Image: Monks who led the attack on Rohingya refugees in Colombo ( face book photo)
A group of civil society activists has urged the government to immediately direct your minister in charge of law and order and the IGP to arrest those who are responsible for breach of peace, acted violently against Rohingya refugees and resorted to a hate mongering campaign against minorities, especially the Muslim community and also make a public statement to set the records straight as regards Rohingya refugees and the responsibility of the government in assisting the UNHCR in its work with refugees.
Full text of the statement fellows:
Hon. Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe,
PM Office 58, Sir Earnest De Silva Mawatha, Colombo 07.
Demand for arrest of monks who resorted to violence against Rohingya refugees using hate speech.
We do not intend going into details of the violent and inhuman protest on 26 September (2017) led by Buddhist monks against Rohingya refugees who were sheltered in a ‘safehouse’ in Mt.Lavinia by the Colombo office of the UNHCR. An incident, we are certain you are well briefed about. This racially motivated violent incident brought international disrepute and proved the government is uncertain in stopping such hate mongering violent protests when led by Buddhist monks.
Except for Ministers Mangala Samaraweera and Rajitha Senaratne who in their personal capacities, were very vocal in condemning the extremist Buddhist monks and their violent racist thuggery, followed by Minister Mano Ganesan, we are yet to see the government officially and with authority intervening in clearing doubts on the Rohingya refugee issue, the anti-Muslim extremist groups have been campaigning on distorted and warped information of their own creation.
The belated statement made by the Secretary, Ministry for Law and Order on 28 September, is only a vague, face saving attempt. He says 03 investigating police teams have been deployed while the Acting IGP said investigations are handed over to the Colombo Crime Division (CCD). We are aware how 04 such teams were deployed to arrest the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) leader Galagodaatte Gnanasara thero, while his lawyer submitted a medical certificate to Courts for his inability to be present. The Ministry Secretary’s statement has all the undertones of buying time till the issue fades off without taking proper and immediate action against the hate mongering, violent protesters including Buddhist monks and some men.
As we understand, it is this very conspicuous and continued reluctance of your government in enforcing law against violent racist protesters that has allowed extremist hate campaigns to take to streets once again as they did during the Rajapaksa era. It is the reluctance of your government and the Minister for Law and Order to give clear and firm directives to the police, that has allowed the police to act in favour of violent racist protesters, as they did on 26 September, when they took a detention order against the “refugees” and shifted them to the Boossa detention centre, instead of arresting the hate mongering protesting Buddhist monks and other men.
It is frustrating and disturbing to see such reluctance on the part of the government that promised law and order, democracy and good governance in taking action against extremist and violent Sinhala Buddhist campaigns. It is therefore the government that is wholly responsible in allowing law enforcement agencies to violate the rights of the refugees and avoid taking action against hate mongering violent groups who create a social mind-set that would never allow any degree of reconciliation in this country.
We therefore demand that you immediately direct your minister in charge of law and order and the IGP to arrest those who are responsible for breach of peace, acted violently against Rohingya refugees and resorted to a hate mongering campaign against minorities, especially the Muslim community and also make a public statement to set the records straight as regards Rohingya refugees and the responsibility of the government in assisting the UNHCR in its work with refugees.
Name & Designation
Kusal Perera, Journalist/political critic
Anton Marcus, Trade union leader
Kaushalya Kumarasinghe ,Writer
W.A. Wijewardne, Economic Analyst
Fr. Terrence Fernando
Dr. A.R. M. Imtiaz, Academic
Fr. Jeyabalan Croos, Catholic priest
Emil van der Poorten, Civil & Human Rights activist
Ajit Abeysekera, Emeritus Professor
Marshal Fernando, Civil Society
Rev. M. Ravichandran, Emmanuel Catholic clergy
Arjuna Parakrama, Senior Professor of English, University of Peradeniya
Asanka Senadeera, Academic, Open University of Sri Lanka
Parakrama Niriella Film, teledrama and theatre director & Cultural activist
29 Sep 2017.