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Sri Lanka's reconciliation office denies ban on radio drama for ‘insulting Buddhism’

Sri Lanka's Office of National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) has denied reports that three radio dramas it produced have been banned from being broadcast over allegations that they "insult Buddhism”.

According to reports in the Daily Mirror and The Island, the dramas, which were scheduled to be broadcast on Independent Television Network (ITN) Radio, had been censored. Media and Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera had earlier tweeted an article from the Daily Mirror entitled "Rethink ban on ONUR radio dramas: Mangala"

The ONUR has since stated on social  media that no such ban is in place and said there were "false allegations of insulting Buddhism".

The reported ban on the programmes was criticised by Mr Samaraweera, who said “a politically motivated Buddhist monk who was a one-time MP has attempted to mislead the people by making false allegations”.

Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is reportedly looking at returning to office, slammed the dramas and the ONUR for allowing them to be produced. Mr Rajapaksa singled out another former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Bandaranaike, who heads the ONUR, stating that “people regret that the daughter of a pious Buddhist lady Sirimavo Bandaranaike is involved in such matters”.The Buddhist Information Centre also reportedly filed a police complaint against the broadcasting of the dramas earlier this week.

The latest controversy comes as talks continue to stall on a new constitution for Sri Lanka, with both the Sri Lankan president and prime minister reiterating that Buddhism will continue to hold the foremost place on the island.

Edit: This article has been updated with quotes from the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR)

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