Discrimination against non-Buddhist religions in Sri Lanka - US report
Tamil Guardian 21 May 2013
In its annual International Religious Freedom report, the US State Department expressed concern about attacks and discrimination by Buddhists against Hindus, Muslims and Christians.
The report details attacks by Buddhists on religious buildings and said that “authorities were reluctant to investigate or prosecute those responsible for attacks on churches, Hindu temples, or mosques” and that "local authorities failed to respond effectively to communal attacks, including attacks on members of minority religious groups."
Discriminatory practices against Tamils are also criticised in the report, including the increasing number of Buddhist temples in Tamil areas.
"Religious tensions continued in the north following the conclusion of a 27-year conflict between the Buddhist-majority government and the Hindu-majority Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Government troops continued to build Buddhist shrines in Tamil areas of the north.
"Some Tamil groups alleged this demonstrated government-sponsored Sinhalese colonization of former LTTE-held areas. The number of Buddhist statues, viharas, and stupas in the northern districts of Jaffna and Kilinochi increased during the year. In November the Sri Lankan Army warned Tamils against celebrating Kaarthigai Deepam, a Hindu festival of lights. The festival coincidentally fell on the same day as “Heroes Day,” which commemorated fallen LTTE fighters.
"The military reportedly attempted to curb participation in the northern districts of Jaffna and the Vanni, instructing temples and the public not to light lamps and not to toll bells."
Sri Lanka’s newly appointed military officials all held senior positions during the final phase of the island’s armed conflict where tens of thousands of Tamils were massacred and alleged crimes against humanity were committed,
The Sri Lankan government consistently claimed the LTTE was active in South Africa after the end of the island’s armed conflict in 2009, despite findings by the South African intelligence agency which denied this, reports Al Jazeera.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Al Hussain said the deferral of the report was a "singular opportunity" for the government of Sri Lanka to lay foundations for justice and lasting peace.