Sri Lanka briefs Human Rights Council on action taken by Government following incidents of communal violence
Posted on June 20th, 2014

Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka Geneva

Sri Lanka today informed the Human Rights Council that prompt action had been taken by the government to bring back normalcy to Aluthgama and Beruwala, the areas affected by recent incidents of the communal violence.

This observation was made by Ms. Manisha Gunasekera, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva exercising a ‘Right of Reply’ in response to comments made by Germany,  Norway and Canada during the General Debate under Agenda Item 4.

The full statement made by Sri Lanka isgiven below.

 Right of Reply Sri Lanka

26th Session of the Human Rights Council

Agenda Item 4

 Mr. President,

 In response to references made by Germany, Norway and Canada, Sri Lanka wishes to place on record the sequence of events that led to the incidents of communal violence in Aluthgama and Beruwala in southern Sri Lanka on 15th and 16th June, and the action taken by the Government.

On 12th June, a Buddhist monk was assaulted by three Muslim youth, following a dispute. The three suspects were produced before the Magistrate and remanded, while the monk who made a statement to the Police, was admitted to hospital.

On 15th June, the Buddhist monk was proceeding to the temple accompanied by some other monks and lay persons, when stones were thrown at the group as they were passing the Mosque in Dharga Town. This incident led to the violence, which spread to Beruwala by 16th June. Police was compelled to use tear gas and impose curfew to bring the situation under control.

Three people (two Muslim and one Tamil) lost their lives due to the violence. Twenty six people belonging to both communities were hospitalized, 13 Sinhalese (including 6 Police Constables), and 13 Muslim. Altogether, 69 houses, 83 shops and 11 vehicles were damaged, belonging to people of both communities. The persons who have been displaced are being accommodated in temples, mosques and schools.

The Inspector General of Police has ordered parallel investigations by the Criminal Investigations Department and the Colombo Crimes Division. By 16th June, the situation in both areas was brought under control by the law enforcement authorities. Forty three people have been arrested, comprising 28 Sinhalese, of which 17 (12 Sinhalese and 5 Muslim) are in protective custody. Twenty three persons have been released on bail.

On 16th June, the Hon. Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs, chaired a meeting at the Kalutara District Secretariat, consisting of the clergy, local politicians of all communities, Provincial Councillors and Ministry officials, and discussed ways and means of bringing the affected areas back to normalcy, and helping the people to be resettled.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, immediately on return from Bolivia on 18th June, travelled to the affected areas. In Beruwala, the President chaired a meeting of around 50 religious leaders of Buddhist and Muslim faiths. Buddhist monks as well as the Board of Trustees and leaders of Mosques participated in the meeting and condemned the violence which was trigged by the assault of a Buddhist monk. Muslim and Buddhist leaders agreed to undertake and support programmes to promote inter-religious harmony. Extreme elements on both sides are being addressed by the Government.

President Rajapaksa has assured all communities that an impartial inquiry will be held to bring to justice those responsible for the violence, irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity. The President has also assured that all damaged properties will be repaired, and has also directed the launch of a special programme supported by the District Secretary and all Government, Semi-Government and Local Authorities to bring the area to normalcy. The Sri Lanka Army is currently in the process of estimating damages to property. The Ministry of Rehabilitation is conducting its own estimates in a parallel process with the District Secretary. Funds for repairs will be channelled through the Ministry of Rehabilitation. The Ministries of Social Welfare and Disaster Management are in the process of providing food and resettling the displaced persons. All those indulging in hate speech will be taken in for questioning.

Mr. President,

All Sri Lankan people enjoy freedom of religion, which is a constitutionally guaranteed right. The four major religions have harmoniously co-existed in the Island for centuries. The Government does not condone any acts of violence against any religious or ethnic community. In all instances where credible information relating to incidents has been available, the Government has taken appropriate action. Sri Lanka therefore wishes to assure this Council that the Government remains deeply committed to protecting the lives of all its citizens, places of worship and property.

Mr. President,

In response to Norway urging Sri Lanka to cooperate with the OHCHR investigation mechanism, we reiterate that Sri Lanka has already placed on record its position with regard to this investigation in its Item 2 statement. Sri Lanka remains firm in its conviction that the Council’s efforts should be constructive and not coercive, and truly contribute to a State’s own efforts in promoting and protecting human rights in accordance with the method of work of the Council.

Thank you.



One Response to “Sri Lanka briefs Human Rights Council on action taken by Government following incidents of communal violence”

  1. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    I wrote a comment in the Times of India in an article titled “Sri Lankan Muslims cut back Friday prayers after unrest”. It is under “world news”:

    “Excuse me for I am only a Buddhist”. Maybe that is what Buddhists need to say to the world. Of all the major religions of the world excluding Sikhism and Judaism, Buddhism has been on the defensive for a thousand years. India was her birthplace and Buddhism gave to the world her first Universities. With the onset of Islam the famous Buddhist University of Nalanda was not simply destroyed, it was obliterated by Mohammed Kilji. That act ended the illustrious age of Buddhism in India that reigned from 500 BC with the teachings of Buddha, rose to prominence under Emperor Ashoka in 300 BC and was snuffed out in 1197 by the Muslim invader and vandal Mohammed Kilji. a period of 1600 years of Indian Buddhism came to an abrupt end.

    In the 20th century Buddhism again was attacked by Communism (or an extreme version of Secularism). China the largest Buddhist nations succumbed to Maoist Communism. Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet fell to the same fate. In the early the mid 20th century Buddhism was on the retreat attacked by Islam, Christianity, Communism, and Secularism from alien cultures. Sri Lanka is the oldest unbroken Buddhist nation in the world with a civilization who has the pride to state it has also an unbroken written history. Only China shares that and even then it was under Buddhism. Then Sri Lanka had to face the specter of Hindu Tamil separatism for 30 years since she got her independence. Again Buddhism was attacked and valiantly defended to defeat the Tamil Separatists and once more unite the nation.

    Now it faces the insidious expansion of Islam on the one hand and evangelical Christianity on the other. “Buddhist” Sri Lanka has faced such attacks upon her faith before to a world that thought it morally right to do so. Now the world simply ignores the expansions of these alien faiths in Buddhist land calling it “a harmonious existence of diversity”. It is not. It is the very act of tearing apart the nation, culture and religion. Muslims know this quite well and have set up barricades in their Sharia law to avoid alien faiths from entering their nations, but use the laws of the host nation of a non Muslim nation to expand and negate the dominant faith. Sri Lankan maids have been raped by Muslims in the Middle East. Their lives ruined forever. When a Sinhalese boy faces the same in Sri Lanka the inevitable backlash is received by the world as the acts of “radical Buddhists” and not that of the mindset of a nation wounded by the brutal acts of Arabs and the expansion of Islam in Sri Lanka. So maybe a Buddhist should first say “please excuse me for I am Buddhist. Any infringement on my culture is okay for I dare not take action for you see I am simply a Buddhist, You Muslims can do what you want where you want when you want and the world will condone it. Excuse me for I am only a Buddhist”

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