1 October, 2020

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Why Violent Attacks Continue Against Muslims In Sri Lanka?

By R Hariharan –

 Col. (retd) R.Hariharan

Col. (retd) R.Hariharan

“Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thero addressing the rally in Aluthgama yesterday, referred to Muslims in derogatory terms and accused sections of the Government of being in collaboration with the Muslim Community. “They keep calling us racist and religious extremists. Yes, we are racists,” he charged as the crowd cheered him on. “This country still has a Sinhala police a Sinhala army. If a single Sinhalese is touched, that will be the end of all them,” he screamed.” – From Dharisha Bastiyan’s report in the Sri Lankan online portal Daily FT on June 16, 2014

The above media quote provides the simple answer to question “Why violent attacks continue against Muslims in Sri Lanka? The words quoted above are from the speech of Bodu Bala Sena (BBS)’s founder leader Gunasara Thero at a rally organized in Aluthagama on June 15.

Sri Lanka has allowed Buddhist chauvinism to get into “direct action” against Muslim minority that is inciting the violent attacks against them. Evidently, as earlier instances have shown the government had been reluctant to take action to curb such provocative events for fear of antagonizing the Sinhala right wing which is an important segment of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s “vote bank.”

Gnanasara

Gnanasara

The BBS had organized the rally in Aluthagama after three Muslim youth had allegedly assaulted a Buddhist monk and his driver on June 12. However, Muslim media sources said the BBS had twisted a simple altercation between a Muslim youth and the driver of a vehicle carrying a Bhikku as an attack on the monk to rouse Sinhala passions. Police arrested three Muslims suspected to be involved in the incident and they have been remanded to custody till June 25.

According to the well known expatriate analyst DBS Jeyaraj’s detailed report the BBS rally was attended by 7000 people and included many brought from outside. Buddhist Followers of the Fascist organisation Ravana Balaya had also joined the rally.

At the end of the rally, 150-200 strong followers of BBS including young monks shouting anti-Muslim slogans headed towards the local mosque. It resulted in a skirmish when Muslim youth tried to head them off near the mosque. In the melee that followed Muslim houses and shops were stoned. Some Muslims are also reported to have pelted stones on vehicles in the BBS procession.

According to Jeyaraj, the police intervened to disperse the Muslim youth rather than prevent the BBS procession from going ahead.  He added “the assailants were mainly outsiders and not from the neighbourhood. Bells started pealing in Buddhist temples. When people gathered at the temples they were exhorted to join the “holy war” and teach the Muslims a lesson.”

Around 6.45 pm police imposed curfew in the area. However, later the incidents continued and when the violence spread to adjacent Beruwala area the curfew was extended there also. But apparently the action was belated as at least 20 Muslim owned businesses and several houses in the area were destroyed.

There were several incidents of arson and many buildings were set ablaze. According to Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) MP Mohammed Aslam at least 25 houses were gutted completely. A very large number of buildings have suffered extensive damage. Several vehicles owned by Muslims were damaged or burnt. The Fire Brigade was called in to quell the spreading fires.

At the end of it all, yesterday three people were dead and 80 injured; 50 houses and property ((including burning down of over 10 shops ) in the predominantly Muslim area of Dharga town were damaged. According to the Daily FT report “houses in the Kotapitiya, Meeri Penna and Adhikarigoda areas in Aluthgama were also set on fire, with Muslim residents fleeing their homes to take sanctuary in several mosques in Dharga town.”

This is not the first incident in which Muslims and their property have been attacked and destroyed. This had been going on ever since BBS was founded in 2012.

Even if we make allowance for some exaggeration in the reports on the Aluthagama violence one thing is clear: the BBS is responsible for it. It was the incendiary anti-Muslim rhetoric of the BBS leader Gunasara Thero that inflamed the mob that indulged in violent acts against Muslims.

Logically, action should be taken against the monk and the BBS for inciting violence. But if we go by past experience such a follow up action is unlikely. So we can expect the BBS to exploit any opportunity arising in the future also to carry out more such violent incidents.

