- Council fires letter to External Affairs Minister
- Alleges Govt. informed Council in Geneva that violence was instigated by Muslims
- Govt. statement in Geneva similar to versions propagated by ‘anti Muslim interests’
- Geneva statement missed golden opportunity to stand against hate speech, violence: Council
By Dharisha Bastians
A prominent Muslim civil society group has taken issue with official Government statements to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva about the communal violence in Aluthgama, charging that the version of the clashes relayed to the international rights body mirrors the ‘anti-Muslim propaganda’ by vested interests in Sri Lanka.
In a letter addressed to External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris last week, the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka said “blatant misinformation” had been disseminated by Sri Lanka’s Permanent Mission in Geneva with
regard to the clashes.
The Council accused the Government of informing the international community that the violence in Aluthgama on 15 June was instigated by the Muslim community.
“It appears that the statement made in Geneva is very similar to the anti-Muslim statements made for local consumption by certain vested interests,” the Council said in its letter.
The Council told the External Affairs Minister that the report that had been presented before the UN Human Rights Council by Deputy Permanent Representative Manisha Gunasekera had given ‘ridiculous’ casualty figures.
“She, like the IGP, is implying that the Muslims were the cause of the violence as they have cast the first stone when the procession was allowed to go through a Muslim village,” the letter to the Minister noted.
The Muslim Council said it was in possession of video evidence to the contrary, which could be presented to the Minister if he wished.
“We do not understand the reasons for accusing the Muslim community for the incident in an international forum,” the letter said.
The Council said what would have been expected was an assurance from the Government that such ugly incidents would be prevented and action taken to hold the offenders accountable for their misdeeds.
“It seems that the Geneva statement has missed out on a golden opportunity to state our position against violence and hate campaigns in Sri Lanka,” the letter to Minister Peiris asserted.
In her statement to the UNHRC on 20 June, Deputy Head of Mission Gunesekera informed the 47-member body a Buddhist monk had been assaulted by three Muslim youth on Poson Poya Day, three days before the violence in Aluthgama.
The Government statement asserted stones had been thrown at the Buddhist monk as he was proceeding to the temple, accompanied by other monks and lay persons, as they passed through a mosque in Dharga Town. “This incident led to the violence,” the Government statement said.
Muslim Ministers and representatives have criticised the statement in Geneva for failing to make mention of the Bodu Bala Sena rally permitted to be held in Aluthgama shortly before the violence erupted later that evening.
In its letter to Minister Peiris, the Muslim Council said that fabricated charges levelled against the Muslim youth who were part of the conflict with the monk’s driver had resulted “in the entire Muslim community coming under attack by Buddhist monks incited by the inflammatory hate speech of Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero”.
Aluthgama: UPFA Muslim parties to ‘rectify’ Govt. version in Geneva
Two Muslim parties within the ruling UPFA coalition are preparing rejoinders to the Government’s official statement to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, in the aftermath of the religious violence