President Maithripala Sirisena who has in the past ordered the Police to carry out impartial investigations on various crimes, in his capacity as the Head of State, has this time around passed the buck, evading responsibility and has instead blamed the police for allowing anti-Muslim attacks to escalate in the country. He had blamed the police during yesterday’s SLFP Central Committee meeting.
His comments comes as yet another Muslim owned shop in Kahawatte was torched by an unidentified group. Meanwhile, the Colombo Telegraph learns that during the meeting presided by Sirisena yesterday, the Muslim ministers who are SLFP members had remained mum and instead it was several junior members of the party who had expressed their growing concerns over the violence against their community. Several non-Muslim members had also supported the junior Muslim members and had said that steps must be taken to put an end to these attacks against the minority community.
Even though Sirisena appeared to be soft peddling the issue and has failed to take action against the hate crime culprits led by Bodu Bala Sena’s (BBS) General Secretary Galagoda Atte Gnanasara, Sirisena was quick to express his condolence to the people of Manchester following today’s attack, all while his very own people were being attacked by hardcore Buddhist groups with mosques and shops owned by Muslims coming under increasing attack since last month. Since the escalation of attacks against Muslims last week, neither has Sirisena or Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe issued any official statements condemning the attacks on the Muslims.
Over the weekend, Sirisena also shot down a request by Muslim MPs who wanted to meet him to discuss the growing attacks against their community. Amidst rising tensions, Sirisena left for Australia today. Meanwhile, the US Ambassador in Sri Lanka and the EU Office in Colombo have expressed concern and have called on the Government to take prompt action against the growing hate crimes in the country.
Although he came to power assuring an end to racism, Sirisena seems to have in the recent past forgotten his promise, and appears to be following in the footsteps of ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa. During Rajapaksa’s reign, Muslims came under serious attack in the hands of groups such as BBS, Ravana Balaya which resulted in Rajapaksa losing a sizable amount of the minority votes at the election, for failing to take action against the culprits. The attacks against Muslims escalated in 2014 when BBS led groups to Aluthgama, Beruwala and Dharga Town killing at least 4 people, injuring more than 80 and rendering hundreds homeless. The anti-Muslim riots resulted in many homes, mosques and shops being attacked and torched. Despite the severity of the attack, the mainstream media in the country censored news on the riots. (By Munza Mushtaq © Colombo Telegraph )