16 August, 2022


Social Media Stoked Ethnic Violence: Will Myanmar Massacre Repeat In Sri Lanka?

By Indraka Ubeysekara

Indraka Ubeysekara

Ethnic violence perpetuated by social media is a relatively newer phenomenon which has taken a rapid currency across the globe in recent time. With varied ulterior motives and narrow political interests, groups who are said to be patriots and saviors of religions disperse hate and rage through social media platforms. Social media networks being one and only source of information for most, those disruptive massages get wider circulation forming a strong hub of followers who further peddle flames of hate, revenge and violence.

The recent organized attacks at several Muslim properties, particularly the Chilaw incident, reportedly were created, nurtured and diffused in the social media networks. The Chilaw incident seemed to have triggered over a Facebook comment ‘don’t laugh 1 day u will cry’ posted by a Muslim businessman who was subsequently beaten and his property was burnt by mobs gathered in the town. We shocked and disturbed to learn that some videos even showed a man was being slashed to death in Minuwangoda.

The pattern of ethnic violence took place in several parts of Sri Lanka show some signs of early stage of social media inflicted ethnic massacre in Myanmar (Burma). Rohingya Muslims represent a minority ethnic group in the Buddhist majority nation. After a Rohingya extremist militant group (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) attacked police and army base killing 12 security members, the entire Rohingya population lived in western Rakhine state for generations faced discrimination, their homes and villages were burned killing thousands of men, women and children while others have been denied citizenship. During this period reportedly over 430,000 Rohingya population had to flee the country for just mere survival who have now refuged mostly in Bagladesh,

During the period of ethnic violence, social media platforms were exploited by hard core majority Buddhist in several ways. Outpouring of misinformation and created narratives about minority Rohinya community as foreign invaders from Bangladesh were widely circulated with the backing of the Government media and the chief of military. The posts defamed Rohingya as dogs and rapists who should be shot dead to save the country. The claims in the social media also spread the stories of Muslims have children ten times than Buddhists and their intention is to turn the majority Buddhist nation into a Muslim state. The content of such posts fueled already heating arguments among radical Buddhists who eventually organized through social media to attack Rohinya minority and destroy their houses leaving them with a choice of fleeing or dying. The propaganda campaign against minority Rohinya groups also largely labelled Rohinya community as terrorists whose presence is a threat to for the rest and to the national security.

Thus, what we witnessed in recent ethnically driven attacks targeted ethnic minority Muslims have clear roots in hate speech, defamatory information, flawed narratives outpoured in social media networks. Being latent to some extent, those waves of anti-Muslim propaganda took unprecedented momentum after Easter terrorists attacks for the fact that the terrorist involved in suicide bombing bore Muslim names. The narrow political opportunists and radical Buddhist backscratchers took the advantage by spreading the venom of hatred and Islamophobia inflating the narrative of average Muslim population are also backing this ruthless killing of innocent lives. Self-obsessed non-Muslim businessmen also took the full advantage of the devastation by campaigning a mass boycotting of purchasing from Muslim-owned outfits as a mean of blocking funding sources of ISIS terrorist group. Those posts filled with fake contents with massively edited photographs sparked the flames of hate against average Muslims living in the country which manifested in brutal attacks at Muslim property and people with the patronage of both Buddhist extremist establishments and political leadership in Negambo, Chillaw, Kuliyapitiya, Munuwangoda etc., we all hope the list will not continue.

Containing and taking stringent actions against social media stoked hate speech is a responsibility of all. Whilst the incumbent Government should take rigorous measures to prevent this uncivilized organised project beyond temporary blocking of social media in incident-basis, it should also bring rigid but specified laws to punish these hate speech hawkers under the supremacy of rule and order of the country. We also should act and react proactively at least in three fronts. First, self-awareness of the gravity of the issue and its long-lasting repercussions to the country and not to contribute this social media decease at any cost. Second, track such ethnic hatred brokers at your friends and family circles and to engage in a constructive dialogue to prevent them doing it at individual basis. Third, educate younger generation known to you on how to distinguish fact from fiction and how to be critical of various narratives appear in the social media. This can include to take them through social media best practices, its strengths and dangers in disguise. Such discussion should also be aimed at raising your voice against the sparks of ethnic hatred born and grown within home and office.

