Bodu Bala Sena’s (BBS) secretary general, Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara claimed the North-East was “not Tamils homeland” and instead said Sri Lanka is a Buddhist Sinhala country, according to comments reported in the Uthayan last month.
“North and East provinces of Sri Lanka are not Tamil's homeland,” asserted Gnanasara who heads the Buddhist group. “This is also the land of Buddhist Sinhalese. In fact, Sri Lanka as a whole is a Buddhist Sinhala country. Tamils must realise this. There is no point in complaining (about this)”.
The BBS, an extremist Sinhala nationalist group, has stoked animosity against both Tamils and Muslims in recent years with leaders accused of openly engaging in hate speech.
The previously jailed and presidentially pardoned, Gnanasara further claimed that in order “to protect the North and East provinces, we have to station military presence”.
“We welcome president Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s political reign,” he added.
“He has been elected as the country's leader by the majority of Buddhist Sinhala votes. At this stage, Tamils have no right to criticise his governance. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa acts in the pathway of justice and respecting the structure of the government. This has been confirmed by the [Supreme Court] ruling on the parliamentary election. As we elected a solely Buddhist Sinhala leader in the presidential election, we will establish a solely Buddhist Sinhala majority government in the coming parliamentary election"
“If Tamils wish, they can accept our goals and partake in our journey,” he added, stating there is no point in Tamils “complaining aimlessly”.
Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara was previously found guilty on two counts and sentenced to 6 months in prison for threatening the wife of Prageeth Eknaligoda; a critic of the then government in 2010. He was released prison following a presidential pardon. With the election of Rajapaksa last year, the BBS initially said it would disband, claiming that a “good leader” has come to power, but Gnanasara himself remains active. Earlier this year, he teamed up with other extremist Sinhala Buddhist monks from the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) to form a new joint coalition to contest in Sri Lanka’s parliamentary elections.