By R. Sampanthan –
Mr. Deputy Chairman of Committees, before I conclude, you will permit me, Sir – that is also a matter concerning human rights – to refer to the incidents that occurred in Aluthgama, Beruwala and Dharga Town recently. Something happened on Thursday. The persons concerned were arrested and they were remanded. With that the matter ended. I have seen the video of a speech made by a Venerable Monk. It was a very vitriolic speech, a very violent speech; a speech urging the people to take to violence, insulting members of a particular community and saying that the police forces and the armed forces of this country are Sinhala. Consequent to that speech where the people were set up, there was a loud applause from the people. There was a procession and when the procession was taking place, shops were attacked, houses were attacked, mosques were attacked, people were attacked and a large number of people were injured; two people have died and immense damage has been caused to Muslim civilians.
Why were the law enforcement authorities quiet? Why were they silent? Why did they not act? After all, you stop processions of workers demanding trade union rights or demanding wages or demanding salaries. You stop university students’ strikes when they protested with regard to their grievances in the universities. Then, why was this procession not stopped? Was it a Government decision that that procession should not be stopped? Was it that the law enforcement authorities slackened in the performance of their duty; did not perform their duty and permitted these people to go on this outrage? I think, Sir, we must have answers to these questions. The Hon. Leader of the Opposition made a statement this afternoon. But, I think this matter cannot rest there. We are very concerned because this surely should not happen to any citizen in this country, irrespective of whether he is a Sinhalese, a Muslim, a Tamil, a Burgher, a Malay or whatever.
Is it that as far as law enforcement is concerned, there is one method of enforcement of the law against certain people in this country and a different method of enforcement of the law against other citizens in this country; that certain people are above the law; that certain people do not have to obey the law; that certain people can disregard the law with impunity in the belief that this Government will protect them? In my view, the law enforcement authorities would have acted if they had the confidence that this Government will be supportive of the action they take. If the law enforcement authorities did not take action as required by them under the law, I think it was for the reason that they feared that they might become culpable in the assessment of this Government in regard to their taking such action.
Sir, we need a very clear and definite position from the Government in regard to where this country is going as far as law enforcement is concerned and as far as the protection of the citizens of this country is concerned, irrespective of which ethnicity they belong to.
I thank you.
*The Tamil National Alliance’s leader, R. Sampanthan MP, made the statement above in Parliament on 17th June 2014 concerning violence against Muslims in Aluthgama, Beruwala and Dharga Town.