Collective plea against racism, communal violence | Sunday Observer

Collective plea against racism, communal violence

Pic : Chinthaka Kumarasinghe
Pic : Chinthaka Kumarasinghe

Sri Lanka’s civil society leaders, academics, celebrities, professionals, good governance activists and members of the public on Thursday rallied together in the capital city of Colombo to express their strong condemnation to racism-led communal violence.

In a public demonstration co-organized by the ‘Purawesi Balaya’ (Citizens’ Power), a National Movement for a Just Society and numerous other civil society organizations, protesting in front of the Fort Railway Station, called on the overwhelming majority of peace loving Sri Lankans to speak out against the sprouting of ethnic hatred and appealed for unity among the communities.

Speaking at the rally, Purawasi Balaya Convener, Gamini Viyangoda blamed the silence of the majority of Sri Lankans and their failure to openly speak out against racism as the prime reason that the minority of perpetrators are instigating hate crimes.

On the other hand, co-convener of the Purawesi Balaya, K W Janaranjana said, irrespective of religious affiliations, all the community leaders should rally against extremist elements in their own communities with an overall objective to fight racism.

“I think it’s a great shame and a tragedy that we have to stand here and demonstrate yet again, against religious intolerance, violence and disharmony.

We appeal to the government to come out with a strong clear leadership and message that those miscreants will be arrested, detained, indicted and punished,” Executive Director, Centre for Policy Alternatives, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu said.

He added that while the government had the political will to tackle racism, it appears that the bigger problem is in the implementation and capacity in getting the message across to the ground and ensuring its orders are implemented.

“They knew this was happening at a time when there was a curfew declared. Yet, they seemed unable to ensure the enforcement of the law,” Saravanamuttu pointed out.

Meanwhile, Attorney at Law Ramani Muttetuwegama said, from a lawyer’s point of view, the law enforcement authorities need to take quick steps to reduce tension, provide security for vulnerable communities and arrest both, those who commit acts of violence and those who promote violence.

“Personally, I have been a victim of war and as a country struggling with the outcome of the war amidst the passage of 10 years, the last thing we need is another one cropping up again that will hurt the next generation to come,” Actress Kaushalya Fernando, said. (AR)