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Bodu Bala Sena
Bodu Bala Sena-Logo.png
Emblem
Formation July 2012; 1 year ago (2012-07)
Type Politicized monastic organization
Purpose/focus Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism
Headquarters Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi Mandira, Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi Mawatha, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Coordinates 6°53′45.90″N 79°51′36.20″E / 6.8960833°N 79.8600556°E / 6.8960833; 79.8600556Coordinates: 6°53′45.90″N 79°51′36.20″E / 6.8960833°N 79.8600556°E / 6.8960833; 79.8600556
Region served Sri Lanka
Secretary General Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero
Leader Ven. Kirama Wimalajothi Thero
Website bodubalasena.org

Bodu Bala Sena (Sinhala: බොදු බල සේනා; Buddhist Power Force; BBS) is a Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist organisation based in Colombo, Sri Lanka.[1] It has organised various campaigns against the country's minority Muslim and Christian communities which, according to the organisation, are needed to protect the country's Sinhalese-Buddhist character. The organisation's hard-line attitudes have drawn concern and criticism from inside and outside Sri Lanka.

Organization[edit]

Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara

The BBS was founded by monks Kirama Wimalajothi and Galagoda Aththe Gnanasaara after they broke away from Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) claiming it was not militant enough in protecting Buddhism.[2] Gnanasara had been one of the JHU candidates in Colombo District at the 2004 parliamentary election.[3] Wimalajothi and Gnanasara are leader and general secretary of BBS respectively.[4] Its headquarters are located at Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi Mandira in Colombo.[5] Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi Mandira is owned by the Buddhist Cultural Centre, an organisation also founded by Kirama Wimalajothi.[6] The Buddhist Cultural Centre was opened by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 15 May 2011.[7][8]

Time magazine called the BBS "Sri Lanka's most powerful Buddhist organisation".[9]

History[edit]

One of earliest campaigns by BBS was in respect of Buddhist Sri Lankans working in the Middle East who, according to BBS, were prevented from practising their religion and punished harshly if found to be doing so.[10]

The BBS held its first national convention at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall on 28 July 2012.[11] The convention passed five resolutions which, amongst other things, called for a ban on vasectomy/tubectomy in government health facilities; replacement of the various legal systems used in the country with a single legal system; preferential treatment in university admission for students who attended Buddhism classes; use of monks in government schools to teach history and other classes; and no solution for the country's ethnic problems which was based on race/religion.[12]

The BBS held a protest at the Bangladeshi High Commission in Colombo on 4 October 2012 against the anti-Buddhist riots in Bangladesh.[13][14] Some of the protesters threw stones and bottles at the High Commission.[15][16]

On 14 October 2012 BBS stormed a house in Batakettara, Homagama, Piliyandala where it alleges a Christian pastor called Dinesh and others from an evangelical group called The Name of Lord Jesus were trying to convert Sinhalese Buddhists.[17] The pastor was later released but following complaints from the pastor's family seven people were arrested on charges of abduction.[18] The following day BBS held a protest outside Piliyandala Police Station demanding that the seven arrested be released.[19][20]

The BBS held a protest rally in Badulla on 25 October 2012 against alleged conversion, vandalism of Buddhist sites and Islamic terrorism.[21] They held a protest at the Department of Archeology on 29 November 2012 urging the authorities to protect archaeological sites in the Eastern Province.[22]

The BBS stormed Sri Lanka Law College in Hultsdorf, Colombo on 7 January 2013, alleging that exam results were being distorted in favour of Muslim students.[23] The allegations were not true but the college was forced delay new student registration by one week in order to investigate the allegations.[24][25]

The BBS stormed the Cinnamon Bay Hotel in Moragalla, Beruwala on 21 January 2013, alleging that the premises contained a "Buddha bar".[26][27] Two hotel managers were arrested by the police for organising the "Buddha bar" event.[28][29]

President Mahinda Rajapaksa and government ministers met with the BBS on 27 January 2013 at Temple Trees, Colombo.[30][31] After the meeting the President issued a statement which urged the BBS and other monks to avoid conflicts with other religious communities but this statement was only issued in English, not Sinhala which is the language of most BBS supporters.[32]

