Sri Lankan Army Restores Sinhala Buddhist Stupa in Tamil Populated Area 

Sri Lankan Army Restores Sinhala Buddhist Stupa in Tamil Populated Area 
Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary, Kamal Gunaratne, at the restoration of another Sinhala Buddist stupa in the Eastern Province of Sri Lank in early 2021. Photo: Tamil Guardian, 2021.


Judit Kolbe 

Sri Lanka and Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence 

On the 16th of January 2022, the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry announced and commenced the restoration of a Sinhala Buddhist stupa at the Neelagiri Temple, located in the Eastern province of Sri Lanka (Ministry of Defence, 2022). The restoration process was inaugurated by the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary, Kamal Gunaratne, who additionally is the chairman of the “Archaeological Heritage Management Presidential Task Force’ (PTF) for Eastern Province”(Ministry of Defence, 2022). The Sri Lankan Air Force will be undertaking the project led by the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary, under the guidance of Sinhala Buddhist monks, and with the instructions of the Department of Archaeology (Ministry of Defence, 2022). 

The Tamil media and community, however, allege this restoration to be a pretence and yet another “intense Sinhalisation effort” in the Eastern province of the country which is historically a Tamil populated area and claimed as “Tamil homeland” (Tamil Guardian, 2022). These state-sponsored “Sinhalisation” efforts of traditional Tamil populated areas, particularly in the North and East of Sri Lanka, have been reported more often in the past year. Tamils accused the government of an attempt to redraw district borders and thus alter political borders, encroaching on the Tamils’ political power (Tamil Guardian, 2021).

Sources and further reading:

Ministry of Defence (2022, January 16). Lahugala ‘Neelagiri Stupa’ to stand tall again. Ministry of Defence.

Tamil Guardian (2021, October 25). Tamil MPs call for an end to ‘artificial alteration of Northern Province demography’. Tamil Guardian. 

Tamil Guardian (2022, January 17). Sri Lankan army ‘restores’ another stupa as Sinhalisation in East intensifies. Tamil Guardian.