Sri Lanka’s minority Muslims continue to be subjected to violence and persecution, often at the hands of militant Buddhists, who are very active at the grassroots level. The Secretariat for Muslims (SFM) documented 21 incidents occurring from January to March, and 54 incidents in March alone.
The SFM has now documented all the incidents that occurred in April, that range from low-level harassment of Muslims, venomous media statements, direct threats to violence, attacks on mosques, death threats, business boycotts, and property seizure, in what appears to be part of a growing campaign to destroy Muslim communities or drive them into exile.
Intimidation aimed at other aspects of daily Islamic life is also now disturbingly commonplace in Sri Lanka. Men’s beards, traditional hijab/veils by women have been condemned by extremists seeking to fuel sectarian hatred.
Much of this persecution is carried out with apparent impunity. An example of this (and also the most notable incident) was the attack on the showroom cum warehouse complex in late March of the reputed, Muslim owned apparel firm “Fashion Bug” in the suburbs of Colombo, while police stood and watched. Also of note is the arrest of Azath Salley on May 2nd. Salley has been an outspoken critic of the BBS. His arrest was based on ‘several complaints’ but no clear charges, and clearly flouts international conventions on minority rights and religious freedoms. According to Amnesty International, his campaigning to end oppressive practices against minorities in Sri Lanka, in particular Muslims and Tamils, has brought on the ire of the Sri Lankan government.
This document also includes incidents such as mosques in Colombo being threatened to close. Meanwhile, in Galle, Sinhalese landlords have forced their Muslim shop owner tenants to vacate their shops by the end of the year. April also saw the launch in Batticaloa of a public campaign calling for a protest against Muslims. Similar campaigns have since been held in other parts of the country.
Click here to read the full document covering the incidents of April 2013.