Mob attacks against Christians and other religious minorities is increasing across Sri Lanka. Mobs of Buddhist nationalists gather, target and attack Christians with little to no reaction from local governments. This culture of impunity has only increased the frequency of these attacks. Without government intervention or willingness to enforce basic law for religious minorities, this trend will continue to the determent of Christians in Sri Lanka.
3/28/2013 Sri Lanka (Lanka Business) – Mob violence in Sri Lanka against Muslims and Christians and emerging attacks and humiliation of Muslim girls for their dress by Buddhist nationalists, was spreading fear among minorities, Friday Forum, a citizens group said.
“The failure of the police to act swiftly and effectively in enforcing the law has encouraged individuals and groups of people to take the law into their own hands,” the Friday Forum said.
“The environment of impunity has provided opportunities for gang and mob violence and caused a growing sense of fear and personal insecurity.”
There were also reports of more organized activity which analysts say resemble German ‘brownshirts’ or Sturmabteilung style activity, starting up.
“Some monks have joined groups of persons who have sought to assume the role of law enforcement agencies, engaging in a dangerous trend of “policing” supposedly in the interest of the majority Sinhala Buddhist community,” the Friday Forum said.
Among the early acts of the German brown shirts was helping enforce a boycott against Jewish business (Judenboycott)
In addition to attacks against Mosques and Churches, nationalists were now targeting Muslim women, the citizens group said.
“Currently there are alarming reports of Muslim women and girls being publicly humiliated and even physically attacked on account of their attire,” the Friday Forum said.
Following an attack on a mosque in Dambulla last April, violence against Muslims have increased while violence against Christians were also rising.
“The Several Christian places of worship and private homes have also been targeted,” the group said.
“The burning of the Mother Mary statue in Avissawella early this year and the reported mob attacks on a Christian religious centre in Kahatagahapitiya a few days ago are two among many such incidents.
“It has also been reported that private residences in Nawala and Weeraketiya were attacked by mobs, interfering with the rights of the occupants to engage in religious activities.”
The Friday Forum called for an end to violence against unarmed minorities.
“Vigilantism and mob rule must also be unequivocally condemned, and those who attempt to engage in such activities must be dealt with under the law,” the group said.
“The Friday Forum urges all responsible citizens including religious leaders to actively oppose and counter acts of racial and religious hatred.
“We also call upon the government to act swiftly to prevent people taking the law into their own hands in the name of these destructive campaigns.”
The group said it appreciated the actions of some politicians who are objecting to the violence.
“It is encouraging that some politicians, at both provincial and national levels, have voiced objections to racist organizations in the strongest terms,” the group said.
“It has also been reported that two Ministers of the North Western Provincial Council have taken firm measures, together with the Police, to prevent these groups from carrying out campaigns of intimidation and harassment against minority communities.