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Latest comments

  • 7

    Dear I. Ubesekara.. It is not people to people conflict, but inept politicians directly and indirectly involve in this well planned impeding genocidal attack .. Do not take me wrong, The government has been silent on Muslim attack since 2011, why is it, it wants to see a genocide in Sri Lanka. is it an exaggeration. to say this.. consider this definition of Genocide .
    ( In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethical, racial, or religious group as such..
    a) killing members of the Group,
    b).Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group,
    c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part.
    d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
    e) forcibly transferring children of the groups to another groups..
    consider all this, I think Sri Lankan government is responsible to some of this in Tamil struggle and now with Muslim community..
    All this Easter Sunday attack is an inside dirty work to harm Muslim community?
    since 2011, many attacks took place in mosques, Muslim shops and houses, and yet, government did take actions at all. yet, when some radicals or fanatics do some dirty things government is quick to arrest hundreds of innocent youths? where is justice.?

    • 0

      patriotic lankana; the reaction is the forte of the weak.We have had such riots since 1958, always associated with a dip in the economy.This time it was different.

      The problem was between the Buddhists and the Muslims. Why did they attack the churches and the hotels?

      The story about the ISIS I do not believe, We are a small insignificant nation, going about with a begging bowl.Something else inspired the people who caused the damage. . One reason may be the upcoming election. If that was so they were fools.Today it is difficult to find, at the grass root , any person facinated with any of the parties. Suspicion of the person behind is shifting from one party to another according to popular expresssion.They curse every political party and their leaders.

  • 3

    I do not know what you are talking. FACE book helped the Myanmar dIsinformation campaign. Both Sri lankan and Myanmar violence was supported by the Saudi Arabian govt. It is public news. Saudi Arabian govt is said to be supporting Muslim – Terrorism on behalf of NATO/USA. IT is public news that NATO wants a Military base in Srilanka. ISrael and USA established ISIS/ISIL. Because USA is cash strapped. Sri lankan politicians supported Islamic Terrorism. That is why they can not find more than 26 Parliamentarians to support the Non confidence motion against Rishad Bathiuddin or the gang of Muslim politicians. All three political parties had been paid very handsome amounts.

  • 4

    Okay, Okay,, Blame the Social Media, And make the Sinhala Buddhist the Culprits .-
    Anyway ,The latter is the ultimate goal of The UNP Cabinet lead by Dr Ranil…

    BTW I saw UNP Minister Ranjan Rmanayaka on Social Media , telling us that SBs set fire to their own Buddha Statute some where,
    And Mangala Samare is also there telling us loud and clear that Sinhala Buddhists do not even have a Country..

    It is Funny, Those Sinhala Buddhists are a silly Lot … Aren’t They?…

  • 3

    One million Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar, not 493,000. Please get your facts right before writing.

    • 0


      1 million or less than that number Rohingya Muslims fled Buddhist Myanmar;

      Sad case.

      Isn’t it failure; their inability to co-exist with Buddhists, probably the best people in the world.

      Their inability to co-exist with Buddhists has made the Buddhists extremists.

      Those can’t put up together with Buddhists aren’t extremists.

      How funny?

      Anybody, whether Buddhists or not has a limit for tolerance & might be expressed in social media.

      Nobody blames for Rohingyan’s failure to adjust.

      When tit for tat occurs fight starts.

      Come to Sr Lanka

      Muslims have been co-existing with Sinhala & Tamils for about 1000 years in friendly manner & their recent change in lifestyle created problems.

      Muslims aren’t required to flee, like what happened in Myanmar but they’re required to adjust.

      Non Muslims want average Muslims to demand for one law for everybody.

      • 1

        Real Revolutionist – Flee? Where?? Will you join me too when the Chinese or Americans are chasing both of us???

  • 9

    While social media is an avenue of fake news, it is also an avenue of truth.

    It is sometimes the ONLY avenue of truth since the government LICENSED media has only been providing fake news and almost no real news.

