Women’s groups in Sri Lanka condemn the recent incidents of violence in Aluthgama and Beruwala that has caused insecurity and fear among women and children in the area. At a Press Conference organised by the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka on 16 June academics, religious leaders and rights activists said it was absolutely imperative that hostilities brought on by extremist groups are resolved.
“As a citizen of this country and a Sinhala Buddhist, I grew up in a country which accepted our multi-ethnic, multi religious society. Today we see in newspapers and the images on television extremist groups claiming to be Buddhists, who use hate speech to provoke violence against those of other religions. As women’s rights activists, we condemn all acts of violence against women and against any other persons. We reject outright the hate speech of these groups who call themselves Buddhists and we condemn their conduct completely” said Executive Director of Women and Media Collective, Dr. Sepali Kottegoda.
Attorney and activist, Shamil Daluwatte questions the intolerance that is being ignited by these extremist groups as the country is still recovering from a 30 year long conflict. “In any conflict or war it is the women and children that suffer the most. Haven’t we suffered enough? Tears of war have not dried and the scars of bombs are yet to disappear. The national anthem is meaningless if we don’t follow what it says” she said.
According to women’s rights activists, Sri Lanka is facing an extremely dangerous future where instead of a focus on re-building strong relationships between the ethnic and religious communities, a breakdown of law and order is becoming the norm and those who seek to profit from violence and bloodshed are allowed complete freedom across the country.