By Latheef Farook –
On seeing the pictures and videos in YouTube of the horrendous crimes committed by the Sinhala Zionist Bodu Bala Sena, on 15 Sunday and 16 Monday June 2014, I decided to visit the affected areas to see the destruction and speak to people there.
On Thursday 19 June, I visited these areas together with retired SP Abdulrahman Abedeen. There we met Naim Master, a popular retired principal and a well known activist, who took us around .On the way we saw the scale of the destruction which I never thought could happen especially after the 30 year ethnic war following the July 1983 anti Tamil pogrom.
The areas visited include Aluthgama,Beruwala, Dharga Town, Adhikarigoda, Meeraatchikanda, Welipitiya and Seenawatta. I spoke to victims from all walks of life from all affected areas.
People spoke openly and freely about all what they had experienced and seen. They were victims and eye witnesses to the shameless looting, carnage and wanton destruction of their properties under the cover of curfew with the full backing of the Special Task Force- STF-and the police.
With no other alternative Muslims helplessly watched their properties in flames not knowing whom to turn to or what to do. Here is all what they said and all what I had seen.
This carnage did not take place at the spur of the moment as the Bodu Bala Sena and its collaborators try to project to mislead the people. Instead it was a very well planned and meticulously executed conspiracy with the cooperation of the police, STF and several other government establishments to destroy Muslim economy and make them paupers.
Curfew, STF, police and the government’s protection to BBS facilitated the smooth implementation of the carnage on the harmless, unarmed and powerless Muslims of the area.
For more than three months Muslims in the area had been hearing rumors of an impending attack on them .They even had heard that this would happen when President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Defense SecretaryGotabaya Rajapaksa were out of the country.
To begin with on 27 April 2014 around 3.30 in the morning Ahmed Khan’s shop was gutted down at Aluthgama. Ahmed Khan began his business career in the pavement and by sheer hard work built the building where his business was located. Some Sinhalese traders were jealous of his success. So they decided to destroy his business. Muslims believe that the conspiracy to destroy his shop and building was hatched at the nearby Buddhist Temple.
Since then anti Muslim sentiments had been boiling up in and around Aluthgama.
It was in this atmosphere that, on the Poson Poya Day, an incident involving a Sinhalese van driver and a Muslim man took place in the bend of a very narrow road at Adikarigoda near Kanduruwatta Temple behind Dharga Town Hospital.
There was heated argument between the two. The monk in the van who managed to settle the dispute went to the nearby temple. The rumor that this monk was assaulted, a fabricated lie by BBS to suit its evil design, spread like wildfire inciting the innocent Sinhalese in and around the area.
Later the monk was forced to lodge a complaint in the police stating that he was assaulted by the Muslim man. Muslims believe that the monk refused but was forced to do so.
In a related development the monk was taken to Aluthgama Hospital to admit him to build up a case. Dr Damayanthi Weerasinghe at Aluthgama Hospital who examined the monk found nothing wrong with him and refused to admit him. From there he was taken to Dhargha Town government hospital where he was examined by Dr Isma Mahfal who too refused to admit him as he had no problem.
The monk was later taken to Nagoda government hospital where he was admitted believed to be under political pressure. According to unconfirmed report two leading JHU members were seen in the hospital with the mink for long.
The growing tension was common knowledge. Muslims in the area were restless and frightened as they were aware of the government’s refusal to stop BBS vandalism. BBS gangsters wanted to organize a public meeting to protest against the so called attack on the monk and whip up anti Muslim hysteria.
Any sensible person should know the danger involved in allowing a public meeting and that too a BBS meting to be addressed by its general secretary Gnanasara Thera who is not a man of peace but the personification of all evil- a demon garbed in saffron robes.
Realizing the seriousness of the situation and the danger involved to Muslim families and their properties, politician Azath Sally wrote to the Inspector General of Police requesting him not to allow the BBS meeting as Gnanasara Thera could ignite communal violence and set ablaze the area.
Yet the meeting and the procession were allowed with no concern at all for the security of Muslims. As expected Gnanasara Thero incited the people to attack Muslims. Gnanasara Thera’s full speech is there in the YouTube for everyone to see. He ended the speech by saying Muslim businesses “aba saranai”.
As he ended his speech there began an attack on an electrical shop in Dharga Town looting around four million rupees worth of goods before burning the building. There were police officers and the owner of the shop pleaded with them to stop the attack.
Their response was “we have no order to do so” and thus turned the blind eye to this vandalism.
The Sinhalese who were incited went on a procession. In the process they and went berserk, as shown in the video, and few of them started pelting stone towards the crowd in the mosque premises while mosque officials tried to calm down Muslims- as shown in the picture. Photos and videos clearly show that the pelting of stones was started by the mob in the procession.
