Sri Lanka Brief
FeaturesArrest All “Hate Preachers Immediately” – Sri Lanka Civil Society Tells Govt.

Arrest All “Hate Preachers Immediately” – Sri Lanka Civil Society Tells Govt.

by

Image: Extremist Buddhist monks has become violent hate mongers in recent times in SriLanka.

I a letter to Inspector General of Police with copies to leaders of the government hundreds of citizens have asked the government to immediately arrest all hate preachers notwithstanding their religious of social affiliations.

The letter calls for  urgent action by the Police on ollowing incidents:

(1) Immediately arrest Gnanasara himi for the statements he made on 15 November 2016, which fuel communal tensions and expressly threaten and incite violence against ethnic and religious numerical minorities. There is adequate evidence in the public domain about Gnanasara himi’s previous conduct, and he is already involved in legal proceedings about the threat to repeat Aluthgama he made in June 2016.

(2) Immediately arrest Ampitiye Sumangala Himi from Managalaramaya, Batticaloa for his numerous racially charged abuse and violence, and on many occasions, acting with complete disregard for the law, as is quite indicative in the footage we’ve provided above.

(3) Investigate the actions of all other extremist groups and persons and take necessary action under the law.

(4) Update the public on the status of the complaint made by the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL) on Gnanasara himi’s threat to repeat Aluthgama.

(5) Inform the public on the steps taken to prevent future incidents that are likely to incite racial and religious violence by groups that propagate hate-speech and threats of violence against ethnic and religious numerical minorities, in particular those led by Buddhist monks due to the privileged position and immunity they hold in society.

Full text of the letter follows.

Inspector General of Police (IGP), Police Headquarters, Colombo 01
Dear Mr. Pujith Jayasundara,
Complaint on Police inaction in relation to Buddhist monk-led violent attacks on numerical minority ethnic and religious
We are outraged by the blatant Police inaction and the complacency of the State towards the culture of impunity which prevails around the continuing trend of Buddhist monk-led violent attacks on ethnic and religious numerical minorities.

While the Sri Lankan Constitution clearly guarantees all citizens the right to equality, non-discrimination and freedom of religion and religious worship, the number of attacks against religious and ethnic numerical minorities across Sri Lanka, by ethno-nationalist majoritarian groups, typically led by one or more Buddhist monks, remains unchecked. Civil society groups have consistently documented and reported such attacks to relevant authorities. However, charges have never been brought against the perpetrators, despite the conduct of these monks being in clear violation of hate-speech and anti-discrimination protections under Sri Lankan law.

This morning, the following story where the notorious leader of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), Buddhist monk, Gnanasara himi, in responding to the arrest of Suresh Prasad (alias Dan Priyasad), a self-proclaimed “Saviour of the Sinhalese”1, was brought to our attention. Gnanasara himi has threatened a ‘bloodbath’ and in the video clears states that, “we must sort this issue out with stones, poles and blood, because if this is what they want, then this is what they will get!” The story details that Gnanasara himi was calling for the arrest of Secretary of the Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ), Abdul Razik ‘within 24 hours’, as a response to the arrest of Dan Priyasad. Subsequently, we were informed that Abdul Razik was arrested by the Maligawatte Police, and is now in remand custody. The arrest, and the speed at which it was effected, illustrates that Gnanasara himi’s words have immense influence, even on the Police, which should act as an ‘independent’ establishment. This is deeply problematic, especially in the face of Police inaction against the spate of violent attacks and threats of attacks carried out by extremist groups, in particular Buddhist monks.

This is not the only recent incident involving Gnanasara himi. In June this year, he made a public declaration at a rally in Mahiyanganaya, that they could at any time re-enact the Aluthgama violence 2 (this was in reference to the anti-Muslim riots in 2014 in which four persons were killed, 80 injured, and approximately 10,000 displaced). This speech was documented and the video was widely shared online. The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL) filed a written complaint 3 to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) regarding the incident and requested immediate action. However, to our knowledge, no action has been taken against Gnanasara himi to date.

