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Sri Lanka: Concerned Citizens’ Statement Against Religious Intolerance (Dambulla Mosque attack)

25 April 2012

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Concerned Citizens’ Statement Against Religious Intolerance

It is with great concern that we the undersigned protest against the growing trend of increasing religious intolerance in Sri Lanka with regard to minority religions. We specifically condemn the recent violent attack on the Mosque in Dambulla by a group of anti social actors. The Hindu community has also been asked to move their temple from the vicinity. The Dambulla Khairya Jummah Mosque had been in existence for over 60 years [1] and the mosque trustees have legal documents regarding its construction. On Friday the 20th of April 2012 a tense situation arose as regular Friday prayer at the Mosque was prevented by a gang led by Buddhist monks who claimed that it was an illegal construction. The group stated that both the Mosque and Hindu shrine were built on sacred Buddhist ground. It is further regrettable that law enforcement authorities could not take appropriate action to stop the forceful entry into the mosque and the intimidation of the community.

On the 23rd after a discussion with the Buddhist monks deputy minister Hizbullah made a public announcement to the media that the monks have agreed to give three months to identify alternative land and relocate the Mosque. However the very affected members of the community have not been part of this discussion and are still unable to express their opinion freely. While we are in support of reaching a solution through negotiations with the Muslim community, we would like to stress that any decision taken on this issue should not be unjust towards the minority communities in the context of post-war Sri Lanka.

The mosque has been in existence for over 60 years and the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim persons in the region had been living together in a spirit of amity for decades, if not centuries. Yet, today we see that that religious intolerance is on the rise and the state has done little to check this. The incident in Dambulla is not an isolated one. Last year a Muslim shrine (Dargha) was destroyed in Anuradhapura. [2] In Ashraf Nagar the military has taken over land that belongs to 69 Muslim families, including land that was allotted for a Muslim burial ground. In Illangaithurai Muhathuwaram (now renamed Lanka Patuna) a Shivan shrine was removed and a Buddhist statue was built in its place. A group of Buddhist monks and people attacked the four Square Gospel Church in Kaluthara North last year. The Police have prevented the church from functioning claiming that it would lead to a breach peace. In Ambalangoda the Assembly of God church was attacked in February this year. A pastor in Kalutara was attacked and a house belonging to a Christian was vandalized by Buddhist monks alleging that the church was engaged in conversions. The police failed to frame charges against Buddhist monks. Recently the government has also tried to pass the Town and Country Planning bill which allows for religious land to also been acquired in municipal and urban areas for economic, social, historical, environmental or religious purposes. [3] Even though the bill has been challenged in court and withdrawn there is a move to bring the bill back as law through other avenues. Such acts increase the sense of insecurity that minorities in general feel in this as regards the practice of worship and co existence.

Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious community in which religious acceptance and protection of religious and cultural rights and the freedom to practice their religion anywhere in the country is a basic tenet of the Constitution and a protection assured to all citizens.

We appeal to the President, state institutions and officials, and those in the executive to take appropriate action on the incident in Dambulla that serves to build confidence among minority communities in the state structure and mechanisms. We strongly believe that the people of this country, Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Christian and Burgher wish to live in harmony with each other. We also strongly believe that it is a marginal amount of people who take to violence in riding rough shod over the rights of others. We strongly urge the state to take measures to curb the growing trend of intolerance and to do its utmost to make minorities feel in every way people of this country. In the post war context this is of the utmost importance for reconciliation and peaceful co-existence. We also appeal to religious and community leaders to initiate dialogue at all possible levels so that minority communities feel secure. We pledge our support for a pluralist Sri Lankan society.

[organisations]

1. Affected Women’s Forum (Akkaraippattu)
2. Association of War-Affected Women
3. Centre for Human Resource Development (Viluthu)
4. Centre for Human Rights and Development
5. Centre for Mass Communication and Media (Mannar)
6. Centre for Policy Alternatives
7. EQUAL GROUND
8. Families of the Disappeared
9. Human Rights office Kandy
10. IMADR- Asia
11. INFORM
12. Jaffna Civil Society for Equality
13. Lawyers for Democracy
14. Mannar Women’s Development Federation
15. Mothers and Daughters of Lanka
16. Mullaitheevu Women Development and Rehabilitation Trust
17. Muslim Women’s Trust – Puttalum
18. Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum
19. National Peace Council
20. Red Flag Movement
21. Resources for Peace and Reconciliation (Mannar)
22. Right to Life Human Rights Center
23. Rights Now Collective for Democracy
24. Sakhi Collaboration
25. Stand Up Movement
26. Voluntary Service Development Organization
27. Women’s Action Network
28. Women and Media Collective
29. Women’s Support Group

