Sri Lanka: Attacks another grim reminder of the need to tackle hate

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The shocking Sunday morning bombing attacks targeting churches and hotels in three cities in Sri Lanka resulting in more than 290 deaths and leaving more than 500 people injured, is yet another grim wake-up call to the intolerance and hatred surging through societies across the world, Amnesty International said today.

“Amnesty International stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in its time of grief and we extend our deepest sympathy to the victims, to their family, friends and communities. Our hearts go out to all the people of Sri Lanka and we call on the authorities to ensure truth and justice prevail to defeat this senseless violence. These horrific attacks are yet another reminder that all of us needs to take a unified stand against hatred,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

Coming barely a month after the New Zealand attacks, which also shook the world, these attacks underscore the urgency for world leaders to recognize the enormity of the problem of attacks targeting people based on their identity, and begin to address it urgently. It is important for states to protect the human right to life, as well as to practice one’s religion in peace.

“Today it is worshiping Christians who are the victims, a few weeks ago it was Muslims in mosques. Plenty of other attacks have escaped the media glare. Too many minorities have endured violence, and leaders must stand up unambiguously for pluralist societies and the rights of minority communities,” said Kumi Naidoo.

Leaders must take full responsibility for their role in fueling the demonization of particular groups, and stop fanning flames with hate-filled rhetoric and policies based on aspects of people’s identities such as their faith and beliefs, or on their circumstances as seen with alienation of migrants and asylum seekers. In Sri Lanka, political and religious leadership should take a stand against hatred and bring people together in solidarity at this tragic time.

“Sri Lankans have suffered more than enough from violence. We urge the government to take decisive steps respectful with fair trial standards not only to hold accountable those responsible for Sunday’s attacks, but to develop a clear plan to promote unity in diversity,” said Kumi Naidoo.