Recently, another video of a Buddhist monk, identified as Ampitiye Sumangala Himi, Chief Incumbent of the Mangalaramaya Temple, in Batticaloa, has gone viral on the internet. The video shows the monk using extreme racist expletives and abusive language to verbally assault and threaten a Tamil public servant (Grama Sevaka (GS)) in the presence of a uniformed police officer. The police officer in question stood by and observed the attack without taking the necessary action to protect the public servant or stop the Buddhist monk. When the police officer finally stepped in, he did so in a seemingly hesitant and fearful manner.

The recent incident involving Ampitiye Sumangala Himi again, is not an isolated incident. The same monk has been involved in multiple incidents 4 where he has behaved in a similarly abusive and violent manner, including an incident where he assaulted a female police officer and other villagers5. To date, no action has been taken against Ampitiye Sumangala Himi for his conduct.

In another incident, also in June 2016, a vigil for equality, under the banner ‘Different Yet Equal’ organised by a group of concerned citizens was attacked and violently disrupted6 by a group calling themselves ‘SinhaLe’ and lead by its National Coordinator, Arambepola Rathanasara himi. The attack took place in the presence of police who were reluctant to stop the violent mob, and instead attempted to lecture and question the peaceful demonstrators on their vigil and presence. In a separate incident, there is also video footage of the SinhaLe group rabidly threatening ‘all Muslims’ with death.7 In another incident in August this year, Rathanasara himi and some SinhaLe goons, intimidate and threaten8 to harm two female Christian worshippers and a Christian pastor.

In yet another incident, a Tamil couple was violently intimidated by abusive Buddhist monks within a temple premises in Colombo. The victims of this violence have been in hiding, and are still living in fear of reprisal for having publicised their horrific experience.9
Public behaviour of this kind is in clear violation of hate-speech and anti-discrimination protections under Sri Lankan law, particularly as provided for in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act (ICCPR Act).10 The ICCPR Act provides that “No person shall propagate war or advocate national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence”,11 and that every person who does so, or who attempts to commit, aids or abets, or threatens to commit such acts, commits an offence that is punishable with up to 10 years imprisonment.12 The failure of the State to take immediate action to investigate and hold individuals accountable for this type of conduct is a clear violation of its obligations under law and a failure of its obligation to uphold constitutional guarantees and the duty to protect all persons from such threats and violence.

A joint civil society submission13 to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in August 2016, documented 132 incidents faced by Christians and 141 incidents against the Muslims, in a span of one year, since 2015. These incidents include attacks on places of religious worship, and numerical minority religious communities being disrupted during times of worship and prayer. The Sri Lanka Campaign, in an article published in May 2016, states: “no prosecutions have yet been brought against Buddhist extremists implicated in previous attacks on Christians or Muslims. In particular the inability and unwillingness of the authorities to take action in investigating the murder of Muslims in the course of the 2014 riots continues to feed concerns that the Government is not taking the issue of Buddhist extremism seriously enough.” 14

We are deeply frustrated and angered by the sheer lack of will from the State in actively and publicly condemning this kind of racist rhetoric and hate-speech, and taking immediate legal action against perpetrators. The Police should move immediately to bring to justice all those in violation of Sri Lanka’s anti-discrimination and hate-speech laws, including Buddhist monks. The Government must seriously consider the impact and influence such groups that propagate hate-speech and threats of violence against ethnic and religious numerical minorities have on the general public, by way of creating a dangerously permissible environment for civilians to act in a similar manner, without fear of consequence. A clear example of which is an incident where a group of self-proclaimed ‘Sinhala Buddhist Champions’ or ‘Saviours of the Sinhalese’ threatened to burn and kill Muslims, make a mass call for recruits to serve their ‘worthy cause’, and incite the masses with ethnically and religiously charged misinformation. A member of this group, Dan Priyasath, was arrested by the Fort Police on 15 November, following public outrage and pressure, including by several members of Parliament.15

The Police must adopt a uniformed response to acts of religious violence, threats of violence, and hate-speech against religious and ethnic numerical minorities. Under the fundamental principle of equality before the law, all who engage in such conduct, including Buddhist monks, must be held to account. It is the obligation of the Police to enforce the law equally, without exception.

