Communal Violence Against Muslims in Sri Lanka

 Sri Lankan Muslims, rendered homeless, protesting against the communal outfit Bodu Bala SenaAfter Tamils, it is now Muslims at the receiving end of majoritarian violence in Rajapksa-ruled Sri Lanka. A fresh bout of majoritarian violence was unleashed by Buddhist communal organisation Bodu Bala Sena on the Muslim community in Aluthgama, Beruwala, Velipenna and Dharga-town.
The communal violence erupted after the Bodu Bala Sena leader, Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, made an inflammatory speech at a BBS rally threatening “the end” of all Muslims. Following the rally, BBS mobs marched through Muslim neighborhoods, setting fire to dozens of homes and shops. The violence that continues for several days and nights, killed at least 4, injured around 16 severely, and rendered hundreds homeless.
Wataraka Vijitha Thero, a prominent Buddhist monk who has spearheaded campaigns for communal harmony between Sinhala Buddhists, Tamils and Muslims, has also been attacked. He was found tied up and dumped on a road on the outskirts of Colombo. He had earlier been threatened by the BBS leader Gnanasara when he had helped organise an interfaith press conference addressed by Buddhist and Muslim leaders.

Meanwhile, the Power and Energy Minister in the Rajapaksa Cabinet has made a public speech threatening a 100 more massacres against Tamils. Champika Ranawaka, the leader of Sinhala right wing Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), a main constituent party of the ruling coalition headed by Rajapaksa, warned Tamil people not to support a Tamil political party if they wanted to avoid repeating the Mullivaikkal massacre a 100 times over. Mullivaikkal is an area notorious as the “killing fields” where tens of thousands of Tamils were cornered and massacred during the final stage of the war between Sri Lankan troops and the LTTE in 2009.

Unsurprisingly, the Indian Government headed by Narendra Modi, himself tainted with the anti-Muslim violence of 2002 in Gujarat on his watch, has remained silent on the communal violence in Sri Lanka.

In March 2013, Ram Madhav, senior leader of India’s Hindu majoritarian outfit the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), wrote an article hailing the Bodu Bala Sena as a “new Buddhist movement in Sri Lanka.” India’s Prime Minister Modi has openly boasted of his allegiance to the RSS, an organisation that explicitly admired and was inspired by European fascist groups in the 1930s.

In a disappointing development, however, Bolivia headed by President Evo Morales, known for his democratic and anti-imperialist credentials, has conferred an award on President Rajapakse for “his contribution to peace and democracy.” It is truly ironic that the perpetrators of genocide have tended to be recipients of peace awards! The award to Rajapakse, who has the blood of Tamils and now Muslims on his hands, casts a shadow on Morales’ political legacy.