Photography by Dinouk Colombage
We the undersigned strongly condemn the violent and unprovoked attack on the Masjid Deenul Islam in Grandpass area on Saturday, August 10, 2013 by an extremist mob injuring 12 people, in the wake of the Eid Festival.
We are outraged over the spate of violent attacks against Christian and Muslim places of worship, and remain deeply concerned about the rise of extremist rhetoric around the island.
While recognising and promoting the constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech, religious worship, and assembly, we urge all communities to respect the religious beliefs – and the associated rights – of their fellow citizens, and to not be influenced by State-condoned Buddhist extremists groups.
At this time, we also wish to express our deep disappointment at the lack of concrete outcomes from inquiries into multiple other attacks against places of worship that have occurred in the recent past.
We are extremely disheartened at the silence and the visible apathy displayed by the Government and the Mahanayake Theros of the Tri-Nikayas, at a time when the rights to religious worship and assembly of its citizens are being threatened by extremism. We also wish to highlight apparent State complicity, and the level of impunity repeatedly granted by the State to extremist elements in the country.
We urge law enforcement authorities to ensure strict adherence to rule of law and prosecute those who are responsible for these heinous crimes, in the existence of abundant evidence put forward by both the public and the media. In addition, we are very disturbed to see continued Police inaction and delays in responding to incidents of racist mob violence, which is a clear indication of State complicity, and the lack of any interest by Defense Authorities to hold perpetrators accountable.
We welcome and endorse the open letter of protest by Muslim members of the Government addressed to the President of Sri Lanka, and share their view that “the lukewarm and ineffective measures taken by the law enforcement agencies on previous occasions, when Muslim communities and their mosques were deliberately attacked, seem to have emboldened some extremist groups who seem determined to create chaos in the country that is still in search of national reconciliation after a prolonged war.”
Further, we call on the Government to investigate into and hold accountable those responsible for the brutal killing of three youth in Weliweriya earlier this month, when the State sent in the military to quell a civilian protest calling for clean water.
In light of reports of media suppression and violence against media personnel reporting from the scene, we strongly urge law enforcement authorities and the protestors to respect the freedom of the press, and to take all measures to ensure their safety.
We wish a speedy recovery to those who were injured in this attack, and commend the calm resilience demonstrated by many of those who were victimised.