Citizens International strongly condemns the riots and violence against Muslims by extremist Sri Lankan mobs in the last few days. They have carried out arson attacks on mosques, homes and shops belonging to Muslims.
The Center for Human Rights Sri Lanka condemned the “unfathomable police inefficiency” that led to the violence.
It has been reported that the riots were instigated by the extremist Sinhalese Buddhist organisations Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) – Buddhist Power Force – using the social media. BBS advocates Sinhalese-Buddhist supremacy and has organized campaigns against minority Muslim and Christian communities which it considers a threat to Sri Lanka Sinhalese-Buddhist identity.
It preaches hatred against the minorities and whips up xenophobia and racism among the Sinhalese-Buddhist majority. In 2014, it instigated riots against Muslims which led to the displacement of thousands of innocent civilians. Shops and mosques were stoned and Muslims travelling on buses pulled down and assaulted by mobs.
The government promised to investigate anti-Muslim crimes but nothing has happened. The extremists are still free to continue with their nefarious activities.
Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and Hindus have been living in peace for centuries and aggressive Islamophobia is a recent phenomenon, coming after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Western political elite has identified Islam and Muslims as their next enemy to unite their people and to justify increased budgets for the arms and security industries. From the West, this disease has now spread to the East.
In Myanmar, the extremist Buddhist organisation 969 has instigated riots and violence against Muslims. It is led by a Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu who preaches hatred against Muslims and advocates boycott of Muslim shops. He enjoys the support of the Myanmar Army elite.
In India Hindu nationalist organisations like the RSS, VHP and scores of others are free to demonise Muslims, Christians and other minorities and organize violence against them. They enjoy the support of the political party in power, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The disease of Islamophobia must be tackled seriously by the international community. Ignoring it will lead to violence, terrorism and instability in many parts of the world at the cost of wasted resources and arrested socio-economic development.
We call on the Sri Lankan government to:
- Investigate and punish those responsible for the riots and violence.
- Compensate those who suffered losses.
- Restore the mosques and buildings damaged or destroyed by the mobs
- Ban the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and introduce laws criminalizing hate speech
- Educate the Sri Lankan police force on human rights protection
The United Nations Human Rights Council should send a rapporteur to Sri Lanka to investigate and report on the human rights situation of minorities there.
S.M Mohamed Idris