Immolation monk’s last rites spark Sri Lanka protest

COLOMBO, May 26, 2013 (AFP) – About 200 Sri Lankan Buddhists blocked traffic in the capital Colombo on Sunday to protest after authorities rejected a state funeral for the country’s first ever monk to self-immolate. More than 110 Tibetan Buddhists have set themselves ablaze since 2009 to protest China’s rule of the Tibetan plateau, rights groups have said. Bowatte Indaratna, 30, succumbed to his burn injures Saturday after calling for an end to cattle slaughter and proselytisation by Christians in the Buddhist majority nation of 20 million.

“We staged a sit-down demonstration near Temple Trees (the official resident of President Mahinda Rajapakse) demanding a state funeral at Independence Square,” monk Akmeemana Dayaratne told AFP. “But, we did not get it.”

He said they decided to disperse, but vowed to keep up pressure on the government to stop the slaughter of animals and ensure there were no unethical religious conversions.

The protesters, including dozens of saffron-robed Buddhist monks, blocked traffic on the main road opposite Rajapakse’s residence, witnesses said.

There was no immediate comment from the government, but police said there were heated arguments with the protesters.