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Friday, February 23, 2024

SLB Update: Impunity for hate crimes of Monk Ampitiye Sumana ( Updated)

Compiled by Sunanda Deshapriya.

  1. Monk Ampitiye Sumanrathana is a well-known violent hate monger against Tamils and Muslims in Sri Lanka. He enjoys absolute impunity for hate crimes just because he is a leading figure of extreme Sinhala Buddhist nationalism.
  2. 47-year-old Buddhist monk Ampitiye Sumanarathana (aka Ampitiye Sumana) is the Chief Incumbent of Mangalaramaya temple, Batticaloa District, Sri Lanka.
  3. Batticaloa is a Tamil-majority district. It is population consists of Sri Lankan Tamil 381,285 (72.61%), Muslim 133,844 (25.49%), Sinhalese 6,127 (1.17%) and Burgher 2,794 (0.53%).
  4. Monk Sumanarathana has a long history of racist hate speech filled with obscene language and assault against minorities and government officials.
  5. 25th October the monk publicly threatened to slice every single Tamil living in the South of Sri Lanka into pieces! A video of his murderous rant with English subtitles can be watched here. The reason for the monk’s angry outburst was the alleged removal of a cemetery, where his mother was buried.
  6. On 27th October 2023 Attorney at Law Dhanuka Rananjana Kahandagamage filed a complaint against Sumanarathana Thero’s statement in Ampitiya under the number CIB III 368/109 at the Public Relief Room Police Station. The receipt of the complaint can be seen here.
  7. On the same day, (27.10.23) Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Spokesman and MP M.A. Sumanthiran writing to IGP C.D. Wickramaratne questioned the police’s inaction against the recent controversial comments inciting “racial hatred and violence” made by the Chief Incumbent of the Magalaramaya Vihara, Batticaloa – Ampitiye Sumana Thera.
  8. On 2nd November 2023 Police Media Spokesman Senior Superintendent of Police Nihal Talduwa told BBC Sinhala service that no complaint has been made against Monk Ampitiye Sumana’s murderous statement.
  9. On 2December speaking at the parliament, TNA MP Sumanthiran again raised the issue. “Sumanarathna Thero from Batticaloa, has been making speeches openly saying that he will cut Tamil people to pieces. But he has not been arrested. He has not been remanded. He is considered to be above the Law. This is the curse of this country.”
  10. Meanwhile on 01 December 2023 Self-proclaimed Prophet Jerome Fernando was remanded until 13 December. Police Media Spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa said that he was arrested under provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act and penal code concerning several controversial statements made by him, especially about Buddhism and the Lord Buddha. On 15 May 2023 in his sermon, Pastor Jerome Fernando claimed that every Buddhist needs Jesus while saying that Buddha was looking for light and hence was looking for Jesus. The Sri Lankan president Ranil Wickremesinghe ordered a probe against a Protestant pastor for his remarks saying that the irresponsible statement by Pastor Jerome Fernando can cause religious strife that may affect the harmony in the country. On 21 May in a live-streamed video link, Pastor Jerome Fernando, apologized to the Buddhist clergy and Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims if his words have by any means hurt their feelings emotionally. But still, he was arrested.
  11. On 27 May 2023, youth activist and stand-up comedian Nathasha Edirisooriya was arrested, accused of insulting Buddhism and hate speech for two jokes made during a comedy performance published on YouTube three days earlier. She retracted the video the same day and publicly apologized. On 28 May, she was charged under Section 3 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act No. 56 of 2007, Section 291A (deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person) and 291B (deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of persons) of the Penal Code of Sri Lanka and the Computer Crimes Act. She was denied bail on the basis that her release would result in ‘public disturbance’. She was given bail after more than a month on 5th July 2023.
  12. In recent times number of media personnel and others have been detained under the ICCPR act on the charge of allegedly defaming Buddhism. Among them were Youtuber Sepal Amarasinghe and the writer Shakthika Sathkumara.
  13. Monk Ampitiye Sumanrathana has never been questioned or charged for his vituperative tirade against Tamil and Muslims in Sri Lanka. For example, The monk has threatened to kill a Tamil government official in 2016, subjecting him to verbal slander when he described him as a “Tamil dog” and a “bloody tiger”, while a Sri Lankan police officer watched. See the video of police protecting him instead of the victims of his abusive barrage here. In another video ( Dec 2019) Monk Sumanarathana is seen slapping another Christian preacher asking an innocent question from him while the law enforcement are looking helpless.
  14. Without addressing the impunity for rights violations, especially violations of minority rights Sri Lanka cannot achieve genuine reconciliation and lasting peace.
  15. On 15th December a notorious, racist Sinhala Buddhist monk Ampitiye Sumanrathna supported by the Sri Lankan security forces and blocked two Tamil parliamentarians from visiting protesting Tamil cattle farmers in Batticaloa (Video). The Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) attempted to visit Batticaloa and meet with Tamil farmers, who have been protesting against the encroachment of their lands and the killing of their cattle by Sinhala settlers since at least 2021. Sinhalese settlers have been encroaching upon land used by Tamil farmers to graze their cattle in Madhavanai and Mayilathamadu in Batticaloa. Over 150 Tamil-owned cows have been killed by Sinhalese settlers so far.

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