Muslims stage hartal in the East

Muslims staged a hartal in the Eastern province today against the decision by the government to relocate the Dambulla mosque owing to pressure from some Buddhist monks.

Most Muslim shops in Kattankudy, Batticaloa and in Ampara were shut while public transport was also affected as a result of the hartal.

Meanwhile the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama and the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka urged the Muslim community not to take part in violent protests or demonstrations over the Dambulla mosque issue.

“The Holy Quran has prescribed solutions to every threat or disaster through prayers,” the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama and the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka said in a statement.

Meanwhile several organizations including human rights groups in Sri Lanka and civil rights activists issued a joint statement today raising concerns over the decision to relocate the mosque.

The statement said that it was with great concern that they were protesting against the growing trend of increasing religious intolerance in Sri Lanka with regard to minority religions.

The statement said “We specifically condemn the recent violent attack on the Mosque in Dambulla by a group of anti social actors. The Hindu community has also been asked to move their temple from the vicinity. The Dambulla Khairya Jummah Mosque had been in existence for over 60 years and the mosque trustees have legal documents regarding its construction. On Friday the 20th of April 2012 a tense situation arose as regular Friday prayer at the Mosque was prevented by a gang led by Buddhist monks who claimed that it was an illegal construction. The group stated that both the Mosque and Hindu shrine were built on sacred Buddhist ground. It is further regrettable that law enforcement authorities could not take appropriate action to stop the forceful entry into the mosque and the intimidation of the community.

On the 23rd after a discussion with the Buddhist monks deputy minister Hizbullah made a public announcement to the media that the monks have agreed to give three months to identify alternative land and relocate the Mosque. However the very affected members of the community have not been part of this discussion and are still unable to express their opinion freely. While we are in support of reaching a solution through negotiations with the Muslim community, we would like to stress that any decision taken on this issue should not be unjust towards the minority communities in the context of post-war Sri Lanka.

The mosque has been in existence for over 60 years and the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim persons in the region had been living together in a spirit of amity for decades, if not centuries. Yet, today we see that that religious intolerance is on the rise and the state has done little to check this. The incident in Dambulla is not an isolated one. Last year a Muslim shrine (Dargha) was destroyed in Anuradhapura.  In Ashraf Nagar the military has taken over land that belongs to 69 Muslim families, including land that was allotted for a Muslim burial ground. In Illangaithurai Muhathuwaram (now renamed Lanka Patuna) a Shivan shrine was removed and a Buddhist statue was built in its place. A group of Buddhist monks and people attacked the four Square Gospel Church in Kaluthara North last year. The Police have prevented the church from functioning claiming that it would lead to a breach peace. In Ambalangoda the Assembly of God church was attacked in February this year. A pastor in Kalutara was attacked and a house belonging to a Christian was vandalized by Buddhist monks alleging that the church was engaged in conversions. The police failed to frame charges against Buddhist monks. Recently the government has also tried to pass the Town and Country Planning bill which allows for religious land to also been acquired in municipal and urban areas for economic, social, historical, environmental or religious purposes.  Even though the bill has been challenged in court and withdrawn there is a move to bring the bill back as law through other avenues. Such acts increase the sense of insecurity that minorities in general feel in this as regards the practice of worship and co existence.

Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious community in which religious acceptance and protection of religious and cultural rights and the freedom to practice their religion anywhere in the country is a basic tenet of the Constitution and a protection assured to all citizens.

We appeal to the President, state institutions and officials, and those in the executive to take appropriate action on the incident in Dambulla that serves to build confidence among minority communities in the state structure and mechanisms.  We strongly believe that the people of this country, Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Christian and Burgher wish to live in harmony with each other. We also strongly believe that it is a marginal amount of people who take to violence in riding rough shod over the rights of others. We strongly urge the state to take measures to curb the growing trend of intolerance and to do its utmost to make minorities feel in every way people of this country. In the post war context this is of the utmost importance for reconciliation and peaceful co-existence. We also appeal to religious and community leaders to initiate dialogue at all possible levels so that minority communities feel secure”.