The opposition United National Party met with the BBS on 12 February 2013.[33]

The BBS organised a meeting in Maharagama, Colombo on 17 February 2013 which was attended by around 16,000 people including 1,300 monks.[34] At the rally the BBS general secretary Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara stated "This is a government created by Sinhala Buddhists and it must remain Sinhala Buddhist. This is a Sinhala country, Sinhala government. Democratic and pluralistic values are killing the Sinhala race".[35] He also told the crowd at the rally that they "must become an unofficial civilian police force against Muslim extremism. These so-called democrats are destroying the Sinhala race".[36] At the rally the BBS unveiled the "Maharagama Declaration", a ten-point resolution which, other than an end to halal certification, called for a ban on Sri Lankan women going to work in the Middle East; end of mosque building financed by the Middle East; and ban some contraceptives.[37]

In February 2013 BBS leader Kirama Wimalajothi called for a ban burqas in the country.[38] The BBS has also campaigned against the abaya.[39][40]

The BBS met with the of the Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, Major General Shavendra Silva and others from the Sri Lanka Army in late February 2013 to discuss extremist Muslim groups that the BBS alleged were operating in the country.[41] BBS also met with IGP N. K. Illangakoon from the police on 1 March 2013 to discuss the same issues.[41]

Meth Sevana, the BBS' cultural and training centre in Pilana, Wanchawala, Galle District, was officially opened on 9 March 2013 by chief guest Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.[42][43]

The BBS held a rally in Kandy on 17 March 2013 at which it announced that it would work to remove a 10th-century mosque at the Kuragala Buddhist monastery complex in Ratnapura District.[44][45] At the rally BBS alleged that Muslim fundamentalists had taken over the site and destroyed Buddhist heritage.[46] BBS general secretary Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara accused the Muslim owned Fashion Bug and No Limit retail chains of converting its Buddhist Sinhalese employees to Islam.[47]

The BBS held a rally in Panadura on 24 March 2013 at which it called on the country to rally against Christian and Muslim extremists, insisting Sri Lanka was a Sinhala Buddhist country, not a multiracial or multi-religious country.[48] At the rally BBS called for High Commissioner Ferial Ashraff to be recalled from Singapore for allegedly carrying out anti-Sinhala activities.[49] At the rally BBS announced that a ringtone could be downloaded from Mobitel, the state-owned mobile phone operator, which would raise funds for BBS.[49] This caused protests from Mobitel customers and the company was forced to apologise for causing "emotional distress".[50]

A nationwide protest by Muslims against the anti-Muslim campaigns being carried out by the BBS and JHU was held on 25 March 2013.[51] The protests were organised by the Muslim Rights Organization (MRO).[52] A hartal was observed in the Eastern Province on the same day against the BBS' anti-Muslim stance.[53]

The Muslim owned Fashion Bug clothes shop in Pepiliyana, Colombo District was attacked on 28 March 2013 by a mob led by Buddhist monks.[54][55] Some reports suggested that BBS was behind the attack.[56] BBS denied any involvement and condemned the attack.[57][58]

On 31 March 2013 it was reported that the government was going to ban a number of extremist groups including the BBS.[59][60] Reacting to the reports, BBS general secretary Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara described Minister of National Languages and Social Integration Vasudeva Nanayakkara as a disgrace and a peacenik, saying "Such ministers should be sent to Angoda once in three months, to have their heads examined".[61] Nanayakkara denied the reports, saying that the government wasn't going to ban extremist groups like the BBS, it was only considering banning hate speech.[62]

In April 2013 a group of BBS members led by general secretary Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara visited the USA to raise awareness of the organisation and counter its negative image.[63][64]

Anti-halal campaign[edit]