[individuals]

1. A.L.M Bashir- NESAM, Nindavaur
2. A.Perinpanayagam
3. A.Rajasingam
4. A.C. Mohamed Mahir ( Kattankudy)
5. A.L. Mohamed Irfan (Kattankudy)
6. A.S.Mohamed Rayees
7. Ashila Dandeniya
8. A.W.A. Jihad (Muthur People’s Forum)
9. Aliyar Hazarat (Sammanthurai)
10. Ameena Hussein
11. Anberiya Hanifa
12. Ann Jabbar
13. B. Skanthakumar
14. B.Gowthaman
15. B.F. A. Basnayake
16. Beryl Perera
17. Bhavani Fonseka (Attorney-at-Law)
18. Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe
19. Brito Fernando
20. C.De Silva
21. Cayathri Divakalala
22. Chandragupta Thenuwera
23. Chathurika Senanayake
24. Chulani Kodikara
25. Damaris Wickremesekera
26. Darshan Ambalavanar
27. Darshana Liyanage
28. Dayapala Thiranagama
29. Dileepa Witharana
30. Dishani Jayaweera (Attorney-at-Law)
31. Divakalala Sundaram
32. Dr. Camena Guneratne
33. Dr. D. H. S. Maithripala
34. Dr. Danesh Karunanayake
35. Dr. Dharmasena Pathiraja
36. Dr. Farzana Haniffa
37. Dr. Harini Amarasuriya
38. Dr. Kumar David
39. Dr. Liyanage Amarakeerthi
40. Dr. M. Vethannathan (University of Jaffna)
41. Dr. Muttukrishna Sarvananthan (Point Pedro Institute of Development)
42. Dr. Nishan de Mel
43. Dr. Pakiasothy Saravanamuthu
44. Dr. Philip Setunga
45. Dr. Ranil D. Guneratne
46. Dr. Ruvan Weerasinghe
47. Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran
48. Dr. Shamala Kumar
49. Dr. Sumathy Sivamohan
50. Dr. T. Jayasingam
51. Dushiyanthi Kanapathipillai
52. Ethayarani
53. Faizun Zackariya
54. Francis Devarani (Ampara)
55. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
56. Fr. Nandana Manatunga ( Human Rights Office Kandy)
57. Fr. S. Maria Anthony, S. J.
58. Fr. T. S. Josuwa (Kavithalaya Kala Mandram)
59. Fr. Terence Fernando
60. Fr. V. Yogeswaran
61. F. Solomantine
62. Gamini Viyangoda
63. Godfrey Yogarajah (General Secretary, National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka)
64. Gowrie Ponniah
65. Harean Hettiarachchi (Programme Manager)
66. Harshana Rambukwella (Senior Lecturer- Open University)
67. Hashintha Jayasinghe
68. Hilmy Ahamed
69. Himali Nawalage (Sales Manager)
70. I.Malwatta
71. J. C. Weliamuna (Attorney at Law)
72. Jagath Weerasinghe (Artist)
73. Jake Oorloff
74. Jeevaratnam Kennedy
75. Jehan Mendis (Teacher)
76. Jehan Perera
77. Jensila Majeed
78. Jeyasankar Sivagnanam
79. Jezima Ismail
80. Jovita Arulanantham
81. Juweriya Mohideen
82. K.Arulanandarajah (Kalmunai)
83. K.Arumugam Asoka (Mahashakthi Foundation, Akkarappattu)
84. K.E.Tharagowri (Kalmunai, Ampara)
85. K. L. Shafi Hatheem ( Kalmunai)
86. K.Nihal Ahamed (Humanitarian Elevation Organisation, Addalaichenai)
87. K.Niroshan (People’s Progressive Development Society, Akkaraippattu
88. K.Praba (Thambiluvil)
89. K. R. M. Wickremesinhe (Attorney at Law)
90. K.S Ratnaval (Attorney at Law)
91. K.Sukirtha (Ampara)
92. Kasun Pathiraja
93. Krishna Velupillai
94. Krishni R. Sourjah
95. Kumudini Samuel
96. Kusal Perera
97. L. Perinpanayagam
98. Lakshan Dias
99. L. Yaseen Bawa ( Baker, Oluvil)
100. Lal Wijenayaka (Lawyers for Democracy)
101. M.A.C. Humaid ( Health Education, Social and Sports Organisation, Akkaraippattu)
102. M.A.M. Rifaz (Addalaichchenai)
103. M. Casim Kulanthahi Mararaikar ( Kalmunai)
104. M.I. Haidar (Akkaraipattu)
