At least three Muslims were killed and 75 seriously injured in violence that erupted on June 15, when the Buddhists attacked Muslims in southern Sri Lankan coastal towns.
The clashes erupted in Aluthgama and Beruwela, two Muslim-majority towns on the Sinhalese-dominated southern coast, during a protest march led by the hard-line Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), commonly known as the ‘Buddhist power force’. This latest incident, during which the BBS looted and burnt down upto 50 Muslim homes, is part of an increasing pattern of violence against Muslims in Sri Lanka, since 2012.
Locals claim that clashes started after the BBS group threw stones at a mosque and Muslims retaliated. The BBS are also accused of using social media to incite violence and co-ordinate attacks. However, a spokesperson from the BBS said its members had been protesting peacefully against an assault on a Buddhist monk by a Muslim youth three days earlier, when they came under attack.
Amnesty International has described this latest incident as the worst outbreak of communal violence in Sri Lanka in years and call upon Sri Lanka to act immediately to end the anti-Muslim violence.
Though Sri Lankan Police have rejected accusations of collusion with the BBS organisation, members of the organisation involved in previous attacks have yet to be charged.
President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Upul Jayasuriya, has also accused the law enforcement authorities of failing to protect Muslims against these extremist attacks and has urged Attorney General, Palitha Fernando, PC, to take immediate remedial measures.
Police have since imposed a curfew across Aluthgama and nearby Beruwala.