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April 20, 2018
A representative delegation of the Council of Sri Lankan Muslim Organisations(COSMOS) UK, an umbrella body of 26 Sri Lankan Muslim Organisations based in UK, met H.E Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic Social Republic of Sri Lanka in London on Tuesday 17th April 2018. Hon Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva and Hon Ali Zahir Moulana MP also joined H.E. President at this meeting. COSMOS delegation included the following members.

Azahim Mohammed -President, Liyas Abdul Wahid- General Secretary, Lukman Harees - Author, Journalist, Ex-co member, Rizwan Wahab - Ex-President, Ex-Co member Mukshid Zawahir-Treasurer and SLMCC, Harrow, Anees-President SLMA Slough (Masjid ul Jannah), Nafi Juwardeen - President KICC, Ubaid Abdeen - COSMOS Media Shakir Nawas - COSMOS Media.

The meeting was very productive and COSMOS delegation took the opportunity to convey the concerns of the Muslim Diaspora about the continuing climate of fear and insecurity among the Muslims of Sri Lanka and underlined the failure of the government and the law enforcement authorities to take action on time to avert the recent anti-Muslim hate attacks. The imperative need to enforce the rule of law and also find long term solutions was also highlighted. A detailed memorandum was submitted to H.E. President in this regard, which included a list of areas to focus upon, to find immediate to long-term solutions to avert future racist conflicts of this nature. Some of the areas revolved around immediate issues relating to what happened in Ampara and Digana such as prosecution and punishment of the offenders, and payment of compensation, and the need to enforce the rule of law without discrimination, while others, among others, focused on issues beyond, such as the need for a Presidential Commission to reflect /identify underlying causes for this continuing hate trend and suggest sustainable solutions, Hate speech and regulation of the social media, as well as educational interventions to inculcate tolerant values on our next generation.

COSMOS specifically put forward the under noted proposals:

1. Take necessary measures to protect the rights of the Muslims, to live in an inclusive Sri Lanka as equal citizens, as per its' obligations under the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also the provisions of the Constitution of the country.

2. Make use of the existing laws to deal with hate speech win accordance with Article 20(2) of the ICCPR particularly in the social media and to work with social media companies to regulate their sites to ensure this vital channels of communication are not misused and abused to spread hate.

3. Apply the law of the land without discrimination and deal with the culprits who have been responsible for committing many acts of wanton destruction, vandalism and indiscriminating attacks on places of worship and commercial establishments belonging to the Muslims in particular and the minorities in general

     1. In respect of the Aluthgama, Ampara and Digana violence, to institute a commission of Inquiry to inquire into, identify and punish the offenders while suggesting measures to promote peaceful co-existence and national reconciliation

     2. To pay compensation in full to all those affected by the recent violence

4. Impress upon the law enforcement authorities to act justly and with fairness without purportedly allowing the aggressors to act with impunity to act against religious and commercial interests of the minorities.

5. Take positive measures to dispel the sense of insecurity among the minorities as a direct and indirect result of the institutionalization of Majoritarianism in Statecraft since Independence.

6. Tackle the root causes of intolerance, a much broader set of policy measures are necessary, for example in the areas of intercultural dialogue or education for tolerance and diversity.

H.E President thanked COSMOS for the proposals and undertook to look into them. He also explained the measures taken by the Government of Sri Lanka, to bring the situation under control and to prosecute and deal with the offenders, in accordance with the law. He also expressed the view that community leaders are looking at things only from their community’s point of view and there is a need for a cross community approach to find long term solutions.

COSMOS delegation thanked H.E President for the opportunity provided to them, to discuss the concerns of the Muslims and the way forward. H. E President requested COSMOS to continue keeping in touch with him in this regard.

Report by: Liyas Abdul Wahid-General Secretary
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