One can discern a pattern followed by the administration in handling the growing Buddhist activism against Muslims.

a.      Usually, police do not take preventive action to curb such   gatherings that precipitate violence. In the Aluthagama incident also, the police permitted the BBS rally despite pleas from Muslim organizations and ministers not to do so. After the incident involving Muslim youth and the Buddhist cleric and his driver was reported, they feared BBS rally would incite violence against the community.

b.   According to Jeyaraj there were over 900 policemen at the location. Apparently they were either unwilling or unable to prevent the attacks by hoodlums. This is also the usual response of the police. They generally do not act when violent incidents start; nor do they respond strongly to prevent the situation getting out of hand.

c.       The Muslim ministers and community leaders usually approach the administration for help when they apprehend such violence or when violent acts are being perpetrated. But generally the administration is lukewarm in its response.

d.      After such incidents, the President usually issues a statement appealing to all communities not to take law into their own hands. After the Aluthagama incident also the same pattern had been followed. President Rajapaksa, who is on a visit to Bolivia, issued a statement last night saying “the government will not allow anyone to take law into their hands.” (But the moot point is already some people had taken the law into their own hands.) According to the President’s media unit, the President urged the parties concerned to act with restraint. He ordered an investigation to bring to book those responsible for the incidents in Aluthagama.

In the follow up action, Prime Minister DM Jayaratna and senior cabinet ministers including Basil Rajapaksa, AHM Fowzie and Dallas Allaperumaha  met with police officials and religious groups in Kalutara to assess the security situation. The curfew has been extended in Aluthagama and Dehiwala areas.

Justice Minister and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauf Hakeem visited Dargha town area today. Having failed to protect his people, Hakeem said he was ashamed to continue as a minister and was considering whether to be part of the government or not.

And in Chennai, the Tamil Nadu Tawheed Jamaat has decided to organize a protest outside the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner’s office.

What next is the question? Is it going to be action replay? What happened to the religious police raised to look into these incidents?

One can only hope President Rajapaksa takes strong action curb such incidents. The country’s long term stake in maintaining communal harmony and cannot afford any action to jeopardise it. Otherwise, the future of Muslims in Sri Lanka does not look encouraging. And it could affect Sri Lanka in many ways.

*Col R Hariharan, a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, served with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka as Head of Intelligence. He is associated with the Chennai Centre for China Studies and the South Asia Analysis Group. E-Mail: colhari@yahoo.com   Blog: http://col.hariharan.info  Version of this article appeared in South Asia Analysis Group Note No 720 

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Latest comments

  • 4
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    R Hariharan –

    “They keep calling us racist and religious extremists. Yes, we are racists,” he charged as the crowd cheered him on. “This country still has a Sinhala police a Sinhala army. If a single Sinhalese is touched, that will be the end of all them,” he screamed.” – From Dharisha Bastiyan’s report in the Sri Lankan online portal Daily FT on June 16, 2014″

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/sri_lanka/2014/06/140616_aluthgama_video_villagers.shtml

    The rioters were from Outside both Sinhalese and Muslim people in the area say.

    Furthermore, the STF were there and the police purely delayed.

    The evidence points to a pre-planned attache in collaboration with the STF, the Police, the rioters, the BBS and Secretary of Defense.

    The data fits this description.

    Though T 56 weapons were given to the 134 police officers sent to the turbulent venue , by the Colombo police field headquarters , live bullets had been supplied only to six officers while others were supplied with rubber bullets .

    34 STF soldiers had been dispatched on the orders of the criminal defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse but they had been given strict instructions not to fire at the protestors under any circumstance. If arson is being committed, these soldiers had been instructed to go to that venue along with a police officer of that region . Gota had issued this instruction to the IGP via an instantaneous message.

