Three killed, 75 injured, houses set ablaze in Sri Lanka ethnic clashes

admin   •   June 17, 2014   •   3166

A police vehicle sprays water from a water cannon on a burnt shop after a clash between Buddhists and Muslims in Aluthgama June 16, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/DINUKA LIYANAWATTE

(Reuters) – At least three Muslims were killed and 75 people seriously injured in violence between Buddhists and Muslims in southern Sri Lankan coastal towns best known as tourist draws, with Muslim homes set ablaze, officials and residents said on Monday.

There has been increasing violence against Muslims in Sri Lanka since 2012, mirroring events in Myanmar, which has seen a surge of attacks by members of the majority Buddhist community against Muslims.

Clashes erupted on Sunday in Aluthgama and Beruwela, two Muslim-majority towns on the Sinhalese-dominated southern coast, during a protest march led by the hardline Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), or “Buddhist power force”.

“I just can’t understand a government which prevents even a trade union or student protesters going to protest marches … allowing the BBS to conduct the meeting,” Rauf Hakeem, justice minister and the leader of the country’s largest Muslim party, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, told Reuters.

He said Muslims in the area had repeatedly requested authorities to provide them with security.

Many independent analysts say well-coordinated violence against Muslims and Christians appears to have tacit state backing as those involved in previous attacks have yet to be punished. The government denies any collusion.

The separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam attacked Muslim villages in the northeast during the 1983-2009 civil war. More than 140 people were killed in a massacre of Muslims in 1990 blamed on the Tigers, which the group denied.

WARNING TO MUSLIMS

A Reuters team in Aluthgama and Beruwela witnessed an uneasy calm and a heavy police presence, with Muslims worried for their safety, many of them sitting on the road in front of their gutted houses.

Police urged people to stay inside their homes. “A curfew is imposed for your own safety. Do not come out of your houses,” they said through loudspeakers.

Reuters reporters counted 16 houses gutted by fire.

“The curfew is only for Muslims, not for the rioters,” said Fathima Fazniya, a 65-year-old retired teacher. “They (the rioters) came in … lorries behind the police and looted all our houses. Then they torched my house. They are well organized.”

Many residents said the police directly and indirectly helped the BBS organization. Police rejected the claim.

BSS WARNS MUSLIMS

The BBS has said its members came under attack when they were protesting peacefully against an assault on a Buddhist monk by a Muslim youth three days earlier.

Before the clash, the general secretary of the BBS, Galagoda Aththe Gnanasaara, warned Muslims against attacking Sinhalese, the majority of whom are Buddhist. “We still have Sinhala police in this country, still we have a Sinhala military. From today, if any Muslim… mishandles any Sinhalese, that will be the end of them,” he said at a public rally that was captured on video and downloaded on YouTube.

In a statement on Monday, Gnanasaara said the BBS had not been involved in the clashes and blamed them on “an extreme Muslim group” that had picked a fight with the Sinhalese.

The U.S. Embassy in Colombo condemned the violence and urged the government to ensure that order is preserved and that citizens, places of worship and property are protected.

Police were investigating a shooting in a nearby Welipitiya mosque in the early hours of Monday despite the police curfew. An elite police force official who declined to be identified told Reuters that a group traveling in a vehicle shot at Muslims who tried to prevent them from attacking the mosque. Three were killed and seven sustained gunshot injuries. Residents were unable to communicate with each other due to the curfew and congestion of mobile phone networks.

“My son-in-law, Mohamed Shiraz, was shot in the head after a battle that lasted more than two hours,” Mohamed Hassan told Reuters, looking across at his daughter, Shiraz’s wife.

“Police did not come at all during this fight and we hear now that he is dead. But I can’t either see him or confirm this.”

Mohamed Faiser, a 45-year-old shop owner, said police broke into his shop and an adjoining mosque. Another group followed and torched both buildings.

