A Sri Lankan Muslim factory owner has been victimized, arrested and harassed by the police due to his religion, in a case that has raised concerns over the rights and safety of minorities in the island nation.
Mumthazul Haq, a garment factory owner still facing harassment from Sri Lankan police. Haq who is a resident of Sabaragamuwa province in Sri Lanka, was arrested and kept 29 days in the arbitrarily arrest by the police over false accusations of being suspect in providing the military uniform that police think has been made by his factory in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings that killed 269 people.
Haq who belongs to a respectable family has badly ruined his image in the media by spreading his name after the police search his factory that makes the clothes for the camouflage material. He has permission from the Sri Lanka import authorities for this kind of fabric to make the children’s outfits, but he has presented as an accused and facilitator to the terrorists.
Mumthazul Haq told Eurasia Media Network that he was branded as someone who provided military uniforms to the terrorists. The life of Haq and their family has changed as they cannot go with these labels that have been attributed to him by the police and then broadcasted and published in the media.
Haq said that his business has collapsed and he has been suffering of the worst trauma.
Haq’s case is one of many examples of arbitrary arrests and human rights violations against Muslims in Sri Lanka following the Easter Sunday attacks. According to Amnesty International, more than 200 Muslims have been detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), a draconian law that allows indefinite detention without charge or trial. The rights group has called for the repeal of the PTA and for an independent investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees.
The Sri Lankan government has faced criticism from the international community and civil society groups for its failure to hold accountable those responsible for the attacks, as well as for its crackdown on minorities and dissenters. The government has also been accused of stoking communal tensions and Islamophobia by imposing bans on burials for COVID-19 victims from Muslim communities, as well as on face coverings and madrasas (Islamic schools).
The Sri Lankan Muslim community, which makes up about 10% of the country’s population, has been living in fear and insecurity since the attacks. Many Muslims have reported facing harassment, discrimination, violence, and hate speech from some Buddhist extremists and nationalists, who make up about 70% of the population. Some Muslims have also been forced to flee their homes or hide their identity to avoid attacks.
The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in March 2021 that expressed concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka and called for enhanced monitoring and reporting on the country. The resolution also urged the Sri Lankan government to ensure accountability for past and present violations, including those related to the Easter Sunday attacks, and to protect the rights of all communities, especially minorities.