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Jathika Hela Urumaya

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National Heritage Party
ජාතික හෙළ උරුමය
ஈழ மக்கள் கழகம்
LeaderVen. Omalpe Sobhitha Thero
ChairpersonVen. Hadigalle Wimalasara Thero
SecretaryBandula Harishchandra
FoundedFebruary 2004 (20 years ago) (2004-02)
Preceded bySinhala Heritage
Headquarters047/3A Denzil Kobbakaduwa mawatha, Pannipitiya road, Battaramulla
IdeologySinhalese Buddhist nationalism
Political positionRight-wing to far-right
ReligionTheravada Buddhism
National affiliationSamagi Jana Balawegaya
Colors  Orange
Parliament of Sri Lanka
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Election symbol

The Jathika Hela Urumaya (abbrv. JHU; Sinhala: ජාතික හෙළ උරුමය; Tamil: ஈழ மக்கள் கழகம்), less commonly known by its English name the National Heritage Party, is a Sinhala Buddhist nationalist political party in Sri Lanka. The JHU was launched in February 2004 by the lay-based, Sinhalese nationalist political party Sihala Urumaya.

Founding members include Kolonnawe Sumangala Thero, Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero, Ellawala Medhananda Thero, Omalpe Sobhitha Thero,[1] Athuraliye Rathana Thero and Thilak Karunaratne. Some Sri Lankan Buddhists, including the All Island Clergy Organization, denounced the decision by monks to enter politics. The party drew support mainly from the middle class conservatives and the Buddhist youth.



The Jathika Hela Urumaya (National Sinhala Heritage) party contested its first parliamentary election in 2004. 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 9 out of 225 seats.[2]

Since the election, the party has been involved in a number of controversies: one important action was introducing a bill to prohibit unethical, manipulative and highly aggressive religious 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.[3] There had been some dramatic infighting within the JHU parliamentary group early on in its parliamentary profile. This was partly because 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 made a strong comeback, with the young monk Athuraliye Rathana Thero and Champika Ranawaka leading the comeback. Ellawela Medhananda and Omalpe Sobhitha Theros remained in the leadership. Other influential members included Dr. Neville Karunatilake and Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe. JHU was also affiliated with the National Movement Against Terrorism (NMAT), SPUR, North-East Sinhala Organisation (NESO) and other local and international Sinhala nationalist groups.

The JHU 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). The JHU endorsed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in the 2005 presidential election. In 2007, the JHU officially became part of the Rajapaksa government, after the resignation of Buddhist monk MP Omalpe Thero, Champika Ranawaka was made an MP and then Cabinet Minister of Environment and Natural Resources.

In 2014, the JHU withdrew its support of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and supported opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena backed by United National Party in the 2015 presidential elections. In the 2015 general elections, the party contested under the elephant symbol of the UNP and won 3 seats. Champika Ranawaka was appointed as Minister of Megalopolis and Western Development on 4 September 2015, and is to this date the only individual to have led the ministry.[4][5]

Charges against the United States


The JHU launched a campaign to collect one million signatures to petition United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to establish a commission to inquire into human rights violations committed by the United States.[6]



During the Sri Lankan Civil War, the JHU advocated for wiping out the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam by military force, and the party played a major role in making that dream a reality. The party is strongly anti-federalist and wishes to maintain Sri Lanka's unitary constitution.[7]

The JHU is actively against deforestation and promotes organic farming. The JHU has also been instrumental in implementing several policy programmes, including a ban on smoking in public places and limitations on alcohol, banning of harmful pesticides, mandatory closings of liquor stores and bans on selling meat on Poya days and other notable Buddhist festivals.

Electoral history

Sri Lanka Parliamentary Elections
Election year Votes Vote % Seats won +/– Government
2000 127,863 1.48%
1 / 225
Increase 1 Opposition
2001 50,665 0.57%
0 / 225
Decrease 1 Extra-parliamentary
2004 552,724 5.97%
9 / 225
Increase 9 Opposition
2010 Was part of
United People's Freedom Alliance
3 / 225
Decrease 6 Government
2015 Was part of
United National Front for Good Governance
2 / 225
Decrease 1 Government
2020 Was part of
Samagi Jana Balawegaya
1 / 225
Decrease 1 Opposition

See also



  1. ^ "Parliament of Sri Lanka - OMALPE SOBHITHA THERO".
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "JHU to support Maithripala Sirisena | ONLANKA News - Sri Lanka". 2 December 2014.
  5. ^ "JHU Calls on TNA to Join the Common Oppossion & to Support Maithripala | Sri Lanka Brief". srilankabrief.org. Archived from the original on 2015-06-27.
  6. ^ JHU to force UN probe HR violations by US
  7. ^ DeVotta, Neil; Stone, Jason (2008-03-01). "Jathika Hela Urumaya and Ethno-Religious Politics in Sri Lanka". Pacific Affairs. 81 (1): 31–51. doi:10.5509/200881131. ISSN 0030-851X.