Panadura is a city where over 90\% of the population is Buddhist. During the British period or even during the earlier foreign rulers period Buddhists were harassed and ill-treated in the country. Buddhists in this country have been molded by the Buddhist culture to which we have been born and we live in harmony with believers of other religions even though Buddhists were ill-treated. The tolerance practiced by Buddhists, have been misunderstood to be a sign of cowardice by believers of other religions in this country.

On 26th August 2006 Buddhists of Panadura commemorated the 133rd Anniversary of the world famous "Panadura-Controversy" at Rankoth Viharaya, Panadura. After a lapse of only one month, an anti-Buddhist group misled a Buddhist monk of the area and conspired to fulfill their hidden agenda of projecting the Inter-Religious Harmony slogan by erecting quotations of all religious leaders including The Buddha in Panadura Town. Had the venerable monk known the hidden agenda of this group led by a former UNP Provincial Councilor Mr. Sujith Cooray who is a Catholic by birth, we believe that the venerable monk would never have given any assistance to their agenda. Without slogans and bill boards, Buddhists in Sri Lanka have lived in harmony with believers of all faiths in this country until recently when evangelists have been seen to be bulldozing their hidden agendas and hurting Buddhist sentiments both in the cities as well as in rural villages.

NGOs in this country have been pushing an agenda of Inter-Religious Harmony to be utilized as an avenue through which they could enter Buddhist villages and Towns to carry on their hidden agendas. In this particular instance under discussion, they planned to erect display boards in the heart of Panadura Town where quotations of all the Religious Leaders including The Buddha will be inaugurated on 26th September 2006. It is reported that Mr. Ajith Niward Cabral, Governor of The Central Bank and Advisor to The President on Economic Affairs, has been invited to grace this occasion as The Chief Guest. It is also reported that several Buddhist Organizations outside Panadura city, have been invited by the organizers, to participate at this ceremony. It is learnt that a Catholic NGO has already agreed to provide funding for this entire event.

This high-handed attitude of The Organizers does not augur well for Panadura and is totally uncalled for. This is a first step to create religious disharmony in the name of Inter-Religious Harmony. This may be the start to give an indication to the Panadura Buddhists that all religions are alike. In a Muslim country or a predominantly Christian country, all other religions are given second place. Similarly, in a predominantly Buddhist country like ours, while all other religions are respected, they will not be accepted as equal in status. This is only natural and must be expected and respected by believers of other faiths. The under-hand manner in which these forces are attempting to use visual techniques to give a distortion of true facts only creates deterioration in the sentiments of good will among people. Each individual who truly practices his/her own religion will know who their own religious leaders are and what they have taught without exhibiting them in public places!

Buddhists living in Sri Lanka and abroad must be more vigilant about such conspiracies. Buddhist Monks must be especially careful not to get caught to hidden agendas of NGO backed local groups with anti- Buddhists agendas. Meanwhile we urge all committed Buddhists to protest against this project that is scheduled to be launched by these anti-Buddhist elements backed by the Catholic NGO on 26th September 2006 at Panadura.

We give below the contact details of the persons to whom you may fax your objections directly due to the urgency of the time frame and appreciate if you would take just a few minutes to support this matter which is of grave concern to Buddhists in this country.

1) Mr. Vijith Priyantha Silva - The Chairman, Panadura Urban Council, Panadura
Telephone: 038-2232275 (Off), 0777-731428 (mobile), Fax 038-2232276

2) Mr.W.W.Sunethralal Fernando - The Chairman, Panadura Pradeshiya Sabhawa, Wadduwa.
Telephone: 038-2294567(Off), 038-2235311 (Res), Fax 038-2294566

3) Ven. Pothupitiye Pannasekara Thero - Chief Incumbent - Sri Maha Viharaya, Panadura

This urgent appeal is sent out by:

Panadura Waada Anusmarana Sabhawa
Rankoth Viharaya
Panadura, Sri Lanka.

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Alberto AcevedoBy:
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