The statement was signed by:


1.            Affected Women’s Forum (Akkaraippattu)

2.            Association of War-Affected Women

3.            Centre for Human Resource Development (Viluthu)

4.            Centre for Human Rights and Development

5.            Centre for Mass Communication and Media (Mannar)

6.            Centre for Policy Alternatives

7.            Equal Ground

8.            Families of the Disappeared

9.            Human Rights office Kandy

10.          IMADR- Asia

11.          INFORM

12.          Jaffna Civil Society for Equality

13.          Lawyers for Democracy

14.          Mannar Women’s Development Federation

15.          Mothers and Daughters of Lanka

16.          Mullaitheevu Women Development and Rehabilitation Trust

17.          Muslim Women’s Trust – Puttalum

18.          Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum

19.          National Peace Council

20.          Red Flag Movement

21.          Right to Life Human Rights Center

22.          Rights Now Collective for Democracy

23.          Sakhi Collaboration

24.          Stand Up Movement

25.          Voluntary Service Development Organization

26.          Women’s Action Network

27.          Women and Media Collective

28.          A.L.M Bashir- NESAM, Nindavaur

29.          A.Perinpanayagam

30.          A.Rajasingam

31.          A.S.Mohamed Rayees

32.          Ashila Dandeniya

33.          A.W.A. Jihad (Muthur People’s Forum)

34.          Aliyar Hazarat  (Sammanthurai)

35.          Ameena Hussein

36.          Anberiya Hanifa

37.          Ann Jabbar

38.          B. Skanthakumar

39.          B.Gowthaman

40.          B.F. A. Basnayake

41.          Beryl Perera

42.          Bhavani Fonseka (Attorney-at-Law)

43.          Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe

44.          Brito Fernando

45.          C.De Silva

46.          Cayathri Divakalala

47.          Chandragupta Thenuwera

48.          Chathurika Senanayake

49.          Chulani Kodikara

50.          Damaris Wickremesekera

51.          Darshana Liyanage

52.          Dayapala Thiranagama

53.          Dileepa Witharana

54.          Dishani Jayaweera (Attorney-at-Law)

55.          Divakalala Sundaram

56.          Dr. Camena Guneratne

57.          Dr. D. H. S. Maithripala

58.          Dr. Danesh Karunanayake

59.          Dr. Dharmasena Pathiraja

60.          Dr. Farzana Haniffa

61.          Dr. Harini Amarasuriya

62.          Dr. Kumar David

63.          Dr. Liyanage Amarakeerthi

64.          Dr. M. Vethannathan (University of Jaffna)

65.          Dr. Muttukrishna Sarvananthan (Point Pedro Institute of Development)

66.          Dr. Nishan de Mel

67.          Dr. Pakiasothy Saravanamuthu

68.          Dr. Philip Setunga

69.          Dr. Philip Setunga

70.          Dr. Ranil D. Guneratne

71.          Dr. Ruvan Weerasinghe

72.          Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran

73.          Dr. Shamala Kumar

74.          Dr. Sumathy Sivamohan

75.          Dr. T. Jayasingam

76.          Dushi Kanapathipillai

77.          Ethayarani

78.          Faizun Zackariya

79.          Francis Devarani (Ampara)

80.          Fr. Nandana Manatunga

81.          Fr. Jeyabalan Croos

82.          Fr. Nandana Manatunga ( Human Rights Office Kandy)

83.          Fr. S. Maria Anthony, S. J.

84.          Fr. T. S. Josuwa (Kavithalaya Kala Mandram)

85.          Fr. Terence Fernando

86.          Fr. V. Yogeswaran

87.          F. Solomantine

88.          Gamini Viyangoda

89.          Godfrey Yogarajah (General Secretary, National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka)

90.          Gowrie Ponniah

91.          Harean Hettiarachchi (Programme Manager)

92.          Harshana Rambukwella  (Senior Lecturer- Open University)

93.          Hashintha Jayasinghe

94.          Himali Nawalage (Sales Manager)

95.          I.Malwatta

96.          J. C. Weliamuna (Attorney at Law)

97.          Jagath Weerasinghe (Artist)

98.          Jake Oorloff

99.          Jehan Mendis (Teacher)

100.        Jehan Perera

101.        Jensila Majeed

102.        Jeyasankar Sivagnanam

103.        Jezima Ismail

104.        Jovita Arulanantham

105.        Juweriya Mohideen

106.        K.Arulanandarajah (Kalmunai)

107.        K.Arumugam Asoka (Mahashakthi Foundation, Akkarappattu)

108.        K.E.Tharagowri, Kalmunai, Ampara

109.        K. L. Shafi Hatheem ( Kalmunai)

