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Extremist Buddhist monk held

Qadijah Irshad
Filed on May 27, 2015

Galgoda Aththa Gnanasara, who had a close coalition with the former ruling family, was arrested for participating in an unlawful protest last month.

Colombo — An extremist Buddhist monk who has been responsible for attacks on Sri Lanka’s minority communities was arrested by police on Tuesday.

Galgoda Aththa Gnanasara, who had a close coalition with the former ruling family, was arrested for participating in an unlawful protest last month.

The protest was organised and staged by Gnanasara’s radical political party, the Bodhu Bala Sena (BBS) when the former president’s brother, Gotabhya Rajapaksa, who was also the former defence secretary, was called in at the Bribery Commission for an inquisition.

“Despite orders banning protests that day, Gnanasara Thero as well as parliamentarians staged the protest,” said the police.

Following the illegal protest, a Colombo court ordered the priest and politicians to appear before the court on contempt of court charges.

However the Buddhist priest, who has dodged some serious charges including inciting racial violence during the previous regime, went into hiding.

With the BBS claiming that their chief had travelled abroad, the police deployed a team to arrest the monk upon his arrival.

“Gnanasara Thero was out of the country during the previous weeks and returned only on Tuesday,” said the organisation’s chief executive officer Dilantha Vithanage yesterday.

Gnanasara gained notoriety during the past five years for propelling a section of the majority Buddhist community into hate-based violence and attacks against the minority Muslims and Christians.

In June 2014, a mob, incited by a hate speech made by Gnanasara attacked and destroyed an entire Muslim town, killing four people in Aluthgama just 70 kilometres from capital Colombo. The former Sri Lankan government, police and the army were condoned by local and international communities for not taking action against any of the perpetrators.

The United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) reported that more than 350 violent attacks against Muslims and over 150 attacks against Christians have been reported in Sri Lanka from 2012 to2014 alone.

President Maithripala Sirisena who vowed to end racial incited violence and bring previous perpetrators to justice during his swearing in ceremony in January, has been criticised for not keeping his word four months after being elected in.

news@khaleejtimes.com 





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