TIC PRESS RELEASE – DATE: 16 June 2014
The Tamil Information Centre (TIC) condemns the continuing attacks on the Muslim community in Sri Lanka. Today’s attack against Muslims in the south-western coastal towns of Aluthgama and Beruwela, by a Buddhist mob is the worst anti-Muslim violence in decades, and fears are growing that the situation could become worse.
The latest reports indicate that at least 7 persons were killed and over 50 injured. Three mosques were attacked and set on fire and many more Muslim-owned houses and businesses were also burned. Reports also claim that many injured were not able to access medical care because of a curfew.
The violent chain of events began in Aluthgama on Thursday 12 June, when what appears to have been a confrontation between some Muslim youth and a Buddhist monk was reported as a violent attack on the monk. The monk complained to the police that he was injured and rumours then led to attacks on Muslim-owned businesses and clashes between Muslims and Sinhalese in the town.
Meanwhile, the radical Buddhist, Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), announced a rally for Sunday 15 June, to be held in Aluthgama. Despite entreaties from Muslim organisations and even some government ministers to ban the rally, the government appeared to have allowed it to go forward.
Violence appears to have erupted soon after the rally, with some rumours that the pro-BBS crowd was attacked with stones by local Muslim residents. Thereafter Muslim houses and shops and mosques were attacked and the violence continued throughout the night. Though police have managed to control the violence, the residence say that the police were late to arrive and considerable damage had already been caused to their properties and the hate campaign was at its height. There were further reports of incidents in various other parts of the country, including Dehiwala the suburbs of Colombo.
We are deeply disturbed by attacks against the Muslims in Sri Lanka. These attacks have caused immense human suffering. We share the pain of those families who have become victims of atrocious acts, and we deplore such actions. We view the targeting of Muslims within the context of growing intolerance against the religious minorities in Sri Lanka and the inaction of the government. The TIC urges the Sri Lankan government to unreservedly condemn the targeting of religious communities and take immediate and concrete steps to bring the perpetrators to justice and protect the Muslim community and other religious minorities in the country.
We also urge the government and security establishment not to hinder any efforts taken by civil society which is striving to create an environment of tolerance where all may freely live in accordance with their faith or belief.
Tamil Information Centre
Bridge End Close
Kingston Upon Thames KT2 6PZ
Telephone: +44 (0)20 8546 1560
Fax: +44 (0)20 8546 5701