Further, the protection of the tenet of equality must be paramount to all law enforcement authorities. This is critical to reconciliation, to which the State has publicly declared a commitment. When ethnic and religious numerical minorities are subjected to hate-speech, threats of violence, and discriminatory actions, and the State is passive or indifferent to these acts, discussions of reconciliation ring superficial and insincere.

We urgently demand the following action from the Police:

(1) Immediately arrest Gnanasara himi for the statements he made on 15 November 2016, which fuel communal tensions and expressly threaten and incite violence against ethnic and religious numerical minorities. There is adequate evidence in the public domain about Gnanasara himi’s previous conduct, and he is already involved in legal proceedings about the threat to repeat Aluthgama he made in June 2016.

(2) Immediately arrest Ampitiye Sumangala Himi from Managalaramaya, Batticaloa for his numerous racially charged abuse and violence, and on many occasions, acting with complete disregard for the law, as is quite indicative in the footage we’ve provided above.

(3) Investigate the actions of all other extremist groups and persons and take necessary action under the law.

(4) Update the public on the status of the complaint made by the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL) on Gnanasara himi’s threat to repeat Aluthgama.

(5) Inform the public on the steps taken to prevent future incidents that are likely to incite racial and religious violence by groups that propagate hate-speech and threats of violence against ethnic and religious numerical minorities, in particular those led by Buddhist monks due to the privileged position and immunity they hold in society

Foot notes:

1 Colombo Telegraph, Police Arrests ‘Saviour Of The Sinhalese’ Who Threatened To Bomb Muslims – https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/police-arrests-saviour-of-the-sinhalese-who-threatened-to-bomb-muslims/
2 Colombo Telegraph, Video: BBS Gnanasara Back In Action, Promises To Repeat Aluthgama Mayhem – https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/video-bbs-gnanasara-back-in-action-promises-to-repeat-aluthgama-mayhem/

3 Colombo Gazette, BBS back to old habits, Muslim Council writes to IGP – http://colombogazette.com/2016/06/25/bbs-back-to-old-habits-muslim-council-writes-to-igp/
4 Multiple incidents of racist abuse and violence by Sumangala himi – http://www.asianmirror.lk/news/item/17668-batticaloa-mangalarama-temple-monk-destroys-cornerstone-after-president-fails-to-attend-event, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-A2XArDXH8, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOeT7EaDjw0, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QekwjYXw1QY, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MCagBHR5yo, http://www.virakesari.lk/article/13563, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPNhiJ77Pms, http://battinaatham.com/description.php?art=6337 & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKeg76RoIHs
5 Vakeesam.com – மட்டு. விகாராதிபதியின் மறுபக்கம் – பபண் பபாலிஸாரர கரைத்து கரைத்துத் தாக்கும் அதிர்ச்சி வீடிய ா – http://www.vakeesam.com/%E0%AE%AE%E0%AE%9F%E0%AF%8D%E0%AE%9F%E0%AF%81-%E0%AE%B5%E0%AE%BF%E0%AE%95%E0%AE%BE%E0%AE%B0%E0%AE%BE%E0%AE%A4%E0%AE%BF%E0%AE%AA%E0%AE%A4%E0%AE%BF%E0%AE%AF%E0%AE%BF%E0%AE%A9%E0%AF%8D-%E0%AE%AE.html
6 Footage on SinhaLe disruption of peaceful vigil – http://www.vikalpa.org/?p=28041, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10210663613375039&set=pb.1489297727.-2207520000.1479217858.&type=3&theater, http://www.vikalpa.org/?p=28025, http://www.bbc.com/sinhala/sri-lanka-37088711, http://groundviews.org/2016/08/16/different-yet-equal-on-effectively-battling-hatred/ & http://roar.lk/editorial/time-stop-pretending-sinha-le-anything-racist/

