UN experts call on Sri Lanka to stop religious hatred

Three UN experts today asked Sri Lankan government to take urgent steps to stop frequent racial and faith-based hatred and violence against Muslim and Christian communities by hardline Buddhist groups.

PTI| Last Updated: Jul 02, 2014, 21:23 PM IST

Colombo: Three UN experts today asked Sri Lankan government to take urgent steps to stop frequent racial and faith-based hatred and violence against Muslim and Christian communities by hardline Buddhist groups.

In a statement, they said Muslims and Christians are subjected to hate speech, discrimination, attacks and acts of violence throughout the country frequently.

More than 350 violent attacks against Muslims and over 150 attacks against Christians have been reported in the last two years, they said.

This violence is fuelled by the atmosphere of impunity, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt said.

Impunity and inadequate response from the police and judicial authorities aimed at protecting the lives, physical security, the property and places of worship of these communities may encourage further attacks and a risk of spiralling violence, he warned.

The Government must end the violence and put in place urgent protective measures to ensure the personal security of all individuals belonging to religious minority communities living in the country, Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsk said.

The Special Rapporteur on extra judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, called on authorities to take urgent and firm measures to bring the perpetrators of killings to justice, and ensure the immediate adoption of robust protective measures.

They say that hate statements by Buddhist extremist groups have contributed to spread a climate of fear among Sinhala Buddhists, who constitute the majority population in Sri Lanka, and resentment towards minorities.

Four persons were killed and over 100 injured in last month`s anti-Muslim violence in the southwestern coastal areas of Beruwala, Aluthgama and Dharga Town.
Nationalist Buddhist group BBS or the Forces of Buddhist Power led by Galagodaatte Gnanasara was accused of being behind the anti-Muslim riots that began on June 15.