Hardline Buddhist monks storm UN ‘safe house’ in Sri Lanka to attack Rohingya refugees
Mob storms house in Colombo, denouncing Muslim occupants as ‘terrorists’, even though most are children
A group led by Buddhist monks mobbed a United Nations-run safe house for Rohingya Muslims on Tuesday, claiming that they were terrorists and demanding they be sent back to Myanmar, prompting police to relocate them.
Dozens of protesters from Sri Lanka’s majority Buddhist community led a mob that stormed a multi-storied house at Mount Lavinia on the outskirts of the Sri Lankan capital.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said about 30 Rohingya Muslims were taken into police custody to be moved to a safe location following the protest led by monks and lay persons.
Gunasekara said the group which included 16 children and seven women and seven men were arrested by the Navy in April when they tried to illegally enter Sri Lanka. A court had ordered them be kept at a safe location run by the UN.
A video clip posted by the nationalist group – Sinhala National Movement – on its Facebook page shows protesters calling Rohingyas “terrorists who killed Buddhists in Myanmar” and saying that they can’t live in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Buddhists make up 70 per cent of the island’s 20 million people while Muslims account for 10 per cent.
More than 420,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 25, when Rohingya insurgent attacks on security forces prompted a military crackdown and reprisals by majority Buddhists.
The Rohingya Muslims have faced persecution and discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar for decades and are denied citizenship, even though they have lived there for generations. The government says there is no such ethnicity as Rohingya and argues they are Bengalis who illegally migrated to Myanmar from Bangladesh.
The extremist Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka have ties with their counterparts in Mynamar. Both these groups have been accused of leading attacks on minority Muslilms in their respective countries.