The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has addressed a letter to the Acting Inspector General of Police Chandana Wickemaratne concerning the recent communal violence in the North-Western Province, Chilaw district and Minuwangoda town.
The letter, signed by HRCSL Chairperson Dr. Deepika Udagama, requests the Acting IGP to address the problematic issues observed by the HRCSL in the areas where communal violence took place.
The letter claims that no preventive measures have been taken although retaliatory violence against the Muslim communities was a distinct possibility after the terror attacks of 27 April.
“Attacks on certain villages had gone on for several hours, e.g., villages destroyed in Hettipola, and they had not had the benefit of police/STF or Tri Forces intervention to stop the attacks,” the HRCSL alleges.
The HRCSL has further drawn the acting IGP’s attention to the complaints received by them “to the effect that the police officers stood by as mobs congregated in certain areas even during curfew hours, such as on Kottaramulla main road, Kuliyapitiya and Minuwangoda.”
Accordingly, the HRCSL requests the acting IGP to take heed of early warning signs, including complaints and appeals by residents, and take preventive action when there is even the slightest hint of communal unrest.
The letter calls for the urgent provision of crowd control training and necessary equipment such as tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and water cannons in a manner that is easily accessible to provincial police stations.
The HRCSL has further requested the acting IGP to ensure that no “undue political or other external interventions” are tolerated and that strict legal action be taken against those who obstruct police officers from performing their duties.