Sri Lanka Ends State of Emergency

Sri Lanka’s President announced Sunday he is ending the nationwide state of emergency.

Maithripala Sirisena declared the emergency 13 days ago in response to anti-Muslim riots in which three people died and hundreds of shops were destroyed. Sirisena said improvements in the security situation prompted him to end the emergency. Under the declaration security forces and the police had sweeping powers to detain suspects.

In a brief statement on Twitter he said this, “Upon assessing the public safety situation, I instructed to revoke the state of emergency from midnight yesterday.”

Much of the anti-Muslim violence was concentrated in the central district of Kandy which is northeast of the capital Colombo. Police said the situation has returned to normal. Security forces have been deployed to help rebuild damaged homes and businesses. More than 300 people have been arrested in connection with the riots. Those individuals will be remanded to custody till the end of this month. The state emergency also allowed Sirisena to call in the military after police initially failed to control the riots.

The straw that broke it all.

The unrest started after a Sinhalese man was beaten up by four Muslim men in a road rage incident. He died at a hospital earlier this month. The next day, Sinhalese mobs set fire to Muslim-owned homes and businesses. One of those fires claimed the life of a 24-year-old Muslim man, which further raised tensions. The next day, a Sinhalese man died in the process of attempting to attack a mosque.

Parliament issued an apology to its Muslim minority who account for only 10% of the population out of 21 million.

This is not the first major clash between Muslims and Sinhalese, who are largely Buddhist. Last November, riots between the two groups left one man dead and vast property destruction.

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