Saying visitors need to follow immigration procedures to enter the country, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Rohingya refugees won’t be allowed in his country, as per a report on bdnews24.
“Rohingya refugees of Myanmar can easily seek refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh or Thailand. But their arrivals in Sri Lanka indicate that it is an organised effort. The government will not permit such manoeuvrings” he said on Friday.
But what the prime minister did not admit was the fact that there is an undercurrent of anti-Muslim sentiment among the majority Sinhalese Buddhist community in Sri Lanka which will not permit settlement of Rohingya Muslims in Sri Lanka.
The communal divide was reflected in the demonstrations held on the Rohingya issue in Sri Lanka.
While the Muslims wanted the government to rush to the aid of Rohingyas and accept refugees, the majority Buddhists would not allow anything of that kind.
While the Muslims looked at the crisis as a huge humanitarian one, the Buddhists saw no merit in the Rohingyas’ case, as in their view, the Rohingyas could be a breeding ground for jihadi terrorists.
Udaya Gammanpila MP and leader of the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, a Buddhist party, said that it would be dangerous to allow Rohingyas to settle in Sri Lanka because they would come with hatred in their hearts for the Buddhists.
“They would create communal tension here and disturb social harmony,” Gammanpila warned.
Gammanpila maintained that much of the news about atrocities against the Rohingyas is “fabricated” by the US and other international players wanting to destabilise developing countries; get an excuse to intervene; and re-impose their hegemony.
“As a country which had waged a 30-year war against Tamil terrorists, Sri Lanka has the bitter experience of facing manipulations by the Western Powers. Fabricated news in the international media about atrocities against the Tamils led to international intervention and stopped our attempts to nip Tamil terrorism in the bud,” Gammanpila recalled.
Dilantha Vithanage, CEO of the radical Buddhist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), endorsed the stand of China and India that the Rohingya issue is basically a terrorist one and that the Myanmar government government’s tough actions are justifiable.
“We should not forget that the Rohingya issue has its genesis in a Muslim separatist movement in the 1940s. We also feel that the Western media is spreading exaggerated accounts as sensationalism sells,” Vithanage said.
As a fellow Buddhist country, Sri Lanka should help Myanmar settle the Rohingya issue and provide the refugees humanitarian assistance, he added.