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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

25 Sri Lankan Buddhist monks & nuns residing in the West condemn 22nd July attack on protestors and demand right to protest to be guaranteed

Image: Recent protest held in the North of Sri Lanka.

In endorsing the statement issued by International academics calling on Sri Lanka president to protect right to protest and other freedoms 25 Buddhist monks and nuns residing in the West has issued the following statement today.  

Protect the right to protest and other freedoms in Sri Lanka

We, the undersigned Buddhist monks and nuns residing in the West, fully support the following appeal circulated by academics calling on the President of Sri Lanka to protect the right to protest and other freedoms presently being curtailed:

We fully condemn the violent assault on peaceful protestors in Colombo by the Sri Lankan security forces on 22 July 2022.

We are aghast at reports that five of the protestors were abducted and tortured by security force personnel; violently beaten, forced to kneel on rocks, and perform extremely tedious exercises while being threatened with death if they tried to escape. Nine protest leaders were also arbitrarily arrested and detained by the police.

That such a brutal attack against non-violent protestors was ordered by the country’s new President Ranil Wickremasinghe, less than 24 hours after taking office, is shocking and sends distressing signals about his method of governance. Over the last several months the protestors have been inspiring and disciplined in exercising basic democratic rights to call attention to the crisis. This space for resistance has also been used for educational purposes, with a university and library, advancing knowledge to all groups of people. The reference to protestors as “fascist” is totally inaccurate, inappropriate and damaging; it weaponizes the term to provide an excuse for the use of extreme force. 

Wickremasinghe was elected by parliament to take on the presidency, which was vacated due to the non-violent pro-democracy movement against authoritarianism and failed governance. His decision to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors is deeply alarming and does not offer the prospect of Sri Lanka progressing beyond the current crisis it is in. It is disheartening and telling that one of his first actions in office was to attack the people rather than take steps to address the suffering of the people.

We call on the President and government of Sri Lanka to immediately desist from the use of any force against protestors and reduce the current extreme military presence around the protest site at the Galle Face Green in Colombo and around the country including the north and east. The government must investigate the use of extreme force and torture and hold accountable those found guilty of committing these crimes. We call on the government to respect the right of all Sri Lankans to protest and protect protest spaces. The Sri Lankan constitution guarantees Sri Lankans fundamental rights including freedom of speech, expression and peaceful assembly; in addition, these are internationally guaranteed rights that Sri Lanka is committed to protect.

Signatories (add name and affiliation below)

  1. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Buddhist Association of the United States (BAUS)

2. Ven. Bhante Saranapala, West End Buddhist Temple and Meditation Centre, Mississauga/Toronto, Canada

3. Ven. Shantha Sobhana. Shanthi Nikethaya Buddhist Center. Los Angeles USA.

4. Ven. Thich Nu Tinh Quang, Little Heron Zen Hermitage, Canada

5. Rev Wadigala Samitharathana, Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom

6. Ven. Katugastota Uparatana, Maryland Buddhist Viharaya, Silver Spring, MD.20902, USA

7. Ayya Sudinna,  Carolina Buddhist Vihara, Greenville, USA 

8. Sakyadeeta Nishanie Nun, Kotor Montenegro

9. Ven Wanduramba Kassapa, Athula Dassana Buddhist Vihara, Hanworth, Middlesex, UK 

10. Ven Mulane Gunananda,Jetavana Buddhist Vihara,Le Blanc Mesnil, France

11. Ven.Tapovanaye Sutadhara, Camarillo Buddhist Center, Camarillo,California, USA.

12. Ven. Udunuwara Indarathana Thero, Jethavana Viharaya, 13, Booth Street, Handsworth, Birmingham, UK

13. Ven. Karuwelagaswewa Anuruddha Thero, Zurich Buddhist Vihara, Sophie Haemmerlistr.22 , 5600 Lenzburg. Switzerland. 

14. Rev Sooriyawewa Kusala Thero, 2 Wilbury Farm, Hitchin Road SG15 6SF, UK

14. Rev. Godamunne Piyananda Thero. Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Center, 309 – 311, Kingsbury, UK

15.Rev. Gnanathilaka Mahauwewe. Sambudu viharaya. Via Gian Battista monti 5/2, 16151. Genova. Italy. [email protected]

16. Rev. Pujapitiye Santhusitha Thero.  via g.b Monti 5/2, 16151. Genova, Italy

17. Ven. Okkampitiye  Deepankara, Georgia Buddhist Vihara, Atlanta, USA

18. Ven. Soorakkulame Pemaratana, Pittsburgh Buddhist Center, 58 QSI Lane, Allison Park, PA 15101, USA

19. Ven. Makandure Dhammapeethi, Los Angeles Buddhist Vihara, Covina CA 91724 USA

20. Ven. Derangala Kusalagnana (Bhante Kusala), 3133 Cawthra Rd, Mississauga, Canada, ON L5A2X4 

21. Ven. Kurunegoda Dhammaloka Thero, United Sangha Council, Connecticut, USA

22. Ven. Aregama Sirisumana, New York Buddhist Vihara, Queens, NY, U.S.A.

23. Monk Nālaka, Chánh Tâm Zen Study Temple, Garden Grove, CA, USA

24. Ven. Purnajan Maharjan (Bhante Suwanna)  77 Albion St, Somerville, MA, 02143, USA. 

25. Ven. Phramaha Watthana Dhammānusārī Sawansung, Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom.

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