Stoking racial, religious conflict… ‘Arrest rabble-rousers’ – President

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By 2016-11-20

By Niranjala Ariyawansha

President Maithripala Sirisena has instructed Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara to arrest any rabble-rouser, irrespective of his or her social standing, who makes statements which could cause ethnic and religious confrontations or clashes in the country.

The President's order had been given to the IGP at a special meeting at the President's official residence Paget House last Thursday night, immediately after the National Security Council meeting.
The President had impressed on the IGP that there were positive indications of a move to provoke ethnic hatred and clashes aimed at toppling the government.

The President had also asked Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe about addressing amendments to laws on hate speech. The Minister had pointed out to the President that only a minimum one year sentence could be imposed under existing law on those found guilty of hate speech.
Another minister at the talks between the President and the IGP told Ceylon Today, that the President had advised the IGP to take legal actions under existing laws.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the commanders of the three armed forces, IGP, the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and the Secretary to the Ministry of Law and Order also attended the meeting.
State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardana, Leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Minister Rauff Hakeem, Ministers Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, S. Swaminathan, Rishad Bathiudeen, Mano Ganesan, Champika Ranawaka, Sagala Ratnayaka and MP Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera also attended the meeting.
Ven. Rathana Thera said the monks who make statements rousing racial and religious antagonisms were in effect acted against religious precepts.

Minister Mano Ganesan pointed out the meeting that racist hate speech of Ampitiye Sumanarathana Thera of Mangalaramaya in Batticaloa had caused concerns among the Tamil community. He pointed out that the Tamils needed to be reassured that efforts at ethnic reconciliation would not in any way be affected.

Ministers Hakeem and Bathiudeen urged the government to take stern legal action against anyone who had joined the ISIS.
At this discussion, the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) played a video recording of various racist elements who had made hate speeches and caused minor incidents which were liable to mushroom into a major ethnic rift.

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