Growing concern over revival of hate speech against Sri Lankan Tamils and Muslims

monkCOLOMBO: There is growing concern in Sri Lanka over the revival of hate speech against the minority Tamils and Muslims. The Minister of National Coexistence, Mano Ganesan, leader of the National Unity Alliance (NUA) Asad Sally, and the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), have called for stern action because hate speech defeats the Sirisena government’s bid to bring about ethnic reconciliation after a 30 year conflict.

The Batticaloa Buddhist monk Ampitiya Sumanarathana  of the Mangalarama Temple last week publicly abused a Tamil Grama Sewaka calling him a “bloody Tiger and a dog” and threatened to “smash” him and “the rule of the Muslins and Tamils” if he did not stop filing cases against the Sinhalese. What was more galling was the total inaction of the police officer who witnessed the ranting of the monk.

On November 7, one Dan Priyasad with a gang calling themselves “Savior of Sinhalese” publicly threatened to kill all Muslims even using suicide bombers, at a demonstration in front of the Colombo railway station. When his ranting was put on Facebook, it got thousands of likes. Minister Ganesan wondered if this meant the existence of public support for hate speech culture.

“Tolerating such things as isolated incidents will be tantamount to giving an informal nod to continue with  hate campaigns.  We need to counter both terrorism and communalism, ” he said.

The Centre for Policy Alternatives said in a statement: “There appears to be an element of orchestration, of deeper political agendas, aimed at reversing the country’s current path towards peace, reconciliation, and reform.”

“Where members of the clergy have been involved, police and civil servants have succumbed to the culture of deference rather than restore order.”

“This poisonous atmosphere of ethnic and religious hatred is compounded by suspicion and rumors of collusion and political machinations, and most regrettably, by the appearance of indifference or at least a lack of capacity on the part of state institutions to enforce the rule of law without fear or favor.”

Asad Sally of the NUA met top police officials and secured the arrest of Dan Priyasad. According Sally, Priyasad has been remanded till November 26. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has asked for an appointment with President Maithripala Sirisena, TNA MP, Mavai Senathirajah said.

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