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HomePoliticsWorldBuddhist fundamentalist monk to head legal reforms panel in Sri Lanka

Buddhist fundamentalist monk to head legal reforms panel in Sri Lanka

The appointment of the presidential task force, with a hardline Buddhist on top, follows a decision to amend Sri Lanka’s Muslim personal laws

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While India debates ad nauseam a uniform civil code, an equally multireligious Sri Lanka has appointed a no-nonsense Buddhist monk, whom leftists accuse of speech targeting Muslims, as the head of a panel on legal reforms under its ‘One Country One Law’ programme.

According to a gazette notification issued on 26 October, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has set up a 13-member ‘Presidential Task Force for One Country, One Law’, chaired by Galagodaatte Gnanasara of the Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force).

Besides facing accusations of provoking anti-Muslim violence in the past, the monk made in 2018 when he was convicted on four charges for contempt of court where the judiciary is as woke as it is in India. They gave him a six-year term, of which he served only nine months until former President Maithripala Sirisena pardoned him in a move widely criticised.

The appointment of the presidential task force, with a hardline Buddhist on top, comes months after a cabinet decision to amend the country’s Muslim personal laws. Sri Lanka has the Kandyan Law and Thesawalamai Law, pertaining respectively to the Sinhalese and Tamil communities.

The panel does not have representatives from the Tamil minority or women. It includes four Muslims.

Commenting on the task force Ambika Satkunanathan, an activist and former Commissioner at Sri Lanka’s the Human Rights Commission, called it a “farce masquerading as governance/government” in a tweet.

Opposition parliamentarian Shanakiyan Rasamanickam from the Tamil National said: “This committee itself is the definition of irony. What is the purpose of establishing a committee if the existing law can’t be implemented correctly? The appointment of a criminal to lead this committee is almost a joke in itself.”

The task force, according to the gazette, is to “make a study of the implementation of the concept; One Country, One Law” within Sri Lanka and prepare a draft Act for the purpose and submit a report by 28 February 2022.

While the supporters of a uniform civil code in India are elated by the development, others point out that the Buddhist monk does not attack Muslims alone and that the Sinhalese regime has violated the human rights of Hindu Tamilians too while enjoying the support of such Buddhist heads. The supporters of UCC hit back, saying they are happy about the promotion of a nationalist and every country should uphold its own version of nationalism. “It will be Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka as it will be Hindu nationalism in India,” a social media user said.

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