Sri Lanka Shocked by Taliban Move to Destroy Bamiyan Buddhas
Sri Lanka, which is a seat of Theravada Buddhism, Tuesday expressed shock and sadness at plans by the Taliban to demolish all ancient Buddhist statues in Afghanistan.
The government in Colombo said it was deeply concerned by an order from the Muslim fundamentalist militia's supreme leader Mulla Mohammad Omar to destroy all statues in Afghanistan, including ancient pre-Islamic figures of the Buddha.
"They must realise that these statues are part of the world heritage," said Ariya Rubasinghe, the newly-appointed Director General of President Chandrika Kumaratunga's secretariat. "We hope saner counsel will prevail," he said.
Buddhists in Sri Lanka were also horrified by the news that the two massive and ancient Buddha statues in the central province of Bamiyan, dating back to the second century, could be dynamited.
They are believed to be among the tallest standing Buddhas in the world. They stand 50 meters (165 feet) and 34.5 meters tall and date back to the second century AD.
A leading Sri Lankan Buddhist nun, Kusuma (Eds: one name) said there was no point in destroying them as they could not be erased from the minds of people across the world.
"Buddha represents the good in people, the statue is a symbol of that," she said. "To destroy the statue is to support evil."
Sri Lanka's Rubasinghe recalled that the country had appealed to the Afghan authorities in April 1998 when there was a similar threat against the Bamiyan Buddha statues.
The serene face of the Buddha, the tallest of the statues in Bamiyan, had been disfigured during earlier fighting – COLOMBO (AFP)
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