Siddhartha Gautama, who became universally known as the sage Buddha, was born some 2,500 years ago in Nepal. He was a human being who became acutely enlightened in understanding life and explaining it in its simplicity. It is said that he once sat under a peepal tree for 40 days and nights to attain understanding and enlightenment and once he reached that stage he felt free from greed, hatred and ignorance, and enhanced by wisdom, compassion, tolerance and freedom.This was the message he sought to promote for the remaining years of his life to his disciples.
Unfortunately over the centuries, some of Buddha’s followers or Buddhists as they are called mutated into something far removed from the sage’s messages. Theirs has become a calling of all things evil and violent. Currently there are two such strains of Buddhists who are leading a campaign against others that is devoid of any of the sage’s messages.
One group, the Ahsin Wirathu Alliance, operating out of Burma or Myanmar, is made up of bloodthirsty Buddhists who have been terrorizing and slaughtering thousands of Myanmar’s minority Rohingya Muslims. Even Aung San Suu Kyi, a leader of the Myanmar opposition and the 1991winner of the Nobel Peace Prize,dares not venture to align herself with the cause of the displaced Rohingyas for political considerations. She has thus far been protected from any criticism for the massacres going on in her country even though some question whether she is supporting the terrorist Buddhist group which is attempting to exterminate the Muslim population in Myanmar.
Another equally vicious Buddhist group in Sri Lanka, the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), has lately begun a fierce campaign against the Tamil, Muslim and Christian minorities on the island.
Last month, events in Sri Lanka took an even more disturbing turn. Ashin Wirathu Thera, leader of the 969 Movement in Myanmar, and notorious for his anti-Islam tirades which have resulted in the slaughter of thousands of Rohingya refugees was invited by his BBS counterparts in Sri Lanka to visit the island. Time magazine has correctly described Wirathu as the “Face of Buddhist Terror”.
The meeting of two terrorist Buddhist group leaders from Myanmar and Sri Lanka does not bode well for the minorities of the island of Sri Lanka. In Myanmar, the minorities have already been subjugated to the point of being completely wiped out in some areas by acts of maximum brutality. Such acts have been muted so far in Sri Lanka, but such an unholy alliance could well spell disaster for their adversaries.
When the UN’s top human rights body launched an investigation recently into Sri Lanka’s civil war and possible war crimes against the Tamil minorities based on the recommendation of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, the Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary screamed at a press conference: “We will skin the bitch alive!” This is the same individual who flew to Burma to receive a special birthday gift from Burma’s radical monk Wirathu last month.
The mindset of this terrorist group has increasingly worried many Sinhalese who make up the majority of the population in Sri Lanka and it has greatly disturbed the many minorities who have lately witnessed an increasing number of unabashed and defiant acts against their people, places of worship and businesses. This was not Buddha’s message.
With this unholy alliance between the two terror groups in the offing, the island’s minorities are wondering if it will eventually lead to the same sort of assault and slaughter of their people as the Rohingya have faced in Myanmar. This will unquestionably lead Sri Lanka to the precipice of disaster.
*The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena . Version of this article appeared in the Saudi Gazette on April 15, 2014