The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) has called on the Australian government to urge Sri Lanka to protect its religious minorities from continuing violence. More than 78 people have reportedly been seriously injured and at least three have been confirmed dead following violence aimed at the Muslim population in the towns of Aluthgama and Beruwala.
On 15 June, a rally by the extremist Buddhist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) descended into chaos as the BBS and its followers moved through predominantly Muslim areas chanting anti-Muslim slogans, said an ATC press release. Mosques and Muslim-owned local businesses and homes were destroyed by the rampaging mobs.
The ATC statement says that, violence targeting ethnic and religious communities, with tacit support from senior government officials and police inaction, are becoming a regular occurrence, and the current escalation of violence appears to confirm this worrying trend.
Speaking recently on the issue during the current 26th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay stated that “the Government must urgently do everything it can to arrest this violence, curb the incitement and hate speech which is driving it, and protect all religious minorities.” Her office has previously raised alarm at the escalation of attacks upon Muslims, Hindus and Christians. UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and the Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Iyad Ameen Madani, have also expressed their concerns on the reported attacks against the Muslim community, and urged the Sri Lankan government to take steps to prevent such attacks in the future and to bring those responsible to justice.
The ATC release says that, the US Embassy in Colombo, in a statement, urged “the government to ensure that order is preserved and the lives of citizens, places of worship, and property are protected” and called on the Sri Lankan authorities to investigate these attacks. The Canadian government in an official statement has called on the Sri Lankan government to act quickly to ensure the safety of all communities, adding that “the attacks on Muslims in the country are completely unacceptable and a clear violation of the right to religious freedom.”
ATC calls on the Australian government to publicly condemn this wanton violence inflicted upon certain religious and ethnic communities in Sri Lanka, and to insist that the Sri Lankan government take immediate steps to ensure protection for all communities and bring to justice those responsible for the violence.