18 August, 2022

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Post Easter Sunday Attacks: Discrimination, Marginalization & Harassment On Minorities In Batticaloa

Fact-finding mission to Batticaloa

We, the undersigned, undertook a visit to Batticaloa in the Eastern Province on 5 and 6 December to ascertain the current plight of the different communities affected by the Easter Sunday attacks.

The devastating impact of the Easter Sunday attacks on both Christians who belong to independent, non-denominational Churches as well as the Muslim community in Batticaloa is undeniable. We were conscious that meeting with the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks and inquiring about their experience of recovering from it might re-traumatize them, particularly given countless groups and individuals have already met and spoken with them about it. Hence, we spoke with persons in the Christian community who work with the victims. During these discussions we learnt of the continued challenges faced by the Christian community in exercising their right to practice their faith freely and without fear. This is due to both extra-legal state interference, as well as social discrimination by the Hindu community and the Catholic church. Christian pastors highlighted the phenomenon of Hindu groups that propagate Hindutva-like ideologies and have affiliations to the Shiv Sena in India, targeting the Christian community.

Other forms of discrimination, marginalization and harassment of the Christian community include denial of permission to establish places of worship, preventing them from using the public cemetery, denying their children admission to national schools, interruption of prayer meetings, including through the use of violence, and perpetration of violence against pastors. We were informed that complaints to the police often have no impact as the police do not take any action. The security agencies reportedly visit churches and request information about congregants, supposedly to ensure that those who are not part of the congregation are not allowed to enter the churches. The pastors however stated this only served to intimidate them and was contrary to the open and inclusive policy they practiced of welcoming persons of all faiths.

We also met with the wives and mothers of persons detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in relation to the Easter Sunday attacks. The arrested men are generally from poor families, and hence the women who have young children face severe socio-economic hardships, which has had a damaging impact on every aspect of their lives. Several arrests made in relation to the Easter Sunday attacks affirm the historical pattern of arbitrary arrests and detention. For instance, many persons were arrested prior to investigation, detained on detention orders for months and thereafter discharged as there was no evidence against them. By the time they were released they had lost their livelihoods and suffered reputational damage and psychological trauma.

Many arrests are alarming as they appear to have been made not for acts deemed offences in law, but for assumed opinions held. Persons who seemingly did not commit or aid or abet an offence have also been arrested. For instance, boys and young men who were either forced or were misinformed about the destination and purpose of an event organized by Zahran and attended for only one or sometimes two days were arrested. As a result, many were unable to sit for examinations and to date languish in detention. There are also concerns about persons being detained on detention orders for more than the stipulated period of 18 months. Families of detained persons mentioned of not being told of the place of detention, of arrest receipts being issued days after the arrest and not being informed when a person was transferred to a different place of detention. To date, the arrests continue.

The families of those detained for the Easter Sunday attacks have been shunned by other members of the Muslim community, which has exacerbated their struggle for survival. Visits by the security agencies to the families of detained persons, and being summoned to the police station for inquiries further isolates the families from the community, which views them with suspicion. At the same time, persons who assist families of detained persons are being subject to surveillance and even being interrogated by the security agencies, which prevents others from offering assistance to these families. This aggravates the severe psychological stress experienced by families struggling to cope with the multiple impacts of imprisonment of a family member, often the only livelihood earner. The families have no legal awareness, nor means of retaining legal representation and hence are vulnerable to empty promises and extortion.

Inter and intra-community tensions in the Eastern Province were not dealt with after the end of the thirty-year armed conflict but festered and were brought to the fore again by the Easter Sunday attacks, which seems to have worsened existing fissures. There are new groups emerging which have found new targets for discrimination and marginalization, thereby creating new centres of conflict and insecurity for vulnerable populations.

As a community leader succinctly stated, “wherever there is a majority, the minorities in that place are being oppressed”. Although there are efforts at the community level to deal with these cleavages, government action and inaction hamper rather than support these community efforts. Addressing these issues requires viewing national security as security for all. It requires the state to envisage a form of security that does not depend on demonizing and targeting certain communities, which leads to discrimination and marginalization of already vulnerable populations, thereby undermining social cohesion and community harmony.

A detailed report of the findings of the visit will be published.

Radhika Coomaraswamy

Nimalka Fernando

Sakuntala Kadirgamar

Chulani Kodikara

Rehab Mamoor

Yamini Ravindran

Thyagi Ruwanpathirana

Kumudini Samuel

Shreen Saroor

Ambika Satkunanathan

Muqaddasa Wahid

 

10 December 2021

 

 

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Latest comments

  • 5
    14

    You reap what you sow. Do not blame others.

