The Sri Lankan government has taken several decisions recently that indicates and exacerbates a worrying trend of increased marginalization and targeting of Sri Lanka’s Muslim community. Amnesty International has recorded recent incidents of cabinet proposals, decisions, and government regulations that from the outset discriminates against the country’s Muslim minority community which make up approximately nine percent of Sri Lanka’s population. The incidents must be placed and understood in the wider context of discrimination against Muslims, forced cremations which have had a discriminatory impact on Muslim victims of COVID-19 for close to a year, and the anti-Muslim violence over consecutive years that pre-date the most recent incidents.
Amnesty International is deeply concerned by these developments and emerging trends which represent clear early warning signs of a deteriorating human rights situation and a significantly heightened risk of future violations as recognized by the recent report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), 1 and echoes the calls made by the UN High Commissioner for strong preventive action as recommended in the report. These include calls made to the Sri Lankan government to establish a moratorium on the use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) for new arrests until it is replaced by legislation that adheres to international best practices; to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to request the OHCHR to enhance its monitoring of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka; and to support a dedicated capacity to collect and preserve evidence and other related information for future accountability processes. Amnesty International fears that without preventive action, Sri Lanka’s Muslim community will be the target of further human rights violations, leading to distress and tensions within Sri Lanka’s ethnic and religious communities, harming any efforts towards sustainable peace.
INCIDENTS RECORDED OVER A PERIOD OF NINE DAYS IN MARCH 2021
Amnesty International has recorded at least four new incidents of government proposals, decisions and regulations that target the Muslim population in just over a period of nine days between 5 – 13 March 2021.