(Additional reporting and writing by Shihar Aneez; Editing by John Chalmers and Nick Macfie)

Duterte calls on ASEAN countries to stand with Myanmar amid coup crisis

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte has called on member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to stand with Myanmar amid its coup crisis.

During the 39th ASEAN Summit, Duterte urged all parties in Myanmar to heed the ASEAN’s plea for peace.

“The Philippines urges all parties in Myanmar to engage in constructive dialogue with ASEAN. We are, after all, an ASEAN family. And if we cannot trust each other and work together, then who can Myanmar trust and work with?” he said.

He also urged ASEAN’s special envoy to visit Myanmar soon and meet all the parties involved.

Duterte expressed concern about Myanmar’s rejection of ASEAN’s sincere offers of assistance, stating that it may undermine the mutual trust and confidence that ASEAN-member states share.

Meanwhile, the president said the Philippines will commit to help individuals caught up in “situations beyond their control”.

“Our doors are open to our Rohingya brothers and sisters and other peoples of Myanmar who seek refuge,” he said. AAC

Philippines to lift travel ban on 10 countries starting September 6

UNTV News   •   September 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to lift the current travel restrictions on travelers from 10 countries starting September 6, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced in a statement on Saturday.

These countries are namely:  India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Nonetheless, international travelers coming from the said countries shall comply with the appropriate entry, testing and quarantine protocols, depending on the country’s approved “listing,” Roque said.

He added that the IATF has adopted the “Yellow” and “Red” classifications, in addition to the “Green List” countries/jurisdictions/territories.

Roque said this is based on the countries’ respective incidence rates and case counts as primary criteria, and testing data as secondary criteria.  The incidence rate is the cumulative new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population while case counts are cumulative new cases over the past 28 days.

The government first imposed the travel restrictions on India in April then later expanded to include more countries to stem the spread of Delta variant, the highly transmissible strain of COVID-19.

 

Healthcare workers with existing contract abroad allowed to leave — POEA

Marje Pelayo   •   June 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said Tuesday (June 8) that Filipino health workers who have existing contracts abroad are still allowed to leave the country.

During Tuesday’s Laging Handa public briefing, POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia clarified that the country is not barring healthcare workers from leaving as long as they have an active job abroad.

This was after the government announced that the 5,000 cap for Filipino nurses deployed abroad has been reached.

This means, there will be no new deployment of healthcare workers abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the agency will no longer issue new overseas employment certificates (OEC) for Filipino healthcare workers until the end of the year.

“Noon pong June 1, 2021, naabot na po natin ang 5,000 [na cap] dahil binibilang po natin ang na-i-issue na Overseas Employment Certificate,” Olalia said.

“Exempted po rito [sa 5,000 cap] ang mga returning workers dahil mayroon silang existing contracts at may babalikan silang employment,” he clarified.

Olalia added that workers set for deployment to the United Kingdom are allowed to leave as well as those hired under government-to-government procedures in fulfilment of the government’s obligation under bilateral agreement.

Meanwhile, Olalia said there is an existing temporary deployment ban to Myanmar due to the ongoing civil unrest there.

However, only those with existing contract or returning OFWs to Myanmar will be allowed to leave.

“May kaunting kaguluhan sa Myanmar ngayon kaya ang POEA Governing Board po ay nagpatupad at nagpalabas ng isang board resolution kung saan nakalagay po doon na level 2 ang state of alertness doon sa nasabing bansa,” he noted.

“Kaya bawal po ngayon ang mga new hires. Ang pinapayagan lang nating ma-deploy sa Myanmar ay ang mga balik manggagawa natin. Mga direct hires at agency hires na bago po ay hindi papayagan dahil alert level 2 po ngayon ang bansang Myanmar,” Olalia said.

REACH US

The Philippine Broadcast Hub

UNTV, 915 Barangay Philam,

EDSA, Quezon City M.M. 1104

(+632) 8396-8688 (Tel)

info@untv-newsandrescue.com (General inquiries)

ABOUT UNTV

UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.