    It is sad to note Gota gave these precautionary instructions in connection with the present violent protests launched by the BBS demonic monks to protect the latter , but in regard to the people’s peaceful protests demanding drinking water at Rathupaswala recently , Gota did not issue such instructions to save the protestors.

    • 0
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      Gota [Edited out]

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      What next?
      1. The BBS leaders should be a arrested and their trial fast tracked and the BBS organization banned.
      2. The corrupt and shameless Muslim ministers who support the Rajapaksa regime should stop lying and RESIGN. The clown Abdul Rishad Bathiudeen, has said that he trusts the regime as if the BBS is not Gotabaya’s pet poodle! Rauf Hakim so -called Minister of Justice must resign.
      3. Gotabaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa who provide immunity to BBS must be forced to resign. Vasudeva the so-called Minister of National Disintegration must resign.
      4. A Bill on the Prevention of Hate Speech and Crimes fast tracked through Parliament.
      5. Visuals of BUDDHIST VIOLENCE must be shown in all the newspapers and the myth that the Buddhists are VICTIMS of violence by minorites MUS BE EXPOSED. In the name of “responsible journalism” the media are hiding the truth and keeping Sinhala Modayas ignorant and stupid and promoting the MYTH that Sinhala Buddhists are victims rather than perpetrators of violence.

    • 1
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      Anti Muslim Narendra Modi’s victory in India has emboldened the anti-Muslim BBS in Sri Lanka.. The US rhetoric of war on terror and Muslim terrorists has also emboldened the Buddhist Taliban in Sri Lanka.

      • 1
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        “Anti Muslim Narendra Modi’s “

        We have not seen that anti or aunty for over 10 years and which was coined 3 days into his chief ministership. it is the propaganda of the jewish/islamic axis of evil world press . ¬!Goo`ta the sihala buddhist terrorist fascist is a member of the league Jewish /Islamic A of evil- membership via his american nationality.

        Wash your own cesspit NaMo may bomb you once again and hari is just a paid old stupid laggard giving distorted pictures of past events as if he is commentating at a cricket match which he cant and that is where the money is.

  • 3
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    Col R Hariharan, What important is how the international community going to put pressure on the regime to stop the violence. Shops been looted at the presence of STF and Police force during the curfew.
    Doesn’t it look fishy? These violence were expected but the regime or the so called defense Sec didn’t act. Isnt it something similar to 83 balck July? It looks like the armed forces actually assisting the BBS rowdies to on rampage.

    After all BBS is working according to Gota’s and Maras wish. Its time for the outside power to disgrace the Family owned regime and topple them. Sri Lanka doesn’t deserve this mad regime.

    I have dozends of video clip evident. Mara cant deny them. Why the mahanayakas are mum? Thanksfully many Sinhalese in the areas are against this but they are weak to protect or stop what had happen.

  • 2
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    Mr. Hariharan,

    ” Evidently, as earlier instances have shown the government had been reluctant to take action to curb such provocative events for fear of antagonizing the Sinhala right wing which is an important segment of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s “vote bank.” “

    You have not understood the picture correctly. This whole BBS, Ravana, Hela Urumaya chauvinism, hundreds and hundreds or preplanned and premeditated and calculated churches and mosques attacks and arson are the crimes committed under the direct orders and supervision of GOTA and MARA. All these crimes are committed under the collusion and protection of police, army and curfew and state resources. Among the many objective they have are: creating a culture of lawlessness, impunity, chaos, anarchy, confusion in the country to facilitate their anarchical and lawless governance, to prevent Muslims from voting for a Sinhalese Presidential candidate, expecting to gain more Sinhala racist votes at the coming Presidential Election, trying to show to the world there are uncontrollable Sinhalese racial fascist elements in the country whom the regime cannot ignore and who will have their own way thereby regime committing political and otherwise crimes and crediting same to BBS etc.

  • 1
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    Lord Nesabit must make a statement in the House of Lords on behalf of the President of Sri Lanka on the anti-Muslim violence that is being subcontracted to the BBS & Co. by the Rajapakse regime.