7 SinhaLe threatening to kill all Muslims – https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzO8SAlmDKanUTN4YmpIX3pua2s
8 Rathanasara himi and SinhaLe goons, intimidate and threaten Christian worshippers and a Pastor – https://www.facebook.com/SJBOFFICIALPAGE/videos/1043738325733995/ & https://www.facebook.com/SJBOFFICIALPAGE/videos/1043742442400250/ 9 DBSJeyaraj.com – Tamil Family in Colombo Suburb Suffers Terrible Ordeal at the Hands of a “Religious Mob” http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/49409
10 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act No. 56 of 2007.
11 ICCPR Act, s 3(1).
12 ICCPR Act, ss 3(2) and 3(3).
13 Report by Centre For Human Rights Development, National Christian Evangelical Alliance Of Sri Lanka and Minority Rights Group International – https://goo.gl/fWhcPD
14 Sri Lanka Campaign, Ominous rise in attacks on Sri Lanka’s Christians – https://www.srilankacampaign.org/ominous-rise-attacks-sri-lankas-christians/
15 Colombo Telegraph, Police Arrests ‘Saviour Of The Sinhalese’ Who Threatened To Bomb Muslims – https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/police-arrests-saviour-of-the-sinhalese-who-threatened-to-bomb-muslims/

CC:

 1. H.E. Maithripala Sirisena, President.
2.Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister.
3.Hon. Sagala Ratnayake,Minister of Law & Order and Southern Development.
4.Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
5.Hon. Mano Ganesan, Minister of National Co-existence Dialogue and Official Languages.
6.Hon. Ruwan Wijewardena, State Minister of Defence.
7.Hon. Jayantha,Jayasuriya PC, Attorney-General
8.Dr. Deepika Udagama, Chair, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka.
9.G.M.W.P. Jayathilake, Secretary, Judicial Service Commission Secretariat.
10.Prof. Siri Hettige, Chairperson, NationalPolice Commission.
11.Ven. Mahanayakas of the Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters

