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  • Democracy Threatened: Impunity, Political Patronage & Rollback Of Devolution
    By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole – R. Sasilan: Assistant Commissioner of Elections Today we are opening new living quarters for our Election Commission’s man-in-charge in Batticaloa. I am so glad because R. Sasilan is a man I am proud of. He stands up for what is right without fear or favor. When a minister distributed gifts in elections some years ago, he confiscated a gift pack and filed a complaint with the police. The police, as often happens, disappeared the evidence. Sasilan sent a report to the Commission and that too disappeared....
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  • Coronavirus funerals: Sri Lanka's Muslims decry forced cremation
      Image copyrightEPA Image captionSri Lankan Muslim women wait for a Covid-19 test. Some in the community are fighting cremation rules Sri Lankan authorities are insisting on cremation for coronavirus victims - a practice forbidden by Islam. The nation's minority Muslim community says they are using the pandemic to discriminate, writes BBC Sinhala's Saroj Pathirana. On 4 May, Fathima Rinoza, a 44-year-old mother of three from Sri Lanka's minority Muslim population, was admitted to hospital with a suspected case of Covid-19. Fathima, who lived in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, had been suffering from respiratory problems and the authorities feared she had caught the virus. On the day she was admitted to hospital, the family was "set upon" by the authorities, her husband Mohamed Shafeek said. "The police and military along with...
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  • ජිනීවා මානව හිමිකම් කවුන්සිලයේදී රටවල් 5කින් ලංකාවට චෝදනා
    පාස්කු ප්‍රහාර සම්බන්ධයෙන් සැකපිට අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන සිටින නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා රඳවා තබාගැනීම, විශේෂ බළකායේ සැරයන් සුනිල් රත්නායකට ජනාධිපති සමාව ලබාදීම ඇතුළු කරුණු ගණනාවක් පදනම් කරගනිමින් එක්සත් රාජධානිය ඇතුළු රටවල් 5ක කණ්ඩායමක් එක්සත් ජාතීන්ගේ මානව හිමිකම් කවුන්සිලයේදී ශ්‍රී ලංකාවට චෝදනා එල්ල කර ඇතැයි ජිනීවා තානාපති...
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  • මුස්ලිම් නීතිඥයාට එරෙහිව 'ත්‍රස්ත සාක්කි' ගෙතූ රහස් පොලිසියට විනිසුරු විරෝධය

      පාස්කු බෝම්බ ප්‍රහාරයට සම්බන්ධ යැයි ජනමාධ්‍ය මගින් ප්‍රචාරය කරමින් ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්වීමේ පනත යටතේ අත්අඩංගුවට ගනු ලැබු මුස්ලිම් ජාතික නීතිඥවරයකුට එරෙහිව ව්‍යාජ සාක්ෂි ගෙතීමට රහස් පොලිසිය විසින් දරණ ලද උත්සාහයක් විනිසුරුවරයකුගේ මැදිහත්වීම නිසා ව්‍යර්ථ වී තිබේ.

    නීතිඥ හිජාස් ඕමර් හිස්බුල්ලාහ් රඳවා...
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  • Gnanasara Thero Once Again Inciting Sinhalese Against Muslims
    Malicious campaign pushing discriminated and frustrated Muslims to wall Few weeks ago Ven Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thero, known for inciting Sinhalese and unleashing violence against Muslims, said he would dissolve his organisation Bodu Bala Sena as it has achieved its target of setting up a Sinhala Buddhist government without minority support. Latheef Farook Following the election of the present government to power on 15 November 2019, he was rather quiet. Now that the parliamentary election is forthcoming, he has started his campaign once again pitting the Sinhalese against Muslims.There were reports that during the presidential elections in November 2019 Buddhist monks and temples were used to demonize Muslims to win Sinhala votes assuring security. As part of this campaign to win Sinhala votes, he attempted to brand as extremist, several...
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  • Hejaaz: A lawyer for all seasons

    A year has passed since the deadly Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka. Victims, survivors, and the general public still await answers. Amidst these desperate demands for accountability, Hejaaz Hizbullah, a prominent Muslim lawyer, is suddenly – and most unexpectedly – arrested and detained.

    I met Hejaaz during the first-ever debating tournament I participated in. He led the team from S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, and I represented St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. Our teams made it to the finals that year. I recall Hejaaz as a fierce competitor with the rare gift for conveying an argument with charisma and conviction. He also had a great sense of humour, taking friendly banter in good spirit. The Thomians triumphed that year, and deservedly so.

    What strikes me now is...
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  • Muslim writer in jail for 60 days without "explicit evidence"
    A group of activists in Sri Lanka has called upon the government for the unconditional release of a Muslim writer who has been held in detention for more than
    sixty days without “explicit evidence being produced”.