    So you want the government, which is the sanctioner and protector of fake news channels through licensing, to introduce laws to control social media more rigorously?

    Talk sense man!

  • 2

    Rohingya Moslems were launching terrorist attacks against peaceful Burmese people. The whole thing was used by the international Jihadists to destabilize Myanmar and take the country down with a substantial alien Moslem population, growing in numbers by the day, eventually planning to take over the country. The Burmese people rose up against this menace and are fighting back. We should all wish them the best of luck.

    Lankans must rise against the Moslem terror and fight them immediately. This is a battle to be fought on many fronts. Align with international sympathizers, who can help Lanka against Jihadists. Totally ban the Moslem commerce by not buying or selling to them. Keep them under surveillance at all times. Elect a President who will use the latest technology and keep track of all Moslems, at all times, using face recognition technology, DNA tracking and monitoring. Those Moslems who are obviously radical should be incarcerated for ever, in maximum security jails. Any Moslem who is suspect of collusion and of holding sympathies for treasonous Jihadi terror should be monitored with ankle bracelet to monitor 24 hours a day, every day. Use the maximum force to crush any Jihadi uprising including carpet bombing the Jihadi areas in the Eastern province. These are some of the measures to be taken against the barbaric forces of Jihad if Lankan innocents’ lives are to be saved.

    • 4

      Since you are ignorant, and trying hard to justify the massacre of thousands of helpless civilians in Myanmar, by a racist and brutal military, perhaps a little information might seep into your brain:

      “As non-citizens, Rohingya people lack basic rights within Myanmar and are considered stateless. Though Myanmar recognizes 135 distinct ethnic groups, the Rohingya are not one of them. Myanmar refuses to recognize the term as one that refers to the region’s Muslim minority.
      When Myanmar became a military state in 1962, the Rohingya became victims of state-sponsored persecution. During “Operation King Dragon,” Burmese military forces targeted the Rohingya people, and were accused of human rights abuses including rape, destruction of houses and villages, and mass arrests. Rohingya people began fleeing to nearby Bangladesh in huge numbers. Another targeted campaign, “Operation Clean and Beautiful Nation,” pushed another 200,000 people out of the country.

      Today, the Rohingya are considered illegal immigrants by Myanmar, and are not recognized under the law. Rohingya people cannot access social services or education, and their movement outside of Rakhine State is closely restricted. Myanmar has also imposed strict regulations on birth control and marriage, only allowing Rohingya in some townships in Rakhine State to have two children and restricting the marriages of some Rohingya”. National Georgraphic

      Your claim that these unarmed, and most persecuted human beings on earth are a danger to a brutal military armed with Israeli made weapons, is a joke.
      Militants are the results of oppression, discrimination, and people with no basic rights, just like the Palestinians.

      • 0

        The Burmese are a people who truly value their culture and their faith. Rohingya terrorists came from Bangladesh, and to Bangladesh they should return, to roil in the hell holes of Dhaka or wherever they are housed. They are an alien pestilence with total disrespect for the Buddhist/Hindu culture of Myanmar. West’s darling Aun San Su Kyi turned volte-face when she took over the reins of Myanmar because she saw the dark clouds gathering over the horizon in Myanmar, and the legend now has it that on a visit to the Pagoda of Schewedagon she vowed to redouble efforts to preserve her culture and faith.

        The rest of what Tara is talking about it just mumbo jumbo, rehashed nonsense, and ignores the fundamental facts about Myanmar. These are proud people, a totally different class of people at the upper echelons, who value their indigenous faith which is a mix of Buddhism, Hindu and others of animist pagan heritage above their lives. In Lanka maybe one in ten Buddhists or Hindus would be like that wile in Myanmar 90% of Buddhists would be true to their faith. They totally detest the sight of ungrateful, barbaric Rohingya, who bred like vermin in Myanmar after coming from Bangladesh, and now want to usurp the land from them. And they will fight to the end to preserve their faith and culture.

  • 2

    Well said mate. we are already legging behind 100 years comapred to other advanced economies and the figure will rise to 150 after these violent attacks.

