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Tamil civil society condemns Easter Sunday attacks and calls for ‘open hearts and homes’ for Muslims

Tamil civil society groups condemned the Easter Sunday attacks targeting Christians in Sri Lanka last week, as well as calling for “empathy and solidarity” with Muslim groups who face persecution on the island.

The statement, signed by eight different organisations, said the groups “express our wholehearted solidarity and support to our Christian communities, targeted in this cowardly act of violence by extremists”.

It went on to add that the Muslim community now “face serious persecution and threat”, in the aftermath of those attacks which killed over 250 people. “We call on the Tamil community as a whole to extend a hand and open our homes and hearts,” said the organisations. 

“We are deeply disappointed by reports that seem to indicate that some Tamil politicians and community organizations are rejecting proposals to house refugees, Christian and Muslim, of Pakistani and Afghan origin in the Northern province. As a community, which has experienced first-hand persecution, discrimination and violence at the hands of the Sri Lankan state and its institutions, it is imperative we show empathy and solidarity and welcome those now facing similar conditions. At various points in Sri Lanka’s history, Tamils have been forced to flee this island in the thousands and seek refuge elsewhere to avoid persecution. It is now our turn to offer that refuge to those fleeing the same State structures and conditions. While we continue to stand against State-sponsored land grabs and colonisation, militarisation, forced disappearances and the discrimination of displaced Tamil persons, we should not negate the hospitality to those at risk of discrimination we are historically familiar with.”

The statement noted that “both Tamil and Muslim communities harbour mutual mistrust, despite the fact that we live side by side in the North-East” and there remains “a need to have a comprehensive truth and accountability process to address these deep-rooted grievances and have genuine reconciliation between the two communities”.

“However, in this moment of urgency and tragedy, drawing upon historic grievances and prejudicial stereotypes in order to demonize a community at risk jeopardizes the lives of those vulnerable to violence,” it added. “We are very concerned that those who harbour both implicitly and explicitly Islamophobic agendas are monopolizing this moment to propagate their false stereotypes and incite violence against the Muslim community.”

See the full text of the statement here.