Battling Buddhist Monks to the Fore! | Sunday Observer

Battling Buddhist Monks to the Fore!

A sight that truly disgusted, and yes, alarmed this cat was seeing on TV some men in yellow robes attacking a UN safe house in Mt Lavinia sheltering thirty Rohingya refugees. Pitiful to see a young mother clutching her baby to her chest and escaping the robed mob by the grace of police intervention. What thoughts would have gone through her mind? Here she was, having escaped genocide, braving the high seas in a rickety boat.

The boat had got into difficulties and was saved by our patrolling Navy – bless them. It’s no cakewalk to transfer people, mostly children, from a rocking sinking boat on choppy seas and hauling them aboard to safety. Easier by far to sail away and not embark on the rescue. But our sailors were saviours and more.

They brought them to dry land - to our shores - and the UNHCR took them over and housed them in premises held by this world body as a sanctuary. So these approximately 18 adults and 11 children who had escaped violent brutal killing by Myanmar soldiers and then the always unreliable high sea, would have entered the UN house heaving sighs of relief thinking they were safe.

Silence

Aung San Suu Chi had remained almost silent against the genocidal atrocity against the Rohingya in her country. One should actually understand her plight and pity her, not throw her Nobel Peace Prize in her face. She is in Myanmar as nominal leader of the country, but actually bound hand and foot to doing as the Military Junta decrees. At least, she has a toehold in government.

That she has to safeguard. More puzzling is our government’s silence while India and other friendly countries have condemned the genocide with no holds barred. The Pope in his mercy and bravery was one of the first to condemn the Myanmar government; soon followed by co-Nobel laureates - the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Amartya Sen; and others like Macron of France, Ergodan of Turkey and even The Trump. Suu Chi, as pointed out, has a reason to hold back her condemnation. She has to co-exist with the military leaders and serve Myanmar.

But us? Our Government? Our MahanayakeTheras? These last named are becoming noted for their strict silence in the face of atrocities. Not only should we condemn the genocidal action of Myanmar, but much more urgently and consensually, condemn those men in yellow robes who attacked the safe house. Note: this cat keeps referring to them as men in robes; better the words thugs and rioters in the guise of monks.They are not called monks, leave alone venerable theras. Maybe, some have been ordained. But they should, just over this attack, disrobe or be disrobed for they had no excuse or reason to attack a group of confirmed refugees (confirmed by the UNHCR), thus, helpless and impotent to cause trouble here in Sri Lanka.

One wonders why the yellow robes attacked them. Was it for letting off collected steam of anger? Was it to get brownie points? Maybe money was a-coming. Brownie points from whom? Not Myanmar certainly so it has to be in deference to rebel AshinWirathu of Myanmar who TIME magazine dubbed ‘Face of Buddhist Terror.’ Can anything be more contrary than this appellation to a supposedly member of a Sangha? Buddhism, this feline need not say, is the most pacifist of religions all down the ages. Never was force used in the name of the religion for close upon 2.5millenia.

Wirathu was born on July 10 1968 in Kyaukse, Mandalay Division, Burma. He is a nationalist Burmese Buddhist monk, and the spiritual leader of the anti-Muslim movement in Burma. He has been accused of conspiring persecution of Muslims through his speeches, although he claims to be a peaceful preacher and not to have advocated violence. He was ordained in 2001. He had come to Sri Lanka on the invitation of some monks here and reportedly, Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara of the BBS is a follower of his.

Secular multi-racial, multi

religious State

Yes, that’s what’s emerging from discussions and debates about the new constitution that is being contemplated by the government.

Everyone, and his uncle and younger brother, are experts in constitution drafting, hence, everyone wants to have a say in this matter which is very best given over to constitutional lawyers and experts, and of course, the more educated, intelligent and rational of our politicians. (Just a handful in that August Assembly, it must be added). But, even a particular Mahanayake of Kandy gave his input to the drafting and said the drafters must build into the new constitution what the Sangha (or at least part of it) advocates. Not give due consideration or take note of what they say about this all important undertaking, but obey them. A

s a Buddhist, born, bred and totally convinced by every stanza of the Buddha Dharma this feline is usually very pacifist with metta and karuna. But, she repeats what was said earlier: leave the process to the experts. Now, after seeing on TV the mayhem caused by men in yellow robes, possible monks, and more important, ordained monks advocating and even going on pinnapatha for money, alarm bells are ringing for the nation. The latest travesty of yellow robes is attacking refugees taking shelter in a safe house of the UN and thus under the care and jurisdiction of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. And, we are trying to get off their condemnation of treatment of civilians in the civil war.

Which brings to mind a very apt saying that Margaret Thatcher voiced:

If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.

Sri Lankan women have condemned excesses and keep quiet and watch carefully the constitution re-making process.

- Menika

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