Signed by;
1. A. Rex Bowie
2. A.B.M. Ashraff
3. A.L. Anvara
4. A.M. Jaseel
5. A.P. Udangamuwa
6. Ahamed Nizar
7. Ainslie Joseph 8. Aisha Nazim
9. Aloysious Diaz
10. Ameena Soysa
11. Ameer Faaiz
12. Anberiya Hanifa 13. Andre Perera
14. Aneesa Firthous
15. Annie Kurian
16. Anoma Silva
17. Anthony Benedict
18. Antoinette Diaz 19. Anton Marcus – Trade Unionist
20. Anton Perera
21. Anuradha Rajaratnam
22. Anuruddha Fernando
23. Anushani Alagarajah
24. Anushka Jayasuriya
25. Areeb Ahamed
26. Aruna Kulatunge
27. Aruni Welegedera
28. Asma Rahman
29. Audrey Gunasekera
30. Ausha Ramachandra
31. Ayesha Perera
32. Ayudhya Gajanayake
33. Azhar Ahamed
34. B. Gowthaman
35. B. Senn
36. Balasingham Skanthakumar
37. Bisliya Bhuto – Puttalam 38. Buddhi Galappatthi
39. Buddika Samarasinghe
40. Caryll Tozer
41. Chandra Welegedera
42. Chandraguptha Thenuwara
43. Charith de Silva 44. Chulananda Samaranayake
45. Cyril Welegedera
46. D.B.S. Jeyaraj – Journalist
47. Damith Chandimal
48. Dannelle Diaz
49. Daya Athanayaka
50. Daylan Diaz
51. Deanne Uyangoda
52. Deborah Philip
53. Dedunie de Silva
54. Dharsha Jegatheeswaran
55. Dilan Ramanayake
56. Dilani Fernando
57. Dileepa Vitharana – Open University of Sri Lanka
58. Dilshy Banu
59. Dimithri Gunasekera
60. Dinu Peiris
61. Dinuka Fernando
62. Dr. Clotilda Perera
63. Dr. Farah Mihlar 64. Dr. Indi Akurugoda – Ruhunu University
65. Dr. Isabelle Lassee
66. Dr. Jehan Perera
67. Dr. Mareena Reffai
68. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
69. Dr. Tasneem Perry
70. Dulindra Fernando
71. Dylan Perera
72. E.T. Saleem
73. Emil van der Poorten
74. Ermiza Tegal
75. Errol Perera
76. Eupracia Silva
77. Faizun Zackariya
78. Fatima Razik Cader
79. Florine Marzook
80. G. Nishshanka
81. G.G. Nilanthi Rupika 82. Gamini Viyangoda
83. Gayathri Gamage
84. Geeni Perumal
85. Geethika Dharmasinghe
86. Godfrey Yogarajah
87. Harean Hettiarachchi 88. Harini Amarasuriya – Open University of Sri Lanka
89. Harshani Bogahawatte
90. Hasanah Cegu Isadeen
91. Herman Kumara
92. Hilmy Ahamed
93. Hiruni Athukorala
94. Hisham Shums
95. Ian Ferdinands
96. Iresha Dilani
97. Iromi Perera
98. Jake Oorloff
99. Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala
100. Joe William
101. Josephine Nanayakkara
102. Jovanka Jayaweera
103. K. Guruparan – University of Jaffna
104. K. Hemalatha – Jaffna
105. K. Jawhara
106. K. Kandeepan
107. K. Mafasa
108. K. Nihal Ahamed – Addalaichenai
109. K.G. Gamage
110. Kalani Subasinghe
111. Kenneth Pitigala
112. Keshala Shyamen 113. Krishan Siriwardana
114. Kumari Vitharane
115. Kumudini David
116. Kusal Perera – Journalist
117. L. Anuja
118. Lalith Soysa
119. Lanka Muhandiram
120. Liam Fernando
121. Lucille Abeykoon
122. M. Aasha – Jaffna
123. M. Rahman – Researcher
124. M.B. Irfan
125. M.B. Mihyar
126. M.K.M. Ibrahim
127. M.L.M. Ismail
128. M.M.M. Baseer
129. Mahesh Senarathna
130. Manel Wijekoon
131. Mangaleswary Shanker – Attorney-at-law
132. Manike Perera
133. Mariam Pishori
134. Mario de Soyza
135. Marisa de Silva
136. Melisha Yapa
137. Mercy Rajapakse
138. Michelle Pinto 139. Minoli de Soysa
140. Minuka De Silva
141. Mohmed Rifadh – Jaffna
142. Mohomed Shihan Hanif
143. Munza Mushtaq – Journalist
144. Nalin Perera
145. Nawaz Mustapha 146. Neville Ananda – Attorney-at- law
