The Galle unrest

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2017-11-20

The communal unrest in Gintota in the Galle area has created a panick situation particularly among Muslims throughout the country. The timely action taken by the Government by imposing curfew and deploying the Security Forces personnel has brought the situation under control to a great extent.

An accident where a mother and child were knocked down by a motorcyclist had led to an upheaval, resulting in damage to 66 houses, 26 shops, two mosques and sixteen vehicles including four motorbikes in the Gintota area.

A few years ago, during the previous regime, several incidents took place hurting the feelings of Muslims. Worst of them all was the attacks carried out on Muslims in Beruwala and adjoining areas down South.

The previous regime acted in a highly irresponsible manner in dealing with the situation and bringing it under control by curbing the violence. The previous regime's negligence in dealing with the highhanded elements who flexed their muscles even led to Muslim political parties which remained part of the Rajapaksa regime to withdraw their support and come together to overthrow the regime.

The incidents which had occurred in the past few days instigated by a group of people caused immense damage to movable and immovable assets of innocent Muslims in the Galle area.

Already Sri Lanka is under the scrutiny of the international community over alleged war crimes and in its failure in addressing post-war humanitarian issues.

A few days ago, at the 28th session of the UNHRC's Universal Periodic Review Working Group in Geneva, several countries had questioned on the implementation of the UNHRC resolution of 2015 which was co- sponsored by Sri Lanka.

America has emphasized the need to expedite the process to establish a judicial mechanism over alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka.
The US has also requested Sri Lanka to take legal action against those who violate human rights.

Canada has pointed out the need to ensure equal rights of all citizens when the new Constitution is drafted.

Therefore, these attacks carried out against Muslims at a time when the UNHRC's Periodic Review Working Group session was in progress a few days ago, makes the international community understand that the minorities are still in peril in the Island.

Since Sri Lanka is on the threshold of the beginning of the tourism season this month which is expected to continue for another four months; tourists from the West look forward spending their holidays in the beach resorts found down South.

Galle and various other areas down South remain as favourite locations of tourists to spend their holidays in the Island.

The communal upheaval in Gintota, Galle might even lead to threatening the tourism sector which is limping back, with the end of the separatist war in 2009.

Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan, condemning the Galle incident has urged the Government to protect the Muslims at any cost.

It is shocking to note that a small accident in Gintota which was not even fatal had led to communal unrest and this incident shows how far ultra nationalist elements are vigilant over picking up even the slightest problem to 'stir the hornet's nest'.

With the deployment of the Security Forces and implementing curfew, the situation in Galle has now been brought under control. Nearly twenty persons have been arrested with regard to various forms of incidents in the past few days in Galle.

While paying due compensation to the victims affected by the Gintota incident, immediately, the Government should come down hard on those who were responsible for the Galle unrest.

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