The Tamil Civil Society Forum vehemently condemns the violence perpetrated against Muslims in the South West of Sri Lanka – in Aluthgama, Beruwela and other places. We express sympathy to the families that lost their dear ones and to those injured. We express collective empathy and solidarity with the Muslim community in this difficult hour and time.
We are alarmed though not surprised by the fact that none of the chief culprits responsible for the violence have been arrested to date. We are not surprised because the culprits have in the past shown close contact and have enjoyed patronage from senior figures in the defense establishment. We are also not surprised because the kind of violence that Aluthgama represents has enjoyed impunity in Sri Lanka in the entirety of its history.
The attacks should not be seen in a vacuum or as being spontaneous. Initial well informed reports confirm that police (including the Special Task forces) did very little to contain the Sinhalese mobs that attacked Muslim residences, religious and commercial establishments. The attacks either by direct action or complicity, are part of the long established practice of the State, in its Sinhala Buddhist character, which seeks to instill fear among the other communities with the objective of negating and refusing space in Sri Lanka for their social, cultural, political and economic prosperity. While its important that perpetrators need to be brought to justice, that will not be enough. The problem is not about a single organization or a political party. It is much more perverse and deep rooted. Unless this is acknowledged and reversed we regret to say that the Aluthgama incident will be unlikely to be the last of such similar incidents. We urge all concerned to reflect and act on this more complex understanding of those issues that Aluthgama reminds us of.
Bishop Dr. Rayappu Joseh, Bishop of Mannar,
(On behalf of the Tamil Civil Society Forum