the
    UNPatriotic_rats aligned the country with the christian west who expected them to dance to their tune. Since
    traitor alugosuwa (to Sinhalese only) [email protected] it has gathered momentum not surprisingly since nobody has seen the
    thambi mudiyanse anywhere near a temple.

    Then came its murderous (Sinhalese only), mega thieving, mega
    lying, mega crafty traitor chief die hard catholic token Buddhist Walking Crime Bomb with the timer set for
    10-20 years? Batalande Wandakaya Pol Pot [email protected] wickrama Sinhala killer who expedited it. Today you see
    Buddhism, Buddhist monks, Buddhist temples etc etc. under enormous threat. But the Sri Lankan media which is
    run by UNPattriotic_rat henchmen make sure nothing is given any publicity.

    You can see parallels with the Vietnam in the 60s under diem who used death squads which was headed by its
    brother who was the bishop in Saigon at the time. US backed diem to the last, but when diem and its murderous
    bishop brother went insane and started killing scores of Buddhists, two monks self immolated. That’s the final
    straw for the us and had to back off to avoid embarrassment. Then a coup was started and saw the diem and its
    mass murdering brother bishop were gunned down like dogs ending the persecution of Buddhists majority by the
    minority catholics. Batalande Wandakaya slowly but surely dragging us towards to it. Unfortunately it doesn’t have
    enough C grade (brigade like weapons grade uranium to him) police top brass like during Bheeshana samaya. You can see how pathala man sighing oh I miss my ronnie, earnie, doughie, doghie, melwyn, festie etc. etc. I don’t
    even have my partner goni suni. So depressing for the Wandakaya!

    But the bad news for Sri Lanka, Buddhism and the Sinhalese race is Wandakaya going to survive NCM with the
    help of Tamil Nadu Alliance aka TNA, Sri Lankan Multiplying Community aka SLMC, jaathidrohee vermins’
    party headed by its C buddy p ke lapaya etc. etc. going to rescue the pathala man. Who is going to destroy
    Buddhism, Sri Lanka and Sinhalese race like the Wandakaya is their reason to rescue the pathala man PM.

  3. Dilrook Says:

    All this while the same government boasting about world’s tallest Christmas Tree. This is deliberate and absolute ridicule of the nation’s Buddhist heritage.

  4. Christie Says:

    I am not worried about Vesak lights and other festivities.

    My concern is our Minister of Buddhism going to suck Sivalinga and getting kicked out because he is an Untouchable, a subject of the Indian Empire.

  5. L Perera Says:

    Economic migration it appears has been the main cause of the current ethnic / religious strife in countries all over the world . Colonization in the past was a major contributor to the problem Like the importing of South Indians to work on Lankas tea plantation, and the conversion to Christianity by the Portugese. Similarly the importation of Africans to work the cottonn fields, by the Americans.In like manner Sri Lankans too migrated to Britain, Canada and Australa. Needless to say, they were not welcomed by some of the extremists in the host country. Sri Lanka is not alone in this universal problem, but unfortunately we have a bigger problem – the deplorable state of our economy and the extent of corruption by some of our Politicians and most of all the disproportionate levels in incomes, resulting in too wide a gap between the haves and the have nots.

  6. Hiranthe Says:

    Thank you Shenali for connecting it to the Vietnam incident in 1963. With this type of information our foolish supporters of Yahap can see where these instructions coming from and the gravity of their folly of supporting Yahaps in 2015.

    More absurd proposals they come up with, more they sink in quick sand, never to come back.

  7. Fran Diaz Says:

    Which part of the so called Unity Govt want these head on, very sensitive, conflicts with the largest bloc of People in Lanka ?
    Purposely done to serve what purpose ?? !!

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