3-judge panel to probe anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka
12 March, 2018, 06:36 | Author: Terri Saunders
Hundreds of Buddhist monks and activists staged a demonstration in the Sri Lankan capital Friday to condemn anti-Muslim riots that have killed three people and forced the government to declare a nationwide state of emergency.
"We are responding to the situation in Sri Lanka and are in contact with the government and non-governmental organisations to support efforts to identify and remove such content". In the capital Colombo too, Muslim-owned businesses remained closed.
The riots, which began on Monday after a man from the mainly Buddhist Sinhalese majority died from injuries sustained in an attack by Muslims last week, have destroyed more than 200 Muslim businesses, homes and vehicles.
President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have increased deployment of forces in the city of Kandy in the country's Central Province for 10 days.
Former Sri Lankan cricket captain Kumar Sangakkara alluded to the island's history of ethnic violence in urging his countrymen "to say no to racism".
They claimed that the arrests came late while some sections of the security forces had turned a blind eye to escalating violence against them.
What is the historical relationship between Buddhists and Muslims in Sri Lanka, and what is driving recent tensions between them at this time?
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Sri Lanka's Muslims make up about 9 percent of its 21 million people and mostly live in the east and centre of the island.
Curfew in the district was lifted at dawn Saturday but army continued to patrol alongside police, officials said. 169 of them from Kandy and 61 of them from other areas.
A total of 146 suspects were arrested in Kandy - 135 over violence and 11 for violating the curfew since March 4, the report said.
"We are investigating who funded them, their future plans, and whether they have any local political leadership and whether there was any foreign involvement behind this", police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara told reporters in Colombo.
Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara said although it was considered a human rights violation, the government had taken the decision in order to curb the spread of false and malicious news and to stop the situation from going out of control.
The end of the country's civil war in 2009 was followed by the emergence of hardline Buddhist nationalist groups, such as the Bodu Bala Sena, especially during the term of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
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