Muslims stage hartal in the East

Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious community in which religious acceptance and protection of religious and cultural rights and the freedom to practice their religion anywhere in the country is a basic tenet of the Constitution and a protection assured to all citizens. Meanwhile the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama and the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka urged the Muslim community not to take part in violent protests or demonstrations over the Dambulla mosque issue. “The Holy Quran has prescribed solutions to every threat or disaster through prayers,” the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama and the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka said in a statement. 1.            Affected Women’s Forum (Akkaraippattu)2.            Association of War-Affected Women3.            Centre for Human Resource Development (Viluthu)4.            Centre for Human Rights and Development5.            Centre for Mass Communication and Media (Mannar)6.            Centre for Policy Alternatives7.            Equal Ground8.            Families of the Disappeared9.            Human Rights office Kandy10.          IMADR- Asia11.          INFORM12.          Jaffna Civil Society for Equality13.          Lawyers for Democracy14.          Mannar Women’s Development Federation15.          Mothers and Daughters of Lanka16.          Mullaitheevu Women Development and Rehabilitation Trust17.          Muslim Women’s Trust – Puttalum18.          Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum19.          National Peace Council20.          Red Flag Movement21.          Right to Life Human Rights Center22.          Rights Now Collective for Democracy23.          Sakhi Collaboration24.          Stand Up Movement25.          Voluntary Service Development Organization26.          Women’s Action Network27.          Women and Media Collective28.          A.L.M Bashir- NESAM, Nindavaur29.          A.Perinpanayagam30.          A.Rajasingam31.          A.S.Mohamed Rayees32.          Ashila Dandeniya33.          A.W.A. Jihad (Muthur People’s Forum)34.          Aliyar Hazarat  (Sammanthurai)35.          Ameena Hussein36.          Anberiya Hanifa37.          Ann Jabbar38.          B. Skanthakumar39.          B.Gowthaman40.          B.F. A. Basnayake41.          Beryl Perera42.          Bhavani Fonseka (Attorney-at-Law)43.          Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe44.          Brito Fernando45.          C.De Silva46.          Cayathri Divakalala47.          Chandragupta Thenuwera48.          Chathurika Senanayake49.          Chulani Kodikara50.          Damaris Wickremesekera51.          Darshana Liyanage52.          Dayapala Thiranagama53.          Dileepa Witharana54.          Dishani Jayaweera (Attorney-at-Law)55.          Divakalala Sundaram56.          Dr. Camena Guneratne57.          Dr. D. H. S. Maithripala58.          Dr. Danesh Karunanayake59.          Dr. Dharmasena Pathiraja60.          Dr. Farzana Haniffa61.          Dr. Harini Amarasuriya62.          Dr. Kumar David63.          Dr. Liyanage Amarakeerthi64.          Dr. M. Vethannathan (University of Jaffna)65.          Dr. Muttukrishna Sarvananthan (Point Pedro Institute of Development)66.          Dr. Nishan de Mel67.          Dr. Pakiasothy Saravanamuthu68.          Dr. Philip Setunga69.          Dr. Philip Setunga70.          Dr. Ranil D. Guneratne71.          Dr. Ruvan Weerasinghe72.          Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran73.          Dr. Shamala Kumar74.          Dr. Sumathy Sivamohan75.          Dr. T. Jayasingam76.          Dushi Kanapathipillai77.          Ethayarani78.          Faizun Zackariya79.          Francis Devarani (Ampara)80.          Fr. Nandana Manatunga81.          Fr. Jeyabalan Croos82.          Fr. Nandana Manatunga ( Human Rights Office Kandy)83.          Fr. S. Maria Anthony, S. J.84.          Fr. T. S. Josuwa (Kavithalaya Kala Mandram)85.          Fr. Terence Fernando86.          Fr. V. Yogeswaran87.          F. Solomantine88.          Gamini Viyangoda89.          Godfrey Yogarajah (General Secretary, National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka)90.          Gowrie Ponniah91.          Harean Hettiarachchi (Programme Manager)92.          Harshana Rambukwella  (Senior Lecturer- Open University)93.          Hashintha Jayasinghe94.          Himali Nawalage (Sales Manager)95.          I.Malwatta96.          J. C. Weliamuna (Attorney at Law)97.          Jagath Weerasinghe (Artist)98.          Jake Oorloff99.          Jehan Mendis (Teacher)100.        Jehan Perera101.        Jensila Majeed102.        