Sri Lanka’s most notorious hardline Buddhist monk, the recently pardoned from jail Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, has called on Sri Lanka’s 10,000 Buddhist temples to campaign for a Sinhala government to protect Sinhala interests.
Around 1000 Sinhala Buddhist monks and thousands of hardline supporters reportedly gathered in Kandy on Sunday for a convention called by Gnanasara, the head of the Sinhala supremacist Bodu Bala Sena group.
Police lined the streets while Muslims had pre-emptively shut their businesses in fear, with memories of last year’s anti-Muslim mob violence instigated by monks still fresh in the district. According to reports several attendees at the rally carried the racist Sinhala flag - a 'distortion' of the Sri Lanka flag with the colours representing its minorities removed.
“We the clergies should aim to create a Sinhala government. We will create a parliament that will be accountable for the country, a parliament that will protect Sinhalese,” Gnanasara told the crowds, according to Reuters, emphasising that the clergy should be taking control of parliament.
"Today, the Sinhala ethnicity, which has developed this country historically, has become very weak ... There is no leader who holds responsibility for Sinhalese," he added. "We will only turn back after creating a leader to the country and getting the power to Sinhalese. Trust us,"
Despite opposition from rights groups, Gnanasara who had been jailed for contempt of court received a presidential pardon earlier this year, with the full support of the prime minister’s United National Party.