Sri Lanka Speaker warns against 1983 repeat as nationalists riot

ECONOMYNEXT – Speaker of Sri Lanka’s parliament Karu Jayasuriya warned against a repeat of riots in 1983 that provided recruits to Tamil Tigers as anti-Muslim nationalists rioted destroying shops, houses and mosques following Easter Sunday bombings by Islamist extremists.

"Future of Sri Lanka will be decided by the way people behave in the next few days," Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said in a message.

"If communal violence cannot be prevented, terrorists will be able to legitimize their crime, as did once in 1983."

In 1983, majoritarian nationalists rioted, with some instigation by political elements, leaving many dead and property destroyed.

The riots helped swell the ranks of the Tamil Tigers.

Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa also made the same warnings as violence against Muslims erupted in several locations in his home electoral district of Kurunegala.

Easter Sunday attacks were carried out by suicide bombers who had links with Islamic State, an extremist group that is promoting a Pan-Islamic agenda that had recently suffered military setbacks at its home base in Syria.

Intelligence officials said the two local organizations JMI and NTJ, whose members had carried out the attacks were motivated mainly by external factors but domestic factors were also involved.

They said the groups were driven by shock of recent setbacks of the IS, urgings of IS linked groups abroad, attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand as well as domestic factors.

Members of the group were communicating through a platform called Telegram, and they had expressed anxiety and concerns over attacks by Nationalists on Muslims such as in Digana in the Kandy district, intelligence officials said.





Pan-Nationalists do not necessarily require discrimination against a minority (the existence of an discriminated irredenta) to promote their agenda and even a country with a majority of the ethnic or religious community could be targeted.

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had also publicly appealed not to create a situation similar to 1983 which led to a 30-year civil war. (Colombo/May14/2019)

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