Jathika Hela Urumaya

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National Heritage Party
Jathika Hela Urumaya
Leader Ven. Omalpe Sobhitha Thero
Secretary Patali Champika Ranawaka
Founded February 2004
Preceded by Sinhala Heritage
Headquarters 047/3A Denzil Kobbakaduwa Mw, Pannipitiya Road, Battaramulla
Ideology Sinhalese Nationalism
Political position Nationalist
National affiliation United People's Freedom Alliance
Parliament of Sri Lanka
3 / 225
Election symbol
Conch Shell
Website
http://www.jathikahelaurumaya.com
Politics of Sri Lanka
Political parties
Elections

The Jathika Hela Urumaya (Sinhala: ජාතික හෙළ උරුමය, often approximated in English as National Heritage Party) is a political party in Sri Lanka which is led by Buddhist monks. The JHU was launched in February, 2004 by the lay-based, secular Sinhala nationalist political party Sihala Urumaya. Founding members include Kolonnawe Sumangala Thero, Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero, Ellawela Medhananda Thero, Dr. Omalpe Sobhitha Thero, Athuraliye Ratana Thero and Thilak Karunaratne. Some Sri Lankan Buddhists, including the All Island Clergy Organization, denounced the decision by monks to enter politics. However, the party drew some support from the middle class conservatives and the Buddhist youth.

History[edit]

The Jathika Hela Urumaya (National Sinhala Heritage) party contested its first parliamentary election on 2 April 2004. On that occasion, all of its candidates were Buddhist monks. At the election the party won 5.97% of the popular vote (a total of 552,724 votes) and nine out of 225 seats.[1]

Since the election, the party has been involved in a number of controversial issues: one important action was introducing a bill to prohibit "unethical" conversions. This was viewed as a reaction against proselytism systematically carried out by Christian fundamentalist groups with many guises, some of whom happened to be foreigners affiliated with non-governmental organizations.[2] There had been some dramatic infighting within the JHU parliamentary group early on in its parliamentary profile. This was partly due the fact that this group had been cobbled together just before the polls and lacked unity on several grounds including the issue of how to relate to government formation.

Two of its founding members, Theros Kolonnawe Sumangala and Uduwe Dhammaloka left the party due to conflicts within the party between the monastic and lay members. The lay leader of the Sihala Urumaya also defected to the United National Party after seizing the party headquarters. After months of trouble, the party is strong again with the young monk Athuraliye Rathana Thero and the Sihala Urumaya member Champika Ranawaka leading the comeback. Ellawela Medhananda and Omalpe Sobhitha theros remain in the leadership. Other influential members include Dr Neville Karunatilake and Udaya Gammanpila. JHU is also affiliated with the National Movement Against Terrorism (NMAT), SPUR, North-East Sinhala Organisation (NESO) and other local and international Sinhala nationalist groups.

Jathika Hela Urumaya successfully appealed the supreme court to cut President Chandrika Kumaratunga's term short. In October 2005, former JHU member Uduwe Dhammaloka indicated that there was a growing sentiment among the monks of the JHU that a mistake had been made in directly entering the political realm. Dhammaloka indicated that he personally believed that monks could have a more positive impact on Sri Lankan society by focusing on religious work, and that the current crop of monk-parliamentarians intended to "ensure that monks will not enter politics again" ("Monks"). It is unclear if Uduwe Dhammaloka and other ordained members of parliament will resign their positions, or if legislation will be introduced to restrict monks from standing for public office (as is currently the case in Thailand). Jathika Hela Urumaya supported President Mahinda Rajapakse in the presidential election in 2005. In 2007, the JHU officially became part of the Rajapakse Government with one of its Buddhist monk MP, Omalpe Thero resigning and in his place a lay member Champika Ranawaka being made a MP and then the Cabinet Minister of Environment and Natural Resources.

Charges Against United States[edit]

JHU launches a campaign to collect one million signatures to petition United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki Moon to establish a commission to inquire into human rights violations committed by the United States [3]

Ideology[edit]

The party maintains a Sinhala Nationalist stance in its politics and advocates wiping out the Tamil tigers by force. It wants to maintain Sri Lanka's unitary constitution with meager devolution of powers as a solution to the present conflict. The JHU have also been instrumental in implementing several policy programmes including a ban on smoking in public places and limitations in alcohol, including the mandatory shut-down of liquor stores and ban on meat on Poya and other Buddhist festivals.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mahinda Deegalle, "JHU Politics for Peace and A Righteous State," Buddhism, Conflict and Violence in Modern Sri Lanka (ed.) Mahinda Deegalle, Routledge, London and New York, 2006, p. 236.
  2. ^ Mahinda Deegalle, “Contested Religious Conversions of Buddhists in Sri Lanka and India,” Dharmapravicaya: Aspects of Buddhist Studies, N.H. Samtani Felicitation Volume, ed. Lalji Shravak, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, 2011, pp. 81–111.
  3. ^ JHU to force UN probe HR violations by US


External links[edit]