Sri Lanka: Who is responsible for attacks on innocent Muslims in Aluthgama Town?

After multiple atrocities against innocent Muslims in Aluthgama, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has finally requested some Muslim MPs to produce evidence of the religiously-motivated attacks on Muslims in Aluthgama.

One can only wonder, where does our president live? Does he live in Sri Lanka or on another planet? It is self-evident that all these discriminatory attacks are carried out by BBS cohorts following the inciteful speech of its Secretary General. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero has been inciting violence against Muslims for more than two years; he has been insulting Islam without any reason, and making false accusations without any evidence. If the president needs evidence he should listen to some of the speeches given by this so-called barbaric and uncultured monk. He should watch some of the video clips of racist attacks on Muslims in Aluthgama. What more evidence does he need after the recording of over 300 hundred racist incidents within the last two years? All evidence has been presented to human rights commissions at the UN and Europe. He need only read some of their reports to know what has happened to Muslims over the last two years.

Who should be blamed for these attacks on innocent Muslims in recent times? Since 2011, Muslims have been the target of discriminatory attacks from Buddhist extremist group Budu Bala Sene (BBS). They have been provoking Muslim people with insults, using filthy terms to depict Islam and Muslims. They have fabricated many unfounded accusations against Muslims for no reason, yet the president cannot see the culprit.

You do not have to be a rocket scientist to know the truth about this extremist group. This group was created by the president's brother and Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, for his political gain. It has been his dream to become next president; he uses all government apparatus to gain popularity among Sinhalese people in the hope that one day he would be elected as President of Sri Lanka. This is his long-term ambition. He plays the religious card to gain popularity among people, using religious hatred as a tool. He uses extremist Buddhists monks to achieve this objective. He has, indeed, openly supported BBS and has provided them with financial support. It is he who provides vehicles and security for BBS gangs, he who is the master mind behind their strategies, he who opened the BBS offices in Galle. Rajapaksa protected them from court jurisdiction many times and has asked police to refrain from taking action against them. Consequently, law enforcement authorities are prevented from opening a court case against BBS. Rajapakse even gave them permission to demonstrate in Muslim areas, enabling BBS to insult Islam and Muslims. All this is to gain popularity among Sinhalese voters for the next election and secure a place in parliament in the hope of becoming next President of Sri Lanka. In the last two years more than 300 hundred incidents have taken place against Muslims across the country. All these incidents have taken place with the recognition and approval of this self-declared "defence" secretary.

Another theory is that many senior Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) members are dissatisfied with Rajapaksa family politics. Most senior SLFP MPs are currently powerless in the Sri Lankan parliament and they have been made to bow down to the commandments of the ruling Rajapaksa family. More importantly, a self-declared Defence Secretary controls everyone in the party. This family domination of politics has been agonising for some senior SLFP members; they have already decided to teach the Rajapaksa family a lesson and plan to seek revenge in the coming election. The Rajapaksa family knows this very well; this is a do-or-die situation. In order to allure Sinhalese votes they have created this devil of BBS in Sri Lanka. I think most Sinhalese people know this, and are clever enough to distinguish truth from falsehood.

What happened last Sunday in Aluthgama was a well planned attack on Muslims. Who gave them permission to carry this out in a Muslim town? Why do these thugs need to make such demonstrations? This is deliberately done to inflict terror on innocent Muslims. What crimes have these Muslims done to provoke BBS into killing them? What did these Muslims do to deserve the burning of their houses? These acts of collective barbarism are performed by inhuman mobs. You could argue that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeham (LTTE) killed more than 27,000 members of the Sri Lankan forces. They attacked many Buddhist temples. At least one could argue that there was some reason for wiping out LTTE because they wanted to divide this small country. What crimes have the Muslims in this country committed? Why did these mobs target innocent Muslims? This government is entirely responsible for all that happened in these attacks. Bloodthirsty Goata is directly responsible for all these barbaric attacks. He should be taken to court for his role in this massacre.

What should be done now? There is clear-cut evidence that all these anti-Muslim attacks have been instigated by BBS and their cohorts. Now it is the government's responsibility to take measures to ban this BBS group in the interest of Sri Lanka's people. They should bring the attackers into court and punish them accordingly. There will be nowhere for them to hide; everything that has happened has been recorded on video. Police must present all this video evidence in court.

Robbery and looting has also been committed in broad daylight. What does BBS hope to achieve by burning down Muslim houses and shops? Or by creating mayhem and misery for poor people? It is reported that household items and jewellery of were looted before their houses.were burned to the ground, all in plain sight of the police.

The general secretary of BBS should be jailed for hate speech and violence against Muslims in this country. We have recorded evidence of this hate speech that should be produced in court and sent to international human right groups, including the UN Human Rights Council. The whole world should know exactly what happens in Sri Lanka.

Now people need to rebuild their houses. They need to restart their lives. It is the duty of this government to allocate money from state funds to help them to do so. BBS do not realise it is public money that will be spent on the rebuilding process; it is the wealth and resources of this country they have burned down. If they are truly patriots of Sri Lanka they would not have done this. They are destroying Sri Lanka bit by bit by these violent activities. It is the Sri Lankan people who are going to suffer because of these acts of violence. it is the economy of our nation that will suffer because of the stupidity of these people. Now it is time to catch the culprits and mobs involved in this violence. We hope that the president will act swiftly against these people.

I conclude with a quote from Dr. Jayathilaka who calls upon the people of Sri Lanka to stand united against this discriminatory mob: 'The officer corps of the Sri Lankan military, the bureaucracy, the judiciary, the corporate sector, the trade unions, the student unions, the professionals, the political parties, the media, the intelligentsia, the international system (including Sri Lanka’s friends) should all be made aware of how destructive the BBS project is to their interests and should be motivated to oppose and defeat it. The most effective weapons to stop the March of the BBS are an intelligent patriotism, a reasoned appeal to Sinhala interests and a more authentic, generously inclusive and pluralist Buddhism'.

Photo: Three ladies attend the opening of the Kataragama Festival, Sri Lanka's largest festival for Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. Credit: Brett Davies

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