With the carnage spreading people, especially those lived in the midst of Sinhalese, began to flee for safer places such as mosques, schools and relatives’ houses in the Muslim majority areas.
In the midst police curfew was enforced at 6.45 PM on Sunday 15 June 2014.
Muslims were trapped in the places where they were. Those who lived close to their homes tried to go, but were baton charged by the STF for breaking the curfew. However they were shocked to see the Sinhalese freely walking on the roads and also driving vehicles.
While Muslims were confined to their houses during curfew hours systematically organized looting, plundering, burning of commercial and residential properties and all such crimes continued under the watchful eyes of the STF and the police. In some cases the STF too participated in the attacks and looting.
In places like military Road there was a mob of more than 2000 with weapons, chemicals and all other such things needed for the destruction of this scale.
The gangsters brought Lorries, pickups and other vehicles during curfew hours, chased out people from their houses and loaded all the household items into vehicles before setting fire to the buildings. This happened while the STF watched.
It didn’t take long for Muslims to realize that the curfew was to facilitate the carnage and not to protect them. They were all confined to their homes for more than 36 hours until Tuesday 8 am. There was shortage of food.
The question is if the country’s defense is impartial how this violence could and carnage take place, which ordinary citizens cannot understand in any stretch of imagination.
The gangsters were not from the area but outsiders. They were brought in during curfew hours by buses and vans. In one incident they saw that of a bus load of thugs half of them were boys of around 20 years old and the remaining were women in white clothes. Boys wore helmet and face cover to hide their identity while women wore bags in their hips. They took small stones like thing from their bags tied to their hips and began throwing at these houses before they were set on fire by their male thugs.
Muslims later found out they were all well trained and organized professionals. They threw chemicals first before setting fire to buildings.
In a 150 year old house, more than 3.5 million rupees worth of antique furniture was looted before setting fire to the house. The gangsters loaded this furniture in vehicles during curfew hours while STF watched. In all other houses they searched and plundered valuables such as jewelry, cash and even clothes and food before burning the building.
An elderly lady, a retired teacher in her early eighties, was busy reciting the Holy Quran when the BBS murderous thugs came. She was shocked, frightened and didn’t know what to do when the thugs began hitting at the door demanding her to open it.
In fear she ran to the kitchen and managed to open the rear door to hide herself in the nearby paddy field behind her house. However her mobile phone was with her. She remained in the field in darkness until her daughter contacted her from Colombo late in the night.
She said there is a nearby Sinhalese van owner who used to park his van in her premises. In fact when her daughter comes from Colombo, she used to park her new car outside and allow the Sinhalese man to park his vehicle inside. On the day of the carnage he did not come to park the van and she had not seen him since then. She feels terribly hurt that people who lived like one family could be part of this hooliganism.
On Sunday night around 9.30 a mob of more than 400 backed by STF began moving towards Sheikh Madhar Mosque at Welipitiya. Muslims gathered in close vicinity to save the mosque.
The two sides confronted each other about 100 yards from the mosque leading to fierce fight when the STF shot dead two Muslims. The Muslims asked why the STF didn’t shoot the mob instead of shooting those who are defending themselves.
One of them killed has three daughters of the age group of around eight, four and two months.
A Muslim owned apparel factory which employed 400 Sinhalese girls was destroyed at Mirisuwatta, at 11:15am on Monday the 16 of June 2014. The management said;
“On the morning of the same day the monk of the Mirisuwatte Viharaya of Itthapana, the Ven. Halpitigala Amithasiri came to our factory Greatways apparel, premises with a group of 20 persons and asked us to close the factory and send the workers home. He said there will be an impending attack on the Factory. Then at about 11:15 am a violent mob of about 60 people approached the factory .This attack was backed by this very same priest of the Mirisuwatte viharaya Ven Halpitigala Amithasiri. They first started stoning the premises, broke the perimeter wall and came in to the premises. Then they went on a violent spree of breaking windows and damaging the property including two motor vehicles.They then set fire to the property. The estimated loss is around Rs. 50 million.
This factory was established in 1997 and employs 400 personnel of which 99% are Sinhalese. We used to produce around 40,000 pieces of garments a month. Now all our orders amounting to US$2 million for the rest of the year are on a standstill and the factory remains closed. .Our foreign buyers have lost confidence as we were unable to complete deliveries andd future orders are at stake. Repair and restoration of the factory will take time due to very high cost involved.
We provided around seven million rupees worth of business to the traders in the area. All of them are affected now.
The girls who lost their jobs wanted to protest near the temple. The monk, who came to know this, deployed the police before the demonstration. Thus the workers could not hold their peaceful protest.
The police which prevented the demonstration started taking statements from the workers to know who instigated this protest. The workers boldly told all what had happened and the role of the priest Ven. Halpitigala Amithasiri.
These attackers were from the area and the workers know the culprits. However the police refused to record any statement on the role of Ven. Halpitigala Amithasiri.
