The ban on the BBS: A sop to Cerberus?
Posted on April 10th, 2021

by Rohana R. Wasala

The report of the ministerial subcommittee appointed by the president on February 19, 2021 to study the Final Report of the PCoI on the Easter Sunday Attacks and to suggest how its recommendations should be carried out was handed over to the president on April 5 by its secretary Harigupta Rohanadheera, the director general of legal affairs at the presidential secretariat. The sectoral oversight committee comprised minister Chamal Rajapaksa (chairman), and ministers Udaya Gammanpila, Prasanne Ranatunga, Romesh Pathirana, Johnston Fernando and Rohitha Abeygunawardane. Two days later (April 7), the media reported that the Attorney General authorized the proscription of some eleven Islamic organizations including all Thawheed groups, Sri Lanka Jamate Islam, and affiliated student movements, of which those directly or indirectly involved in the April attacks held membership.The international organizations ISIS and Al Qaeda are also now banned in Sri Lanka. The government has already initiated implementing the other recommendations of the PCoI as well, such as the regulation of madrasa education. Under the present president the rule of law, which was under stress during the Yahapalanaya, is steadily taking charge, free of political interference. The uproar raised over alleged governmental pussyfooting around the findings and recommendations of the PCoI was premature. Meanwhile the proposed ban on the Bodu Bala Sena, which had taken the public by surprise, seems to have been rightfully set aside. 

The controversial recommendation contained in the Final Report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks carried out on April 21, 2019 to ban the Bodu Bala Sena (along with some other smaller national organizations) and to subject its general secretary to a form of  ‘shooting the messenger’ type of judgement, as concerned citizens viewed it, outraged the sentiments of the Maha Sangha, the general public, and some junior partners of the SLPP-led ruling alliance, who, obviously have no idea of the genuine reasons (whatever they were) that caused the commissioners to bracket these national organizations with the very Islamist terrorist outfits that they emerged to fight; these extremist Islamist groups are suspected to have worked to facilitate the radicalization of certain young Muslims, that ultimately led to the bombings. The recommendation, if followed through, could result in consigning the BBS leader, and through him the whole Sinhala Buddhist majority community, to a permanent denial of their right to free speech concerning Islamism and even other non-Islamic forms of religious fundamentalism, which pose a distinct threat to the long entrenched peaceful coexistence of diverse racial and religious communities in the country. 

Many, including even His Eminence the Cardinal, scoffed at the idea of appointing a ministerial subcommittee to look at the Final Report and advise the government on how to implement its recommendations. They wondered whether the government was trying to hide some vital information that incriminates an individual or a group to whom it is beholden for something. Were mere MPs eligible to review judicial recommendations? However, minister Gammanpila, a member of the subcommittee,  during the debate on the PCoI in parliament, explained on March 11, why such a subcommittee was deemed necessary. Two types of recommendations have been made by the commissioners, he said. One type consists of recommendations which are only for the attention of the Attorney General; the subcommittee has nothing to do with these. Then, there are a large number of recommendations (e.g., banning of extremist organizations) that need to be carried out by the government as appropriate. The subcommittee was appointed to look into the latter and make suitable suggestions on how to implement them. In the course of his parliamentary speech, Gammanpila mentioned the mysterious recommendation that advocates a ban on the BBS and that seems to subject its leader Ven. Gnanasara to a travesty of justice: He said, “Instead of being punished, Ven. Gnanasara should be co-opted into the national intelligence service!”. The minister is also an outspoken member of a ginger group that is apparently forming within the government ranks (something I see as a positive trend that will help keep the SLPP on the right track, focused on the mandate that the people have given Gotabaya Rajapaksa. 

There is no doubt that there are arguably valid reasons, maybe at least of a technical nature, behind the PCoI’s problematic advocacy of proscribing the BBS (which are probably set out in the Final Report); that is, there must be some rationalization of that recommendation. In spite of this, it is something that was not expected by ordinary citizens who have no legal sophistication. Those nationalist organizations, foremost among them the BBS, have been peacefully demonstrating against the unacceptable, aggressive activities of religious fundamentalists targeting the country’s majority Buddhist establishment (the Buddha Sasanaya) for over three decades (though the activist monks involved in these organizations have been most treacherously demonised in the eyes of the outside world through well funded, long sustained, false propaganda movements). Both monks and lay activists are in possession of concrete evidence to prove their allegations against fundamentalists, as used to be claimed by various social media posts.