Jeyasankar Sivagnanam103.        Jezima Ismail104.        Jovita Arulanantham105.        Juweriya Mohideen106.        K.Arulanandarajah (Kalmunai)107.        K.Arumugam Asoka (Mahashakthi Foundation, Akkarappattu)108.        K.E.Tharagowri, Kalmunai, Ampara109.        K. L. Shafi Hatheem ( Kalmunai)110.        K.Nihal Ahamed (Humanitarian Elevation Organisation, Addalaichenai)111.        K.Niroshan (People’s Progressive Development Society, Akkaraippattu112.        K.Praba (Thambiluvil)113.        K. R. M. Wickremesinhe (Attorney at Law)114.        K.S Ratnaval-(Attorney at Law)115.        K.Sukirtha (Ampara)116.        Kasun Pathiraja117.        Krishna Velupillai118.        Kumudini Samuel119.        Kusal Perera120.        L. Perinpanayagam121.        Lakshan Dias122.        L. Yaseen Bawa ( Bakary, Oluvil)123.        Lal Wijenayaka (Lawyers for Democracy)124.        M.A.C. Humaid ( Health Education, Social and Sports Organisation, Akkaraippattu)125.        M.A.M. Rifaz (Addalaichchenai)126.        M. Casim Kulanthahi Mararaikar ( Kalmunai)127.        M.I. Haidar (Akkaraipattu)128.        M.I. Rezard (Muthur Youth Social Development  Organisation)129.        M. M. Nazeer ( Oluvil)130.        M.R.M Naufil (Mannar Grand Mosque)131.        M. Thiruvarangan132.        Mahaluxumi Kurushanthan (Mannar)133.        Mahesh De Mel (Director, Waves of Hope)134.        Mahinda Hattaka135.        Mahisha Warusavitharana 136.        Malcolm Peter (Alliance Development Trust)137.        Manjula Gajanayake138.        Mano Ganesan, (Civil Monitoring Commission)139.        Manzoor A Cader. (Rtd Registrar  Sammanthurai)140.        Marisa de Silva141.        Mawlavi Bazeer (Sammanturai)142.        Melani Manel Perera  (Christian Women Journalist)143.        Melanie Perera  (Alliance Development Trust)144.        Melisha Yapa (Marketer/Banker)145.        Menaha Kandasamy146.        Minna Thaheer147.        Mohammed Mahuruf148.        Mohideen Bawa Parikari Ibralebbai. (Oluvil)149.        Monroe Jayasuriya (National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka)150.        Mujeeb Rahman151.        N. L. Pakeer Ali (Oluvil)152.        N.Shanthi (Akkaraipattu)153.        Nadya Perera154.        Mirak Raheem155.        Nandala Maduranga Kalugampitiya156.        Navin Weeraratne157.        Nicola Perera158.        Nimalka Fernando159.        Niyanthini Kadirgamar160.        Pala Pothupitiya (Artist)161.        P. Thanbirajah162.        P.N. Singham163.        Padmini, Women’s Centre164.        Peter Rezel165.        Priya Thangarajah (Law Student)166.        Prof. Jayantha Seneviratne167.        Prof Maithree Wickramasinghe168.        Prof. Priyan Dias169.        Prof. S.H. Hasbulla170.        R.M.B. Senanayake171.        Raghu Balachandran (Methodist Church of Sri Lanka)172.        Rajani Chandrasegaram173.        Rajasingam174.        Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon  (Campaign for Free and Fair Elections)175.        Rajiva Godagedara  (Accountant)176.        Ralston Weinman177.        Ramyadarshanie Vithanage178.        Rev. Daisy Aseervatham179.        Rev. Oswald Firth180.        Rifana Buhary181.        Rohan Salgadoe182.        Romola Rassool183.        Rukaiya Mohideen184.        Ruki Fernando185.        Rukshani Attygalle Abeyeratne (Attorney at Law)186.        Ruwani Botheju (Alliance Development Trust)187.        S. Mohamed Rayees188.        S.C.C.Elankovan189.        S.N.S.Rizli (Addalaichchenai)190.        S.Yoga (Ampara)191.        S.Ziyath, (Addalaichchena)192.        Sam Perera193.        Sanathanan Thamotharampillai (Artist)194.        Sandamali Herath (Marketer)195.        Sanjaya Senenayake196.        Sanjayan Rajasingham197.        Santhasilan Kadirgamar198.        Shafinaz Hassendeen199.        Shanaka Cooray ( Lawyer)200.        Sheik Thajudeen201.        Shifan Ahmed202.        Shreen Saroor203.        Sr. Kathleen A.C.204.        Sr. Rasika Pieris205.        Sriya, Women’s Centre206.        Sultan Mohamed Faizal (Mannar Mosque Federation)207.        Surangi Ariyawansha (Center for Human Rights)208.        Suren Raghavan209.        T. Sivapalan210.        T.Pakiyawathi, Aalaiyadivembu (Ampara)211.        U.K. Abdul Raheem (Naleemi, Oluvil)212.        U. P. S. A. Gafoor. (Rtd, RM Coconut Cultivation Board.- Oluvil)213.        Udan Fernando214.        V.K.Ranjani (Thandiyadi, Akkaraippattu)215.        Vamadeva Kurukkal (Uduvil)216.        Vasuki Jeyasankar217.        Visaka Dharmadasa218.        Wijith Rohan Fernando (Senior Lecturer, University of Kelaniya)219.        