    In a letter to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim activists say that Ramzy Razeek arrested on April 09 for allegedly violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Cyber Crimes Legislation has also been denied medical treatment and legal access in detention.

    “Despite orders from the Magistrate to allow him access to medicine, reliable sources state that his health condition is deteriorating due to lack of access to specific medicines of which he is in dire need. A lawyer attempting to visit Razeek this week, was also denied...
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  • அடையாள அணிவகுப்புக்கு முன் ஹிஜாஸின் அடையாளத்தைக் காட்ட சிஐடியினர் முயற்சித்தார்கள்
    இரு சிறுவர்களிடமிருந்தும் வாக்குமூலம் பெறுவதற்கு முன்னர் சிஐடியினர் தனது அறையில் வைத்து ஹிஜாஸ் ஹிஸ்புல்லாஹ்வின் புகைப்படத்தை அவர்களுக்குக் காண்பிப்பதற்கு முயற்சித்தார்கள் என கோட்டை நீதவான் ரங்க திசாநாயக்க தெரிவித்துள்ளார்.

    புத்தளம் மத்ரஸாவொன்றின் மாணவர்களுக்கு தீவிரவாதத்தைப் போதித்தார் என சிஐடியினர்...
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  • CID attempted to show photograph of Hejaaz to children before ID parade: Fort Magistrate
    Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayaka said in open court that officers of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) had attempted to show photographs of Hejaaz Hizbullah at his chambers prior to the recording of statements from two children.

    When the matter was taken up before Dissanayake on 24 June, he told Hizbullah’s lawyers that prior to the recording of the statements from the two children, this attempt had been made: “I want to reveal this. The CID officers tried to show pictures and I had to tell them to leave the Chamber.”

    Two children had made “voluntary statements” on 12 May to the Magistrate on camera regarding Hizbullah. An identification parade was to be held including Hizbullah with 10 children being summoned as witnesses to identify Hizbullah.

    Nawarathna Bandara PC, appearing with Harshana...
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  • Magistrate disallows ID parade for detained lawyer
    Counsel for Hejaaz Hizbullah objects to ID parade Says children lined up to identify suspect have been shown his photograph during questioning Magistrate uploads objections, fixes 1 July for next hearing Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake yesterday disallowed the Police from presenting detained attorney Hejaaz Hizbullah for an identification parade after counsel for the suspect objected to the move. Hejaaz Hizbullah   President’s Counsel Wasantha Navaratne Bandara, who appeared for Hizbullah, said that the 10 children lined up to identify the suspect have been shown his photograph by the Police when they recorded a statement from them, and hence objected to holding the identification parade.

    CID officers who appeared in Court however...
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Sri Lanka 'on the brink' amid fresh anti-Muslim violence

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Sri Lanka 'on the brink' amid fresh anti-Muslim violence
Mob attacks in Kandy are targeted and well planned, witnesses say, as fears grow over threats to Sri Lanka's stability.

Ambatenna, Sri Lanka - The Sinhalese Buddhist mob came by the hundreds, screaming at the top of their lungs and carrying sticks, stones and petrol bombs, as they descended on the hill town of Ambatenna in central Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

Some two dozen policemen and soldiers watched helplessly, according to residents, as the mob vandalised and set fire to Muslim homes and businesses in the town's Welekada area.

"We were so scared," Fathima Zameer told Al Jazeera, clutching her three-week-old infant as she recounted the violence that swept through her neighbourhood that morning.

"We have nowhere to go. They broke all the windows in my house. Our whole house is burnt."

The mob, which witnesses said was between 200 and 500-strong, overran Welekada defying a curfew and a state of emergency imposed by President Maithiripala Sirisena a day earlier to quell anti-Muslim riots that began in the highland district of Kandy over the weekend.

In Welekada, rioters vandalised at least 15 houses belonging to Sri Lanka's Muslim minority and a mosque, residents told Al Jazeera. Four of the buildings and several vehicles were also torched.

The attacks have raised fears of a return to conflict and instability in Sri Lanka, less than a decade after the South Asian island nation ended a bloody civil war with Tamil separatists.

The latest bout of communal violence began on Sunday when a man from the mainly Buddhist Sinhalese majority died after being beaten by a group of Muslim men over a traffic accident in the town of Teledeniya in Kandy, an area famous for its tea plantations and Buddhist religious sites.

The next day, hundreds of Sinhala Buddhists, mostly outsiders, according to officials and residents, poured into Kandy and attacked and torched dozens of Muslim businesses, houses and mosques. The body of a 23-year-old Muslim man was found in a burned building, and the government, fearing more violence, imposed a state of emergency on Tuesday. It also deployed the army and extended a police curfew in the region.