Successive governments have to date mollycoddled certain opportunistic politicoes who depend on the votes of radicalized sections of the Muslim polity to get elected to parliament, but who don’t dare confront the handful of extremists who clandestinely brainwash or just terrorise their victim followers. This applies in respect of the Tamil minority as well, in a different way, but perhaps to a lesser degree. Leaders of governments, irrespective of whether they mean well or ill, have had to woo the support of these narrowly communalistic opportunists just to remain in power. Coldly strategic politicking leaves hardly any opportunity for meaningful governance. Meanwhile, most members of parliament elected from among the majority Sinhalese give us the impression that they are fighting among themselves merely to secure their petty personal or party interests, while being oblivious of or indifferent to the emergent threat (of potentially genocidal proportions, according to some) that the latter are now facing. This alarmingly disgusting fact would be obvious to any disinterested observer even now. In short, politicians who have been in power over the years, or even decades, have consistently turned a deaf ear to the monks’ complaints, and simultaneously, they have turned a blind eye on the illegal activities of Islamist extremists such as the indoctrination of the young through illegal madrasas, defacement of Buddha statues, encroachment or vandalizing or desecration of ancient Buddhist places of worship of national archaeological importance including, for example, the Muhudu Maha Viharaya at Pottuvil in the Ampara district in the eastern province, Kuragala in Balangoda (both dated back to the 2nd century BCE), and the Devenagala Raja Maha Viharaya (known from at least the 5th century CE to the Kandyan period, i.e., early 17th to early 19th CE), near Mavanella in the Kegalle district in central Sri Lanka. Had governments got the relevant civil authorities to perform their duties without let or hindrance in terms of the long established laws and traditions, extremist activities would have been nipped in the bud. (Fortunately, though,today, some positive steps are being taken in this connection.) 

When ruling politicians at any time falter due to internal and external pressures, a few government functionaries easily succumb to the lure of the bounties and blandishments that make them look the other way when the laws are violated by extremists.  The vast majority of civil servants, however, execute their functions and fulfill their duties with proper patriotism and professionalism. The public must salute them.

Actually, the question of a ban to be imposed on nationalist organizations would not have arisen, if the problem of religious fundamentalist excesses had been dealt with in earnest and eliminated altogether, because the former came into existence purely in reaction to the latter. The BBS leader has repeatedly stated that his organization would be disbanded immediately after the issues he is raising are resolved. But it is not likely now that he will volunteer to terminate his activism before the criminals responsible for the April 21 attacks are brought to book and the religious fundamentalist threats have completely ceased. However, Ven. Gnanasata was not perturbed by the ban. The Sunday Morning newspaper (February 25) reported: ‘”We would be more than happy to be banned, as long as the rest of the recommendations in the report are implemented properly,” the BBS General Secretary Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thero said when contacted by The Morning yesterday (24). He also noted that the BBS should be provided with reasons as to why they should be banned. “We haven’t committed any crime, we only raised our voice,” he claimed.’ 

The fact remains, however, that, had his early warnings been taken seriously and the issues duly investigated, and suitable preemptive actions taken, those monstrous attacks would not have taken place. By the time of the unexpected ouster of war winning UPFA government at the beginning of 2015, meaningful security steps had been initiated under Gotabaya Rajapaksa the then defence secretary to contain the spread of Islamist activities. But the incoming Yahapalanaya completely neglected the national security aspect of governance, and instead launched a witch-hunt against the members of the intelligence establishment that had been set up by the previous UPFA government that it replaced. The rift between the PM and President, which worsened during the latter phase of Yahapalanaya, further eroded national security, and this situation was capitalized on by the Jihadists to mount their attacks with ease, a fact that receives confirmation from the Final Report of The PCoI. We may now breathe a sigh of relief that the anti-nationalist NGO- and media-orchestrated public despair about a possible coverup of the Easter Sunday crime that the opposition politicians fed with ghoulish relish is finally being assuaged. 

