In two days of rioting and looting four people have been killed, including a Tamil security guard, and 80 others injured, the majority being from the Muslim community. Over 60 homes and businesses were set on fire in the two days while several mosques were also damaged.
Despite the deployment of Sri Lanka’s Special Task Force the police were unable to control the mobs who numbered in the thousands according to eyewitness reports. Eventually the military was called in to restore order.
The towns, which were once tourist attractions, are now under the blanket of a military curfew with many Muslim residents fearing to return to their homes. Sinhala Buddhist families in the area have taken to marking their homes with the Buddhist flag in an attempt to ensure they are not caught up in the attacks.
A needed and insightful article in Colombo Telegraph on the recent nationalist violence against Muslims in Sri Lanka by Nimanthi Perera-Rajasingham : « At the present moment, large sections of elite and popular society in Sri Lanka refuse discussions of the truth, and so the past will, I believe, repeat itself. »
« A curfew was clamped down in the Aluthgama and Beruwela Police divisions of Kalutara district in the Western Province of Sri Lanka following an outbreak of communal violence on Sunday June 15th 2014 that was triggered off by the “Ethno Religious Fascist” Organization the Bodhu Bala Sena (BBS). »
In Aluthgama we witnessed a dangerous replay of July ‘83 in the sense that there was a situation of dual power. Who controls the situation: the state apparatuses or the Sinhala Buddhist ‘street’? However, the BBS posed a further question in Aluthgama: who controls the state itself and its direction; its actions? The legitimate state authorities or the monks? Even more serious was the contestation of legitimacy itself: who is more legitimate, the elected civilian power or the monkhood?
Sickening. The BBS and supporters (including those at Maharagama) accused Muslims of creating « divisions » among Sri Lankan people through labeling of Halal foods (after « peace » had been restored to the country in 2009). Tell me again who is creating divisions?
Video with English subtitles of the speech made by the BBS which incited violence in Aluthgama.
Watch on YouTube here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fPMWD8f9lE
« Cinq ans après avoir écrasé la guérilla des Tigres de libération de l’Eelam tamoul (LTTE), l’armée et le gouvernement du Sri Lanka ont commencé à réhabiliter les zones de combats. Les villes reprennent vie. Mais, sans véritable réconciliation ni réforme politique, le pays reste divisé entre la majorité cinghalaise et la minorité tamoule. La frustration grandit et la colère gronde, notamment dans le Nord. »
Residents of the riot-hit areas said Muslims were leaving their homes and seeking shelter in community centres as fears of more violence lurked.
There were no reports of arrests.
The latest unrest came just weeks after Muslim legislators asked Rajapaksa to protect their minority community from « Buddhist extremist elements » blamed for a recent spate of hate attacks.
« Out in the living room, in this small, shared house in Geelong, Victoria, a shrine sits on the dining table. A wreath of white roses, chrysanthemums and daisies circles a framed photo of the 29-year-old Tamil asylum seeker, who set himself on fire on 31 May. A glass of milk and a glass of water sit – full to the brim – next to the flowers, left behind for Seemanpillai’s spirit to sip, according to a friend. He is the second Tamil asylum seeker to self-immolate in Australia over the past year – the first survived. Seemanpillai died on 1 June. »
« It started that first night at the police station in Colombo, with kicking, punching, slapping and beating with blunt instruments. Siva was hung upside down by his feet, his hands tied behind his back, and his head submerged in a barrel of water.
He was suffocated by having a plastic bag soaked in petrol tied over his head. He was, branded on several occasions with a hot metal rod, leaving 11 visible scars on his back, and burned with cigarettes leaving at least 17 visible scars.
An expert independent medical report subsequently obtained in the UK confirms Siva’s scars are consistent with his account of torture. He also has the arrest warrant and court documents renewing his detention to prove he was indeed held in custody. »
People no longer fear the Army. They have started protesting against the Army taking over their lands and houses. The protests have been peaceful and with no personal animosity shown towards the Army. It was said recently that some of the soldiers who came to deal with such protests had told our protestors privately that they would themselves have protested if their lands in the South had been taken over in the manner it is being done now in the North!
« Lastly, Dayan makes a claim of surpassing ignorance that I wish he never did when he says that, “In the case of Sri Lanka the case of pluri-nationalism is patently absurd, because one ethnic group constitutes almost 75% of the island’s population, and according an equal status of nationhood to a far smaller formation is logically untenable. With such overwhelming preponderance of one community, how could the entity that is Sri Lanka be described as pluri-national or bi-national?” He then goes on to substantiate this claim with exactly the same kind of asinine analogy from international relations that I have previously said makes the argument in his book more unpersuasive than it should be.
There is a book to be written as to why this is complete nonsense, but suffice it here to say one thing. There is nothing ‘patently absurd’ about this. Every plurinational state is dominated by a large majority nation. That is a fact, a given, a reality, and as can be seen from basic statistics, this is even more pronounced than in Sri Lanka in
the three most advanced plurinational states in the world. »
Asanga Welikala’s response to Dayan Jayatilleka article can be read in full here http://groundviews.org/2014/06/12/can-the-anti-mahinda-camp-think-straight/#comment-1433504510
Muslim families gathered at the Dhargatown Marikkar Street Mosque and several other mosques in the area, as homes came under attack by violent mobs, who continued to move about despite the curfew in force.
Shops came under attack in the Beruwala area at 9 PM, in spite of the police curfew, according to sources in the area. Crowds of people were on the March again in Aluthgama by 9 p.m., with police warning Muslim residents to stay indoors. Fixed line telephones in several areas of Aluthgama also went dead late last night.
« For the violence, for the deaths which have happened and which may happen, the BBS and the Rajapaksas must take responsibility. This is their work. This is their unpardonable crime.
We elected them; we tolerate them. That is our eternal shame. »
In some of the worst religious violence in Sri Lanka in decades, three people have been killed and 78 injured in riots between Buddhists and Muslims in this southwestern coastal town after months of rising tensions, officials said Monday.