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    article_image
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2018 anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka

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2018 anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Anti-Muslim Riots in Sri Lanka
Part of 2018 Anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka
2018 anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka is located in Sri Lanka
Ampara
Ampara
Kandy
Kandy
Location Ampara and Kandy District, Sri Lanka
Date 26 February - Ongoing
Target Mosques, Muslim-owned property and Muslim civilians
Deaths 2
Non-fatal injuries
5 (Ampara)
Unknown in Kandy District

The 2018 Buddhist-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka are ongoing religious and ethnic riots in Sri Lanka that occurred in Ampara on 26-27 February 2018, and in the wider Kandy District from 2 March 2018 onward. Muslim citizens, mosques and other properties were attacked by mobs of Sinhalese Buddhists, leading to 5 non-fatal casualties in Ampara, and at least two confirmed deaths in the Kandy District.[1][2][3] The riots in the Kandy District began in Udispattuwa and Teldeniya, later spreading to Digana, Tennekumbura and other areas. The attacks in Kandy stemmed from an assault related to a road accident (and the death of a victim of the assault) which later turned into a sectarian incident. The riots, the first large scale Buddhist-Muslim altercations since smilar events in 2014, prompted the Government to declare a State of Emergency for a period of ten days, the first such instance in seven years since 2011.[4][5] This followed a curfew imposed on the Kandy District immediately following the incident, which saw widespread property damage and destruction.

Social media networks including WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been blocked in parts of the country in an effort to prevent mobs from organizing their attacks and spread propaganda.[6][7][8]

Background

Sri Lanka has seen several racially-charged incidents between the majority Sinhala community and the country's Muslim minority. Ampara District had experienced tensions since 2017, with Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forced conversions and vandalising Buddhist archaeological sites.[9]

Ampara

On 26 February 2018 during the midnight time it was revealed that some group of youngsters went to a restaurant which is situated in the vicinity of temple junction in Ampara town (on the D.S Senanayake Street) and had ordered food items including Parotta for dinner. But the gang of youngsters have flared up after some tablets found in a meal served by a wayside restaurant. The video of the scared Muslim restaurant owner admitting to putting sterilization pills was shared through social media.[10][11] Later on the youngsters argued and quarrelled against the owner of the restaurant and the attack was launched by the specific mob further spreading the rumour that a Muslim restaurant in the Ampara town has been using sterilization pills continuously on the food items.[12][13] While the police arrested the restaurant owner as a result of the video the claim was proven to be false and the owner only nodded his head in fear of the angry gang and not knowing the actual meaning of the Sinhala word 'wandapethi' meaning sterilization pills.[10]

Kandy District

At 2 PM on 22 February 2018, a Sinhalese lorry driver from Ambala, Medamahanuwara was subjected to an assault by four Muslim youths in Karaliyadda, Teldeniya.[14][15][16][17] The victim was admitted to the intensive care unit of the Kandy General Hospital and died on the night of 2 March from his injuries.[17] The victim's assistant (also traveling in the lorry) was assaulted, admitted to hospital, and later discharged after treatment.[18]

The motive behind the attack has not been clearly established, with some reports stating it stemmed from an auto accident where the trucker had damaged the wing mirror of an auto rickshaw the assailants had been travelling in while attempting to overtake it; all four suspects were reported to have been intoxicated.[17] The suspects were arrested by the Sri Lanka Police on the day of the attack and remanded until 7 March.[17]

Riots and violence

Ampara

An angry mob had launched attacks on several shops in the surrounding area of Ampara.[19][20] The mob also demolished an important book.[21] Further, hotels which were located near to the moque were also attacked by the youngsters with the police finding it difficult to bring the situation under control.[22] Thereafter, police reinforcements had been rushed from nearby police stations and the mob dispersed with the assistance of STF.[23]

Kandy District

The first signs of violence were reported from Udispattuwa on the night of 2 March as the body of the victim was being taken to Ambala. Groups set light to tires on the road as a sign of protest against the killing; the police, anticipating violence, deployed 1000 Special Task Force personnel in and around the area, encompassing Moragahamula, Udispattuwa, Teldeniya and Ambagahalanda.[18] Despite these efforts, two Muslim-owned shops in Moragahamula were subjected to arson on the night of 4 March- 28 suspects were arrested for their involvement.[18][24] General disorderly behaviour and assorted violence associated to the killing by the residents of Teldeniya and outlying areas were also reported.[25] The unrest spread to Digana on the morning of 5 March, when a large mob converged on the town, setting fire to a mosque, shops and houses. In response, police used tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to disperse the crowd, which saw retaliation from the mob through various projectiles while the violence spread to more residences, shops and nearby vehicles.[16][18][25] Traffic along the A26 was forced to a halt, and by 3 PM, the police requested the support of the Sri Lanka Army, which deployed 200 troops from the Sinha Regiment base in Digana in the evening.[16][18] The police then followed up by declaring a state of curfew district-wide in Kandy until 6 AM on the 6 March; the same curfew was reimposed on Teldeniya and Pallekele at 8 PM on 6 March, after the body of a 24 year old Muslim male was discovered within the remains of a shop in Digana.[26][18][27][28][29] By the evening of 6 March, a total of 4 mosques, 37 houses, 46 shops and 35 vehicles were damaged or destroyed as a result of the riots in both Digana and other locations in the Kandy District; 1 confirmed fatality was reported.[26]

