Monk framed for exposing conversion agenda

By Janaka Perera, Asian Tribune, Sept 1, 2007

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- How sincere are some of those who advocate inter-religious dialogue? Some Buddhists suspect that it is a Trojan horse meant to subvert Buddhism and Hinduism here. After all religious amity was nothing new to pre-colonial Sri Lanka until European invaders promoted conversion campaigns, leading to present-day religious frictions in the island.

Suspicions have been strengthened after a lone Buddhist monk in Kandy came under concerted attacks by Christian proselytizers and the so-called Asian Human Rights Watch (which some suspect to be a covert anti-Buddhist outfit) following his determined efforts to prevent Buddhist children from being weaned away from their ancestral religion by unscrupulous means at the Ampitiya Berawattes College, Kandy

This was revealed at a recent meeting organized by the Centre for Buddhist Action at the Dharma Vijaya Foundation, Colombo. Head of the Centre, Major (Rtd.) Major General Jaliya Nammuni presided. Among the participants were the Venerable Medagama Dhammananda of the Asgiriya Maha Vihara, Kandy and Attorney-at-Law Kalyananda Thiranagama.

The audience was told how the AHRW engaged in a e-mail campaign (AHRW – Urgent Appeals Programme) of character assassination against the bhikku, the Venerable Harankahawe Chandrawimala - at the instigation of a church group - without taking the trouble to cross check from Buddhist organizations or the police the false allegations made against the bhikku who is currently teaching at the D.S. Senanayake Vidyalaya.

None of the allegations against him have been proved to date.

Even the AHRW claim that the bhikku was transferred from the Moneragala Vidyalaya for immoral behaviour has been proved to be a total fabrication since he never taught in that school. Equally proved to be a lie was the claim that the Ven. Chandrawimala is a primary school teacher whereas he is a graduate having a BA and a MA. The other mystery is why this camopaign of vilification against him has been re-launched in 2007 two years after he left Berawattes College.

A Dutch history teacher John de Smit of Amsterdam , who is staying with the Ven. Chandrawimala, told the Asian Tribune that he was shocked by the vicious allegation made against the bhikku. Smit attributed the hate campaign to "pure jealousy."

The Ven. Chandrawimala was on the staff of Berawattes College from 2001-2005 during which period he was framed by the church group. The school was founded by a Catholic Priest, Reverend Father Berawattes and was the original Ampitiya Seminary under which the school was managed. During in the early 1960s, the government took over Berawatte's management but the Ampitiya Catholic Seminary continued to be within the land belonging to the school which was named Ampitiya Maha Vidyalaya and the junior School was named as Dharmapala Junior.

However, as time went on a campaign was begun to Christianize the entire school of which the majority of students and teachers were Buddhists. The building that was allocated to be the school library was converted into an area where prayer sessions and Christianity classes were conducted. Buddhist children were compelled to attend these classes.

Addressing those present, the Ven. Chandrawimala said: "We do not convert Christian children. But they give Bibles to Buddhist children make them sing hymns and participate in Christian stage plays. When I protested following complaints by Buddhist parents a woman connected to the church called me the son of a prostitute. I threatened to stage a hunger strike over this insult and eventually the school principal was compelled to force the woman to apologize to me and a log entry was made to that effect."

The Ven. Chandrawimala recalled that another bhikku who was enjoying the hospitality of the church authorities suddenly disrobed and entered married life after becoming a Christian.

Attorney-at-Law Kalyananda Thiranagama - who represents Lawyers for Human Rights Development - said that the 'Asian Human Rights Watch' was a church-sponsored organization the members of which are those who fled to Hong Kong after crisis in the North and East erupted. The Watch's agenda was to aid and abet Christian conversions and undermine Sri Lanka's territorial integrity, Thiranagama alleged.

Major General Nammuni told the audience that the Centre for Buddhist Action was currently probing the church's attempts to create a gap between the Buddhist laity and clergy by tarnishing the image of the Maha Sangha. He noted that hate campaigns were directed only against socially active Buddhist monks and not others.

The Ven. Medagama Dhammananda revealed that part of the conversion agenda was to produce blue films to show that all bhikkus were leading immoral lives.