Politics & Current Affairs

Rohingya refugees held in Sri Lanka prison after Buddhist mob attack (Video)

Distressing videos have emerged showing Rohingya refugees with children held in a high security prison camp in the Sinhala dominated southern Sri Lanka after Buddhist mobs forced authorities to remove them from a UN safehouse in the suburbs of Colombo.

JDS has received exclusive footage showing Rohingya refugees – mostly children and women – in the Boossa detention centre in southern Sri Lanka that routinely imprison criminals and those arrested under anti terror laws.

The group of 31 refugees comprise of 17 children under the age of 10. Nine among those are women.

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A mob summoned through social media by Buddhist monk led Sinhala extremists stormed the shelter, Wednesday (27) while police were looking on.

The Head Quarters Inspector, Mount Lavenia, Rohan Pushpakumara was seen paying obeisance to Akmeemana Dayaratna, the monk who led the attack after he called the refugees as 'terrorists'. 

In a carefully worded statement from Geneva the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) described the violence as an 'incident'.

"UNHCR is equally concerned for the safety and security of our partner’s staff present during the incident who were providing humanitarian assistance to the refugees," it added.

Knee jerk reaction

The country's leading trade union in the education sector condemned the government move to hold children in a prison camp instead of taking action against the Buddhist mob.

"Among the 17 minors, there are at least six school going children. Both the UN and the government have a duty to guarantee the children's right to education and sustenance," said Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) General Secretary Joseph Stalin.

In a knee jerk response to the violence, two government minsters have condemned the attack as a "beastly act" by "robed thugs".

Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratna and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera both called for the arrest of the perpetrators.

However, on the same day, mobs led by the monks who launched the attack on the UN safe-house paraded the streets of the capital brandishing national and Buddhist flags demanding  the deportation of Rohingyas.

Bid to sack witness

Meanwhile a Sri Lankan activist has made a complaint to the law and order ministry that the violence on 26 Tuesday was a bid to cover up a rape case.

Executive director of Center for Human Rights and Research (CHR) has written to Secretary of the Law and Order Ministry Jagath Wijeweera that family members of a police officer who had been suspended on charges of raping a Rohingya refugee took part in the monk led attack.

“People have been incited by a perpetrator of sexual violence in order to remove witness from Sri Lanka,” said CHR Executive Director Rajith Keerthi Tennekoon.

According to information revealed in court the police officer sexually attacked a young refugee in April 2017 while being held in the police immigration detention center.

After the perpetrator was identified by the victim in court, the Nugegoda Magistrate has remanded the suspected police officer on 10 July.

CHR has also brought to the notice of the Law and Order Ministry that one of the men leading the mob was in violation of strict bail conditions.

JDS has seen a copy of a complaint made by Attorney at law Nizam Shainaz, which shows that Sinhala extremist Dan Priyasad has violated sanctions imposed by courts in December 2016 when he was released after police arrested him for mob violence.

© JDS