  • 5
    2

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

    For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 4
    2

    Wonder is these folks have read book: ISIS is US: The Shocking Truth behind the Army of Terror”? Wonder which foreign funder promoted them to forget about GEOPOLITICS and focus on women only? The East coast where the strategic and coverted Trincomalee Harbour is has long being in the cross hairs of big power-rivalry. During Eelam war, Israeli MOSSAD agents and the British KMS Keenie Meenie military contractors ran their operations to Divide and Rule and trained JRJ’s son’s STF there..
    All religions are being used, abused and WEAPONIZED at this time of Covid-19 bio-terrorism, and old Cold War project- by the biggest militarizer and rogue state on the plant. Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. Indeed, religions are being weaponized by the CIA as they did in the Cold War to destabilize multi-ethnic and multi-religious countries in Asia and Africa.
    The Easter attacks also hit Batticalo, the only other place outside Colombo. They were staged by the CIA’s ISIS which was set up after the invasion of Iraq and the disbanding of Sadaam Hussein’s army that then came back as CIA’s ISIS to do regime change in Syria.
    Hope these folks would also read the book the book”Cold War Monks: Buddhism and

    • 3
      1

      This Weaponization of Religion is an old Cold War strategy of the US Deepstate. Of course, now with US Citizens Basil and Goat Rajapaksa carrying out CIA contracts with theri local BBS networks and Saudi-Wahabi funded Muslim politicians like M.L.M Hizbulla of Kathankudi this is so easy!
      Hope these folks ask the question: Who benefits from and sells weapons during ethno-religious conflicts in Africa, Asia ant the Indian Ocean Region? Hope they would also read the book ‘Cold War Monks: America’s Secret Strategy in Southeast Asia” (Yale UP), to understand how religions are being weaponized to cause a “clash of Civilizations” and a “Cascade” of religious violence, by those who want to colonize Lanka and set up more military bases in the Indian Ocean region!At this time of new Cold War against the Rise of Asia and China, the new Evanegelical Churches funded from North America are used to weaponize religion/s, cause inter and intra-religious conflict and violence. ..

  • 2
    3

    SL has no future as one nation.

    Everyday this is proven again and again.

    Please split the island into 3 mono ethnic nations and relocate people.

    • 2
      1

      There you go again with your clamour for an Islamic state on the island, that had never existed. From ancient times, there has been only two nations and ethnicities living on the island. Chingkallam and Eezham Thamizh. What you call Muslim is not an ethnicity, it is a religious identity, that is masquerading as an ethnicity on this island, created to deliberately divide the island’s Thamizh. Sri Lankan Muslims are immigrant ethnic Indian Thamizh converts to Islam. A minority of them migrated to the island in the late 14Th century and settled along the then Thamizh northwest coast and most of them moved to the east to escape Portuguese killing and oppression. However, the vast majority of them arrived on the island from South India, during the early British colonial rule.

      • 2
        1

        Now for perceived political and economic benefits are claiming a separate ethnicity, from the rest of the Thamizh, using their religion and an imagined Arab and other ethnic origins, which is really not worth speaking of to claim a separate ethnicity. The British to divide and rule, deliberately encouraged this Arab origin myth for the Sri Lankan Thamizh Muslims, and this lie and myth continued in earnest and was further encouraged by all Chingkalla led governments after independence. Especially in the east. New DNA and genetic evidence have now smashed this Arab/Western Asian origin and myth, yet they keep on insisting on this lie and myth, to claim a different ethnicity from the Thamizh. You have a right to claim a different identity based on religion but not ethnicity. That is Thamiuzh. You also have the right to live in peace dignity and practice your traditional Indian form of Islam freely but not a nation, as you never had one and only arrived in the Thamizh east as refugees fleeing persecution and were given refuge as fellow Thamizh. If native Eezham Thamizh in the east had converted to Islam and claimed for an Islamic nation then the story is different however the Thamizh Muslims in the east, are descended from South Indian origin Indian Thamuizh refugees.

    • 0
      0

      Where is the request/demand from respective parties?

      Soma

  • 6
    1

    The fact is poor in the country, poor in the society, poor in the economic status are always victims. Easter Bombing is a creation of power hungry politicians to achieve their goals in politics. It is sad that the religions in this country is politicised and brutalised by a few fake religious leadership who are politically and financially powerful.

  • 1
    2

    The weaponization of Sinhala Buddhist Diaspora Rajapaksa Bros. networks in LA and Seattle by the Deepstate , just like the weaponization of the Tamil Diaspora is ongoing to divide and rule Lanka and set up military bases.
    Of course India’s RAW is also busy on the Hinduthva front and now unitning Buddhist and Hindu fundamentalists also with the Ravana/Ramayana project against non-Indic religious minorities (Christians and Muslims).

  • 1
    2

    Who said that the US and Liberal democracies keep Religion and Politics separate?!!

    Democracy Summits and Lectures from the US and its White Anglo-Saxon (AUKUS) and EU partners about Human Rights, Minorities and militarization is for Morons; the likes of US citizen Rajapassa Brothers, and these NGO ladies.. who all get funds for their field research jaunts and Fiction filled Fact Finding Missions from USAID and its partners in crime, militarization and environmental destruction!

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