CBK’s battle against religious violenceJuly 8, 2014, 8:19 pm
I refer to the statement made by Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunga that when she was the President she prevented a religious uprising. This is indeed true.
In December 2003 when the Ven. Soma Thera passed away in St. Petersburgh in Russia after suffering a heart attack the Christians of this country were accused by several Buddhist monks of causing his death. It was through one of these Fundamentalist Christian Organisations that a doctorate was arranged for Soma Thera based on a book he had written on Stupas. The Thera decided to accept this doctorate and travelled to Russia. While on this flight he suffered a heart attack and instead of entering a hospital when the plane landed in Moscow he continued with his journey to St. Petersburgh and attended the ceremony where he was conferred the doctorate. He then entered a sanitorium at St. Petersburgh where his condition gradually became worse and he died. However, accusations were made by some members of the Buddhist clergy that a poisonous substance had been introduced into his food presumably during the flight which caused his death.
When the Ven. Soma Thera’s body was brought to Sri Lanka, due to the accusations being made against the Christians, President Chandrika made arrangements for three non-Christian Judicial Medical Officers to perform the autopsy on his body. Their conclusion was that the Thera had suffered a heart attack which caused his death. Samples of his tissue analysed by the Forensic Dept. did not reveal any poisonous submission. Moreover, the Theras’s mother sent a representative to the post-mortem inquest to say that the Thera had been a diabetic for the past 10 years. In spite of all the medical evidence the Christians were accused of murder.
When the Buddhist monks attached to the temple where the Monk last stayed wanted permission to perform the last rites on Christmas day, President Chandrika firmly refused and requested them to have it on the 24th instead.
Realising that the monks were intent on causing trouble she held a conference where the IGP was told very clearly that. She did not went a religious strife on her hands and to protect all the churches in Colombo. She went to the extent of telling the IGP that if he did not have sufficient manpower that he could get the help of the Army. This conference was shown on TV. The very next day when I visited my church in Borella. I found 4 police officers armed with guns in the precincts of the church. All the other churches in Colombo were similarly protected.
The funeral orations at the last rites held on the 24th delivered by Buddhist monks accused he Christians of committing murder. Almost every one of them made these accusations to incite the lay people. Once the funeral rites were over the clergy and the laity wanted to go in a procession on he streets of Colombo which was sternly refused by the police thereby averting a disastrous situation on the eve of Christmas 2003.
I am not a fan of Mrs. Chandrika Kumaranatnga but the Christians of this country are indeed indebted to her for preventing attacks on Christian places of worship on that day.
When former President Chandriak says that during her period in office that there was no ethnic or religious strife she is speaking the truth. Whatever her other faults were she was able to maintain law and order in this country.
An Anglican Christian
Last Updated Feb 27 2017 | 10:56 pm