Rally to mobilize public support against anti-Muslim campaigns in Sri Lanka

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Updated 25 March 2013
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Rally to mobilize public support against anti-Muslim campaigns in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan traders and business organizations will stage a peaceful protest today urging the government to take immediate actions to stop anti-Muslim campaigns, maintain law and order and promote communal harmony.
The nationwide protest is organized by Muslim Rights Organization (MRO) to mobilize public support against hate campaigns carried out by Bodu Bala Sena, an extremist Buddhist group, and Jathika Hela Urumaya, a party in the ruling coalition.
The Muslim community in Sri Lanka has appealed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa to act against extremist Buddhists who have been leading campaigns to inculcate fear and hatred against Muslims.
“These extremist groups have been using the traditional media, social media, public meetings, posters, leaflets, and the circulation of rumors and misinformation insulting Muslims to inculcate a sense of fear and hatred of Muslims among Sinhalese,” said New Mexico Ameen, head of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka.
“They are using abusive language when referring to our religious practices and publicly calling for a boycott of businesses run by Muslims,” Ameen said in a letter to the president.
Last week, Bodu Bala Sena called for the demolition of a 10th century mosque in Kuragala. The call comes shortly after the group campaigned against halal food in Sri Lanka, forcing Muslims to abandon halal logo to help ease tension with the Buddhist majority.
Muslims have urged the president to publicly condemn the hate campaign of the Buddhist extremists. They have also called for defending equal rights for all citizens in the country as well as instructing the police to take necessary action to stop incidents of harassment against minorities and their businesses.
The Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has expressed concerns over increasing reports of anti-Muslim violence in the island state.
In June, some 200 demonstrators led by dozens of Buddhist monks converged on a small Islamic center in Colombo’s suburb of Dehiwala.
Throwing stones and rotten meat over the center’s gate, protesters shouted slogans demanding its closure.
“We have experienced a steady drop in sales since January after Bodu Bala Sena had put up posters around the country telling people not to shop at our stores because our company is Muslim-owned. They threaten to take violent action against people who purchase things from Muslim shops,” said a Muslim trader.


Myanmar army ‘kills 13’ in counterattacks on Rakhine rebels

Updated 4 min 44 sec ago
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Myanmar army ‘kills 13’ in counterattacks on Rakhine rebels

  • Rakhine has seen new levels of violence in recent weeks between the Arakan insurgents fighting for greater autonomy for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and security forces
  • ‘We got 13 dead bodies of enemies and seized three weapons’
NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar: Myanmar’s army said Friday it killed 13 ethnic Rakhine fighters in counterstrikes after the well-armed group carried out deadly attacks on police posts earlier this month.
Rakhine state has seen new levels of violence in recent weeks between the Arakan Army (AA) — insurgents fighting for greater autonomy for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists — and security forces.
Many of the battles are taking place in the same region from which more than 720,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh after August 2017 when the army launched a crackdown the UN deemed ethnic cleansing.
The AA are a more formidable force than the fighters claiming to represent the Rohingya and have inflicted historically higher death tolls on the military.
On January 4, also Myanmar’s independence day, the AA launched pre-dawn raids that killed 13 police officers and wounded nine before the army stepped in, setting off violence that has displaced thousands.
But the army hit back, killing the same number of AA rebels in total in operations from January 5-16.
“We got 13 dead bodies of enemies and seized three weapons,” Major General Tun Tun Nyi said in a rare press conference in the capital Naypyidaw.
“Some officers and soldiers from our side were killed,” he added, without releasing the figures.
Myanmar’s military almost never provides statistics on casualties suffered in fighting against the country’s myriad ethnic armed groups.
The army called a temporary cease-fire against different insurgents in northern Myanmar last month but Rakhine state was excluded from the move because of the AA and the Rohingya militant group, which is called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
The troubled state is a complex patchwork of Rakhine, Rohingya, and other ethnic minorities that intercommunal violence has largely driven apart.
Most of the Rohingya in the northern part of the state have been pushed into Bangladesh, where they refuse to return to Myanmar without guarantees of safety and citizenship.
The United Nations has called for Myanmar’s top generals to be investigated for genocide as a result of the operations but they reject the accusation.
The fighting with AA rebels complicates an already fraught repatriation process for the Rohingya.
Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun blamed the AA insurgents for the police post attacks earlier this month and accused them of “stabbing from the back.”