Category Archives: Sri Lanka

Refugee family set to win millions from NHS for not using foreign language to explain importance of feeding newborn

A refugee family is set for a multi-million-pound NHS payout because a mother spoke no English and hospital staff did not explain to her how to care for her newborn in her native language.

The child of the Rajatheepan family, originally from Sri Lanka, has been left with severe brain damage because midwives did not explain the importance of feeding the newborn regularly, a judge has ruled.

The boy, now eight, was born in a healthy condition at King George Hospital in Goodmayes, Essex, in July 2009, but was left limp and sick after not being fed for 15 hours.

Judge Martin McKenna said medics failed to overcome the language barrier, which directly resulted in the baby suffering the catastrophic injuries.


Sri Lanka declares state of emergency after Buddhist-Muslim clashes

A 10-day state of emergency has been declared in Sri Lanka after sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the Kandy region left a man dead, government officials said.

Soldiers and police were upholding a curfew in Kandy after mobs set fire to shops and a mosque – resulting in the body of a Muslim man being found in the ashes of a burnt building.

President Maithripala Sirisena made the declaration, saying security services had been empowered to deal with “criminal elements” and to restore normality on the island.


Sri Lanka gets its first Catholic saint, pope visits Buddhist temple

Pope Francis gestures in blessing during a mass in Colombo, January 14, 2015. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

(Reuters) – Pope Francis paid a surprise visit to a Buddhist temple on Wednesday, capping a trip to Sri Lanka where he told huge crowds that religions must unite to heal the country’s war wounds.

The only other visit by a pope to a Buddhist temple was made by Pope John Paul during a trip to Thailand in 1984.

Pope Francis waves to Catholic faithful as he arrives to lead mass in ColomboPope Francis waves to Catholic faithful as he arrives to lead mass in Colombo, January 14, 2015. Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the pope briefly stopped at Colombo’s Mahabodhi temple to meet Banagila Upatissa, a Buddhist leader who had invited him when they met on Tuesday at an inter-religious meeting.

“The pope listened with great respect” as the monks were singing and praying, Lombardi said. He said that in honor of the occasion, the monks opened a container holding Buddhist relics that is normally unsealed only once a year…

…During his two-day trip to Sri Lanka – which is about 70 percent Buddhist, 13 percent Hindu, 10 percent Muslim and 7 percent Catholic – the pope has stressed the role of religion to help reconciliation after the 26-year civil war that ended in 2009 and killed up to 100,000 people.

Earlier, Francis gave Sri Lanka its first saint at a seafront Mass for more half a million people in Colombo, calling 17th century missionary Joseph Vaz a model of reconciliation…


NYT joins the crowd: ‘Sri Lanka’s violent Buddhists’

BANGALORE, India — When I met Watareka Vijitha Thero in early 2014 in a suburb of Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, he had been in hiding for nearly five months. The gentle-voiced monk had spoken out against anti-Muslim fearmongering by a hard-line group called the Buddhist Power Force, known by its Sinhalese initials B.B.S.

Mr. Vijitha’s car was attacked in retaliation, and he narrowly escaped. “What does it mean for Buddhism if those that speak for communal harmony have to hide in fear?” he asked me. “What does it mean for my country that the government lets these lawless thugs have a free run?”

Six months later, Mr. Vijitha was found on a road near Colombo stripped naked and bloody, his hands and legs bound. The B.B.S. denied involvement. When the monk filed a complaint, the police threw him in jail for 12 days on charges of self- inflicted violence — a warning to others who dared to criticize hard-line Buddhists.

Three years ago, the B.B.S and other hard-line groups were fringe elements. Today, they are a powerful force, and their aggressive assertion of Sinhalese Buddhist dominance, in a country that is 70 percent Buddhist, is increasingly mirrored in government-approved revisionist histories of Sri Lanka…

…No matter who wins in January, the message is unmistakable: To be truly considered Sri Lankan these days, one must accept the primacy and glory of the country’s Sinhalese Buddhist past. Unless it is challenged, this mindset will pose a far greater danger to Sri Lanka than the blows of hard-line thugs.

