Tamil Tigers shoots at Buddhist monks

By Walter Jayawardhana, Lankaweb, July 13, 2006

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorists fired at Buddhist monks who went to the Mahaveli Ganga with an army and police escort, July 9 about 4.30 p.m., the Sri Lanka Army said.

<< Somawathie dagoba

This is the second time the LTTE terrorists were involved in a shooting incident connected with this ancient Buddhist temple on the scenic edge of the Mahaveli Ganga, close to the ancient capital of Polonnaruwa during the last 20 days.

The resident monks of the temple were taken to Mahaveli Ganga, the longest river of Sri Lanka flowing through the Tamil Tiger infested Eastern Province when the terrorists shot at them, the army said.

The army said nobody was injured and the shooting would have been done to discourage pilgrims coming to the temple since July 10 was Esala Full Moon day, heralding the Was, a Buddhist religious observance period.

Buddhist monks are provided with police and army escort in this area since the LTTE also known as Tamil Tigers are having a notorious record of killing Buddhist monks. Buddhist monks by Vinaya rules or canonical law cannot hold arms for their protection. ( In fact they are not permitted even to touch any weapon for that matter.)

In the same District, a bus transporting 33 young novice monks with their mentor the head monk, Venerable Hegoda Indrasara, was stopped at a place called Aranthalawa , June 2 1987 and mercilessly massacred using swords and guns by the LTTE guerillas. The LTTE also killed the head monk of the famous Dimbulagala Forest monastery. The incidents and other massacres of Buddhist monks by them has led the government to provide security to Buddhist monks and some temples in the area.

Immediately before this incident, June 19 about 5.50 in the evening Tamil Tigers using small arms shot at the ancient stupa, where Buddha’s right tooth is enshrined, but also failed to injure or do any damage to the sacred place. The reports relating to the previous incident indicate that when army personnel guarding the sacred site shot back, the LTTE gunmen retreated.
Both incidents would have been done, to scare away pilgrims, who are converging on the temple from all over the island, the army said.

The precincts of the newly restored Somawathie dagoba has been declared a sacred area by an act of Parliament . Named after queen of King Giri Abha, Queen Somawathie , the sister of King Devanam Piyatissa nearly 2100 years ago, before the birth of Christ, the dagoba is considered one of the most ancient symbols of the Sinhala civilaztion. The dagoba belonged to the ancient Ruhuna, consisting of the modern Eastern province, the cradle of Sinhala civilizzation but due to the change of course of the great Mahaveli River the sacred area now falls under the Raja Rata since the river was considered the border dividing the two administrative regions of ancient Lanka.

Apart from Aranthalawa massacre the Tamil Tigers in the past in order to arouse passions and religious clashes have attacked the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi killing 200 pilgrims, and exploded the front of the famous Temple of the Tooth in Kandy where Buddha’s tooth relic is enshrined. But on all occasions the Buddhists remained calm.