Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bodu Bala Sena's Associations with Little, Little Smiles

Meth Sevana, Galle
(by Ajith Parakum Jayasinghe) On March 09, 2013, Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa inaugurated ‘Meth Sevana,’ the Cultural and Training Centre of Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), in Pilana, Wanchawala in Galle.

The Head of Meth Sevana, Ven. Embilipitiye Vijitha Thero said that training programmes for bhikkus and laymen will be held at the Center. It was introduced as a leadership training institute as well. BBS announced that this academy would be developed into a full-fledged Buddhist University in the future.

The latest news which was partially reported in Lankadeepa website on May 29 said that Galle Additional Magistrate Gunendra Munasinghe had ordered BBS to evacuate the Meth Sevana Center in Galle.

The order was issued after hearing a petition by Batagoda Gamage Asanka Amarasiri. BBS secretary Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thero, Embilipitiye Vijitha Thero, Vitharandeniye Nanda Thero and the Little Smiles Association, an NGO, were the defendants of the petition. 

The petitioner stated that the BBS forcibly occupied a three acre land belonged to him since December 16, 2012. He has filed the case against BBS on February 14, 2013 after complaints in police did not lead to solving the problem.. 

We were curious to know what this Little Smiles Association.

On 17 February 2002, the Little Smile Association was recognized as a non-profit NGO by the Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The head office of the Association is established at Little Smile Village, Lower Ampitithanna Estate, Koslanda in Wellawaya.

The Association's objects and motives are given as follows:

The motive of the establishment of this social organisation is to work for the welfare and well being of the children and women with children who become orphans, helpless and deserted in the world due to various reasons.

Therefore this Association, as a social welfare organisation in Sri Lanka shall adopt various programmes and projects in Sri Lanka as well as over-seas, and execute and give effect to such programmes and projects.
  • Organisation and execution of various projects for the welfare of the orphans and deserted and helpless children and woman who are victimised due to various reasons in the world.
  • Establishment and execution of various programmes and projects for the welfare and well being of the children who have become orphans in Sri Lanka.
  • Operation of various programmes and projects for the welfare and well-being of the women having children and who have been deserted in Sri Lanka due to various reasons.
  • Assisting and giving support to social welfare organisations already operating in Sri Lanka.
  • Establishment and maintenance of orphanages and Childrens' homes, and also homes for the deserted and helpless woman with children in Sri Lanka.
  • Establishment and operation of institutions and operations owned by LSA and from which all profits are used solely for financing the projects and goals mentioned here under points a) through e).
  • For the orphans and deserted woman, the operation of following programmes:

    • Making avenues to receive English education.
    • Providing computer training.
    • Providing vocational training.
    • Operating a guardianship programme for the orphans.
    • Collaboration with other social organizations worldwide and with the government of Sri Lanka.
    • Involvement and intervention in affairs which promote the success of the above-mentioned activities.
The head of the Little Smiles Association is  Michael Kreitmeir, a German national who says in Facebook that he lives in Koslanda. He says that he was former Former Regisseur und Filmemacher at BR - Bayerischer Rundfunk.

Can you identify the monks in this photo which was in Little Smile Association website? 
The website of Little Smiles Association says with the above photo, "After the long journey from Koslanda on the South coast to Galle, Michael Kreitmeir prays for a good start for the new culture and meeting centre. He kneels at the little temple in front of the building, in which for many years the white Buddha from the children’s village has been more than just a symbol for the fact that mutual respect and the acceptance of different religions, races and convictions, just as it is practiced in the children’s village Mahagedara, will also become reality in the centre Meth Sevana. A few hours after this silent prayer the centre will be inaugurated."

The website of Little Smiles Association  identifies this place as Meth Sevana. But Batagoda Gamage Asanka Amarasiri who claims for the ownership of the land says that BBS named this place as Meth Sevana and alludes that it was done without his consent.

The website of the Little Smiles Association says "After purchasing the land near Pilane in 2005 there were further purchases in 2006 and 2008 and the area was thus expanded up to its current size of 2 hectares." (see this page) Then who is this Batagoda Gamage Asanka Amarasiri? Has a legally registered mon profit organization purchased land under person's names? Why, a big WHY?

Defense Ministry website says, "The Methsevana was constructed and offered to Maha Sanga by Mr. Michael J.A Kreitmeir of Germany. Mr. Kreitmeir also handed over the official documents of the property to the founder of the Buddhist Cultural Centre Ven. Kirama Wimalajothi Thero during the ceremony. The Buddhist cultural centre is dedicated to restore the values of Buddhism in Sri Lanka."

It seems that Little Smiles Association inaugurated the disputed center in Galle as a meeting center. Their website says, "After the end of the civil war in 2009 it became clear that it will take a long time till the deep gaps which almost three decades of separation and violence have left, will be overcome. One important prerequisite for its success is mutual understanding, not only in terms of language differences, but especially in terms of religion, ways of thinking, cultural differences. And this is why LSA builds a meeting center in Galle." Visit this page for more information on this center.

It is unclear how BBS occupied this place in a way a person who claims the ownership of the premises had to go to courts to oust them. Reportedly,  Michael Kreitmeir was also in the gathering as Defense Secretary opened the so called Cultural and Training Centre of BBS although he was not given prominence. Apparently, the BBS misled the German philanthropist who disillusioned late but hit back venomously. 

We tried to contact Little Smiles Association via its local phone number but the phone was not answered. However, it was after the office hours. You can vies contact details of the Association in this page.

Little Smile Association has raised funds for this center in Galle from various donors. (See this page) Have they informed the donors that the center will be used by an organization like BBS which is ill famous for its anti minority chauvinist stances and hate campaigns.

We found a report by Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regarding arrest of this Michael Kreitmeir in 2010. Read it.AHRC says the arrest was based on fabricated charges. We couldn't find what happened to the case filed against Michael Kreitmeir.

There is lot of mysteries behind the Meth Sevana drama which should be clarified both by the BBS and Little Smile Association. 

Michael Kreitmeir
Michael Kreitmeir

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