Mangala Samaraweera chairs the Finance Department. On 26 September, 31 refugees fleeing from Myanmar were attacked by Buddhist monks in a UN camp on the outskirts of Colombo. In the past, the island welcomed other refugees. Muslim: "We have never asked to establish the Rohingya here. There are still so many victims of the civil war waiting for a home. "
Colombo (AsiaNews) - The assault by a crowd of Buddhist monks against Rohingya refugees fleeing from Myanmar who had sheltered in an UN camp is "shameful" says Sri Lankan Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera. He condemns the attack by monks on September 26th on 31 guests of the UNHCR's camp in Mount Lavinia, a suburb of the capital. "A s Buddhist - he says – I condemn this act of violence, even more so because I am proud of the fact that Buddhism is a religion of nonviolence and compassion."
After the assault, the UNHCR was forced to relocate the refugees to a safe place. The minister reports that the fugitives were rescued a few months ago from a dinghy boat in front of the Sri Lankan coast and saved by the Navy. Samaraweera reports that the rescue is not the first of this type. In March 2008, other refugees were discovered and accommodated on the island until 2012, when they were relocated to the United States. And again in 2013, the Navy retrieved another 170 Rohingya exiles from two boats that had sunk. They were also entrusted to the care of the UNHCR and later resettled in the US and Canada.
The politician argues that "all the righteous people of this country and especially Buddhists must condemn the action of the monks. I ask the police to take serious action against these criminals who commit crimes against innocent refugees. "
Other Buddhist citizens opposed to the radicals attack on them. Speaking to AsiaNews Sirimewan Indrarathna, 58, resident on the outskirts of Piliyandala, claims to have been "sorry to see the monks and other young people calling themselves of 'singalian blood' waving flags with the lion's symbol. These people act as if they did not have religion or humanity. " He continues by saying that "these well-known personalities spread the discourse of hatred rather than cultivating the true values of Buddhism. The principles of Buddhism state that faithful must take care of others, especially those who need our help and protection. "
According to Malarjothy, a Tamil woman living in Wellawatta, "the real question is why the Maha Sanga (chief priests) remain silent in the face of these petty incidents that are causing serious harm to Sri Lankan Buddhism. There are many faithful and honest monks, but these racists destroy the good image of religion. Buddhism brings together crushed lives, spreads love and respect. "
Pradeep Laksiri, a Catholic activist in Negombo, states that "human life is worth more than anything. All religions teach respect for every life. It is shameful that these radicals attack the refugees and spread fear. " Muslim Aadhil Ali Sabry adds that "you should not look at these stories with the lens of racism. They are human beings. It is not the first time that refugees reach our country. The victims were in a UN camp waiting for a destination. " He reiterates that Sri Lankan Muslims "have never asked the authorities to allow refugees to remain in the island when many victims of the 30-year civil war have not yet returned to their homes ".