The violence, however, continued. Overnight on Wednesday "several incidents" were reported in four towns, said Ruwan Gunasekara, a police spokesman.

Three police officers were injured during clashes in Menikhinna, he said. Later in the day, Ambatenna was attacked and a Sinhalese man was killed there after a hand grenade he was carrying exploded.

Gunasekara said security forces have arrested about 35 people since the riots began.

The government has also suspended internet services in the area and blocked access to Facebook and other social messaging applications including Whatsapp and Viber in an attempt to halt incendiary rumours.

'We don't feel safe'
Shukry Cassim, whose four-bedroom house was vandalised in Welekada, said he was "petrified".

"We don't feel safe. All our children are traumatised. We don't know where to go, or who to trust," the 27-year-old accountant told Al Jazeera, standing in front of the burned hulk of his car in his garage.

"We don't know why this is happening. The mob is not from our area. We don't know them," he said. "But they couldn't have done this without the support of people from our area because they have targeted the Muslim houses, and excluded the non-Muslim houses."

Cassim, however, said the violence was instigated by "a few people".

Relations between Muslims and Buddhists in the Kandy district have been historically harmonious, he said, adding: "We share food during religious festivals, we play together and buy goods from each other's shops."

Analysts say tensions flared up between the two communities because of the rise of Buddhist nationalist groups following the end of the country's three-decade war. These groups include the monk-led Bodu Bala Sena, which has links to Buddhist hardline groups in Myanmar.

They are widely perceived to have the support of former President Mahinda Rajapakse, and accuse the Muslims, who make up 10 percent of Sri Lanka's 21 million population, of forcing people to convert to Islam and of destroying sacred Buddhist sites. Prior to the Kandy riots, at least three other major incidents of anti-Muslim violence have been reported in the past year.

"Sri Lanka is on the brink," said Alan Keenan, a researcher at the International Crisis Group.

"These attacks are organised, well-planned," he said. "And there is good reason to believe they are partly designed to provoke a Muslim response, which would then justify more violence against Muslims." 

The Muslim community has "been admirably restrained" so far, he said. But if the minority retaliates by attacking the Sinhalese community, "other Sinhalese will then feel threatened and participate in a way they haven't yet".

Police inaction
Keenan also said he was concerned by the inability of the army and the police to control the riots.

"The reason for this is unclear - whether they [the security forces] have been badly deployed, or deployed in inadequate numbers. What worries me is the hypothesis that some significant degree of the police and military are sympathetic to the rioters, which would not be surprising," he said, referring to reports of state collusion in the clashes that broke out between Muslims and Buddhists in 2014 which left four dead and many injured.

A third factor may be that security forces are "cautious" to act, Keenan said, because of Sirisena's coalition government's humiliating defeat to Rajapakse's party in local council elections in February.

Sirisena ousted Rajapakse, who is accused of authoritarianism, corruption and human rights abuses, in 2015 after campaigning on a platform of national reconciliation and constitutional reform. However, the coalition that brought the president to power was in tatters ahead of the February vote.

Rajapakse's party win "emboldened" Sinhala Buddhist hardline groups and "more crucially, police and other state officials are now more likely to hedge their bets," said Keenan.

"They [the police] may not be sure if they should go after the rioters. Because they are known to have the sympathy, if not the active support of Rajapakse and his people.

"If Rajapakse and his people are going to be running the government soon, which is possible, a police officer wouldn't want to be known as the courageous guy who did his duty and stopped the violence."

Government in jeopardy
If the clashes continued, said Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director at the Centre for Policy Alternatives, a Colombo-based think-tank, the future of Sirisena's government could be in jeopardy.

"Some say [the riots are instigated] to show that this government is incompetent and incapable," he said. "Others say this is to create instability, which will expedite yet another regime change."

Urging Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickeremasinghe to "act fast, quickly and decisively," Saravanamuttu said security forces must arrest perpetrators of the violence and "it should be communicated to the country at large that we are a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country and we intend to stay so".

The conflict could also affect Sri Lanka's economic recovery after decades of war, he warned.

"If we continue with emergencies and blocking social media, tourists are not going to come and investors are going to start thinking twice," he said.

Back in Welekade, Zameer said she was "hurt" and "heartbroken" by the violence.

"We want safety and security. We don't want anyone to face this," she said.

Cassim echoed her sentiments: "I have tasted the bitterness of war. And I want peace."

Irfan Cader reported from Ambatenna. Zaheena Rasheed reported and wrote from Doha.

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/sri-lanka-brink-fresh-anti-muslim-violence-180307203031915.html

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