On 14th November, 2013, Galagodaaththe Gnanasara, a Buddhist monk who lead the extremist Bodu Bal Sena (The Buddha’s Army) and a group of supporters tried to forcibly enter into the venue of Alternative Human Rights Festival organized by the ‘Force for Unity’ and sabotage it.
The festival and the exhibition titled ‘voice of the dissent’ was organized as a parallel event to CHOGM 2013, but there was no venue available to hold this event. In that instance, the United National Party offered their Auditorium at the Party Headquarters ‘Sirikotha’ in Kotte.
Gnanasara was trying to trespass, while making threats and passing derogatory remarks to the organizers of the festival including Britto Fernando, President of the Families of the Disappeared in Sri Lanka. Police did nothing to prevent mob lead by a Buddhist monk breaking into the venue. But, the organizers of the festival with the support of the members of the United national Party who was there for a party function managed to chase the mob away and continue to hold the festival.
The Force for Unity is a collective of political parties and people’s organizations that agreed to fight on an common agenda to restore democracy in the country. One of the demands of the Force for Unity is to call upon the government for the full implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.
The Human Rights Festival was organized parallel to the Commonwealth Head’s of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013. Organizers call Sri Lankan government to follow Commonwealth values and Implement the LLRC Recommendations.
Representatives of the people’s organizations from all over the country including the family members of the disappeared from the North, participated for the festival. Some family members of the disappeared from North were prevented from participating to this festival by Sri Lankan security forces as the buses they were travelling to Colombo were not allowed to leave the North.
Government supporters were seen outside the gates of the UNP headquarters, shouting slogans against the leaders of the opposition and the orgnizers of the festival, throughout the period of the festival.
Please watch the Samabima video that captured how Gnanasara was trying to trespass, while making threats and passing derogatory remarks to the organizers of the festival including Britto Fernando, President of the Families of the Disappeared in Sri Lanka.