ACJU halal logo

In February 2013 the BBS started a campaign against the halal certifying system in the country. In Sri Lanka halal certification is carried out by the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), the group of Islamic clerics, and contrary to allegations, is voluntary – certificates are only issued to businesses that request it.[65] The BBS initially threatened to take the ACJU to court.[66] Later they threatened to launch a campaign of agitation against halal certification, stating "they [the Muslims] are trying to impose their ritualistic food products upon this country. The next plan is to bring about Sharia law. Already there is Muslim banking system in the country."[67] At the rally in Maharagama on 17 February 2013 the BBS announced that it was calling for the abolition of the halal certifying system, demanding that shops be cleared of halal meat by April.[68][69]

In late February 2013 the ACJU offered to hand over responsibility for halal certifying to the government but this was rejected by the BBS who called for the complete eradication halal certification in the country.[70] The BBS slammed the ACJU as "arrogant, corrupt, thieving, underworld thugs".[71] The government also refused to take over halal certification due to the pressure exerted by the BBS.[72]

The BBS stormed a meat inspection facility in Dematagoda run by Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) on 1 March 2013, alleging that young calves, pregnant cows and water buffaloes were being slaughtered at the premises.[73][74][75] The slaughter of calves is illegal in Colombo. The BBS were incorrect – the premises were being used by CMC officials to inspect meat prior to being distributed around the city.[24][76]

Meetings were held between the ACJU, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and Buddhist clergy and on 11 March 2013 a compromise was announced. The ACJU would stop adding the halal logo on products for local consumption but continue to use them for products being exported to Islamic countries where it is compulsory.[77][78] This offer was also rejected on 12 March 2013 by the BBS who continued to demand "the eradication of the entire Halal process".[79] The BBS went on to attack those responsible for the compromise. They accused Milinda Moragoda, a government minister, of "creating an unholy inter-religious alliance, and attempting to destroy our learned monks. These revered bhikkus are now in the grasp of infidels".[80] They branded the Buddhist clergy as "pseudo Buddhist leaders who never stood against Muslim extremism and Christian fundamentalism."[80] They accused the CCC chairman Susantha Ratnayake of having a "Buddha bar" at a hotel he runs.[80]

The government pronounced on 13 March 2013 that the ACJU had no power to issue halal certificates and that a new way to certify halal products would need to be formulated.[81] On 17 March 2013 the BBS declared victory in its battle against halal, saying it wouldn't talk about halal in the future.[82][83]

Attacks on media[edit]

The BBS general secretary Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara has accused the majority of the English language media in the country of "working on foreign agendas" and of being "kalu suddho" (traitors) to the Sinhala Buddhist cause.[82]

A BBC News crew filming the BBS rally at Maharagama on 17 February 2013 were surrounded by a mob of twenty young men who threatened them and verbally abused a Sri Lankan member of the crew, accusing him of being a "traitor", having "foreign parents" and working for a "foreign conspirator" who was "against Sri Lanka".[68][84] The police seemed to be helping the crew by barricading the crew and ordering them not to leave.[68] The mob threatened it would "be the end" of the crew if they returned to Maharagama.[68] A reporter from the Muslim newspaper Navamini was also harassed at the rally by a mob who handed him over to the police who in turn detained the reporter for 4½ hours.[85]

Criticism[edit]

The BBS has received criticism from politicians, human rights groups, other Buddhist clergy and Muslims from Sri Lanka and abroad.

Some believe BBS is a front group for Western countries who wish to divide the Sri Lankan population in order to serve western interests.[86][87] For example, Wimal Weerawansa, a Sri Lankan government minister, has asked that BBS challenge "the Norway agent in its organization" in response to BBS's challenge to him to prove BBS has received funds from a Norwegian NGO.[88]

Minister of National Languages and Social Integration Vasudeva Nanayakkara has described BBS as an "an extremist group that comes up with provoking statements".[89] Opposition MP and former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has accused the BBS of being "a representation of ‘Taliban’ terrorism’" and of spreading extremism and communal hatred against Muslims.[90][91] Samaraweera has also alleged that the BBS is secretly funded by the Ministry of Defence.[90][91] The BBS demanded a public apology for Samaraweera's comments, calling him bankrupt and accusing him of supporting separatists.[92] Former ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka has described the BBS as an "ethno-religious fascist movement from the dark underside of Sinhala society".[24][93] Vikramabahu Karunaratne, leader of the Nava Sama Samaja Party, has labelled the BBS as an extremist religious group.[94]

