Over the past week, tensions between hard-line Buddhists and Muslims in Sri Lanka have boiled over into violent attacks on the Muslim community in Aluthgama and Beruwela. According to reports, Muslim shops and mosques have been set on fire and three Muslims have been killed. Christians in Sri Lanka, who also experience similar persecution, have spoken out against the violence on Muslims, calling for the government to protect all its citizens, including both Muslims and Christians.
6/18/2014 Sri Lanka (Asian Tribune) – The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) strongly condemns the blatant attack on members of the Muslim minority, in Aluthgama and Beruwela on the 15th of June 2014 that reportedly left Muslim-owned shops in the area torched, mosques damaged, 80 people injured with at least 7 people admitted to the hospital with gunshot wounds and 3 dead.
It is with concern that the NCEASL notes that authorities in the area, permitted the Bodu Bala Sena to hold a rally in Aluthgama on Sunday, despite the tense situation that prevailed in the area during the week.
In recent months Muslims and Christians alike have been subjected to hate speech and numerous attacks and violence against their places and practices of worship.
Social polarization along religious lines is something Sri Lanka can ill-afford, particularly at this juncture of our history where as a country we are yet to resolve the ethnic conflict that manifested itself in a thirty year long war. The NCEASL also raises concerns over the status of media freedom in Sri Lanka in light of the miniscule coverage given to Sunday’s incident by the country’s mainstream media.
The NCEASL is concerned that the government’s request for time and space to address human rights issues, following 3 consecutive UN Human Rights Council resolutions would ring hollow, internationally, in the face of growing intimidation and violence against ethnic and religious minorities. Such brazen incidents of religious intolerance would only further intensify international scrutiny and prompt fresh criticism of Sri Lanka’s human rights record.
The NCEASL calls upon the government to ensure that law and order is preserved and the lives of all citizens, places of worship and property are protected in keeping with the Constitution and to desist from practicing or promoting either directly or tacitly, any act or procedure which discriminates against one community or favors another. We also urge the authorities to investigate these attacks and bring those responsible to justice.