Marxist Monks Impact Politics

June 9, 2005

Source: Yahoo! News

Wire Service: AFP

On June 9, 2005 Agence France-Presse reported, "Sri Lanka, regarded as a repository of Theravada Buddhism and seen as upholding the orthodox branch of the religion for over 2,500 years, is emerging as a hotbed of Marxist monks. Saffron-robed monks lead political demonstrations providing colour and content and give more than spiritual power to parties, even though the Buddhist majority nation faces a severe shortage of clergymen for theological work. All mainstream Sinhalese-majority political groups have a band of Buddhist monks loyal to them, including the Marxist JVP, or People's Liberation Front, which is usually in the forefront of public demonstrations. While the religion considers suicide a sin, Buddhist monks are increasingly threatening to kill themselves to press their political demands. A JVP-backed group has threatened to launch a fast-unto-death campaign from the weekend to protest government plans for an aid sharing deal with Tiger rebels."