The Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has once again thrown in its lot with unruly mobs disrupting legal private events taking place in the country recognising the group that stormed into the Centre for Society and Religion on Monday as a NGO demanding that their grievances be heard too.
The Ministry of External Affairs reacted strongly against the presence of the diplomatic community at the meeting in Maradana, saying certain diplomatic corps were ‘involved in a manner lacking objectivity’. The diplomats were present at the meeting to listen to the experiences of the families of disappeared from the Northern Province, many of them families who had surrendered their children to the military when the war ended in May 2009.
Disregarding the widely available video and photographic evidence the Government in its statement regarding the incident blatantly distorts the facts claiming that an argument between the organisers and the invading ‘NGO’ had led to a tense situation on the premises.
The CSR is private property belonging to the Catholic Church and the invading mobs led by Buddhist monks trespassed the building and stormed the meeting, shouting obscenities and terrorising organisers and victim families in the premises.
“While recognizing the fundamental right to freedom of assembly and expression, the Ministry wishes to point out that that, once again, a certain section of the diplomatic corps appears to be involved in a manner lacking in objectivity, in events organized for a particular region and community. This has led to the emergence of a pattern of such potentially volatile situations giving rise to the perpetuation of mistrust amongst communities at a sensitive juncture in the country’s history,” the MEA said in its statement released on Tuesday.
Going further to play apologist to the violent mobs, the Government urged the diplomatic community to “be more conscious of local sensitivities” when attending what it called “events of an emotive nature”.
The Government’s attitude and defence of the unruly mob removes all doubt about the link between the regime and these mobs that act with impunity, activist lawyers said.
The CSR event was the latest civil society meeting to be disrupted by protesting mobs who are inevitably successful during each of their raids in getting the events and workshops cancelled. It remains unclear how these invading mobs are able to get information about these events even when the meetings are kept closely guarded secrets in order to prevent this manner of disruption.
Monday’s mob which called itself the Association of Families of Missing People from the South at the police station soon after the incident have now titled themselves the Dead and Missing Persons Parents Front, an unheard of organisation that has gained publicity and recognition from the Government of Sri Lanka in the days since their mob assault on the meeting in Maradana.