Sri Lankan Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera released a statement condemning an attack on Rohingya refugees in Colombo by Sinhala Buddhist monks, stating that the attackers were “a group of thugs in robes”.
His statement comes as Rajitha Senaratne, a Sri Lankan cabinet spokesman, branded the attackers “animals”, adding “this is not what the Buddha taught”.
In a statement released on the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, Mr Samaraweera also said he condemned the attack “as a Buddhist”.
He went on to reiterate how the Sri Lankan navy had rescued Rohingya asylum seekers in previous years. The minister attempted to also distance Buddhism from the monks’ actions, after they stormed a UN safe house near Sri Lanka's capital this week. Mr Samaraweera stated he is “a Buddhist who is very proud of the fact that Buddhism is a religion of non-violence and compassion.”
His statement was echoed by Mr Senaratne, who told reporters "as a Buddhist I am ashamed at what happened".
"Mothers carrying very young children were forced out of their safe house which was attacked by a mob led by a handful of monks," he said. "These monks who carried out the attacks are actually not monks, but animals”.