Lanka Buddhists on a "fast unto death" against unethical conversions
Posted January 9, 2004
From New India Press
COLOMBO: More than a hundred buddhist monks are on a 'fast unto
death' here demanding the United National Front (UNF) government to
bring in laws to curb 'unethical religious conversions'.
''We would continue the fast until the government took action to
enact laws with immediate effect to prevent unethical means to
convert Buddhists and Hindus in the island nation,'' Jathika Sangha
Sammelanaya head Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thera said on Monday.
The Buddhists are on 'fast unto death' opposite the ministry Buddha
Sasana from Monday.
''Hundreds of buddhists, especially in the war-ravaged North and
East fall prey to fundamentalists operating under the guise of
certain non governmental organisations,'' Ven. Thera said and added
more than 7,000 Hindus have already been converted unethically.
Praising the steps taken by Hindu affairs Minister T E Maheshwaran
as 'timely action' in demanding the government enact laws against
unethical conversions, the thera charged that the ministry of Buddha
Sasana was neglecting its duty stipulated in Article 9 of the
constitution, which provides for state patronage for fostering and
protection of the Buddha Sasana.
The Daily Mirror newspaper quoting Buddha Sasana Minister W J M
Lokubandara said that the Minister would present a cabinet proposal
to enact necessary legislation to stop unethical conversions.
''We have to bring this situation to the notice of the Prime
Minister and the President before a religious war erupts,'' the
Minister was quoted as saying.
There were reports of violence against churches in Negombo.
President Chandrika Kumaratunga on Monday ordered the newly
appointed police chief to deploy special police teams to prevent
such incidents and religious clashes in the future.
Condemning an attack led by certain extremist and opportunistic
groups on a church at Meegoda on Saturday, she also ordered the IGP
to investigate and bring the culprits to book regardless their
political affiliations or other positions.
''Twenty years ago, certain groups of looters and chauvinists used
violence against minority groups creating an ethnic conflict in this
country. The country was dragged into a civil war which has today
devastated all aspects of socio-economic affairs of the country. We
do not want to invite another conflict of religion to this country
especially at a time when we are trying to resolve the prolonged
ethnic conflicts of which we all are fed up,'' she said.