India: Attacking Visitors Will Not End Discrimination
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2013
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
India: Attacking Visitors Will Not End Discrimination In Sri Lanka
In two separate incidents, two Sri Lankan monks have been attached in India. These two attacks are a continuum to previous assaults upon Sri Lankan nationals visiting India. These incidents are criminally shameless and display a despicable disregard to foreigners traveling to India. They are an affirmation of the inability of a few individuals to understand that attacking visitors will not solve the Tamil crisis in Sri Lanka.
Of the two incidents reported recently, the attackers targeted two Sri Lankan monks, one at a railway station, and the other while he was visiting a temple. While it is true that the discrimination against Tamils in Sri Lanka, in the past and that which continues today, will evoke strong sentiments against persons responsible for such discrimination, assaulting innocent persons would certainly not contribute to solving the Sri Lankan crisis. Said that, the Sri Lankan crisis, that took one of its worst turns during the fourth Eelam War, is just not a Sri Lankan Tamil issue.
The ethnic crisis and the war that it resulted in is only one of the most gruesome consequences of a fallen state's inability to administer. It is the result of fallen justice apparatus in Sri Lanka and the predictable behaviour of a political culture that drew, and continues to draw its fictional legitimacy from discrimination justified by pseudo nationalism.
In a country where corruption and nepotism has become the defining character of its highest offices, discrimination and violence is not a concern limited to any particular linguistic or ethnic community. Anyone who challenges authority exercised with impunity risks life in Sri Lanka. Being a Tamil, does not help.
The assault upon Tamils in India has to be viewed with exceptional seriousness, because, first, India is not Sri Lanka. Further, attacking a Sri Lankan monk has serious repercussions in Sri Lanka, with its government having spared no resources to highlight the attacks, in a pathetic excuse to ward off international pressure that it is facing today on accountability. The rogue and criminal behaviour of a few people in India should not be reason for the Government of Sri Lanka to play victim and harp up nationalist sentiments.
Recently, the Supreme Court of India has held the Government of Italy and its ambassador for failing to guarantee the presence of two Italians accused of committing crimes in India. The same set of principles applies to those who attacked the two Sri Lankan monks. A crime is a crime, irrespective of who has committed it. It might be a principle the Government of Sri Lanka finds hard to understand.
India must prove that it is different by taking immediate actions to investigate and prosecute those responsible for attacking the two Sri Lankans. Equally important is for the Tamils in India to understand that attacking Sri Lankans visiting India will not help address the problems of governance in Sri Lanka.
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
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