105. M.I. Rezard (Muthur Youth Social Development Organisation)
106. M. M. Nazeer ( Oluvil)
107. M.M. Saburudeen (Attorney at Law- Mannar)
108. M.R.M Naufil (Mannar Grand Mosque)
109. M. Thiruvarangan
110. Mahaluxumi Kurushanthan (Mannar)
111. Mahesh De Mel (Director, Waves of Hope)
112. Mahinda Hattaka
113. Mahisha Warusavitharana
114. Malcolm Peter (Alliance Development Trust)
115. Manjula Gajanayake
116. Mano Ganesan, (Civil Monitoring Commission)
117. Manzoor A Cader. (Rtd Registrar Sammanthurai)
118. Marisa de Silva
119. Mawlavi Bazeer (Sammanturai)
120. Melani Manel Perera (Christian Women Journalist)
121. Melanie Perera (Alliance Development Trust)
122. Melisha Yapa (Marketer/Banker)
123. Menaha Kandasamy
124. Minna Thaheer
125. Mirak Raheem
126. Mohammed Mahuruf
127. Mohideen Bawa Parikari Ibralebbai. (Oluvil)
128. Monroe Jayasuriya (National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka)
129. Mujeeb Rahman
130. N. L. Pakeer Ali (Oluvil)
131. N.Shanthi (Akkaraipattu)
132. Nadya Perera
133. Nandala Maduranga Kalugampitiya
134. Navin Weeraratne
135. Nawaz Mohammed
136. Nicola Perera
137. Nilanjana Premaratne
138. Nimalka Fernando
139. Niyanthini Kadirgamar
140. Pala Pothupitiya (Artist)
141. P. Thanbirajah
142. P.N. Singham
143. Padmini, Women’s Centre
144. Peter Rezel
145. Priya Thangarajah (Law Student)
146. Prof. Jayantha Seneviratne
147. Prof Maithree Wickramasinghe
148. Prof. Priyan Dias
148. Prof. S.H. Hasbulla
150. R.M.B. Senanayake
151. Radhika Hettiarachchi
152. Raghu Balachandran (Methodist Church of Sri Lanka)
153. Rajany Chandrasegaram
154. Rajasingam
155. Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon (Campaign for Free and Fair Elections)
156. Rajiva Godagedara (Accountant)
157. Ralston Weinman
158. Ramyadarshanie Vithanage
159. Rev. Daisy Aseervatham
160. Rev. Oswald Firth
161. Rifana Buhary
162. Rohan Salgadoe
163. Romola Rassool
164. Rukaiya Mohideen
165. Ruki Fernando
166. Rukshani Attygalle Abeyeratne (Attorney at Law)
167. Ruwani Botheju (Alliance Development Trust)
168. S. Mohamed Rayees
169. S.C.C.Elankovan
170. S.N.S.Rizli (Addalaichchenai)
171. S. S . Ramakrishnan (Engineer- Mannar)
172. S. Sivathasan
173. S.Yoga (Ampara)
174. S.Ziyath, (Addalaichchena)
175. Sam Perera
176. Sanathanan Thamotharampillai (Artist)
177. Sandamali Herath (Marketer)
178. Sanjaya Senenayake
179. Sanjayan Rajasingham
180. Santhasilan Kadirgamar
181. Shafinaz Hassendeen
182. Shanaka Cooray ( Lawyer)
183. Sheik Thajudeen
184. Shifan Ahmed
185. Silma Ahamed
186. Shreen Saroor
187. Sr. Kathleen A.C.
188. Sr. Rasika Pieris
189. Sriya, Women’s Centre
190. Sultan Mohamed Faizal (Mannar Mosque Federation)
191. Surangi Ariyawansha (Center for Human Rights)
192. Suren Raghavan
193. T. Sivapalan
194. T.Pakiyawathi, Aalaiyadivembu (Ampara)
195. Tuan. Dilshan
196. U.K. Abdul Raheem (Naleemi, Oluvil)
197. U. P. S. A. Gafoor. (Rtd, RM Coconut Cultivation Board.- Oluvil)
198. Udan Fernando
199. V.K. Perera
200. V.K.Ranjani (Thandiyadi, Akkaraippattu)
201. Vamadeva Kurukkal (Uduvil)
202. Vasuki Jeyasankar
203. Visaka Dharmadasa
204. Wijith Rohan Fernando (Senior Lecturer, University of Kelaniya)
205. Y. D. Ravindran (Attorney at Law)

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