The International Crisis Group has stated that the BBS' attacks on the Muslim community will lead to an increase in Islamic fundamentalism in the country.[95] The Islamic Human Rights Commission has accused the BBS of "spreading religious hatred" and urged the Sri Lankan government to take legal action against organisations which attack minority groups.[96] The Asian Human Rights Commission has described the BBS as an "expression of the widespread lawlessness in the country", claiming that the government's failure to take action against groups such as the BBS demonstrated the government's connivance.[97] Minority Rights Group International has accused BBS of being the main group behind the recent spate of attacks against Muslims in the country.[32] In its 2012 human rights report, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office accused BBS of increasing "campaigns against religious minorities".[98][99]

The views of the BBS have been disowned by some of the mainstream Buddhist clergy. Anunayake Bellanwila Wimalaratana has stated that "The views of the Bodu Bala Sena are not the views of the entire Sangha community".[100]

Opposition provincial councillor and MRO president Mujeebur Rahuman has stated that the unfettered activities of the BBS will mean an "ethnic riot will start between Sinhalese and Muslims".[68] The Eastern Provincial Council passed a motion unanimously on 20 February 2013 censuring the BBS for its anti-Muslim stance.[101] Kalmunai Municipal Council passed a motion on 4 April 2013 against extremist groups including the BBS, urging crackdown on these groups.[102][103][104]

A group calling itself "Buddhists Questioning Bodu Bala Sena" staged a peaceful candle-lit vigil on 12 April 2013 outside the BBS' headquarters at Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi Mandira.[105][106] The vigil was broken up by the police.[107]

Bodu Bala Sena has also been tagged as a terrorist group by Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) due to its violent activities against minorities in Sri Lanka.[108]


Accusations against Secretary General[edit]

Court documents obtained by the Colombo Telegraph show that Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary and vociferous hardline monk, Galabodaaththe Gnanasara pleaded guilty to hit-and-run charges filed against him by Grandpass police in 2000. On September 20, 2000, the monk was fined Rs. 12,000 by Traffic Courts, Colombo 12. The accident occurred on April 14, the same year, causing injuries to two others named Mohamed Rifai and Ravindra Kumar. Gnanasara Thera was driving lorry number 6 Shri 5444. Among the charges against him were drunk driving, speeding, driving without a valid licence and failing to report the accident.

The monk pleaded guilty to all 9 charges.[109]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Gamini Karunasena; Wasantha Rupasinghe (9 January 2013). "Sri Lankan Buddhist chauvinists provoke violence against Muslims". World Socialist Web Site. 
  3. ^ "General Election 2004 Preferences". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  4. ^ Edirisinghe, Dasun (28 January 2013). "Bodu Bala Sena regrets acts committed by others in its name". The Island (Sri Lanka). 
  5. ^ "Bodu Bala Sena to accept guardianship of orphans". mirror.lk. 27 March 2013. 
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  7. ^ "Buddhist Cultural Centre opened; Havelock Rd. renamed ‘Sambuddha Jayanthi Mawatha’". The Island (Sri Lanka). 15 May 2011. 
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  9. ^ Beech, Hannah (July 1, 2013). "When Buddhists go Bad". Time (New Zealand edition) 182 (1): 19. 
  10. ^ "Arrested for idol worship". Ceylon Today. 6 July 2012. 
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  12. ^ Edirisinghe, Dasun (29 July 2012). "Buddhist clergy wants birth control operations banned". The Island (Sri Lanka). 
  13. ^ "Protest today against attacks in B’desh on Buddhist shrines". The Island (Sri Lanka). 4 October 2012. 
  14. ^ "Monks protest over Bangladeshi incidents". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 4 October 2012. 
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  16. ^ "Tense situation outside Bangladesh High Commission". adaderana.lk. 4 October 2012. 
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A Real Buddhist - ඔබ නියම බෞද්ධයෙක් නම් අනිවාර්යෙන් බලන්න http://youtu.be/1fEq7H7Ffac.

