May 8, 2020, 12:46 pm
The International Crisis Group claimed in a highly subjective statement yesterday "there is rising anti-Muslim bigotry which has deep roots in Sri Lanka".
It said that "in both social and traditional media, Muslims are falsely blamed for the spread of the disease and the government is yet to take action to correct these narratives".
The ICG’s full statement: "Amid COVID-19 fears, govt measures sparked concerns over intensification of crackdown on dissent, growing anti-Muslim hate speech left unchecked, and looming constitutional crisis should parliament not reconvene before 2 June deadline. Facing pressure from govt for elections, Election Commission 20 April announced 20 June as new date of postponed parliamentary elections, despite constitution requiring parliament to sit by 2 June. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa refused calls to reconvene old parliament even after 27 April collective opposition promise to support govt policies to contain COVID-19 and despite 30 April expiration of govt borrowing authority.
"Muslims widely accused of spreading COVID-19 on social and traditional media; govt yet to challenge false accusations and hate-speech, accused of assisting biased reporting by pro-govt TV. Govt 11 April made cremation – in contravention of Islamic burial practices – compulsory for all COVID-19-related deaths despite objections from Muslim leaders and 8 April letter from four UN Special Rapporteurs calling on President Rajapaksa to follow World Health Organization guidelines.
"Amid fears of intensification of crackdown on dissent, Inspector General of Police (IGP) 1 April warned media institutions of legal action against those spreading "false" or "malicious" COVID-19-related messages, including criticism of govt officials; Human Rights Commission 25 April in letter to IGP criticised lack of legal grounds and discriminatory impact of arrests under new policies.
"Arrests of govt critics and opposition supporters continued: police 9 April arrested Muslim writer and govt critic Ramzy Razeek apparently following complaints about a 2 April Facebook post that called for "intellectual jihad" against anti-Muslim policies and hate campaigning; 13 April arrested opposition United National Party politician Ranjan Ramanayake for obstructing police duties while distributing COVID-19 relief supplies, Ramanayake 20 April released on bail; 14-15 April arrested brother of opposition All Ceylon Makkal Congress party leader, Rishad Bathiudeen, and prominent Muslim lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah, for alleged involvement in 2019 Easter bombings."
Courtesy: The Island 8 may 2020
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