Hundreds in Sri Lanka protest Buddhist attacks in BangladeshSouce:Xinhua Publish By Thomas Whittle Updated 05/10/2012 1:03 am in World / no comments
COLOMBO, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) — Over 1,000 people including Buddhist priests from Myanmar, Thailand and Bangladesh staged a protest march here Thursday, urging the Bangladesh government to stop oppression of Buddhist people in that country, an activist said here.
Protesters marched to the Bangladesh High Commission and handed over a petition calling for the government to protect Buddhists in the Chittagong and Chittagong Hill regions who they alleged were under attack by Muslim extremist groups.
The protest was organized by a popular Buddhist organization in Sri Lanka called the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS).
Protesters flung plastic water bottles at the embassy building when they saw an embassy official filming the demonstration. However no one was injured in the incident.
“During the last few days 19 Buddhist temples some of which are 300-500 years old and about 100 Buddha statues have been burnt down. Many top monks have been attacked and rumor has it even killed. In fear of being killed Buddhists are deserting temples,” BBS Secretary General Venerable Galagodaatte Gnanasara Thera told reporters.
He insisted that around 250 Buddhist households and shops have been vandalized in these areas and people were fleeing in fear of the extremist groups.
The priest called on the Bangladeshi government to take immediate action to protect and provide compensation for the Buddhists that have been affected by the attacks.
Government spokesman and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said that the government’s attention has been drawn to these incidents and that they were “gravely concerned.”
“We will have discussions with the relevant parties to find a solution to this crisis,” he assured but declined to comment what steps the government planned to take.
Meanwhile a prominent organization of local Muslim leaders called the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama released a statement condemning the violence in Bangladesh and calling for co-existence of different religions.