GP Insights # 60, 8 June 2019
All nine Sri Lankan ministers along with the two Muslim provincial governors resigned in early June to protest the “threat to the community” and backlash spurred by the Easter bombing that killed over 250 people. The Muslim ministers have given one month to the government to expedite all inquiries and end “hate culture”.
What is the background
The resignations were in direct response to a four-day hunger strike by Athuraliye Rathana, an influential Buddhist monk, a member of Parliament and an adviser to Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Sirisena. Rathana wanted the removal of the two provincial governors and a minister whom he accused of having ties with the suicide bombers. Demonstrations in Colombo and Kandy supported his strike. His assertions also saw support from firebrand monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero. All Muslim ministers, along with their deputies quit from their portfolios in the act of solidarity with the accused.
What does it mean?
The fragile Sirisena government is crumbling amidst the communal discords and fear psychosis. The ballot swayed in favour of Sirisena owing to the support from ethnic minority Tamils and Muslim voters. As ministers succumb to demands by communal entities, Sri Lanka’s political stability threatens to be eroded. Vague accusations by Buddhist hardliners against Muslim ministers and even doctors alleged to have “an organized plan” to reduce Sinhalese majority have fueled hate and rifts. This is just the beginning.
As harmony dwindles, democracy is failing and the fear of a blood bath is looming large.