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Sri Lankan defence secretary vows to restore Buddhist Stupa to ‘former glory’ in East

Accused war criminals : Shavendra Silva (Left) Kamal Gunaratne (Right)

Sri Lanka's Defence Secretary and accused war criminal Kamal Gunaratne has vowed to restore the Buddhist 'Deegawapiya Stupa' situated in the Eastern Province to its ‘former glory’ this month.

The defence secretary slammed previous governments for their "futile attempts" and vowed to have the stupa renovated within 3 years.

He added that a funding account will be opened which will be dedicated for the Deegawapiya restoration project, which will require "23 million standard bricks, 3977 cubes of river sand, 30167 bags of cement and other raw material". The official launch of the restoration project will be on the January 22 in a ceremony attended by accused war criminals and Sri Lanka's president and prime minister, Gotabaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa.

State sponsored Sinhala-Buddhist Colonisation

Across the Tamil homeland in the North-East, there have been sustained efforts by the Sri Lankan state to colonise alter archaeological and demographic makeup of traditional Tamil areas. Following a presidential gazette, the formation of an all Sinhala task for archaeology in the east has allowed for the department to confiscated Tamil land and in turn, build new Buddhist shrines.

Alongside the intense military presence in the North-East, it is common for the military who have established camps on confiscated Tamil land to build large Buddhist Shrines within them or in the near vicinity. This practice has been intensifying alongside state support also being given to Buddhist religious practices in the North-East whilst Hindu, Christian and Muslim practices are limited or observed under heavy surveillance.

Read more : PEARL launches Sinhalization of the North-East info series

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Read more : Sinhalisation of the North-East: Seruwila-Verugal

Last week an ancient Hindu-Saiva shrine in Mullaitivu was demolished and a Buddhist vihara erected in its place. A ceremony was attended by a larger number of military personnel. The Saiva temple in question situated on Tamil land had been under intense pressure from state-sponsored Sinhala colonisation schemes.  

Last year, a senior Buddhist monk who sits on the all Sinhala archaeology task force, earmarked 2,000 sites in the eastern province for ‘archaeological’ examination. Tamils have voiced their fears about further appropriation of land by the state through the task force, as the task force with the full support of the state will be allowed to ‘identify the extent of land that should be allocated for such archaeological sites and take necessary measures to allocate them properly and legally’.

Read more at Sri Lanka's ministry of defence here. 

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