This is the ridiculous state of affairs.
In a related development they said that all injured Muslims admitted to Nagoda government Hospital were not provided any medical treatment. One compassionate nurse tried to help them was told by the director of the hospital not to enter the ward where these injured Muslims were admitted.
Muslim patients heard a monk saying that“we will not treat Muslims. We will make them rot and die for attacking a monk”.
A 16 year old Muslim teenager, Mohamed Askar, who was admitted to Nagoda government Hospital with leg injury, was not given any treatment for four long days. Finally when he was taken to Kalubowila Hospital his condition deteriorated and his leg was amputated.
Asker’s brother and uncle travelled in Deputy Minister Feizar Musthapa’s vehicle to Colombo to see Asker in the hospital. On the way the car was stopped and some gangsters asked” Umbala Thambiayathe” and began attacking them. The two were severely damaged and robbed of Rs 30,000. This happened while deputy minister’s security simply watched.
In view of the growing violence and the curfew Dharga Town Muslim Balika College closed its hostel and the inmates were held up nearly dying at the hands of the BBS thugs. There was no way for them to get back to their homes.
It was the compassionate United National Party parliamentarian Palitha Thevaraperuma who took them in his vehicle which came under attack by BBS thugs on Monday 16 night. His vehicle was smashed. The MP lamented that he and his group were attacked while the police and the STF were idly watched during curfew hours.
Earlier the MP went on the same night to inquire about the helpless people at Dharga town, when he saw a group of terrorists carrying rods, poles, clubs and swords surrounding Muslim women and some children and getting ready to kill them. The MP had immediately alighted from the vehicle and saved the women and children. The MP was attacked after he took the distraught Muslim women into his vehicle.
‘Among the would be victims of the BBS, who I saved and took into my Dolphin Van were an old woman, a pregnant woman and another woman with children of about the age 6, 7 and 13 years. When I was coming in the van with these forlorn women and children, BBS terrorists attacked them with rods, clubs, stones, missiles and sand filled bottles. A stone hit right on the head of an infant who was being carried on the arms. The mother too was hit by a sand bottle. The mother was admitted to Nagoda hospital, but the child was taken to Colombo although I think the child’s life is at stake because of the attack,’ the MP revealed.
‘What is most intriguing and rudely shocking is that these terrorists were freely mingling with the police. An STF vehicle was also parked on the side. After imposing the curfew, the police and the STF are together safeguarding the BBS terrorists who were attacking and committing murders. I managed to escape in my Van after colliding with the police jeep. My new van is a total wreck now. Glass pieces too have gone into my eyes,’ Palitha Thevaraperuma bemoaned.
Few miles away from Aluthgma was a very high quality goat breeding farm with about 1000 animals. This was the first of its kind in the country established with government support. Four Buddhist monks from the area visited the farm stating that they wanted to see the farm. The management allowed them. To their shock some people later came, accompanied by Buddhist monks, separated the animals and put them into one shed before destroying the building after stealing all the animals.
Some animals were cut and chopped in the most cruel and savage manner by the very same people who shout from rooftop on showing compassion to animals. People in general said these gangsters are not normal human beings but savages with a human faces.
They brought misery to Muslims and shame to the mainstream Sinhala Buddhist community.
Such was the lawlessness and beastly acts of behavior perpetrated on the Muslim community. With this lawlessness, while the government defence forces remain indifferent to the violence and rancor committed by BBS thugs, how could one seriously speaks of promoting peace and harmony among all communities?
This is today’s Sri Lanka.
Muslims have lost faith in the police, STF, fire brigade, medical authorities, monks and the government as a whole. They are sick of their politicians and the so called ulemas who over stepped their limits and collaborate with Sinhala powers to betray the community for personal benefits.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa who told the 19 June 2014 cabinet meeting that the attack on the Muslims was “pre planned” described the carnage as MINOR INCIDENTS. Slamming the hartal which the Muslims organized to express their solidarity with the Muslim victims President Mahinda Rajapaksa said ‘Maha Loku’ Hartals Are Organized for Minor Incidents”.
However the Muslims there said that before President Rajapaksa makes this statement covering up the BBS carnage on Muslims, he should have visited the affected areas and seen to himself the barbarity instead of visiting the Kalutara Kachcheri.
Now the question is who planned, organized, attacked and burnt Aluthgama Beruwala and Dharga Town? Where are these thugs? Certainly they are here in the island and what prevents the government from arresting and punishing them?
How come the intelligence units have failed to gather information about them and stop this carnage? The government’s failure to prevent this carnage on innocent Muslims, its protection to Gnanasara Thera and his gangs, its OSTRICH type style policy of defending the perpetrators at a time when its human rights records are probed is certainly not a good omen.
The question is where do we go from here and where the country is heading towards?