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SRI LANKA: A 14-years-old student is tortured by a Buddhist monk for refusing to learn Buddhism

ICC Note:

A 14 year old boy was “severely assaulted… [until he] was bleeding from his left ear.” The monk who assaulted the boy was teaching a religion class at school. Legally the boy, being Catholic, didn’t have to be involved in the class, however the monk harassed him.  The boys teachers told him not to tell anyone and refused to give him medical attention. It wasn’t until her returned home and began vomiting that his parents were able to take him to the hospital.  You can click [HERE] to write an appeal letter.

06/15/2012 Sri Lanka (AHRC)-The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that PG Amila Tharanga Thilakaratne (14) a Year 9 student of Mahanama College Geatambe in the Kandy District was severely tortured by his teacher, a Buddhist monk. Amila was persecuted on a religious basis and is thus a victim of religious intolerance. Amila has been raised Catholic, but attends a school in a predominantly Buddhist area, where the majority of students are practicing Buddhists. Amila was questioned by the Venerable Rahula Thero on Buddhist history, and when he told him that he followed the Christian faith, the monk beat him severely. He was admitted to the Kandy Teaching Hospital to receive treatment for his injuries, and is currently recovering in Ward 18 of the hospital. Corporal punishment is banned in all schools, remand centers and prisons in Sri Lanka. This act of brutality is a gross violation of Amila Thilakaratne’s human rights.


According to information that the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received, PG Amila Tharanga Thilakaratne (14) a Year 9 student attending Mahanama College Geatambe in the Kandy District was tortured by his teacher, who is also a Buddhist monk, because he professed a belief in the Christian faith. His permanent address is: No: 28/1, Sarasavigama Mahakande, Hindagala, Kandy.

Amila Tharanga has five older brothers and one younger sister. His father is a mason working in building construction, and his mother is a homemaker. Amila Tharanga has been attending Mahanama College Kandy since Year One; his brothers have attended the same school. Mahanama College Kandy is a Buddhist school, and only Buddhism is taught in the school.

Although the state education department has ruled that children of faiths other than the predominant religion should have the right to learn their own religious teachings, abide by the codes of their religious practices and sit for school exams (circular 2009/10), these rights are often not respected and religious minorities, such as Catholics and Christians, are forced to learn Buddhism. Amila Tharanga and his older brother, Gashan, are discriminated against at school because they are not Buddhist.

On 11 June 2012, a Buddhist monk named Rahula Thero came to Amila’s class to teach Buddhism. Since Amila was the only non-Buddhist student in the class, he moved to the back row for the duration of the lesson. However, the monk has forced him to sit in the front row and asked him to recite the names of the Buddha’s parents. Amila replied that he is a Catholic. The monk told him that he should learn Buddhist teachings even though he is a Catholic, and severely assaulted Amila until the young boy was bleeding from his left ear. Rahula Thero and another teacher, Mrs Kokila, told Amila not to tell anyone about the assault.

For the rest of the day, Amila had to bear the pain without recourse to medical treatment. When Amila’s brother Gashan heard about the assault, he went to his brother’s classroom, but Mr. Thero saw Gashan and threatened to beat him if he entered the room.

After school, Amila went home and went to sleep for fear of informing anyone about the brutal assault. He began to vomit at around 7pm, and he told his father, P.G. Thilakaratne what had happened at school. The next morning, Amila’s father took his son to hospital. According to Mr. Thilakaratne, Mr. Thero threatened them with violence if they revealed what had happened to higher authorities.

Amila was placed in Ward 10 of the hospital. The next day, he was transferred to Ward 18. The officers at the hospital’s police post obtained a statement from Amila on June 13. Amila’s father, Mr. Thilakaratne filed a complaint with the Kandy Police (WCIB 1/84/16,) but so far, no investigation has been initiated.

Mr. Thilakaratne fears that his complaint will go unheard in a country in which Buddhist monks enjoy impunity for violent actions. He worries that Amila will not be able to regain his hearing, and will be expelled from his school for reporting the incident to the police. Mr. Thilakaratne seeks justice and redress for the violation of his child’s right to practice the religious faith of his choice. He seeks protection for his son and for witnesses of the crime by the state.

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