  • 8

    Sri Lanken muslims are not rohingiyas. If they are pushed into a civil war, it would be regional. including all buddhist working in middle-east and any other country. This should be avoided at all cost. What we see here is a situation created by corrupt politicos representing china who have been bribed to create a friction between buddhist and muslims for their short term benefit.
    china has taken over the ports, send cheap goods without any significant taxes, brings slaves to work in their projects. which we as sri lankens have to pay for the white-elephants. eg: cricket stadium in south of SL-in the jungle.Builds a port city with chineese laws.(what are the buddhist complaing about muslim law).
    How much exports from Sl to china last 5 years?
    How much imports from china to SL?
    The chineese millitary has gone in disguise as indonasian police at the present moment to save the current corrupt president. it can happen in sl also. even in zambia chineese have got a police force.
    Tibate/myamar conflict and juntas all controled by china. do we need this type of colonialism.
    We have our issues, but its time to get together and chase china meddling in SL . if not we will suffer for dacades. and all our resouces and country will be taken by the communist pig.
    Recently Sri Lanka has discovered 400billion estimated barrels of crude, in manna basin. which has got the interest of the world powers. some fighting to keep the oil under-ground like US and Britain. China wants the oil for itself, without depending on middle east.

    We are living in interesting times. and Communal harmony between buddhist and muslims is the key to defeat the common enemy.

    • 1

      jehan there is no oil in the Mannar basin, at least there is not sufficient to justify the cost of exploration. The politicians are creaming off a percentage of the exploration costs. This scam has been going on since 1975, Mrs B’s time.

  • 2

    Social media is like a surgical knife/scalpel. If used by a surgeon then it may serve its purpose. If given to rabid monkeys ??????

  • 0

    Social Media Stoked Ethnic Violence: “Social Media Stoked Ethnic Violence: Will Myanmar Massacre Repeat In Sri Lanka?”. This headline gives the impression to the people Sri Lanka will follow. Those Burmese until recently were cannibals. So you are saying Sri Lankans too were cannibals until recently which take off the notion Sri Lankan is a civilized nation for the last 2500 years.

  • 1

    In Myanmar British created Issue. They brought Rohigyas from Now Bangladesh for their works. Local people do not have any responsibilities on welfare of them. They could have changed their attitude towards the other religions specially Buddhism & could have assimilated with Locals. They wanted upper hand. They wanted locals to stop worshiping Buddhism in Rakin Area. Destroyed Buddhists Monuments. Attacked Local Buddhists. British could or should have taken them to either Bangladesh or Britain when they left Myanmar. But Tamils who took by British to Myanmar Assimilated with Locals & having peaceful life worshiping their religion Hinduism. That means something terribly wrong with Islamism I suppose. If you go through Their Basic religious book called Koran you can see it. As such nothing wrong with Rakin Myanmaries actions against Rohingyas. British should take them back. You can not mixed up with local’s religion with politics. Our local situation too is somewhat similar. Muslims came here as refugees after collapsed of Delhi Sultanate rule in India. They were Base born lot of Dalit( Harijana) south Indians women or prostitutes plus Afghan Soldiers. Our Kotte Kingdom temporally given Shelter as refugees conductors Gujarati & south Pakistani Marine traders who Promised to take them to East Indies.With the arrival of Portuguese situation changed. Our government should ban Islamism & its basic literature like Koran here. Otherwise These terror may continue for Ever.

  • 4

    Dumb Ranjith sprw

    Before the arrival of the colonial masters, there was no India, Sri lanka, Pakistan or Myanmar but only fragmented kingdoms, and no written borders.

    Sri Lanka also had different kingdoms, the north was ruled by the tamil kings, the south had so many kingdoms with different sinhala kings, the central province had a d kingdoms with Malaber Nayaker kings and so on.

    and it was the same with present day India, pakistan Myanmar, Malaya etc as well

    Thanks to the British especially now everyone has a country due to them being a majority, otherwise India will be still a fragmented place with so many kingdoms, so is Sri Lanka the same way when these europeans arrived.

    when the Britishers demarcated the borders for their administrative purposes, people who were living in the middle lands got scattered and were left in no man’s land.

    Thanks to the British, the majority’s have a country and unfortunately for the minorities they don’t have a country.