This is from the paper that would never even consider using “violent” with “Islam” or “Muslim” in a title. Readers also found the story lacking context. Islam is barely mention in the article. Sample comment:

If other readers of the NY Times are anything like me, the problem with this op-ed is that we have no background for understanding it. We have been hearing about the Buddhist violence against Muslims in Myanmar, and now the Buddhist violence against Muslims in Sri Lanka, but why?

Why have Buddhist, astonishingly, become violent? What do they say? What are their explanations? Did this violence just fall out of the sky, or are they responding to something?

Come on, NY Times, what is the story???


NYT: India is setting up an anti-Muslim Buddhist-Hindu alliance

On his 79th birthday in July, the Dalai Lama appealed to Buddhist extremist groups in Myanmar and Sri Lanka to stop instigating attacks against Muslim minorities that have killed scores. Instead, in an affront to Buddhism’s core message of compassion, leaders of those groups announced an alliance to make common cause against Muslims.

“The time has come to ally internationally,” Galagodaththe Gnanasara, the leader of the radical Sri Lankan Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena, announced at a convention held in Colombo last month. The guest of honor was Ashin Wirathu, a Buddhist radical whose picture Time magazine put on its July 1 cover as “The Face of Buddhist Terror.” The government of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa ignored pleas by Sri Lankan Muslim and Christian civil groups, fearful of more anti-Muslim violence in their country, to deny Mr. Wirathu a visa. Granting Mr. Wirathu a visa can only reinforce the fears of many Muslims that the government — and perhaps more powerful regional allies — back Bodu Bala Sena, which translates as Buddhist Power Force.

Last week, Mr. Gnanasara claimed he was in discussions “at a high level” with the right-wing Indian Hindu group Rashtriya Swayam Sevak to form what he called a “Hindu-Buddhist peace zone” in South Asia. A Rashtriya Swayam Sevak spokesman, Ram Madhav, promptly denied that there were any such discussions. But Mr. Madhav, now general secretary of India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party, has written comments sympathetic to Bodu Bala Sena and Mr. Wirathu’s group 969 in Myanmar on his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

It is folly for the governments of Mr. Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka, President Thein Sein of Myanmar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India, or their political allies, to give even the appearance of tolerating these Islamophobic groups in a region that has too often been convulsed by religious sectarian violence. They should condemn this mad alliance before it can spread further.

The site MuslimVillage has noticed this editorial and written an article: The unholy, anti-Muslim pact of Buddhist and Hindu fanatics.  CAIR has noticed it too.

I saw at least one debunking of this NYT editorial, but did not keep it because it seemed irrelevant, but I might have known the Muslim world would pick it up and go crazy.  I can’t find it now.  It seems unlikely, given the news, or lack of it, about anti-Muslims goings-on in India.


Forget the Dalai Lama: Radical monk in Myanmar pledges to protect global Buddhism

The monk Ashin Wirathu, center, was the guest of honor at the Buddhist Power Force convention in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday. Credit Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The monk Ashin Wirathu, center, was the guest of honor at the Buddhist Power Force convention in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday. Credit Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — A radical monk from Myanmar who has preached hatred toward Muslims and is the spiritual leader of a movement to boycott Muslim businesses said Sunday that his movement would join hands with a Sri Lankan group to “protect Buddhism around the world.”

The monk, Ashin Wirathu, the leader of an extremist movement in Myanmar called 969, was the guest of honor at a convention of Buddhist hard-liners in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital.

Ashin Wirathu, who addressed thousands of Sri Lankan Buddhist monks at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium, expressed his gratitude to President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka for allowing him to take part in the event despite calls from Muslim and Christian groups for the government to cancel his visa.

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