Ask most decently informed Westerners the following questions: What country has for most of the past two plus decades been racked with ethnic and religious violence supported enthusiastically by fanatical clerics, has a constitution that states the duty of the state is to foster a religion, been manipulated by a large regional power, and was the true incubator for horrifyingly calculated suicide bombers? It’s a solid bet that the typical response would be a country in the Middle East or at least one with a Muslim majority (one shutters when contemplating how many responders would answer ‘Palestine’); however the correct answer is the South Asian country Sri Lanka, the combatants ethnic Tamil separatists against a majority Sinhalese government, and the fanatical clerics in this case, Buddhist monks.
If the reality of war-crazed Buddhist monks shatters the conceptions of good hearted liberals, the largely overlooked Sri Lankan conflict features many other of the worst hallmarks of modern warfare including the use of morally destroyed child soldiers, a terrorized urban population, death squads, and a large internal refugee crisis. Like most of Africa’s post-colonial civil wars, the civil war in Sri Lanka takes place within an ecologically brilliant ecosystem and an otherwise beautiful cultural environment.
See also: Buddhism in Burma.