147. Nicola S.
148. Nicole Liyanage
149. Nihal de Silva
150. Nihal Wickramasinghe
151. Nilanthi Dammika
8
152. Nilanthi Wickramage
153. Nilmini Rajakaruna
154. Nilshan Fonseka
155. Nishan Silva
156. Nishanthi Lokugamage
157. P. Kairudeen
158. P. Selvaratnam
159. P. Vasanthagowry – Jaffna
160. Padmini Abdeen
161. Parakrama Herath 162. Parakrama Niriella
163. Pasindu Sadeep
164. Patrick Rosary
165. Philip Setunga
166. Prabu Deepan
167. Prema Gamage
168. Priyangani Rajapakse
169. Priyanjali Perera
170. Priyantha Peiris
171. Priyanthie de Silva
172. Priyanwada Pitigala
173. Prof. Kumar David
174. Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole
175. Prof. Sinnaiah Maunaguru
176. Prof. Sitralega Maunaguru
177. R. Kalaiventhan
178. R. Mohamed
179. R. Sadanayaki
180. R. Vancuylanburg
181. Rahini Baskaran
182. Rajan Rajasingham
183. Rajany Rajeswary – Jaffna
184. Ranitha Gnanarajah
185. Raul Moses
186. Rev. Fr. J.C. Paul Rohan
187. Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
188. Rev. Fr. Nandana Manatunga
189. Rev. Fr. Nandana Saparamadu
190. Rev. Fr. Ravichandran Emmanuel
191. Rev. Fr. S.V.B. Mangalarajah President, Justice and Peace Commission, Catholic Diocese, Jaffna
192. Rev. Sr. Mabel Rodrigo
193. Rev. Sr. Nichola Emmanuel
194. Rev. Sr. Philomina
195. Rev. Sr. Rasika Pieris HF
196. Richard Nanayakkara 197. Riza Yehiya 198. Rohini Hensman
199. Roshan Pitigala
200. Roshani Priyanka D.M.G
201. Ruki Fernando
202. Ruvini Jayaratne Ramanayake
203. Ryan Ohlums
204. S. Ithayarani – Trincomalee
205. S. Sasiyanthini
206. S. Tharsan – Jaffna
207. S. Tharuni
208. S.A. Wijayaratne
209. S.C.C. Elankovan
210. S.L. Rifaya
211. S.L. Riyas
212. Saandra
213. Safiya Husain
214. Sajeetha N.
215. Sakuntala Sachithanandan
216. Sampath Samarakoon
217. Sanjana Hattotuwa
218. Sanjaya Abeyrathne
219. Sanjeev Visvanathan
220. Sarala Emmanuel
221. Sarath Silva
222. Sasha Jayasundera
223. Seetha Wanniarachchi
224. Selvaraja Rajasegar
225. Selvy Thiruchandran
226. Senrath Sisira Kumara
227. Shamintha Jayatilaka
228. Shanali Perera
229. Shanka Prabash Dharmapala
230. Shanuki de Alwis
231. Sharine Gunasekera
232. Sharon Gauder
233. Shashikala Cooray
234. Shehan de Alwis
235. Shehan Silva
236. Shenali De Silva
237. Shiekh M.B.M. Firthous Naleemi
238. Shirabdi de Silva
239. Shiromi Lowe
240. Shiyan Jayaweera
241. Shreen Abdul Saroor
242. Silma Ahamed
243. Silms Ahamed
244. Sithy Zulfika Ismail 245. Srinath Perera
246. Subha Wijesiriwardena
247. Sumaiya Pallak
248. Sumika Perera
249. Sunanda Deshapriya
250. Sunela Samaranayake
251. Surangika Ranaweera
252. Suren Basnayake
253. Suren Perera
254. Suzie Beling
255. Swasthika Arulingam
10
256. T. Balamurukan
257. T. Baskaran
258. T. Devarani
259. T. Karthika
260. T. Thavajohan
261. Tanuja Thurairajah
262. Tashya Gajanayake
263. Thiviya Loganathan
264. V. Shamin – Jaffna
265. Vinodini Diaz
266. Visaka Dharmadasa – Chair, Association of War Affected Women (AWAW)
267. W.O.M. Fernando
268. Wyomi Abeywickrema
269. Y. Rinosa
270. Y. Setheeswary
271. Y. Subathra
272. Yamini Ravindran – Attorney- at-law
273. Yves Bowie
274. Z.A.F. Wazniya
275. Zahabia A. Adamaly
276. Zahir Ahamed
277. Zahir Ahmed Abdul Majeed
278. Zeena Ikram

Photo courtesy Vikalpa.org

Back to Top