    So in your case Ranjith, instead of the Buddha, from now onwards you should revere the British flag and Monarch, because without them, you wouldn’t have a place called Sri lanka today. so hang the British flag in your house and revere it morning and evening.

    • 0

      Idiot. This is Sinhalay. Like Europeans South Indian Invaded us You people are descendants of south Indian Occupiers or refugees . Muslims are descendants of refugees came here when Delhi sultanate rule collapsed in South Part of India, Like in India here we did not have different ethnicity. Only Sinhalese Religion was Buddhism. The Others are descendants of Occupied forces & refugees, Some descendants of slaves too are here. Javanese, Malays, Jaffna Tamils & Indian Tamils. We do not have to worship Europeans. We had a Country under one Flag. South Indian invasions time to time changed it. Capitals of the Kingdoms changed due to security reasons. Talk with Historical knowledge Idiot.

  • 0

    Indraka Ubeysekara, please note that in SL, the term ‘ethnicity’ is based on language/religion.
    Used in the way Sociologists do, SL is almost exclusively mono-ethnic and bilingual.
    The Burmese Junta needed land for themselves. The Junta were Burmans and Rohingyas of Rakine state are a different race. The violence unleashed on the Muslim Rohingyas has ended as genocide. Violence is spreading over to Buddhist people of Rakine State.
    Burman Muslims are safe.
    The charlatan Buddhist monk Wirathu of Myanmar founded the 969 Movement and has incited violence against Rohingyas bringing disrepute to Myanmar in general and Burmese Buddhism in particular.
    The Burmese Buddhist hierarchy has disowned Wirathu.
    To cut a long story short Indraka: The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) led by Gnanasara Thero is openly anti-Muslim, taken part in pogroms against Lankan Muslims. BBS has strong political connections.
    The actions of BBS fits those of ‘Terrorists. Is BBS one?
    Your question {“Social Media Stoked Ethnic Violence: Will Myanmar Massacre Repeat In Sri Lanka?”}
    The answer is “Yes”.

  • 1

    These idiots and lunatics would keep eating each or other saying Buddhists, Muslims, Hindu, Christians etc, and it would go on to their multiple next generations. Man, in this ages average lifespan of a human being is 60 to 70 years, and it’s very short, why don’t we within this period live good life rather than live with vengeance and hatred for it’s the cause of the destruction of all the good things in the world, and make human a beast as well.

  • 3

    There won’t be a Rohingya in Srilanka , It will be a Syria or a Yugoslavia . There is no border for the Muslims to escape like Rohingya ,it will be a Do or Die for the Muslims like Syria or if the Tamils also start it will be like Yugoslavia.
    The best option is wipe out all the extremists from all communities . It is high time for Sarath Fonseka to take over with the help of our phenomenal Army commander Mahesh Senanayake who showed his skills recently. If you don’t exercise something like this and rely on our Milking politicians that will be the end of Srilanka.

  • 0

    Dumb Ranjith

    So what was the flag of the one country???

    If you don’t answer this properly you can assume you are so dumb and stupid never to comment here again

  • 0

    The looser in all this violence and hatred is Buddhism ☸.
    We are going further and further away from the teaching of Lord Buddha, in the name of Buddhism ☸.
    How ironic!
    Buddha’s teaching revolves around ignorance, its effects and how one could escape it and its effect, samsara.
    Samsara is the continuous cycle of suffering due to ignorance.
    Instead of using Buddhism ☸ to escape from Samsara we are sinking deeper and deeper in it, like a man stuck in quick sand.
    The more we try to escape the more we sink deeper. What a pity.
    These bastards are doing such a dis-service to such a wonderful philosophy.

  • 0

    Banning/Tightening control over social media is not the solution!!
    We had violence against minority’s in Srilanka !! Since 1953 when it was known as Ceylon !! Those days we did not have social web sites !! Phones !! Mobiles !! Televisions !! Radios in every homes !! But still we had violence against minority’s !! As long as the politicians,political leaders,successive governments,its authorities,protect the wrong doers it will continue !!
    Violence can only be stopped by ending state policy of impunity .

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