These Monks Aren't Freedom Fighters

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

A March 26 news story ["As Fighting Flares in Civil War, Key Buddhist Shuns Nonviolence"] was accurate in that monks in Sri Lanka's Parliament have used religion and extremist ethnic politics to justify a harsh military response to the Tamil insurgency. However, it failed to report why they were elected in the first place.

The radical Jathika Hela Urumaya party rose to power after a wave of church burnings across Sri Lanka in 2004. The party both exploited and fostered this explosive environment by campaigning on a platform of Buddhist supremacy and on promises to criminalize religious conversions.

With attacks against Sri Lanka's Christian minority on the rise, I was shocked that The Post linked militant monks in Sri Lanka's ruling elite with nonviolent Buddhist protesters in Tibet and Burma.

Saying that the JHU party "fits into the tradition of monks across Asia who have embraced political causes" confuses oppressors with freedom fighters.

ROGER SEVERINO

Legal Counsel

Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Washington


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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