#Civil Rights
President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
Sri Lanka

As Easter celebrations were taking place across Sri Lanka in particular within the cities of Colombo and Negombo - where the largest Christian communities exist - a depraved series of bomb attacks on churches and exclusive hotels brought terror to revellers and tourists. Early reports focused on 8 explosions but by the end of the day the final count was 10 in which over 200 people were killed and at least a further 400 injured.

In the early hours of Easter Day (21st April 2019) at approximately 8.30am (3am GMT) while churches were in the midst of celebrations of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a spate of terrorist attacks across the country ripped through buildings in several locations and a familiar pattern soon emerged. Churches and high-end hotels were being targeted, in what seems to be an extremist agenda against foreigners and the Christian 'others' within Sri Lanka.

The majority of the planned attacks occurred at roughly the same time, targets included:

St. Sebastian's Church Negombo
St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo,
Evangelical Zion Church in Batticaloa

Cinnamon Grand, Colombo
Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo
The Kingsbury. Colombo

Later in the afternoon around 2.15 pm (8.45am GMT), a guest house near Dehiwala Zoo in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia was attacked and also a private house in Mahawila Gardens,in Dematagoda, while local police officers conducted a house raid.

We call on the Government of Sri Lanka to provide protections to minorities in Srilanka by:adoptinf some of our recommendations below:

i. to ban extreme ethno-nationalist organisation like the NTJ, Bodu Bala Sena, Siva Sena, etc.
ii. to take stern action against media that advocate extreme ethnonationalism.
iii. to create a watchdog mechanism along the line of ‘Tell MAMMA’ of the UK to monitor extreme ethno-nationalist elements including media;
iv. to end impunity for violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals and groups involving extreme ethnonationalism and ethnic discrimination;
v. to ensure that no community is allowed to insist on the primacy of its religion, race or culture at the expense of racial harmony. We note that Sri Lanka has no specific legislation to achieve this purpose;
vi. to incorporate and implement International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as victim-centred legislation; to enact laws banning hate-speeches and hard-line religious organisations and other relevant laws to bring to book and levy damage-costs from perpetrators, instigators and sponsors;
vii. to enact legislation, similar to that of the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act of Singapore, to maintain and promote religious harmony in Sri Lanka;
viii. to publicise the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action in Sinhala and Tamil as a component of activities towards the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance;
ix. to Implement the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD);
x. to establish a Minority Commission to effectively investigate and take action on the intolerance of and discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities through minority rights education and specifically designed awareness-raising campaigns;
xi. to revise school textbooks and curriculum to eliminate elements that may promote racism and racial discrimination or reinforce negative stereotypes of minorities; and
xii. to introduce teaching comparative religious education in the national curriculum for schools.

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The Protect minorities in Sri Lanka petition to President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was written by Wilson Chowdhry and is in the category Civil Rights at GoPetition.