ATC is calling on the Australian government to urge Sri Lanka to protect its religious minorities from continuing violence

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) strongly condemns the communal violence targeting the Muslim community in south-western Sri Lanka over the past couple of days.

More than 78 people have been seriously injured and at least three have been confirmed dead following violence predominantly aimed at the Muslim population in the towns of Aluthgama and Beruwala. On Sunday 15th June, a rally by the extremist, Buddhist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) organisation, descended into chaos as the BBS and its followers moved through predominantly Muslim areas chanting anti-Muslim slogans and inciting hatred.  Mosques and tens of Muslim-owned local businesses and homes have been destroyed by the rampaging mobs. Violence targeting ethnic and religious minorities, and the police not acting promptly and even-handedly with tacit support from senior government officials, is becoming a regular occurrence, and the current escalation of violence appears to confirm this worrying trend. 

Speaking on the issue during the current 26th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN High Commissioner Ms Pillay stated that “the Government must urgently do everything it can to arrest this violence, curb the incitement and hate speech which is driving it, and protect all religious minorities.” Her office has previously raised alarm at the escalation of attacks upon Muslims, Hindus and Christians and the ways in which Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists organisations, like BBS, have incited violence.

US Embassy in Colombo in a statement urged "the government to ensure that order is preserved and the lives of citizens, places of worship, and property are protected" and called on the Sri Lankan authorities to investigate these attacks and bring those responsible for justice. Canadian government in an official statement has called on the Sri Lankan government to act quickly to ensure the safety of all communities, adding that "the attacks on Muslims in the country are completely unacceptable and a clear violation of the right to religious freedom."

ATC calls on the Australian government to publicly condemn this wanton violence inflicted upon religious minorities in Sri Lanka, and to insists that the Sri Lankan government take immediate steps to ensure protection for all communities and to bring those responsible for justice.