The National Shoora Council (NSC) urges the government and its principal law enforcement agency, the police, to ensure prompt prosecution of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) led mob which forcibly disrupted under threat of death the 9th April press conference of the respected Buddhist monk Rev. Watareka Wijitha Thera, and thereafter followed up by outraging, maliciously and deliberately, the religious feelings of the Muslims by insulting Islam and the Holy Quran outside the Slave Island Police on 12th April. Both unlawful incidents occurred in the presence of the police, the media and the public.
A BBS mob had thereafter on 23rd April, raided without any legal authority, a government office close to ‘Temple Trees’, in search of Watareka Wijitha Thera possibly to harm the monk for ignoring the death threat and complaining to the Slave Island Police.
The NSC considers these despicable and unlawful acts as violating the fundamental rights of the monk as well as the Muslims as provided for in the country’s Constitution.
The BBS mob led by Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero had violated several provisions of the Penal Code such as threat of murder, unlawful assembly, criminal trespass, criminal intimidation, extortion or robbery, wrongful restraint, wrongful confinement etc. by forcibly preventing the press conference of Wijitha Thera.
Thereafter, following his statement to the Slave Island Police, Gnanasara Thera had insulted the Holy Quran and Islam and had committed offences relating to religion as laid down in the Penal Code. In addition, Gnanasara Thera’s conduct is in violation of Sec. 2(1)(h) of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act which requires the offenders to be kept in remand custody until the conclusion of trial.
With such stringent laws in place, the police have in a shocking manner released the offenders at the police station itself without reporting facts to and producing the suspects before the Magistrate.
Sequences of what happened and did not happen were seen by the entire country. Evidences of violations of laws are readily available in several video clippings recorded by the media.
We wish to state that the activities of the BBS during the past one and half years, have brought tremendous disrepute to the country and to the universally respected principles of Buddhism. These activities appear to be aimed at polarizing the communities and thereby creating greater ethnic consciousness and conflict among the people.
There is widespread suspicion, requiring investigation that the BBS is acting on behalf of foreign countries wanting to ensure fewer and fewer support for the government in world bodies. The silence of the missions of otherwise vociferous countries known for issuing statements on the internal affairs of this country must alert to the possible collusion of anti- Sri Lankan forces.
All those interested in seeing Sri Lanka as a united prosperous country should come forward to press for an end to impunity.
In an earlier appeal to President Mahinda Rajapaksa the NSC had also urged the President to intervene and safeguard the religious freedoms and minority rights. On 06th November 2013, an NSC team had handed over an appeal to the President, with 196,000 signatures from the general public to ensure security for minority religions and the religious places and stop all hate campaigns against Islam and Muslims. However the BBS continues to act with impunity threatening Buddhist monks who speak for the beseiged Muslims with abusive language and demonizing the Muslim community .There are more than 300 hate related incidents during the past one and half years most of which were committed under the watchful eyes of the police.
Today this hate campaign has reached the stage where these extremist elements insult the Holy Quran which could lead to worldwide response detrimental to the country.
For example on 17th March 2013 a BBS spokesperson, Mawathagama Pemananda Thero, in a public meeting held in Kandy slandered Al-Quran saying “Muslims spit three times on meals offered to non-Muslims…” There is absolutely no such verse or statement anywhere in the Holy Quran. This is a deliberate lie to mislead the Sinhalese against the Muslims.
On 12th April, 2014, Gnananasara Thero, the General Secretary of the BBS falsely attributed to the Holy Quran that the concept of ‘Thaqiya’ in the Holy Quran allows Muslims to defraud people of other faiths and acquire properties and wealth of non-Muslims by cheating them. This is another blatant lie.
In fact the Holy Quran mandates just the opposite! The Holy Quran in Sura Al-Baqarah (2:188) very clearly says “And eat up not one another’s property unjustly (in any illegal way, e.g. stealing, robbing, deceiving), nor give bribery to the rulers (judges before presenting your cases) that you may knowingly eat up a part of the property of others sinfully”.
Already considerable damage has been done to poison the minds of the majority community against the island’s Muslims. This destructive campaign striking at the very root of the Muslim community’s religious, cultural, economic and political life needs to be stopped forthwith in the larger interest of the country. These are dangerous developments that this country can ill afford. (National Shoora Council)