Buddhist Monks join death fast against Sri Lanka-Tiger deal

Xinhuanet, June 8, 2005

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Seven more Buddhist Monks have joined fasting unto death against Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga's move to enter a joint deal with the Tamil Tigers on post-tsunami reconstruction.

The Monks belonging to the National Bhikku Front, an affiliated organization of the Marxist JVP or the People's Front started their fast in the capital Colombo's main business area of Fort Wednesday morning.

This followed a similar death fast currently being observed by the Monks belonging to the Heritage Party or the JHU.

They started their protest in the central town of Kandy on Monday, urging Kumaratunga to abandon her joint mechanism with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels.

The Monks, who started their fast in Colombo, claim that Kumaratunga's plan would confer recognition to a terrorist group.

A joint mechanism was mooted by the international donors to co-ordinate relief for the victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami living in the Tamil-held regions in the north and east provinces.

The move was met with stiff opposition from extreme nationalist groups including the JVP which is the Kumaratunga government's main coalition partner.

They have threatened to walk out endangering the Kumaratunga government if the President went ahead and signed the deal with the Tigers.

The JVP's parliamentary group leader making a special statementon the issue in parliament on Wednesday said the move was a betrayal of the nation and his party would make a crucial decisionto prevent that from happening.