Sri Lanka: Attacks on Muslims escalate following UN, EU concessions

Unabated violence against minority Muslims in Sri Lanka’s predominantly Sinhala Buddhists localities is alarmingly on the rise in the wake of international bodies relaxing trade and political restrictions placed on the government.

In less than a month at least twenty Muslim places of worship and business have come under attack including arson with no arrests made.

The series of attacks were launched after the EU granted privileges on trade tariffs and the UN conceded concessions on accountability for serious human rights violations.

The latest recorded arson attack against a Muslim establishment was launched in the early hours of Tuesday (23) in Kahawatte, 125 kilometres southeast of Colombo.

A grocery shop owned by Tamils was also burnt to ashes.

Sri Lanka Muslim Council have expressed its disappointment on police inability to arrest any suspect.

Cabinet ministers disturbed

Following severe questioning of the minister of law and order by Muslim and Tamil ministers disturbed by the violence, the government claims that it has ordered police to take “stern action” against racist attacks.

Minister of national co-existence and dialogue Mano Ganesan who is a Tamil told journalists that the prime minister said regional police chiefs have to be held accountable.

However, the same day of PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s directive, a violent Sinhala Buddhist mob led by Suresh 'Dan' Priyasad, notorious for inciting racial hatred against Muslims and Tamils stormed a commemoration for Tamil war dead in the capital Colombo and intimidated participants, journalists and bystanders.

Ban on mourning

Earlier police banned a commemorative event for thousands of war dead in the Tamil speaking north by obtaining a court order based on national security and safeguarding integrity.

International rights groups angered by the move slammed it as a ban on the right to mourn and a bid to intimidate.

The series of violence and intimidation against Muslims and Tamils comes at a time when the European Union lifted a seven-year restriction placed on Sri Lanka exports as an encouragement to safeguard human rights with the UN granting two more years to address war crimes accountability.

Read CHR Sri Lanka report on Violence against Muslims.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.