Monks disrupt Parliament over Trinco statue

Colombo, Sri Lanka - The hardline monks’ party, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) Thursday condemned a Magistrate’s judgement ordering police to temporarily remove the controversial Buddha statue erected in Trincomalee town bus stand.

JHU Parliamentary Group leader Athuruliye Rathna Thera took up the matter in Parliament and thereafter, other JHU MPs, all of whom are Buddhist monks, protested in the house, disrupting proceedings, sources said.

Parliament Speaker Mr. V. J. M. Lokku Bandara told the protesting monks there is no remit to condemn the Magistrate judgement in Parliament, and urged them to cease their condemnation of the judgement.

In his speech Athuraliye Rathna Thera, claimed the Tamil Tigers and the main cause for the removal of the statue and the magistrate’s order.

MPs critical of the monks’ protest pointed out that the Magistrate had in fact instructed police to take legal steps against unauthorised temples of all faiths in the east port town after a careful review of registered complaints, many of which were against unauthorised Hindu temples.

Tricnomalee has been the site of simmering communal tension in recent days. Lawyers appearing on behalf of the Trincomalee Urban Council had told the court that they revered Lord Buddha and are not against the Buddhist religion, but they suspected political motives behind the erection of the Buddha statue at the bus stand.

After their protest in Parliament Thursday, the monks walkout of the chamber and shouting slogans, march through Parliament Road Jeyanthypura Junction, Borrela, Maradana and until they reached Colombo Fort, where they are reportedly observing ‘Satyagraha’ protest, sources said.