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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...
    Read More...
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Escalating Violence: Renewed assaults on the Muslim community

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Featured image courtesy Paula Bronstein/The Global Mail

Post war Sri Lanka saw a wave of attacks targeting the Muslim community by Buddhist extremist groups. The Mahinda Rajapaksa government allowed these extremists free rein, which caused extensive damage, including injuries and the damaging of Muslim-owned property. This resulted in the Muslims voting en-bloc to overthrow the once indispensable Rajapaksa regime.

The regime change brought about a lull in Buddhist extremist activity but tensions restarted with land issues in Musali, when groups claimed that Muslim IDPs, returning from the 1990 eviction by the LTTE were being illegally settled within the Wilpattu forest reserve. President Maithripala Sirisena made public statements claiming that the former Minister Basil Rajapaksa who headed the Presidential Task Force for Northern Development had allocated land within the Wilpattu reserve. Later he retracted this statement, and said not a single inch of Wilpattu reserve had been encroached. The groups continued their campaign to deprive the Muslim IDPs of their right to return.

This led to a build up of campaign by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), the Sinhala Ravaya and Ravana Balaya. Soon, they were joined by a few more ‘Facebook warriors’ – Mahason Balaya, The Sinhale Jathika Balamuluwa (SJB) and Dan Priyasath who used new media technology to spread hate and violent messages. Most of these groups found this an opportunity to hoodwink Buddhist corporates and the Sinhalese Diaspora in South Korea, Australia, Europe and America to fund the saviours of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

In the absence of stern action by the Government or the Buddhist hierarchy of Mahanayake’s, Ven. Gnanasara and company went on a major racist offensive against the minorities. Did Yahapalanaya consider these racist assaults as freedom of expression or did the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government of good governance provide subtle support to these extremists in the hope that they could break the dominance of the Sinhala Buddhist vote bank by the Rajapaksa’s joint opposition? Evidence points to the latter as no action has been taken despite numerous police complaints and legal action instituted by Muslims.

The end of Sinhala and Tamil New year celebrations saw renewed assaults on the Muslim community by extremist Buddhist forces. Since the dawn of April 16th, there have been at least twenty incidents of violence or attempted violence, hate, intimidation and threats to the Muslims, their places of religious worship and business. These renewed threats are from Bodu Bala Sena, Sinhala Ravaya, Sinhale, Mahason Balaya to name a few.

The Secretariat for Muslims (SFM) a Muslim civil society organisation documented 538 incidents against the Muslims from 2013 to 2015. The following is a documentation of the violence against Muslims during the last 5 weeks:

16th April, 2017

Petrol Bombs thrown at shops in Godapitiya

Four shops owned by Muslims were attacked with petrol Bombs in Godapitiya, Porruva. This incident went unreported due to the pressure brought by the local police. This was not even reported in the social media by local residents, fearing further police intimidation. Even after a month, the police have still not been able to investigate and apprehend the perpetrators of this act of violence.

20th April, 2017

Land Grab at Irrakamam in Mayakkali

2 1/2 Acres of land owned by Muslims was forcibly taken over in Irrakamam in Mayakkali. No police action has been taken even after complaints have been lodged.

25th April 2017

Incitement by Ven. Gnanasara Thero in Irrakamam.

Ven. Gnanasara thero visited Irrakamam and made a very provocative speech violating his bail conditions. Police complaints have been made and no action has been taken up to to date.

8th May 2017

Myanmar Boat People

Ven. Gnanasara Thero claimed at a press conference that refugees from Myanmar had arrived in Sri Lanka with the intention of invading our land. These refugees were arrested at sea by the Sri Lankan navy while they were attempting to flee to Australia by boat due to the atrocities of the racist Myanmar government. This statement was purely meant to provoke the Sinhala Buddhists.

10th May 2017

Vesak celebrations

Vesak celebrations with Bodhi pujas were held in Irrakamam in Mayakkali, a predominantly Muslim area with the intent to provoke, but the Muslims showed much restraint and no untoward incidents were reported.

May 14th 2017

Threatening Muslims in Onegama in Polonnaruwa

A group of Buddhist monks led by Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero threatened Muslims in Onegama in Polonnaruwa and broke their huts and livelihood means. The Police who were present did not attempt to stop this mob from causing this violence. Hiru TV showed the destruction of the huts of the Muslims. Here again, Ven. Gnanasara Thero insulted Allah subahanauwa ta’aala in the most derogatory and inflammatory way. Defaming of Allah subahanauwa ta’aala, is the most blasphemous insult that no Muslim will tolerate. Police complaints have been made with video evidence and they have failed to take any action yet.

