The expansion of hatred between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has caused stir in Sri Lanka on Tuesday when Colombo declared a State of Emergency for 10 days to rein in the spread of communal violence in some parts of the country.
The decision to declare emergency came a day after the eruption of clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Sri Lanka’s central district of Kandy. There are reports of rising tension between the two communities over the past year. Some hard-line Buddhist groups have been accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalizing Buddhist archaeological sites.
According to Colombo based Daily Mirror, Minister of Social Empowerment and Welfare S. B. Dissanayake, while speaking to the media persons after a Cabinet meeting, said that President Maithripala Sirisena and Cabinet had decides to declare a State of Emergency for 10 days “following the violence prevailed in some parts of the country”. He said that the Gazette Notice in this regard would be issued right away.
He was quoted saying, “There are allegations that the law was not implemented to minimize the impact of these tense situations. Now, the Police and Army personnel had been deployed to respective areas to beef up security.”
He further said that President could decide at the end of 10 days, whether to extend the State of Emergency.
Some Buddhist nationalist have also protested against the presence of asylum seeker Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar in Sri Lanka.
The government’s spokesman and Minister of Sport Dayasiri Jayasekara, told journalists “At a special cabinet meeting, it was decided to declare a state of emergency for 10 days to prevent the spread of communal riots to other parts of the country. It was also decided to take stern action against people who are instigating violence through Facebook,” he added.
Acting immediately after Buddhists set fire to a Muslim-owned shop on Monday, the government sent troops and elite police to Kandy to prevent further clashes between majority Sinhalese Buddhists and minority Muslims.
Muslims in Sri Lanka are generally known as Moors are the minority ethnic group comprising 9.3% of the country’s total population. They are mainly speakers of Tamil language with influence of Sinhalese and Arabic words. Muslims are mainly concentrated in Ampara, Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts.