Published: Fri, March 09, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

Sri Lanka Declares Emergency After Communal Riots

Sri Lanka Declares Emergency After Communal Riots

The central district was already under curfew after allegedly a mob of Buddhists attacked Muslim shops, homes and mosques on 5 March.

In response, the government instituted a curfew in the district and deployed hundreds of heavily-armed police to stop the rioting.

Taking part in an adjournment debate in the house, the prime minister said the government would pay compensation for the losses of lives and properties caused by the recent Sinhala-Muslim clashes. Maithripala Sirisena's government of Sri Lanka today declared emergency in the island nation for 10 days.

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The latest tensions, coming a week after similar mob attacks against Muslims in an eastern region, erupted after a Sinhalese truck driver was injured by a group of Muslim men in what has been described as a road rage incident. "But a state of emergency must not become a pretext for further human rights abuses", said Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International's South Asia Director.

Declaration of Emergency gives sweeping powers to the security forces, including arrest and detention of suspects for long periods.

City planning minister Rauff Hakeem described the riots as a "monumental security lapse" and recommended disciplinary action against those responsible.

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Sri Lanka's parliament Tuesday issued an apology to the Muslim minority, which constitutes 10 percent of the country's population of 21 million.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is concerned by reports of communal violence in Sri Lanka and is urging dialogue to solve the differences, his Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday while announcing the visit. Even, a curfew is imposed in a central town which is very popular among tourists. It is the first time in seven years Sri Lanka has resorted to such measures.

The State of Emergency had been declared, while empowering Section Two of the Public Security Ordinance within a limited scope. This was in reaction to an incident last week in which a Buddhist lorry driver was reportedly killed by three men alleged to have been Muslims, over some altercation.

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