15th May 2017

Attack on the Muslim Village of Selvanagar in the Trincomalee District

The entire Muslim population of Selva Nagar in Thoppur (Tricomalee District, bordering Seruvila and Muthur electorate) were threatened by a mob of outsiders, led by Buddhist monks. A large number of Muslims have fled the area due to this intimidation. The local temple (Pansala) currently owns six acres and they are now attempting to claim 49 acres of Muslim lands insisting that these are archaeological sites. Muslims have been living and in possession of these lands for over a hundred years. Residents claim that these extremists are trying to drive them out as the LTTE did during the ethnic conflict.

15th May 2017

A fire broke out in Panadura Mosque .

It is suspected that extremist elements may have attempted to set the mosque on fire using a petrol bomb. This is the second petrol bomb attack. They had also set alight a garbage dump close by. No police action has been initiated.

15th May 2017

Masked men attack Kohilawatta Ibrahim Jumma Mosque

Unidentified men had arrived on motorbikes and attempted to attack the mosque. When some workers who were doing renovation had come out, they had left on their bikes.

16th May 2017

Insults Allah:

Once again, Ven. Gnanasara Thero insults Allah subahanauwa ta’aala in the most demeaning way at a press conference.

16th May 2017

Attack on Muslim Selva Nagar in Thoppur

A large group of Buddhist extremists numbering about 200 had gone to Selva Nagar in Thoppur with clubs and swords and caused extensive damage to 16 houses and property. No police action has been taken despite several complaints.

16th May 2017

Gang Attacks Kohilawatte Mosque

The Kohilawatte Mosque, in Sedawatte, was attacked with stones and clubs, around 1:30 p.m. by an unidentified gang, resulting in extensive damage. Wellampitiya Police has been provided CCTV footage of the attack and no arrests have been made as yet.

May 17 2017

Two Shops In Panadura Attacked

Two Muslim owned shops were attacked in Panadura and extensive damage caused to its furniture, equipment and fittings. One was a bakery and the other was a communications facility.

May 18th 2017

Last Chance Electrical showroom burned

The Last Chance show room in Wennappuwa has been set on fire and burnt down completely on the night of 17th May. The losses are estimated at several millions.

21st May 2017

Mallawapitiya mosque in Kurunegala Attacked

A procession led by Ven. Gnanasara, which was going to Ibbagamuwa, was stopped by police. Thereafter, Ven. Gnanasara and other Buddhist extremists claimed that they were being stopped at the call of the Muslims and abused in raw filth. They called on the crowd that had gathered to attack the Muslims. Six petrol bombs had been hurled at the Mallawapitiya mosque causing damage. Police have not arrested anyone yet.

21st May 2017

A Cosmetic Shop in Elpitiya burned

A cosmetic store owned by a Muslim was set on fire causing extensive damage. Police have still failed to make a comprehensive investigation.

22nd May 2017

A leather Store in Wijerama Junction, Maharagama set alight

A leather store belonging to a Muslim at Wijerama Junction, Maharagama has been set on fire during the night and completely burned, with heavy losses.

It is very clear that Ven. Gnanasara is attempting to prevent his arrest over the Homagama magistrate’s complaint of contempt of court and intimidation of witnesses. He is attempting to generate protests from the majority Buddhist community by claiming that he is being arrested on the charges filed by Muslims. He has continued to violate his bail conditions, and is aware that he has very little chances of evading arrest. The majority of Sinhalese who do not subscribe to Ven. Gnanasara’s extremism will not move a finger if this racist is arrested. It should be noted that he commanded a mere 27,000 Island wide votes at the last general elections.

The Government of President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe need to deal with this major crisis which will destabilise their hard earned victory in January 2015. The Muslim parliamentarians, civil society, business community and academia have requested the government to act with a strong resolve to ensure that rule of law prevails. A peaceful environment will ensure the rapid reconciliation of all peoples of Sri Lanka.

Those who enjoyed this article might find “Return of Saffron violence?” and “Blood-and-faith populism and Sri Lanka’s future” enlightening reads.

 

http://groundviews.org/2017/05/22/escalating-violence-renewed-assaults-on-the-muslim-community/

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