On the night of 6 March, mobs were observed in Lewella and Balagolla, moving towards Tennekumbura and the general direction of Kandy- an arson attack on a mosque in Tennekumbura was reported.[30] High ambulance activity was reported from Menikhinna, and 7 people were arrested there for disorderly behaviour and for causing unrest.[29] The curfew put in place on the evening of 6 March was lifted briefly on the morning of the 7th, but soon reimposed.[29] 7 March also saw Muslim residents of Mullegama barricading themselves inside a local mosque after a Sinhala mob attacked their homes alleging theft of a donation box from a nearby Buddhist temple; the Muslims accused the police of inaction in the face of the mobs.[31] One Sinhala male was reported to have died and another injured in an explosion of unknown origin in the course of the Mullegama attacks- a reaction that a Buddhist monk at the Mullegama temple said was precipitated by a projectile attack against his temple by Muslims earlier in the day.[31] Katugastota also saw anti-Muslim violence and arson, while a mob assembled in the Ambatanna town center after a rumor of a temple being attacked: the mob then proceeded to damage property and engage in rioting.[32]

Response

Ampara

Sri Lankan professionals debunked the existence of pills that can sterilize a person. Obstetricians and Gynaecologists denied that pills can cause permanent sterility and stressed the need of surgical procedures such as vasectomy on males and tubal ligation surgery on females to cause permanent sterility. Director General of Health Services Dr. Anil Jasinghe also released a statement denying the existence of a method to sterilize a person through pills. Lecturer at the Melaka Manipal Medical College in Malaysia, Sri Lankan Dr. Mohamed Najimudeen has even offered a prize of Rs. 1,000,000 to anyone who can prove sterilization medicines are being added to clothes or food in the country by various individuals. Further the health minister, Rajitha Senaratne also mentioned that there are no such medicines ever discovered to sterilize a male.[10][33][34]

Sociologist and Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Jayewardenepura, Dr. Praneeth Abeysundara and Professor of Sociology, University of Sri Jayawardenapura B.A. Tennyson Perera called for authorities and media to create awareness among the public and create dialogues among community leaders and clerics to counter such paranoia.[10]

Kandy District

The Government urged calm on 5 March, while the Ministry of Education ordered the closure of schools in the Kandy District.[25][35] It also imposed a State of Emergency (the first since 2011) over the country on 6 March for a period of 10 days, granting the state powers to arrest and detain suspects indefinitely, and deploy armed forces at its will.[26][36] The CID was tasked with an investigation into the event and its background.[37]

The police came under heavy criticism for its failure to impose order and its alleged hesitation in preventing property damage at the start of the riots.[17] Several government and opposition MPs criticized the police and its decision-making, while others called for calm and harsh punishments to perpetrators of racially-motivated violence.[17] A group of Sinhala Buddhist citizens and Buddhist clergy held a protest outside the Digana police station on 6 March demanding the release of all suspects arrested for their involvement in the riots.[38]The government and the opposition party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna alleged an organized, political effort to inflame sectarian tensions in Kandy.[14][39] The Bodu Bala Sena, at the center of the 2014 riots, accused the public of unfairly linking it to incidents of communal violence in the country; BBS Secretary General Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara visited the assault victim's home on 4 March, and claimed he had urged residents of the area to remain calm.[40]

In an effort to prevent mobs from organizing online through social media platforms, internet access to the Kandy District was restricted by order of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC).[41][42] Access to Facebook was blocked, and the Ministry of Defence instructed the TRC to report on individuals spreading hate speech on social media platforms.[41] The Centre for Policy Alternatives, a think-tank based in Colombo, released a statement claiming videos containing "false information" that sought to incite sectarian violence were going viral online.[43]

Domestic
Sri Lankan iconic cricketers including Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Sanath Jayasuriya have strongly condemned the situation and had requested the general public to join hands together inorder to make the country unite again.[44]

International
Australia, Denmark, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States issued travel advisories warning their citizens to remain vigilant, avoid large crowds and protests, and to follow instructions by local authorities.[31][45]

