The Sri Lankan army conducted an “awareness lecture” with the Muslim community in Trincomalee last week, reportedly “in order to educate them on the importance of security, social responsibilities and co-existence in the area”.
The General Officer Commanding, 22 Infantry Division, Major General Channa Weerasooriya chaired the lecture, which saw Muslim religious leaders, community leaders and professionals in attendance.
This comes after the 2018 anti-Muslim riots and heightened Islamophobia after the April 2019 Easter Sunday attacks.
In 2019, the Human Rights Watch called on Sri Lankan authorities ensure the safety of Muslim communities. Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at HRW said, “It’s crucial for the authorities to act swiftly to stop mob violence, threats, and discrimination against Muslims”.
However, the government and military have not taken measures to protect Muslim communities and rather have benefitted from anti-Muslim rhetoric and are complicit in anti-Muslim violence.
Several reports and video footage from last year showed military and police personnel joining Sinhala mobs in anti-Muslims riots.
Last year, then-President Sirisena also pardoned monk an extremist Sinhala Buddhist monk and head of the Bodu Bala Sena Gnanasara, who has been accused of encouraging anti-Muslim violence.