USTPAC Strongly Condemns Violence Against Muslims in Sri Lanka

Full Text of Press Release

USTPAC032213

Stronger international oversight urged to ensure accountability and protection of ethnic and religious groups

Washington, DC: The United States Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC) strongly condemns the attack on the Muslims in the town of Aluthgama in Sri Lanka on Sunday and calls on the international community to address the rampant impunity on the island.

News reports are emerging that Muslims were attacked by Sinhala nationalist extremists and their properties were destroyed in Aluthgama and neighboring areas. Four people were killed and many more injured. The attacks were allegedly prompted by a hate speech given by a prominent Buddhist monk.

Muslims in Sri Lanka have come under increasing threat from hardcore Sinhala Buddhist groups. The International current affairs magazine, “The Diplomat” aptly headlined last year, “Sri Lanka’s Muslims in the Cross Hairs: Turning their attention from Tamils, Sinhala-Buddhist nationalists are now targeting the island’s Muslim minority.”

“These attacks are often done with the complicity of the Sri Lankan government. The perpetrators are never prosecuted,” said USTPAC President Dr. Karunyan Arulanantham. “Tamils have long been the victims of this state violence and the pervading impunity, and we join hands with our Muslim brethren to end the destructive prejudice that prevents all ethnicities and religions from living peacefully and with mutual respect on the island,” continued Dr. Arulanantham.

USTPAC issued a press release in 2012 condemning the attack on a mosque in Dambulla. Tamil Americans are worried about the escalating scale of anti-Muslim violence that is now causing deaths. Reports of mobs preventing humanitarian aid to the women and children made homeless in this attack is equally reprehensible and cause for great concern.

Pointing to the pride of place given to the protection of Buddhism in the Sri Lankan constitution and the State patronage that turns a blind eye to actions of Buddhist extremists, Dr. Arulanantham said, “Until this structural strangulation that fosters religious superiority and ethnic majoritarianism is done away with and meaningful devolution and power-sharing is instituted, it is hard to break the cycle of violence and convince Tamils and Muslims that they are safe.”

USTPAC denounces the attack on Muslims in Sri Lanka in the strongest terms and calls on the international community, including the United States of America, to take meaningful action to ensure the safety of the Muslims and other ethnic and religious groups in Sri Lanka.

For more information: www.ustpac.org