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Sri Lankan government minister GL Peiris has tried to justify a wave of attacks on churches and mosques, claiming that these were simply community reactions to unauthorised facilities. The state’s refusal to protect religious minorities further undermines human rights in Sri Lanka overall.
As pressure mounts on the Sri Lankan government to investigate war crimes, its response, along with that of its supporters at home and abroad, has been to try to discredit all critics.
Sri Lanka’s regime is preparing to host a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in mid-November. Embarrassingly, however, a disturbing documentary containing evidence of atrocities towards the end of the island’s civil war was broadcast by Channel 4.
At a press conference in Colombo on 31 August 2013, United Nations high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay highlighted serious ongoing concerns, while recognising progress in some areas. Numerous people continue to be denied human rights, in part because so many others are in denial about abuses by state or rebel forces.
In July 1983 in Sri Lanka, state-sponsored violence and undermining of democracy led to lengthy civil war and widespread suffering. Thirty years later, it would appear that many have failed to learn from the past.
Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority has faced a hate campaign in recent months. The Friday Forum, a citizens’ group which includes former Anglican Bishop of Colombo Duleep de Chickera, has written to President Mahinda Rajapaksa calling on him to act. The letter reads as follows:
Small gatherings can have a vital role if Sri Lanka’s wounds are to be healed and justice achieved, according to Duleep de Chickera.