Colombo, May 23 (BAN/ AD): President Sirisena has pardoned a hardline Buddhist monk accused of inciting violence against ethnic minority Muslims and convicted of contempt of court. No reason was given for pardon by President office. The pardoning of Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, head of the hardline Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or “Buddhist Power Force”, comes a week after attack against Muslim minorities in apparent reprisal for the Easter bombings by a Muslim armed group that killed more than 250 people.
“The president’s office has sent the relevant documents to pardon Gnanasara monk to the ministry.” said a Justice Ministry official. There was demand for his release by Buddhist clergy. Buddhist clergy has strong influence in Sri Lankan politics.
Alan Keenan, Sri Lanka project director at the International Crisis Group tweeted “A big blow to Sri Lanka’s already battered rule of law, sending precisely the wrong message after Easter attacks.” He added “A peaceful [Sri] Lanka requires all communities to feel safe & equal. Pardoning Gnanasara says impunity rules & Muslims, Evangelical Christians & Tamils are fair game.”