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Controversial Buddhist cremation staged in Jaffna by SL military draws flak from Tamils

[TamilNet, Friday, 22 December 2017, 22:57 GMT]
The Sinhala military of genocidal Sri Lanka and the Colombo-centric unitary system, which constitutionally accords ‘foremost place’ to Buddhism in the occupied country of Eezham Tamils went ahead with staging a controversial cremation at the public grounds of Muttave'li in Jaffna on Friday. The Tamil people regard the venue as a memorial site of Tamil victims of one of the first massacres carried out by the Sinhala police on the final day of the Fourth International Conference of Tamil Research in 1974. In addition to being a memorial venue, Muttave'li is also home to Muniyappar temple. The cremation of Ven Meegahajandure Gnnanarathana thero, the chief prelate of Nagavihara in Jaffna, who passed away on Tuesday in Colombo, was carried out at Muttave’li by the occupying Sinhala military amidst widespread objections coming from Tamil politicians and leading lawyers in Jaffna.

The Northern Provincial Council, which should have been consulted, was completely disregarded by the SL military and the SL State on the selection of cremation site.

Cremation site being prepared by the SL military at Muttave'li

Citing that the locality was under the supervision of the SL Archaeology Department, the Sinhala military and the colonial governor to North Mr Reginald Cooray, have chosen to proceed with their selection. They were also claiming that the selection of the venue was also based on the request of the deceased monk.

V. Manivannan, a lawyer and politician of Tamil National Peoples’ Front filed a legal suit seeking interim order from the courts. But, the request was turned down by the SL Judiciary, which seemed to subscribe to the view of the Sinhala establishment that a such order from the courts could disturb public peace.

The legal suit led by Manivannan was also backed by Jaffna Bar Association and President’s Counsel Shantha Abimannasingham, who had previously advised the Colombo establishment on reconciliation.

The hostile act has evoked strong reactions from almost all sections of Eezham Tamils.

Casket of Meegahadure Gnanarathana thero being taken in procession from Naga vihara in Jaffna to Muttave'li

NPC Minister of Women’s Affairs, Rehabilitation, Social Services and Cooperatives and Trade Ms Ananthy Sasitharan issued a public statement stating that the controversial cremation was interpreted as an attempt to impose Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism in the Tamil homeland.

“Today, they cremate the deceased Viharadhipathi. Tomorrow, they will construct a monument citing the cremation. How can we sit and watch such hostile acts to proceed unchecked,” the NPC Minister asked.

The administration of Jaffna Municipal Council cannot simply escape from its responsibility by citing the SL Department of Archaeology as the custodian of the venue in question, she further said.

NPC Councillor Ananthy Sasitharan's statement
NPC Councillor Ananthy Sasitharan's statement
NPC Councillor Ananthy Sasitharan's statement

Sinhala soldiers in civil clothes taking part in the procession

The Tamil people have no tradition of staging cremations at public venues of cultural significance.

Particularly, if there are religious places of worship and there are memorial monuments, staging funeral and cremation at these sites would be regarded as desecration, Jaffna-based Tamil politician Suresh Premachandran told TamilNet on Friday.

Tamils have no qualms about the cremation of the deceased Buddhist monk taking place in their territory, but the venue for such cremation should have been carefully selected after the concerns of the people have been carefully weighed, he said.

“On the one hand, they [the Colombo establishment] talk about reconciliation while on the other hand they proceed with creating divisions, which is not acceptable,” Mr Premachandran said publicly urging SL President Maithiripala Sirisena and SL Prime Minister Ranil Wickrmasinghe to control the occupying Sinhala military in future and to stop such hostile acts “once and for all”.

The cremation of Meegahadure Gnanarathana thero

Only one Tamil collaborator of the occupying Sinhala military, who is regarded as a traitor by the Tamils, was addressing the Sinhala audience at the cremation event.

The deceased Sangha nayake, Ven Meegahadure Gnanarathana Thero, was an extremist monk who arrived in Jaffna in 1996 when the SL military seized the city from the LTTE. He was operating from the SLA 51-2 brigade headquarters in Jaffna for a long time. The 51-2 brigade was responsible for torture and enforced disappearances of a large number of Tamils in the late 1990s.

Meegahadure Gnanarathana was the chief incumbent of Sri Naga Vihara in the city of Jaffna and was ‘Chief Sanganayaka’ of Northern Province until his demise in Colombo on 19 December.

The site of his cremation was fully prepared by the Sinhala military. Intelligence operatives were watching Tamil journalists who were present to cover the funeral ceremony, which lasted from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The monks of extremist Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force) had come along with the other monks of different Buddhist nikayas.

The cremation took place under the direct supervision of the Commander of the ‘Sri Lanka’ Army Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake and Jaffna Commander Maj. Gen. Dharshana Hettiarrachchi.

The majority of the participants at the funeral procession were Sinhala soldiers in civil clothes.

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