Developments unfolding in Sri Lanka over the last few weeks look ominously similar to those in 2013-14, when a surge in targeted attacks against minority Muslims and Christians went unchecked by the Rajapaksa administration. The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, an umbrella organisation for civil society groups, has recorded 25 attacks on mosques and Muslim-owned establishments since April, and the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka has reported over 40 incidents in 2017.
On the 29th of July 2015, the Batticaloa Peace Committee and friends gathered together to remember all those who died in the senseless violence of 1990 and also those who still live with its consequences. We did this with a deep sense of sadness for the past, but also hope for the future.
The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka has today called upon the President Maithripala Sirisena and the Government of Sri Lanka to conduct a thorough investigation, punish all who may have violated the laws of the land, and ensure that no more Sri Lankans are misled in to joining any terrorist movement.
« Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero, the General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena, the Bodu Janatha Peramuna (BJP) and candidate for the Kalutara District, has launched his political campaign by once again attacking and branding every Muslim as a terrorist. His clarion call for the Sinhalese to “wake up”, his ominous augury “Abasaranai” to the Muslims in Aluthgama and the hate speech on 15th of June 2014 that led to the riots against the Aluthgama Muslims destroyed the peace that existed between the two communities. Now, his verbal diatribe and racism meant to help him to step in to Parliament, seem to get more vicious and venomous as the symbol for his new party, the cobra. He has now condemned every Muslim Civil, Religious and Political organisation as sponsors of terrorism in Sri Lanka. The media reports of the death of a Sri Lankan following a twisted ideology while fighting with IS (ISIS) has given him the ammunition to call every Muslim a terrorist or sponsor of terrorism. »
The Ramadan Project on Instagram, started by a dozen Colombo youngsters and open to people of all faiths, captures hidden dimensions of the holy month.
« The UN Human Rights Commission’s decision to investigate violations and the huge loss of life during the last months of the war concluded in 2009 was a significant victory for the victims. The dignity of the victims required that the truth must be told without fear or favour, and processes of justice and restoration set in motion. And the wrong was not all on one side. Dignity also demands that we await the verdict of the judges with restraint and reverence for the name of justice. »
Journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge‘s murder on 8th January 2009 was utterly horrible and yet, even more unforgettable was the Rajapaksa government’s reaction to it. Lasantha’s last editorial, published posthumously, didn’t mince words.
It is well known that I was on two occasions brutally assaulted, while on another my house was sprayed with machine-gun fire. Despite the government’s sanctimonious assurances, there was never a serious police inquiry into the perpetrators of these attacks, and the attackers were never apprehended.
In all these cases, I have reason to believe the attacks were inspired by the government. When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.
Six years on, his killers remain at large.
To commemorate Lasantha’s death, Groundviews, in collaboration with The Picture Press and supported by Sri Lankans Without Borders, is pleased to release a set of three compelling investigative photo-essays, looking at Sri Lanka’s religious diversity as well as flagging to what extent it is under threat today.
As noted in the introduction to each photo essay, this content is « a tribute to a journalist whose brutal murder has impoverished us all, irrespective of whether we agreed with him or not… and also a tribute to Sri Lanka as it has always been and must continue to be – a rich, diverse, multi-religious and multi-ethnic society. »
Click on the link to access each essay:
- Religious Intolerance and Islamophobia in Post-war Sri Lanka
- Children, on Religion
- Rituals, Unpacked
The photo essays use Microsoft’s new Sway platform, which is completely responsive and tailors the content to whatever browser you are viewing it from, from desktop to mobile.
Sri Lanka’s largest Muslim political party on Sunday defected from President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s camp to support the opposition candidate in next month’s presidential election.
« On Jan. 8, two years ahead of schedule, Sri Lanka will hold a presidential election that could help restore democracy by scrapping the country’s authoritarian presidency and replacing it with a strong parliament. Real change, however, seems unlikely. »
A Myanmar monk accused of inciting violence against Muslims and a hardline Buddhist group in Sri Lanka said on Tuesday they would work together to rally other Buddhist groups and defend their faith against militant Islamists.
The International Centre for Ethnic Studies is pleased to announce the launch of Working Paper No: 13 on the theme of Post War Reconciliation titled,Competing for Victimhood Status: Northern Muslims and the Ironies of Post-War Reconciliation, Justice and evelopment by Farzana Haniffa.
The northern Muslims together with all protracted IDPs displaced prior to 2008 became a low priority case load for return and resettlement assistance in the aftermath of the ‘end’ of the war in Sri Lanka in 2009. Framed in terms of an ethics of ‘greatest need’ connected only to funding availability, all Old IDPs lost out in the resettlement process. This paper attempts to decentre this idea of economic limits and humanitarian need by discussing the manner in which such ideas of ‘greatest need’ actually emerge from discourses about victimhood that are part of an ethical humanitarian project to which local politics are irrelevant. This paper will show, however that these initiatives consistently intersect with local power hierarchies and local ideas of legitimacy and belonging. Therefore this paper will look at the manner in which the war related victim discourse of International Humanitarianism, helped to exacerbate northern Muslims own marginality and continued exclusion from the north. Looking also at the manner in which victimhood narratives are mobilizsed in Sri Lanka by electoral politics, and displaced IDP activists themselves, this paper will speculate about the efficacy of the victim identity for political and social transformation during this time of transition in Sri Lanka.
This paper can be downloaded via this link
Scribd PDF (Facebook required for download)
Just like in Burma, the recent years have seen the unrest between the Buddhist majority and the Muslim minority on the upswing in Sri Lanka. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, general secretary of the Sri Lankan ultra-nationalist Buddhist organisation Bodu Bala Sena (BBS)—Sinhalese for Buddhist Power Force—actually claims to perceive an international Islamic conspiracy that aims at marginalising the Buddhists in Sri Lanka. He believes his organisation can unite all the Buddhists of the island and turn them into a nationalist force, thus countering this ‘foreseen’ Islamic threat. He has been widely accused of being the mastermind of many anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka and gained notoriety for publicly avowing his racist inclinations.
15-year-old Fatheema Sulaika has lofty plans for her future. Study hard, become a psychologist, do her bit for mankind and hope that her example inspires oppressed women the world over. Needless to say, encountering such vibrant ambition down one of Slave Island’s drearier streets was rather unexpected.
See her story at http://bit.ly/VfavkO
These are the stories, homes, neighborhoods and lives of people the Ministry of Defence lumps together as slum and shanty dwellers.
More than twelve centuries of peaceful cohabitation between Buddhists and Muslims in Sri Lanka has made both communities interdependent. Therefore safety and security of the one lies in the safety and the security of the other mutually.
A firebrand Sri Lankan monk criticised the Dalai Lama for urging the island’s Buddhists to halt violence against minority Muslims and rejected him as a global spiritual leader.