United Nations


UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, briefs the media at the UN Compound in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Photo: © UN Sri Lanka/Muradh Mohideen

After 30 years of conflict, Sri Lanka still in ‘early stages of renewal’ – UN rights chief

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, briefs the media at the UN Compound in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Photo: © UN Sri Lanka/Muradh Mohideen

9 February 2016 – After nearly 30 years of conflict and acrimony that not only cost tens of thousands of lives but also eroded vital components of the State, Sri Lanka is still in the early stages of renewal, the United Nations human rights chief said today, ending a mission to the country.

“Virtually everyone agrees there has been progress, although opinions differ markedly about the extent of that progress,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement to the press, issued from Colombo.

During his four-day visit, Mr. Zeid met with several senior Government officials, including President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. In Colombo, he visited the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and the Task Force that will lead the forthcoming National Consultations on transitional justice. On Sunday, he was in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the country.


A Sri Lankan Muslim woman carries her daughter while standing outside her burnt house in Adhikarigoda , a village near Aluthgama town, 50 kilometers (31.25 miles) south of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, June 16, 2014. At least three Muslims were killed after a right-wing Buddhist group with alleged state backing clashed with Muslims in southwestern Sri Lanka, a government minister said Monday. Dozens of shops were burned, homes looted and some mosques attacked in the violence Sunday night in the town of Aluthgama, local residents said. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Bodu Bala Sena Violence Against Muslims Issue Raised at 26th Session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva by IMADR President Dr.Nimalka Fernando

( International Movement Against All Forms Of Discrimination And Racism (IMADR) President Dr Nimalka Fernando made submissions at the 26th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.This is the text of her oral submission)

Dr. Nimalka Fernando-pic courtesy of: rightsnow.net

Thank you Mr. President,

We strongly condemn the violence unleashed in South Western Sri Lanka which resulted in the death of 3 persons and the serious injury of approximately 80 people. It is outrageous that the Government of Sri Lanka ignored our appeals over the past year and allowed the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) to continue to operate committing hate crimes against Muslims and Christians.

In her report to the Council last March, The High Commissioner referred to the emergence of religious extremism and urged the Government to take measures against hate speech and such intolerance. Unfortunately, some member States dismissed our calls by categorising these incidents as sporadic violence.

IMADR, together with other civil society organisations, have consistently taken the position that the failure of the Government to facilitate an environment towards reconciliation and lasting peace based on the LLRC recommendations would lead to intensified tensions again. We have called the Government to take actions against the BBS and promulgate laws to deal with their hate speech and violent activities.

BBS has carried out attacks against mosques and business establishments of Muslims and intensified its campaign against other religious communities including Christians. Government high officials, especially the Defence Secretary, have been directly involved in supporting the BBS through participating in their public events.

It is shocking to note that the Government, which was able to deploy the armed forces against the unarmed villagers to safeguard the interest of a corporate entity during the Rathupaswala incident, did not take any emergency measure to protect the Muslims with the same sense of urgency. The recently established special police unit aimed to deal with religious clashes is only a cosmetic measure to appease the international community.

We insist that the Government of Sri Lanka investigates the heinous acts immediately and adopt measures to prevent the repetition of such violence. We call upon the international community to support the human rights defenders in Sri Lanka who are working against religious extremism and assisting victims to achieve justice. We also believe that this is an opportunity for all the Council member States to ensure the effective implementation of the resolution on “Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka” (A/HRC/25/L.1/Rev.1).

Thank you Mr. President