Twenty three Buddhist organizations have issued a joint statement, which they claim to be the true story behind the Aluthgama clashes. They also expressed disappointment over the manner in which the media reported the incident saying it was evident that a media censorship imposed by the authorities prevented the media from reporting the truth.
The organizations are:All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, Colombo Young Men’s Buddhist Association, Government Service Buddhist Association, Colombo Parama Vinnartha Buddhist Association, Victory Association. Organization of United Buddhist Associations, Dharma Vijaya Foundation, National Bhikku Conference, Bodu Bala Sena, Sinhala Rawaya National Association, Sinhala Veera Vidana, National Association of Eminent Persons, Buddhist Power Circle, Hela Bodu Saviya, Patriotic Teacher’s Association. Swarna Hansa Padanama, Hela Deya Wadanno, Rawana Saviya National Association, Hela Yugaya National Organization, Hela Vijaya National Movement, National Movement for Protection of Historical Sites, Shanthi Padanama and Sri Lanka Maha Bodi Padanama.
The Statement reads: The truth is as follows; on last Poson Poya day (12.06.2014) Rev. Ayagama Samitha Thera of Pathirajagoda, Kurunduwatta, Sri Vijayaramaya was obstructed by a group of Muslim youths while he was on his way to attend a Banadeshanawa at Pathirajagoda Sri Vivekaramaya. When the vehicle Rev. Samitha thera was travelling in was obstructed it gave rise to an argument which soon led to a conflict between the parties involved. The authorities acting shamelessly and arbitrarily clamped down a media censorship thereby opening the door for unscrupulous and mischievous anti-Sinhala Buddhist elements to make wildly exaggerated false accusations thus damaging the country’s reputation as a multi-religious, multi-ethnic society.
Vested interests who were waiting with multitudes of false and harmful propaganda acted with a vengeance to denigrate the reputation of the Buddhist religious tolerance and Sinhalese cultural values of the country. When news censorship was imposed truth became its victim and false propaganda ruled the roost, unhindered. Under such a reprehensible situation, created by Information Department – imposed news censorship, Sinhala Buddhists were condemned for the whole world to see as religious bigots who were against other religions, such as Islam, Christianity and Hinduism. We were greatly pained by these developments and register our extreme condemnation of premeditated action by the authorities which could harm the country’s image internationally.
1. What happened on that day as mentioned earlier was obstruction of the road preventing Rev. Ayagama Samithathera from attending to a Dharma Deshana by some Muslim youths leading to an altercation.
2. Some Muslim youths then assaulted Rev. Ayagama Samitha Thera and it was immediately reported to Aluthgama Police. Unfortunately Police did not take immediate action to inquire into the incident and diffuse the situation. At this juncture Rev. Samitha Thera has told police that if the unruly youth asked for a pardon, he was prepared to accept it and drop the matter. However police displayed a lukewarm attitude towards the developing situation and as nothing more could be expected from police, Rev. Samitha Thera was hospitalized for medical treatment. Because of the lethargic turn of wheels of law people who had gathered there grew exited and restless. Rumours also started getting wings.
3. To protest against police inaction and also to accompany Ven. Samitha Thera to his temple in a procession, a meeting was organized by Aluthgama-Beruwela Sasanarakshaka Balamandaya on the following day, Sunday 15.06.2014, in Aluthgama. Bodu Bala Sena or Ravana Balaya had no hand in this matter. All prominent Buddhist clergy and organizations were also invited to the meeting which was to be held in Aluthgama not in Dharga Town or Pathirajagoda in view there being a possibility that some untoward thing could happen. Necessary police approval had also been obtained in advance.
In the prevailing situation in Aluthgama at that time it was only natural to expect some emotionally-charged speeches to be delivered at the meeting; which it did. Most speakers blamed police for their failure to take appropriate timely action and the many problems Sinhala Buddhists in the area have to face. And also many speakers criticized Muslim politicians who were trying to score an undue political advantage from the unfortunate situation which occurred there. Speakers roundly condemned them for spreading canards locally and internationally. None of the speakers made any rabble-rousing speech encouraging attack on Muslims or their places of worship. It needs to be reiterated that none of the speakers made any provocative speeches, whether racial or religious. Though the situation was highly emotional, meeting ended peacefully and the crowds started leaving peacefully.
Thereafter we formed into a procession and left for Rev. Samitha Thera’s temple. When the procession came abreast of Muslim mosque at Dharga Town an organized gang who were in – waiting there attacked our procession near the mosque. Rev. Magalkande Sudhamma Thera was hit on the head and he fell and lost consciousness. He was immediately hospitalized. Police again failed to take prompt action. When hearing of this attack dispersing crowd re-gathered and started a counter attack on the attackers. What happened there is now well known by all.
Sinhala Buddhists in Pathirajagoda suffered heavy losses of property and many sustained physical injuries. Buddha statue at Welipenna and Sinhala peoples’ businesses came under attack and heavy damage was caused to the Sinhalese business places in Aluthgama Town. But all such news was suppressed and the true picture was kept in the dark. Information Department ensured that all losses and injuries suffered by Sinhalese people were censored. But ironically and sadly Muslim politicians were allowed a field day to castigate and roundly criticize Sinhala Buddhists. Unashamedly they spread false allegations against Sinhala Buddhists locally and internationally. Muslim politicians enjoyed carte blanche to misrepresent facts to international community. Police acted very partially as obvious from the fact that more Sinhalese than Muslims were arrested and remanded or kept in custody unarmed Sinhalese youth arrested by police are still languishing in remand while almost all Muslim youths arrested have been freed now. People in the area are thoroughly disappointed with the authorities.
With genuine feelings for racial and religious amity we wish to emphasize to the reader that forgoing statements are made by us purely in the spirit of rectifying a mistake committed by authorities by imposing a censorship to prevent truth being known.”
1. All Ceylon Buddhist Congress
2. Colombo Young Men’s Buddhist Association
3. Government Service Buddhist Association
4. Colombo ParamaVinnartha Buddhist Association
5. Victory Association
6. Organization of United Buddhist Associations
7. Dharma Vijaya Foundation
8. National Bhikku Conference
10. Sinhala Rawaya National Association
11. Sinhala VeeraVidana
12. National Association of Eminent Persons
13. Buddhist Power Circle
15. Patriotic Teacher’s Association
18. RawanaSaviya National Association
19. HelaYugaya National Organization
20. HelaVijaya National Movement
21. National Movement for Protection of Historical Sites
23 Sri Lanka MahaBodiPadanama