  • Turkey Turkey: The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement that expressed concerns over the violence, saying "the Sri Lankan government will take the necessary steps to ensure that different religious and ethnic communities continue to live together in peace across the country."[43] The ministry also offered condolences to the families of victims killed in the riots.[43]
  • United Nations United Nations: The UN condemned the attacks, calling for a quick resolution of the situation in a statement released on 7 March- "The United Nations urges authorities to take immediate action against perpetrators and to ensure that appropriate measures are swiftly taken to restore normalcy in affected areas".[31] UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said, "We are obviously concerned over reports of the ongoing communal violence and we welcome the government's commitment to addressing the tensions and achieve reconciliation. We urge all Sri Lankans to resolve their difference through dialogue."[46]

Other events

The opening match of the 2018 Nidahas Trophy, a Tri-Series cricket tournament between Sri Lanka and India was held under tight security coinciding with the tense situation in the nation following the declaration of the state of emergency.[47][48][49]

See also

References

  1. Jump up^ "Ampara tense following attack on shop and mosque – Colombo Gazette". colombogazette.com. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  2. Jump up^ "Ampara tense following attack on shop and mosque | The Sunday Leader". www.thesundayleader.lk. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  3. Jump up^ "Sri Lanka declares emergency to quell anti-Muslim riots". nation.com. The Nation. 7 March 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  4. Jump up^ "Sri Lanka declares state of emergency after Buddhist-Muslim clash". Reuters. Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  5. Jump up^ "Sri Lanka Declares State of Emergency After Mob Attacks on Muslims". Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  6. Jump up^ Press, Associated (2018-03-07). "The Latest: Sri Lanka orders social media networks blocked". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  7. Jump up^ "Social media blocked: TRCSL". Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  8. Jump up^ "Access restricted to certain social media: Minister - Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka Latest Breaking News and Headlines". b.marfeel.com. Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  9. Jump up^ "Buddhists, Muslims clash in Sri Lanka - Khmer Times". Khmer Times. 2018-02-28. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  10. ^ Jump up to:a b c d "Tension in Ampara after fake 'sterilization pills' controversy". Sunday Observer. 2018-03-03. Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  11. Jump up^ "Anti-Muslim Assaults In Ampara: Police On Alert To Prevent Sinhala-Muslim Clashes". Colombo Telegraph. 2018-02-27. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  12. Jump up^ Lanka, Gamini Gunaratna, Sri Lanka News Paper by LankaPage.com (LLC)- Latest Hot News from Sri. "Sri Lanka : Muslim shops attacked in Buddhist-Muslim clash in Sri Lanka\'s East, security strengthened in Ampara". www.colombopage.com. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  13. Jump up^ "Mosque vandalized in Ampara". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  14. ^ Jump up to:a b "Outside group has created violence: PM". dailymirror.lk. Daily Mirror. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  15. Jump up^ Thomas, Kavindya Chris (6 March 2018). "Following death of assault victim Violence erupts in Teldeniya Curfew in effect till 6 a.m." ceylontoday.lk. Ceylon Today. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  16. ^ Jump up to:a b c Kuruwita, Rathindra; Wimalasurendra, Cyril (5 March 2018). "Troops deployed to quell violence". island.lk. The Island. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  17. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f "Muslims in Digana Closed Their Businesses and Stayed at Home on Police "Advice" But Sinhala Mobs Looted and Torched 27 Deserted Shops,;At Least One Mosque and Some Houses Also Damaged". DBS Jeyaraj. dbsjeyaraj.com. Retrieved 6 March2018.
  18. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f Kuruluwansa, Asela; Imtiaz, Zahra (5 March 2018). "Curfew Declared in Kandy District: 200 Sinha Regiment Soldiers and 1000 Special Task Force Personnel Deployed as Police Fail to Control Anti-Muslim Violence". dbsjeyaraj.com. DBS Jeyaraj. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  19. Jump up^ "Tension in Ampara town". Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  20. Jump up^ shanika. ", shops attacked in Ampara town". Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  21. Jump up^ "Mosque Vandalized In Ampara". Malaysian Digest. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  22. Jump up^ "Shops, mosque damaged in Ampara | FT Online". www.ft.lk. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
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  30. Jump up^ "Anti-Muslim Assaults: Sinhalese Mobs Ignite Kandy For Second Night". colombotelegraph.com. Colombo Telegraph. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
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  33. Jump up^ "Truth relating to 'sterilization pills'". Hiru News. Retrieved 2018-03-06.
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  42. Jump up^ "Sri Lanka imposes curfew in riot-hit town, blocks social media". economynext.com. EconomyNext. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
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  44. Jump up^ "Stand together, be wise: Cricket legends request". Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  45. Jump up^ "US, UK, Aus. issue travel advisories on SL". dailymirror.lk. Daily Mirror. 7 March 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  46. Jump up^ "Senior UN official to visit Sri Lanka after anti-Muslim riots". france24.com. France24. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  47. Jump up^ "Nidahas Trophy to remain unaffected despite emergency in SL". Cricbuzz. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  48. Jump up^ "2018 Nidahas Trophy set to commence despite state of emergency in Sri Lanka". TimesNow. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
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