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Sudden attack led by monks on Rohingya refugees in Sri Lanka questioned

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka government ministers who condemned an attack by a mob led by Buddhist monks on Rohingya refugees, questioned why the people were being incited now, when groups of refugees had been in the country for longer periods for almost a decade.

In March 2008, Sri Lanka Navy had rescued a group of refugees from a boat carrying Myanmar and Bangladeshi nationals.

In July 55 were recognized as Rohingya refugees, and then released into the care of the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said.

They left for re-settlement in the United States in 2012.

In 2013 the Navy had rescued two boatloads of survivors. There were 132 Bangladeshis and 32 individuals from Myanmar. They were released in to the care of UNHCR in November and December of that year.

They were resettled in the US and Canada from 2014 to 2015.

"That was after we came to power. They first came to the country in 2008 and stayed in the country for several years. What did these monks do then?" Senaratne asked.

"They were quiet because Rajapaksa’s were in power. Then there was no problem when refugees came, because Maharaja was there."

The latest batch of 30 Rohingyas were rescued by the Navy on 30 April 2017. They were released into the care of the UNHCR by court.

Senaratne said one pregnant woman gave birth in Sri Lanka.





"Two million Sri Lankan refugees who fled our country from 1983 riots and later," Senaratne said.

"European countries accepted them. They were given shelter, food, jobs and citizenship in Western countries," Senaratne said.

"It is people from a country like that that is treating refugees in this way. This is not the philosophy of Lord Buddha."

He said the attackers behaved like animals and as a Buddhist he was ashamed.

The Lord Buddha did not distinguish between races and treated everyone equally, he said.

Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara said it was a human right of every one to get food, shelter and even an education.

He said there were no truth in propaganda that the government intended to settle them in Sri Lanka.

Jayasekera said Sri Lanka’s immigration law from 1948 no one was naturalized in the country or permanent residence.

"Refugees stay for several years in safe house and then they go," he said.

"Under the current immigration and emigration act we have no power to give them citizenship anyway."

"Many of our people for political victimization and other reasons have gone to western countries and got permanent residence. But nothing like that can happen here."

Refugees described mothers carrying infants who were herded in to a truck by police officers as were described as terrorists from Myanmar in a live facebook post by the attackers. (Colombo/Sept27/2017)

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