Bodu Bala sena goes international against Minister Hakeem.

Bodu Bala Sena - කාන්තාවන්ගේ ඇඳුම් ගැන

ඔබ නියම බෞද්ධයෙක් නම් අනිවාර්යෙන් බලන්නhttp://youtu.be/1fEq7H7Ffac.

Bodu Bala Sena 2013.08.25 Galle [පූජ්ය ගලගොඩඅත්තේ ඥානසාර හිමියන්ගේ දේශනය]

බොදුබලසේනා ගාල්ලේදි පූජ්ය ගලගොඩඅත්තේ ඥානසාර හිමියන්ගේ දේශනය.

Christians attacking to Bodu Bala Sena. - Must Watch

bodu bala sena ඇතුගල්පුර ගර්ඡණාව

2013-08-11 . ජාතිය හමුවේ ඇති අභියෝගය තේරුම් ගෙන හෙළ ජාතිය නැංවීමට සකල ශ්‍රී ලංකාද්වීපයේ විසිර සිටින්නාවූ සියලු ජාතිමාමක හෙළයිනි .... ඔබටයි මේ ඇරයුම ... ඔබ සැ...

bodu bala sena in slave island police-බොදු බල සේනා කොම්පඤ්ඤ වීදිය පොලිසියෙදී

Bodu Bala Sena Ada_Video

Most wanted Mervin Vs Bodubala clash at kelaniya

There was a clash between Mervin Silva and Bodu bala sena at kelaniya on the 7th April 2013.

34036 videos foundNext > 

204 news items

Hiru News

Hiru News
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 19:15:00 -0700

The Bodu Bala Sena says that it will today state its opinion about an International Terrorism Research Institute listing it as a terrorist organization. Its General Secretary GalagodaAtte Gnanasaara Thero said that it would hold a special media ...

Hiru News

Hiru News
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:15:00 -0700

bodu-bala-sena-secretary-galagoda-aththe-gnasara-thero-. Police has called Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera to obtain a statement for his alleged threatening of some monks of Jathika Bala Senawa yesterday.

Hiru News

Hiru News
Wed, 09 Apr 2014 01:03:45 -0700

A while after the media conference began this morning, Bodu Bala Sena representatives arrived in the media conference premises and charged that Vijitha Thera of the Jathika Bala Senava sits behind the yellow robe to present false facts. A member of the ...

Hiru News

Hiru News
Tue, 08 Apr 2014 07:02:49 -0700

The Bodu Bala Sena Organization constantly charged that Industrial and Commerce Minister Rishard Badiudin received funds from Pakistan for a resettlement project for Muslims and he has been clearing jungles north of the Wilpattu national park near ...

Hiru News

Hiru News
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 19:26:15 -0700

Come forward against threats of Bodu Bala sena's anti democracy and intimidation; a request from the JVP. Friday, 11 April 2014 - 8:03. come-forward-against-threats-bodu-bala-senas-anti-. K. D. Laal Kaantha elected from the JVP for the Western ...

Hiru News

Hiru News
Thu, 20 Mar 2014 07:15:00 -0700

The Bodu Bala Sena organization during a press conference today responded to the statement made by Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishard Bathiudeen regarding Muslim families that were resettled in Wilpattu. Minister Bathiudeen expressed the ...

Hiru News

Hiru News
Tue, 25 Mar 2014 09:17:51 -0700

Tuesday, 25 March 2014 - 13:07. video-update-we-will-pay-cent-nor-apologize-. Industries and Commerce Minister Rishard Badurdeen has sent a letter of demand to the Bodu Bala Sena Organization asking them to pay 500 million rupees in compensation.

Saudi Gazette

Saudi Gazette
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:11:15 -0700

Another equally vicious Buddhist group in Sri Lanka, the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), has lately begun a fierce campaign against the Tamil, Muslim and Christian minorities on the island. Last month, events in Sri Lanka took an even more disturbing turn.
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