The anti-Muslim violence that erupted in Southern Sri Lanka has accentuated the need to expose links among the hard-line Buddhist organization Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), the Sri Lankan security forces and the Rajapaksas, yesterday’s editorial of the New York Times has asserted.
The editorial, titled ‘Sri Lanka’s Agony’ has taken a very moderate stand on the recent violence that erupted against the Muslims in the island nation.
Referring to President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tour of the areas affected by the violence, following his return from participating in the G77 Summit in Bolivia, the writer has expressed concerns over the promises made by the Government before the UNHRC on bringing the perpetrators who instigated the violence, to justice.
“President Mahinda Rajapaksa toured the afflicted area, while his government promised the United Nations Human Rights Council that it would conduct an investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice. Whether it will do so is an open question in view of its refusal to allow an investigation into allegations of human rights abuses during the recent civil war as called for in a resolution by the council on March 27,” the piece sates.
Furthermore, it has highlighted President Rajapaksa’s failure to repudiate BBS by name, despite his statements directing the Police to take actions against any individuals/ groups inciting ethnic or religious hatred.
“Most Sri Lankans, including the overwhelming Buddhist majority, want nothing to do with the Bodu Bala Sena. Sri Lanka needs healing.”
Furthermore, the editorial has called on President Rajapaksa to move immediately to allow the OHCHR-led probe on Sri Lanka and to implement recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.
“Only these tangible steps will allow Sri Lanka to move forward toward reconciliation and justice for all Sri Lankans,” it has further stated.
We publish below the Editorial in full;
Sri Lanka’s Agony
Hate-mongering Buddhist extremists in Sri Lanka have set off the country’s worst wave of anti-Muslim violence in years. A bloody rampage on June 15 in and near the southern city of Aluthgama left four Muslims dead, at least 78 people injured, and Muslim homes and businesses destroyed. The attacks followed an anti-Muslim rally organized by the Bodu Bala Sena, which roughly translates as Buddhist Power Force, an ultranationalist group linked to the governing Rajapaksa family. Tensions remain high.
This latest round of attacks against one of Sri Lanka’s minority communities underscores the urgent need to shed a bright light on the relationship between the hard-line Bodu Bala Sena, Sri Lankan security forces and the Rajapaksas.
Following global condemnation of his government’s inability to rein in the Bodu Bala Sena and prevent the June 15 attacks, President Mahinda Rajapaksa toured the afflicted area, while his government promised the United Nations Human Rights Council that it would conduct an investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice. Whether it will do so is an open question in view of its refusal to allow an investigation into allegations of human rights abuses during the recent civil war as called for in a resolution by the council on March 27.
The president has good reason to be concerned — and to act. Among other things, the violence threatens Sri Lanka’s recovering tourism industry and business development directly tied to members of his family. The violence elicited rare criticism in Sri Lanka’s press of the government’s failure to protect the Muslim minority. And Sri Lanka’s justice minister, one of the country’s most senior Muslim officials, Rauf Hakeem, publicly lamented the government’s failure to prevent the attacks.
Most Sri Lankans, including the overwhelming Buddhist majority, want nothing to do with the Bodu Balu Sena. Sri Lanka needs healing. Mr. Rajapaksa’s statements on Monday directing the police to act against any individual or group fomenting ethnic or religious hatred are welcome. But the president did not repudiate the Bodu Bala Sena by name. He should move immediately to allow the independent investigation called for by the United Nations; accept the technical assistance offered by the council to address human rights concerns; and put in place the recommendations of Sri Lanka’s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission for dealing with the aftermath of the civil war.
Only these tangible steps will allow Sri Lanka to move forward toward reconciliation and justice for all Sri Lankans.