110.        K.Nihal Ahamed (Humanitarian Elevation Organisation, Addalaichenai)

111.        K.Niroshan (People’s Progressive Development Society, Akkaraippattu

112.        K.Praba (Thambiluvil)

113.        K. R. M. Wickremesinhe (Attorney at Law)

114.        K.S Ratnaval-(Attorney at Law)

115.        K.Sukirtha (Ampara)

116.        Kasun Pathiraja

117.        Krishna Velupillai

118.        Kumudini Samuel

119.        Kusal Perera

120.        L. Perinpanayagam

121.        Lakshan Dias

122.        L. Yaseen Bawa ( Bakary, Oluvil)

123.        Lal Wijenayaka (Lawyers for Democracy)

124.        M.A.C. Humaid ( Health Education, Social and Sports Organisation, Akkaraippattu)

125.        M.A.M. Rifaz (Addalaichchenai)

126.        M. Casim Kulanthahi Mararaikar ( Kalmunai)

127.        M.I. Haidar (Akkaraipattu)

128.        M.I. Rezard (Muthur Youth Social Development  Organisation)

129.        M. M. Nazeer ( Oluvil)

130.        M.R.M Naufil (Mannar Grand Mosque)

131.        M. Thiruvarangan

132.        Mahaluxumi Kurushanthan (Mannar)

133.        Mahesh De Mel (Director, Waves of Hope)

134.        Mahinda Hattaka

135.        Mahisha Warusavitharana


136.        Malcolm Peter (Alliance Development Trust)

137.        Manjula Gajanayake

138.        Mano Ganesan, (Civil Monitoring Commission)

139.        Manzoor A Cader. (Rtd Registrar  Sammanthurai)

140.        Marisa de Silva

141.        Mawlavi Bazeer (Sammanturai)

142.        Melani Manel Perera  (Christian Women Journalist)

143.        Melanie Perera  (Alliance Development Trust)

144.        Melisha Yapa (Marketer/Banker)

145.        Menaha Kandasamy

146.        Minna Thaheer

147.        Mohammed Mahuruf

148.        Mohideen Bawa Parikari Ibralebbai. (Oluvil)

149.        Monroe Jayasuriya (National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka)

150.        Mujeeb Rahman

151.        N. L. Pakeer Ali (Oluvil)

152.        N.Shanthi (Akkaraipattu)

153.        Nadya Perera

154.        Mirak Raheem

155.        Nandala Maduranga Kalugampitiya

156.        Navin Weeraratne

157.        Nicola Perera

158.        Nimalka Fernando

159.        Niyanthini Kadirgamar

160.        Pala Pothupitiya (Artist)

161.        P. Thanbirajah

162.        P.N. Singham

163.        Padmini, Women’s Centre

164.        Peter Rezel

165.        Priya Thangarajah (Law Student)

166.        Prof. Jayantha Seneviratne

167.        Prof Maithree Wickramasinghe

168.        Prof. Priyan Dias

169.        Prof. S.H. Hasbulla

170.        R.M.B. Senanayake

171.        Raghu Balachandran (Methodist Church of Sri Lanka)

172.        Rajani Chandrasegaram

173.        Rajasingam

174.        Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon  (Campaign for Free and Fair Elections)

175.        Rajiva Godagedara  (Accountant)

176.        Ralston Weinman

177.        Ramyadarshanie Vithanage

178.        Rev. Daisy Aseervatham

179.        Rev. Oswald Firth

180.        Rifana Buhary

181.        Rohan Salgadoe

182.        Romola Rassool

183.        Rukaiya Mohideen

184.        Ruki Fernando

185.        Rukshani Attygalle Abeyeratne (Attorney at Law)

186.        Ruwani Botheju (Alliance Development Trust)

187.        S. Mohamed Rayees

188.        S.C.C.Elankovan

189.        S.N.S.Rizli (Addalaichchenai)

190.        S.Yoga (Ampara)

191.        S.Ziyath, (Addalaichchena)

192.        Sam Perera

193.        Sanathanan Thamotharampillai (Artist)

194.        Sandamali Herath (Marketer)

195.        Sanjaya Senenayake

196.        Sanjayan Rajasingham

197.        Santhasilan Kadirgamar

198.        Shafinaz Hassendeen

199.        Shanaka Cooray ( Lawyer)

200.        Sheik Thajudeen

201.        Shifan Ahmed

202.        Shreen Saroor

203.        Sr. Kathleen A.C.

204.        Sr. Rasika Pieris

205.        Sriya, Women’s Centre

206.        Sultan Mohamed Faizal (Mannar Mosque Federation)

207.        Surangi Ariyawansha (Center for Human Rights)

208.        Suren Raghavan

209.        T. Sivapalan

210.        T.Pakiyawathi, Aalaiyadivembu (Ampara)

211.        U.K. Abdul Raheem (Naleemi, Oluvil)

212.        U. P. S. A. Gafoor. (Rtd, RM Coconut Cultivation Board.- Oluvil)

213.        Udan Fernando

214.        V.K.Ranjani (Thandiyadi, Akkaraippattu)

215.        Vamadeva Kurukkal (Uduvil)

216.        Vasuki Jeyasankar

217.        Visaka Dharmadasa

218.        Wijith Rohan Fernando (Senior Lecturer, University of Kelaniya)

219.        Y. D. Ravindran  (Attorney at Law)