ANTI-MUSLIM SRI LANKA’S POLITICIANS AND POLICE ACCUSED
Sri Lanka Police say they have arrested more than 300 people involved in the
riots.– Police and politicians backed by the country’s former strongman
President Mahinda Rajapaksa joined anti-Muslim riots that rocked Sri Lanka’s
Kandy district this month, according to witnesses, officials and CCTV footage
reviewed by Reuters.
Muslim mosques, homes and businesses were destroyed as mobs ran amok for three
days in Kandy, the central highlands district previously known for its diversity
and tolerance. The government declared a state of emergency and blocked social
media platforms for a week to control the unrest.
The role of police and some local Buddhist politicians suggests the Sri Lankan
government lost control of elements of its security forces, and that the
violence was more than a impulsive outbreak fuelled by trimming Buddhist
extremists and hate-speech spread on social media.
Rajapaksa has denied that he or other leaders of his party were involved. Police
said the allegations against officers and politicians were being investigated.
Victims and witnesses, whose accounts were partly backed by CCTV footage seen by
Reuters, described members of an elite paramilitary police unit, the Special
Task Force (STF), assaulting Muslim cleric and leaders. Local Special Task Force
(STF) commanders declined to comment.
“They came to attack,” said A.H Ramees, a cleric at a mosque where worshippers
say they were beaten by police who were supposed to be protecting them. “They
were shouting. There was filthy language. They said all the problems were
because of us, that we were like terrorists.”
The riots were the latest example of rising Buddhist nationalism and anti-Muslim
sentiment in the region and have unnerved Sri Lanka’s multi-ethnic coalition
government, which ousted Rajapaksa in an election in 2015, according to analysts
and two sources familiar with the government’s deliberations.
Buddhists make up about 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s 21 million people. Tamils,
most of whom are Hindu, account for 13 percent while Muslims make up about 9 per
cent of the population.
Sri Lanka’s Law and Order Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara has said the violence
in Kandy was “well organised” and pointed the finger at members of Sri Lanka
Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), a political party backed by Rajapaksa that scored a
huge victory in local elections last month.
At a press conference flanked by senior leaders earlier this month, Rajapaksa
said the accusations were politically motivated. In fact, the government
fomented the violence to “get the Muslim vote” and to distract from its
inadequacies, he said.
TRIGGER FOR VIOLENCE
The violence in Kandy was triggered by an attack on a Buddhist truck driver, H.G
Kumarasinghe, by four Muslim men after a traffic dispute on 22nd Feb.
As Kumarasinghe lay in a coma, calls for retribution and anti-Islam polemics
flooded social media and the government ordered the deployment of 1,000 members
of the STF.
Rioting erupted after his funeral 11 days later.
Anti-Muslim sentiment has surged in Sri Lanka since 2009, when a long civil war
against Tamil insurgents was brutally ended by Rajapaksa amid charges by a
United Nations panel of experts of human rights violations, including extra
judicial killings by the military and STF.
As in Myanmar, from where 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled an army crackdown
in recent months, Buddhist hardliners in Sri Lanka have argued that Islam is a
threat to the Buddhist way of life.
Sri Lanka was a “monster beyond control”, as local activists draw inspiration
from the Buddhist extremists in Myanmar and Hindu radicals in India hostile to
About 10 minutes after the incident near the Noor Jummah mosque shown in the
CCTV footage, the mob returned via a back road, out of the line of sight of the
mosque’s exterior cameras, and threw a petrol bomb into the mosque’s first floor
office The men burned Korans during 45 minutes of looting and destruction, they
“No Special Task Force (STF), no police were there,” he said. “They had gone
around the corner. Can you believe it?”
Later that day, eight to 10 members of the Special Task Force (STF) rushed the
Hijrapura mosque, also in Digana, according to clerics and worshippers.
The police assaulted worshippers with batons, according to Ramees, the cleric.
CCTV footage shows police in riot gear striking Ramees and another cleric, M.S.M
Nizam, four times with batons. A local Buddhist monk, Gerendigala Chanda Wimala,
told Reuters he saw the men being manhandled by police and successfully demanded
“Three Special Task Force (STFs), came through the back entrance of the house
and started beating us,” said Fazil, who suffered a deep head wound and said he
spent in a night in prison after being refused medical treatment.
A local Special Task Force (STF) commander, asked about the incidents described
to Reuters, declined to comment, citing restrictions on talking to the media.
The law and order ministry referred to the police special investigation into
alleged abuses. Now where is the human being organization’s, why completely
quite the United nation donot something about the riots in the world specially
victims of Muslim’s innocent.