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UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues criticises BBS for preaching 'racial superiority'

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues Rita Izsak criticised Sri Lankan Buddhist organisation Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) in a report released ahead of the seventh session of the Forum on Minority Issues, which is currently underway in Geneva.

In the report, the Special Rapporteur stated that she considers “violence against minorities must constitute a high priority for States, regional bodies and the international community, as well as civil society”.

She went on to note that on 2 July 2014 the Special Rapporteur “along with other United Nations experts, called on Sri Lanka to adopt urgent measures to stop the racial and faith-based hatred and violence directed at Muslim and Christian communities by Buddhist groups with extremist views, and to bring perpetrators to justice”.

Acknowledging the violence that has occurred on the island this year, the Special Rapporteur said,

“A group known as Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force), along with other groups, is promoting extremist views, proclaiming the racial superiority of Sinhala Buddhists and spreading fear among the population by, for example, alleging that statues of Buddha are being bulldozed by religious minorities or that evangelical Christians are forcibly converting vulnerable people. These statements have fuelled tensions and contributed to more than 350 violent attacks against Muslims and over 150 attacks against Christians in the past two years.”

Commenting further on Sri Lanka and the failure of the international community to respond to reports of mass atrocities, the Special Rapporteur said “the United Nations development and humanitarian branches were unable to fully address the United Nations political and human rights priorities.”

“Failures identified included a United Nations system that lacked an adequate and shared sense of responsibility for human rights violations; an incoherent internal United Nations crisis-management structure which failed to conceive and execute a coherent strategy in response to early warnings and subsequent human rights and humanitarian law violations against civilians; the ineffective dispersal of United Nations Headquarters structures to coordinate United Nations action and to address international human rights and humanitarian law violations across several different United Nations Headquarters entities in Geneva and New York; a model for United Nations action in the field that was designed for a development rather than a conflict response; and inadequate political support from Member States as a whole.”

The report also added that, “in conflicts in Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Somalia, Sri Lanka and the Sudan, minority women have suffered systematic sexual and other violence.”

See the full report here.

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