National Shoora Council issues statement on violence in Aluthgama

Wednesday, 18 June 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The National Shoora Council President Tariq Mahmud has issued the following statement on the recent violence in Aluthgama: The National Shoora (Consultative) Council (NSC), an umbrella grouping of Muslim organisations, condemns the highly provocative racist speeches made at the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) meeting on Sunday (15 June) at Aluthgama. This was followed by an anti-Muslim rally which led to several Muslims getting killed in different places, a large number getting injured, properties belonging to Muslims being looted and burnt, and thousands of Muslim women children and the elderly taking refuge in Mosques and schools. The hate speeches at the meeting had directly incited hostility and violence by urging attack on Muslim establishments specifically in Aluthgama and Dharga Town. The NSC urges the authorities to make BBS leadership accountable for the murders and the other criminal offences that immediately ensued directed entirely against innocent Muslims, following the inciting speeches. However, we wish to convey our deep appreciation to the vast majority of the Sinhala people of the several affected areas for not responding to the anti-Muslim calls for violence and for resisting the destructive campaign of the BBS. The NSC also conveys its appreciation for the Police and the Special Task Force (STF) for their strong presence, which minimised losses, suffering and humiliation, though most attacks took place in areas where the forces were not present while some attacks took place notwithstanding their presence. NSC will be making detailed representations on all these matters. We welcome the statement of President Mahinda Rajapaksa assuring that all those responsible will be dealt with according to law. We urge the government to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation and bring immediately before the law all those who publicly incited violence and those who executed that mission. The NSC furthermore thanks several Ministers including Ministers Basil Rajapaksa, Kumar Welgama and Rohitha Abeygunawardene and Muslim leaders for defusing the tense situation and urges that normalcy be restored at the earliest. A large number of Muslim women, children and the elderly have taken refuge in Mosques and school buildings and still remain there. They would return only after normalcy is restored. The NSC commends the Muslims of affected areas for the immense patience and restraint they had displayed. Together with the majority Sinhalese in their neighbourhood, they had accommodated their sufferings, caused to them for no fault of theirs, but due to the wild conduct of a minority from the majority. The NSC urges them to pray for everyone’s good guidance. We decry attempts being made to falsely show the extensive violence caused in several areas following the BBS rally as a clash between two groups. The obvious falsehood in this story can be seen in that extensive destruction of life and property had been caused only to innocent Muslims due to organised attacks on them. We also regret the claim being falsely spread that a Buddhist monk was attacked on 12 June, whereas a minor incident had taken place between the driver of the monk and a Muslim. The monk is said to have intervened and the matter had ended there. But later the monk, under pressure from some persons, had made the alleged complaint. Police had failed to record the statements of any of the Muslim witnesses. In another incident a stone had been allegedly thrown at the house of a well-known lady doctor in Aluthgama and a group of persons had pressurised her to complain the incident as the work of Muslims, which the doctor had refused. In an earlier incident, a Sinhala lady had allegedly slapped a Buddhist monk at a Police Station. But the BBS did nothing about it. The NSC appeals to the Government, political parties and civil society to condemn the BBS for its irresponsible actions and not to allow them to engineer another Black July ’83, this time against another minority. There is widespread belief that the BBS is an anti-national foreign funded project aimed at destroying internationally the image of Sri Lanka as a nation of tolerant people. If this course if allowed to persist, the country will lose much more than the Muslims under siege. The NSC urges the Muslim political leadership to persist on the accountability of the criminals, to ensure a free and fair investigation with racial prejudices and to seek compensation for the losses incurred. We acknowledge and welcome in this connection the statement issued by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) and urge other civil society groups to follow suit in the greater interests of the country.