Sri Lanka Muslims face threats, attacks: HRW

New York: Authorities in Sri Lanka should end arbitrary arrests and other abuses against Muslims and protect the community from violence, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.

Since the Easter Sunday bombings in April 2019 that killed over 250 people, which was claimed by Islamist militants, Sri Lankan Muslims have faced an upsurge in violations of their basic rights and assaults and other abuses from Buddhist nationalists, the rights body said.

Sri Lankan officials and politicians should stop endorsing, ignoring or exploiting hate speech and mob violence directed at Muslims by members of the Buddhist clergy and other powerful figures, it said.

“The Sri Lankan government has a duty to protect its citizens and prosecute those responsible for the terrible Easter Sunday bombings, but it shouldn’t be punishing the Muslim community for this crime,” it said.

“It’s crucial for the authorities to act swiftly to stop mob violence, threats, and discrimination against Muslims.”

In June 2019, Human Rights Watch interviewed Muslim victims of abuses, activists, lawyers and officials to document abuses against Muslims, often with state complicity.

Since the bombings, the authorities have arbitrarily arrested and detained hundreds of people under counterterrorism and emergency laws, Human Rights Watch said.

The situation has caused mounting international alarm for the safety of Muslims and other minorities.