Sri Lanka PM pledges further Buddhistisation of Tamil areas

Tamils opposing years of militarisation, majority Sinhala colonisation and buddhistisation of northern and eastern Sri Lanka have been told of plans to build thousand Buddhist places of worship with government funding in the predominately Hindu region.

Government coalition partner United National Party (UNP) led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe made the announcement at an election rally held in the northern town of Vavunia.

"500 million rupees has been earmarked to build a 1000 Buddhist temples in the north and east provinces," said the chapter subtitled 'reconciliation' in a handout distributed in the public rally addressed by the PM.

Sinhala-Buddhist supremacy

Reference to 1000 temples in some copies of the Tamil version had been redacted in an obvious attempt to avoid offending Tamil voters.

The handout, "Government Rebuilding Villages" outlines the UNP vision for local government bodies.

Angered by the UNP announcement Tamil politicians have described the move as an indication of Sri Lanka retaining the foremost place granted to Buddhism even though plans are afoot to reform its constitution.

“This clearly shows that the Sinhala, Buddhist supremacy in the Tamil areas of north and east continued by Sinhala governments for ages is not going to stop,” said Viswalingam Manivannan, the Jaffna Mayoral candidate of the Tamil National Peoples' Front (TNPF), speaking to journalists in Jaffna.

Chinese funds

State sponsored Buddhist temples have been mushrooming in the war torn Tamil areas since the military took over its control from Tamil Tigers in 2009.

Earlier in 2016, the government approved plans to rehabilitate one hundred Buddhist Temples in the north and east with Chinese Funds.

Lead photo: "Buddha's Château" - a newly built Buddhist Vihāra in Nainatheevu, an island off the coast of Jaffna Peninsula | Courtesy: Twitter @Garikaalan