- Posted July 14, 2014 by
BBS Attacks on Sri Lankan Muslims: The People’s Voice
The BBS has killed four Muslims so far and severely wounded more than 50 people in continuous attacks in the areas of Darga Nagar, Aluthgama, Beruwela and most recently, on the biggest Muslim-owned shopping complex, No Limit in Panadura Sri Lanka which had been burnt down.
The atmosphere began to turn volatile as the government had approved Bodu Bala Sean’s General Secretary Ven .Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero, to lead a rally inciting hatred against Muslims where he made a number of inflammatory statements, which is believed to have incited the violence.
It was further reported that Muslims who were trying to save their properties from the attacks were unable to do so due to the government curfew.
The impact of the attacks on the people
Mr Naeem Master a resident of Darga Nagar said,
“ The BBS is a terrorist organization and there are some Buddhist monks who totally disagree with what they are doing to the Muslims. I am a resident from Darga town where two people Shiras and Zahiran were killed leaving behind their wives and children. One man is seriously injured and still in the ICU and another man was killed in the area of China Fort”.
Naeem further stated that,
“ The BBS completely destroyed one mosque and 48 houses in our area alone. 66 houses in this area have been damaged and 89 people in total have been injured severely in both Berewela and Aluthgama. A horrific incident took place where the BBS also killed one Muslim man by cutting him with a sword it was terrifying”.
“ The government is not protecting our Muslim community in Sri Lanka and supporting the anti- Muslim rally of the BBS. Muslims need to be protected but they are not receiving the protection they need. I met with a prominent Buddhist monk yesterday who told me that they do not agree with the actions of the BBS and more needs to be done” stated Naeem.
A retired Muslim principle from the area of Adikarrigoda had their house set on fire but despite repeatedly calling the police there was no response. In a tearful statement the principle stated, “ There is no protection for Muslims or any laws to protect them”.
In Darga town, Mr Mohamed, a teacher, was injured by the BBS and suffered cuts to his head he said,
“I escaped from near death after being attacked by a group of a mob when I was returning home to take my belongings "
A businessman from Lotus Road whose shop was completely destroyed, Mr Mufti said,
" It all happened within a short time, I couldn't imagine that my fellow citizens with whom I have done business for so many years did this to me all of the sudden"
Many families have been displaced and lefts destitute due to the attacks carried out by the BBS and are arguing that the police are not doing enough to protect them. In a country where ethnic tensions have flared up once again the need for intervention from the government and authorities is imperative. Some Sri Lankan Muslims have tried their best to protect themselves and their businesses, however, without the sufficient support from the police they have had to endure both physical and mental harm.
Mr. Shafraz from Welapitiya lost part of his leg due to suffering from gun shot wounds and stated
“I was there protecting the mosque because I thought its my duty to do so being a Muslim. However, they came up with guns and shot at us”.
A victimized senior citizen from Aluthgama, Mrs Shabdeen explained her ordeal with the BBS and said in a video statement to Sri Lankan Muslim agency Sonakar that,
“ While I was talking to my brother on the phone I heard a big noise of someone breaking into my house. When I opened the bedroom door I saw that there were 600 people already inside my house taking all my jewellery. They said to me that they were going to set fire to my house. There were four other people who told me to wait outside the house and in the meantime another 2-3 men came outside to attack me. These four people stopped them and didn’t allow them to attack me”
Mrs Shabdeen explained how a great number of people from the BBS surrounded her and took her along the public road like a procession, away from her house.
“I thought they were going to take me to kill me” she stated.
“I saw houses set on fire and I was thinking how come these houses are all on fire and all our Muslims are suffering inside. There were so many houses being set alight. The police were carrying weapons in their hands whilst the incident was occurring but they were not doing anything. I was frightened to ask why they are not intervening or doing anything to help them”.
Political Analyst, Amjad Mohamed Saleem from Colombo stated that, “The rise of BBS just 5 years after the end of a bitter ethnic conflict doesn't bode well for future reconciliation and perhaps is symbolic of the challenges ethnic and religious minorities have in Sri Lanka in countering a hegemonic, nationalist narrative. The Muslim community are not new or immigrants to the country they are part and parcel of it,”
Saleem further stated that,
“This type of focus by the BBS is disingenuous given that there are other pressing things that can occupy their attention such as growing domestic and sexual violence; rising alcoholism and other moral challenges that require monks and other faith leaders to take pragmatic action. However, what is even more disconcerting is the silence of the Sinhalese majority on the BBS actions either through apathy or sympathy. this is where the real challenge is and should be addressed. For years, we wax lyrical about how communities coexisted. i think this has disappeared and we are now parallel communities that coexist on economic terms but not necessarily know and understand each other”.
There have been protests organized by the Sri Lankan Muslim community in London, Paris and India campaigning for justice and protection for Muslims living amongst the conflict. Buddhists and Muslims have lived peacefully with one another for years in the country yet the recent tensions have left Muslims as a minority that is unheard by the government.