06/18/2012, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Monk beats Catholic boy because he could not name the Buddha's parents

by Melani Manel Perera
The incident occurred in the Mahanama College Getambe in Kandy (Central Province). Amila, 13, bled in the left ear but without permanent damages. Despite a report being filed, police did not arrest anyone. Education Department rules say that students have a right to be taught their religion, and that schools have an obligation to provide religious courses for students of different faiths.

Kandy (AsiaNews) - A 13-year-old Catholic student, Amila Tharanga, was assaulted by his teacher because he could not name the Buddha's parents. The incident occurred on 11 June at the Mahanama College Getambe in Kandy (Central Province), but it took sometime before the boy told his parents. Although the attack was reported to police, no arrest warrant was issued. Amila was wounded to an ear during the attack, but the injury is not permanent.

"When the Buddhist monk came into the classroom to teach the Buddhism course, Amila went to seat in the back," Fr Nandana Manatunga, director of the Human Rights Office in Kandy, told AsiaNews. "However, the teacher forced the boy to sit in the front row and began asking him questions. The latter told him that he was Catholic. At that point, the monk said, 'Even if you are Catholic, you should know Buddhism,' and then proceeded to beat him, causing his left ear to bleed."

Despite the boy's condition, no one in the school tried to treat his wounds. The monk and another teacher warned him not to mention the incident.

When his brother Gashan, who attends the same school, found out, he went immediately to Amila's classroom, but was himself threatened by the monk.

"When he arrived home, the 13-year-old was scared and went to bed because of the pain in his ear, without saying a word," the clergyman said. "When he started to throw up, his father P.G. Tilakaratne began asking him about what had happened, until Amila told him everything."

The next morning, the parents brought the boy to the Kandy General Hospital, where he was treated immediately. On 13 June, his father went to a local police station to report the incident.

The Mahanama College Getambe is a Buddhist school with many Christian students. Under the rules of the Education Department, students can study their own religion even if they do not practice the school's main religion. However, in this particular school, this right has not been enforced, and teachers are known to punish students, even physically.

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