    Former Maldivian Prime Minister Mohamed Abdul Gayums agency must be working overnight to execute a deal between Lord Nesabit and Rajapakse & Co., and must be working on another deal for the £ notes speaking Lord to defend the despotic regime.

    Raul Hakkim and Badiudin too must take the responsibility for their spineless leaderships to make the innocent Muslims easy fodder for the BBS.

    • 0
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      What about the Bolivian jokers who conferred honour on the joker MARA?

  • 0
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    GB could ‘White Van’ him to save his Brother if he wants to!

  • 0
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    “Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thero”

    Is this rogue really a Thero?

    • 2
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      No he is a Galgoda Assey Gandhassara Sathek!

    • 1
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      He is a kassipu drinking street thug in the saints saffron gown.

      He looks really like a moron not a bit even of godliness in his face.

      When he opens his it is not Dharma, it is phobia to kill fellow human.

      Will Mahinda & Co undertake a operation Mullivaykal against such inhuman b******s to redeem Sri Lanka from its mess.

    • 0
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      Give credit to G O T A for his fitting choice of Gnanasara goat, as he is
      playing his part well. Even with video evidence he will not be arrested.
      Gota is panic-striken with the UN Inquiry initiated in Geneva.

  • 0
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    Look here Hari. Stop posing rhetorical questions and go and ask your prime minister! He knows all about the strategy of majoritarianism which brought him to power and now stands poised to shred the Indian Union. Out here we are not stupid. We know whats happening and how things are going to unfold. After all we are a nation of magicians, soothsayers and storytellers. We can see the future! Not like you blind Indians.

  • 0
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    nothing much to be surprised about this after this is the way of life of the majority inhabitants as claimed by K A Sumansekera (LEELA) and ably supported by that gallant gentleman Ella Kolla who was trained by the greatest pervert of all Fathima Fukushima (Lorenso of Lankaweb)under the watchful guidance of Jim Softly

  • 1
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    col.hari,
    you must be wondering about the space given to you by SL media to publish your analysis which is actually repetition of what you gather from SL media. i do not think any indian media would entertain our analysis of turbulant situation in kashmir or continuous attack on muslims in various parts of india.
    the learned col. can at least give us some advice how to control the majoritarian atrocities in SL based on his indian experience.
    -sundaram

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    [Edited out]

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    The 1957 riots were triggered by the story that a Sinhala lady teacher’s breasts were cut off by Tamils in the Eastern province- an incident that never happened. The 1977 riots were triggered as a sequel to the anti-SLFP crusade after the UNP election victory. It was a two in one operation to teach the SLFP a lesson and then the Tamils a la lesson on what would be in store for them, if they continue to agitate and resist. The excuse for the 1983 riots was that 13 Sinhala soldiers were killed in Jaffna. JRJ made sure to create the trigger for a pre-planned orgy of violence through the funeral arrangements in Borella. In 2014, the trigger was an alleged assault on a monk, to create an orgy of mindless violence against the Muslims. The thug Gnanasara was ready with his demagoguery and vile language to set in motion violence through his imported goons. This was also pre-planned and the trigger was manufactured. Who was the master mind in this instance?

    Food for thought!

    Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

    • 1
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      Dr RN,

      (I am not saying these are facts. This is what I found on the internet.)

      For my comment (https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/barbarism-of-sinhala-buddhist-extremist-forces-against-muslims/comment-page-1/#comment-1347031 )

      What happened before this “13 army personnel killed by LTTE in thirunelveli” ??