Y. D. Ravindran  (Attorney at Law) Muslims staged a hartal in the Eastern province today against the decision by the government to relocate the Dambulla mosque owing to pressure from some Buddhist monks.Most Muslim shops in Kattankudy, Batticaloa and in Ampara were shut while public transport was also affected as a result of the hartal. The statement said “We specifically condemn the recent violent attack on the Mosque in Dambulla by a group of anti social actors. The Hindu community has also been asked to move their temple from the vicinity. The Dambulla Khairya Jummah Mosque had been in existence for over 60 years and the mosque trustees have legal documents regarding its construction. On Friday the 20th of April 2012 a tense situation arose as regular Friday prayer at the Mosque was prevented by a gang led by Buddhist monks who claimed that it was an illegal construction. The group stated that both the Mosque and Hindu shrine were built on sacred Buddhist ground. It is further regrettable that law enforcement authorities could not take appropriate action to stop the forceful entry into the mosque and the intimidation of the community.On the 23rd after a discussion with the Buddhist monks deputy minister Hizbullah made a public announcement to the media that the monks have agreed to give three months to identify alternative land and relocate the Mosque. However the very affected members of the community have not been part of this discussion and are still unable to express their opinion freely. While we are in support of reaching a solution through negotiations with the Muslim community, we would like to stress that any decision taken on this issue should not be unjust towards the minority communities in the context of post-war Sri Lanka.The mosque has been in existence for over 60 years and the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim persons in the region had been living together in a spirit of amity for decades, if not centuries. Yet, today we see that that religious intolerance is on the rise and the state has done little to check this. The incident in Dambulla is not an isolated one. Last year a Muslim shrine (Dargha) was destroyed in Anuradhapura.  In Ashraf Nagar the military has taken over land that belongs to 69 Muslim families, including land that was allotted for a Muslim burial ground. In Illangaithurai Muhathuwaram (now renamed Lanka Patuna) a Shivan shrine was removed and a Buddhist statue was built in its place. A group of Buddhist monks and people attacked the four Square Gospel Church in Kaluthara North last year. The Police have prevented the church from functioning claiming that it would lead to a breach peace. In Ambalangoda the Assembly of God church was attacked in February this year. A pastor in Kalutara was attacked and a house belonging to a Christian was vandalized by Buddhist monks alleging that the church was engaged in conversions. The police failed to frame charges against Buddhist monks. Recently the government has also tried to pass the Town and Country Planning bill which allows for religious land to also been acquired in municipal and urban areas for economic, social, historical, environmental or religious purposes.  Even though the bill has been challenged in court and withdrawn there is a move to bring the bill back as law through other avenues. Such acts increase the sense of insecurity that minorities in general feel in this as regards the practice of worship and co existence. Meanwhile several organizations including human rights groups in Sri Lanka and civil rights activists issued a joint statement today raising concerns over the decision to relocate the mosque.The statement said that it was with great concern that they were protesting against the growing trend of increasing religious intolerance in Sri Lanka with regard to minority religions. We appeal to the President, state institutions and officials, and those in the executive to take appropriate action on the incident in Dambulla that serves to build confidence among minority communities in the state structure and mechanisms.  We strongly believe that the people of this country, Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Christian and Burgher wish to live in harmony with each other. We also strongly believe that it is a marginal amount of people who take to violence in riding rough shod over the rights of others. We strongly urge the state to take measures to curb the growing trend of intolerance and to do its utmost to make minorities feel in every way people of this country. In the post war context this is of the utmost importance for reconciliation and peaceful co-existence. We also appeal to religious and community leaders to initiate dialogue at all possible levels so that minority communities feel secure”. The statement was signed by:

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