2013 has seen a dramatic surge in incidents of Christian persecution across the island nation of Sri Lanka. Anti-Christian sentimants in the country could see another surge in the wake of a Buddhist monks protest against Christian conversion. On May 24, a monk set himself on fire to protest the spread of Christianity in the Buddhist nation. Supporters of this monk have said that they would make his dying wishs a reality. Does this mean Christian persecution in Sri Lanka is going to get worse?
5/29/2013 Sri Lanka (AsiaNews) – Buddhist monks, politicians, activists, and many ordinary citizens yesterday attended the cremation ceremony of Venerable Bowatte Indrarathana Thero, a Buddhist religious leader who took his own life on 24 May, the feast day of Vesak, to protest against “conversions and cattle slaughter.” The funeral was held amidst tight security for fear of riots and violence.
The monk and his extreme act set off mixed reactions in government circles and civil society. Some said they understood his “sacrifice” on behalf of his cause; others slammed the deed, fearing it might set of copycats.
Ven Thero Bowatte Indrarathana poured two litres of petrol on his body and then set himself on fire on May 24th, a night with a full moon, and the apex of the Buddhist festival of Vesak, in front of Sri Dalada Maligawa temple.
Before he died, he cried out that his act was not a suicide attempt, but a “sacrifice against cattle slaughter and conversions.”
In the past, the monk had appealed to Parliament to ban Buddhist conversions to other faiths, a sensitive issue in a country split by sectarian violence.
Several supporters of Sinhala Ravaya, a Buddhist Sinhalese extremist group, spoke about his “heroic act” in defence of the nation’s values .
Udaya Gammanpila, a member of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) party, promised to “transform his demands into reality” through a law that would soon be “approved in parliament.”