3 Responses to “The ban on the BBS: A sop to Cerberus?”

  1. dingiri bandara Says:

    The commission need to explain in detail as to why BBS has to be proscribed. What were they thinking? It is Islamist extremist groups that are responsible for the Easter carnage. May be some activities and the some behaviour of the BBS cannot be condoned. There are are reasons for that .BBS may not have been there but for the threats from the Islamic fundamentalists. All must remember that but for the BBS, all the food sold in Sri Lanka would have had to be labelled Halal, including the water we drink. It is understandable why they want meat to be labelled Halal. Anyway most of the meat, I think ,except pork were Halal for a long time because it that industry was in hands of Muslims and no one complained.

  2. Charles Says:

    I am glad as atleast one voice had been raised against the banning of BBS. It was wrong BBS had no hand in Muslim extremism. Venerable Gnanissara thero was not even against the Muslims in general . He raised his voice against Muslim extremism. He said that one cannot find a big brain behind Saharans bomb blast. It is the Muslims extremist teachings that create these monsters. It is this extremist teachings which launched ISS , Wahabism and hundreds of extremist Muslim terrorists, in Egypt, Saudi Arabia , Afrika, Europ, Amerika and Sri Lanka. As long as this extremist Muslim teachings are allowed to be taught by thousands of extremist Muslims coming from Egypt, Syria etc. the Muslim terrorism will last. There is no one big extrmeist brain; like in the Drug Mafia. it is the new Muslim Extremist teachings which is Behind all Muslim etremists and terrorists like Saharan. Venerable Gnanasaara gthero siad this. It is true.

    Therefore there is no logic what ever why Budu Bala seana is banned. It is going against Sinhala Buddhists who are doing their best to save this country of Theravada Buddhism.

  3. Ratanapala Says:

    Mahamola Karu, the Red Herring to fool the people! Koran is the real Mahamola Karu!

    The reason for proposing the ban of Bodu Bala Sena organization and for proscribing Ven Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thero should be investigated fully. Perhaps it was done foolishly to balance the proscribing of Muslim Organisations and to please Muslim population there is a ‘certain balance’ in the PCoI recommendations. However, what is worse is if there are hidden hand or hands who are well funded by Muslim big bucks and wanted to see all Sinhala Opposition to runaway Jihadism nullified, only to continue with the enterprise of Islamising Sri Lanka another day.

    There have been musings of Born Again actors too getting into the fray who are trying to kill two birds with one stone. Are they part of the PCoI or outside actors?

    The Red Herring in the whole disgraceful episode is taking the Islamic Attack on Easter Sunday to be confined to a Mahamola Karuwa and the resulting idiotic effort to find out the Mastermind – the Maha Molakaru. This is a non starter from the very beginning. This is one way of giving a finality to the Easter Sunday attack. It is unfortunate that the Cardinal too has fallen into this cleverly crafted trap.

    It is no secret now that the reason for the attack on the Christians in Sri Lanka is an after thought that has its origin in the ISIS defeat in the Middle East and on the Mosque attack that took place in Christchurch, New Zealand only a few weeks before the attack. Otherwise their readiness was to attack the Buddhists on a large scale – Dalada Perahera in Kandy.

    The enterprise to make Sri Lanka a Muslim Islamic State is age old and going apace sometimes at snail pace – grabbing land, breeding, sterilizing of the Sinhalelse women, food poisoning and at other times at breakneck speed – Easter Sunday attack!

    The Maha Molakaru or the Mastermind is nothing but the Koran which is the Life Manual and Handbook of all Muslims. Reading different verses it is easy for anyone to appear either peaceful or become murderous. This manual has been used successfully by Muslims since the time of Prophet Mohammed to successfully invade and Islamize nations around the world. Islamaisation of the whole world is ultimate goal of all Muslims. How they expect to achieve those goals differ among various groups, sometimes within the same family but the the end they seek is the same!

    Sad to say it is our so called Sinhala Buddhist leaders who have allowed our Motherland to be brought to this state of affairs. They have over the years enriched themselves while ceding the very being of our nation, to be Islamised. When at the last Presidential Election over 69 lakhs of mainly Sinhala Buddhists voted the Pohottuwa Administration into power and Gotabhaya Rajapakse to be the President, it was with lofty expectations that things would be put right and there will be equity for all and there will be no place for extremism or for the formation of Fiefdoms anywhere in the Island. People are still hopeful that the President will not forget his exhortations at Ruwanweliseya on his inaugral day!

    What has been happening in Sri Lanka, I have described in detail in the attached article published by me many moons ago.

    http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2017/03/05/what-can-the-sinhalese-do-about-the-muslim-population-explosion-and-land-grab/

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