Riots in Lanka
At least four people have been reported killed and scores injured in the southern coastal towns of Aluthgama and Beruwala since an anti-Muslim riot broke out following a rally organized by the hard-line Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) on Sunday. Violent incidents have also been reported in other towns since Sunday.
"This is the worst outbreak of communal violence in Sri Lanka in years and there is a real risk of it spreading further. The government must do everything in its power to end it immediately, while respecting the human rights of all concerned. Those responsible for killings and other acts of violence must be held to account, and at-risk Muslim communities given the protection they need," said David Griffiths, Amnesty International's Deputy Asia Pacific Director.
"Eyewitness reports that police have stood by and refused to intervene in the violence are very troubling and must also be investigated. Security forces have a duty to protect the right of everyone to life and security regardless of their beliefs or identity."
Despite police imposing a curfew, anti-Muslim mob violence continued over Monday and Tuesday, resulting in widespread destruction of property, with Muslim’s homes and shops burned and looted. Tensions had been rising in Aluthgama for days following an alleged fight between Muslim youths and a Buddhist monk's driver.
But despite Muslim community leaders warning that the situation could escalate, the government granted BBS permission to stage the rally on Sunday that sparked the violence, apparently without putting in place the means to prevent or stop it.
"There has been a disturbing rise in attacks and harassment of religious minorities in Sri Lanka over the past two years, mostly led by groups with a hard-line Buddhist or nationalist agenda, and these groups are reported to strong links to high-ranking government officials. Rising violence against religious minorities cannot be treated as an isolated issue -stopping it must be a crucial part of the national reconciliation that is so badly needed since the conflict's end in 2009," said David Griffiths.
Amnesty International received hundreds of reports of harassment, threats and attacks on Muslims and Christians and their places of worship in 2013.
After her August 2013 visit to Sri Lanka, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed concern at the "recent surge in incitement of hatred and violence against religious minorities". These concerns were echoed by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014 in the resolution that established an inquiry into alleged war crimes during Sri Lanka's armed conflict.
Amnesty International, London
Saibaba’s Illegal Detention
Dr G N Saibaba, who was abducted from Delhi by the Maharashtra police on 9 May 2014 and charged under the UA(P)A, remains languishing in Nagpur Central Jail to this date, without any substantial reason for being detained.
Saibaba had applied for bail on robust legal and humanitarian grounds. The latter grounds included the argument that the jail acknowledgedly did not have the medical facilities to house a 90% disabled person like himself, and that he was suffering severely from medical neglect. In spite of this, the Sessions Court rejected his bail application on the absurd grounds that the jail authorities did not provide any record of denial of medical facilities.
Since his arrest, Saibaba has not been produced before the magistrate to ascertain his medical condition. He remains without adequate medical assistance, and his condition is deteriorating fast. He has collapsed twice in jail and as yet no medical facilities have been provided.
In the light of these circumstances, a 17-person Committee for the Defence and Release of G N Saibaba has been constituted to expedite his release on bail, and to ensure that he is treated and tried in accordance with all legal and constitutional provisions. The following members constitute the Committee.
1. Prof A K Ramakrishnan (Centre for West Asian Studies, JNU)
2. Prof Amit Bhaduri (Professor Emeritus, JNU)
3. Prof Anand Teltumbde (Writer and Activist)
4. Arundhati Roy (Writer and Activist)
5. Ashok Bhowmick (Artist and Activist)
6. Prof G Hargopal (Centre for Human Rights, University of Hyderabad, [retd.]) (Chairperson)
7. Prof Jagmohan Singh (Retd.) (Association for Democratic Rights)
8. Prof Karen Gabriel (St Stephens College, DU) (General Secretary)
9. N Raghuram (IP University; ex-President, IPUTA)
l0. Nandita Narain (St Stephens College, DU; President, DUTA)
11. P K Vijayan (Hindu College, DU)
12. Sanjay Kak (Independent filmmaker and activist)
13. Seema Azad (journalist, Editor, Dastak, PUCL activist)
14. Sri Krishnadeva Rao (Registrar, National Law University, Delhi)
15. Sudhir Dhawale (Journalist, Editor Vidrohi, Activist)
16. Sumit Chakravarty (Editor, Mainstream)
17. Vikas Gupta (Dept of History, DU)
Dr Karen Gabriel, Associate Professor, Dept of English, St. Stephen’s College
Vol. 47, No. 2, Jul 20 - 26, 2014