      “A Tamil girl was gang raped by a Sri Lankan military unit in Jaffna on 20 July 1983.” https://newmatilda.com/2013/07/23/30-years-sri-lanka-race-attacks

      Native Vedda responded ( https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/barbarism-of-sinhala-buddhist-extremist-forces-against-muslims/comment-page-1/#comment-1347296

      Anpu My Elders tell me that it was in May 1983 that the initial riots started in Trincomalee where Tamil shops and houses were set on fire. Please factcheck the above

      • 1
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        Anpu

        Here is an article which appeared in dbsjeyaraj.com

        Horror of a pogrom: Remembering “Black July” 1983
        24 July 2010, 2:54 pm

        by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

        Excerpts:

        It is also noteworthy that violence against Tamils had preceded July 83 in Vavuniya, Trincomalee and the University at Peradeniya. July 83 in that sense was a grand finale or culmination of an on –going process.

        http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/1545

        According one of my Sinhala friends “The riots against Tamils never stopped after 1977”. He mentioned visiting various riot sites in 1981. I am sorry I am unable to recall these places.

      • 1
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        Anpu

        Here is more information on riots in Vavunia and Trincomalee:

        Tamil Times

        June 1983

        Pages 5 to 11.

        Its worth reading the entire issue.

        http://noolaham.net/project/32/3117/3117.pdf

        To access complete set of Tamil Times please click the link below:

        http://www.noolaham.org/wiki/index.php?title=%E0%AE%AA%E0%AE%95%E0%AF%81%E0%AE%AA%E0%AF%8D%E0%AE%AA%E0%AF%81:Tamil_Times

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          Thanks a lot Native Vedda.

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        Anpu,

        I was highlighting specific and well known instances of various mass riots and the triggering factors that were invented, manoeuvred or highlighted. As much as in the present instance, there were multiple events that built up to the big explosions. Incidentally, the 1958 ( not 1957 as appears in my above comment) was preceded by multiple events that followed SWRD’s election campaign and electoral victory in 1956. Such events are built up to a crescendo in escalating steps. I was in the midst of the 1958 riots in Kurunegala and was old enough to understand what was happening and the build up to it. I experienced the full force of the 1977 riots as a lecturer at Peradeniya and was witness to its build up too. The 1983 riots and the events leading up to it are better known, although the much publicised trigger was supposed to have been the killing of the 13 soldiers in Jaffna!

        Dr,RN

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    Hello , hariharan, you must advise Mr Modi to how to care about indian muslims, not here, don’t fish in trouble water, you shut up

  • 0
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    SL badly needs a Modi of its own.

    Modi 2002.

    • 0
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      tamodaya,you got moda no?Stop grumbling.

      Moda meets modi at inauguration ceremony.

      Moda-i’am also muslim bashing like you.

      modi-I killed 2000.You did not kill anyone.

      Moda-Don’t worry i will catch you up.

      Moda calls modi from bolivia.

      moda-You saw i killed 4.

      Modi-only 4.ha

      moda-wait and see.wait and see.My brother is better than you.He loves to kill.Do you know the JVP skulls in matale had nails in their skulls.

  • 0
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    Next step:
    1. India should impose a travel ban on BBS members and its leaders.
    2. India is a country where a large number of Muslims live. All the muslims in India should start protesting and bring pressure on the Modi Government to take immediate, meaning full action against Sri Lankan government which has paved way for these riots and killing of the innocent.
    3. India should put pressure through Commonwealth Organization to bring charges against Gandasara Thero for creating civil unrest.

  • 0
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    The President of Sri Lanka has the ultimate power to unite the country, his word is after all Law.
    Pandering to extremist to gain favour or votes is not a good indication of one’s integrity, honesty and values.
    Sri lanka has always been a nation of many different religions for hundreds of years, what has changed. Is it Foreign countries meddling that is instigating the unrest?
    Maybe all Sri lankans should remind these so called “Buddhist Extremists” , that should the Middle East countries decide to expel all Buddhist workers, what would happen to these poor buddhist families who depend on their loved ones working in the muslim countries to provide them with financial support.
    Would these “Buddhist Extremist” and their puppet masters step in and provide financial aid?
    The barbaric behavior of these ” Buddhist Extremist” must make Lord Buddha so sad, because it goes against all his teachings of Peace . Respect and Compassion.

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