Former Sri Lankan cricketers Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, and Sanath Jayasuriya have condemned communal violence in Sri Lanka publicly.
New Delhi: Sri Lanka declared a nationwide ten-day emergency Tuesday after communal clashes between the majority Buddhist Sinhala and Muslim communities left two people dead and over 100 homes and shops damaged in the town of Kandy. But in a show of solidarity cricketing legends from the island nation took to Twitter Wednesday urging for peace.
Mahela Jaywardene, Kumar Sangakkara, and Sanath Jayasuriya condemned these attacks and called for peace and an end to the violence.
“I grew up in a civil war which lasted 25 years and don’t want the next generation to go through that,” Jaywardene tweeted.
I strongly condemn the recent acts of violence & everyone involved must be brought to justice regardless of race/ religion or ethnicity. I grew up in a civil war which lasted 25 years and don’t want the next generation to go through that.
— Mahela Jayawardena (@MahelaJay) March 7, 2018
Sangakkara urged the Sri Lankans to ‘stand together’ and ‘stand strong’.
No one in Sri Lanka can be marginalized or threatened or harmed due to their ethnicity or religion. We are One Country and One people. Love, trust and acceptance should be our common mantra. No place for racism and violence. STOP. Stand together and stand strong.
— Kumar Sangakkara (@KumarSanga2) March 7, 2018
Jayasuriya tweeted that he was disgusted by the acts of violence and demanded the culprits be brought to justice.
Disgusting and sickening to see the acts of violence in Sri Lanka. I condemn strongly and to bring the involved culprits to justice. I request people of Sri Lanka to be wise and stay together in these tough times
— Sanath Jayasuriya (@Sanath07) March 7, 2018
Sri Lanka limited overs captain Angelo Mathews also condemned the communal violence in a long post saying that their country and society has learnt nothing from the past. He warned Sri Lankans not to start another ethnic crisis.
We as Sri Lankans suffered enough through a tumultuous three decade War. We lost many a loved one. Hopes and dreams were shattered in an instant. Many including myself and my family walked the streets in fear and uncertainty.
I'm sure many of you too could relate to that.
— Angelo Mathews (@Angelo69Mathews) March 7, 2018
History of communal violence
Sri Lanka has a history of ethnic clashes. The first widespread riots took place in 1915 between the Sinhala community and the Muslims. Official figures say 116 people were killed, 63 of whom died due to action taken by military and police forces.
The events of 1915 ultimately led to greater ethnic tensions, which only grew after the country gained independence. In June 2014, the property of members of the Muslim community were targeted by Sinhala Buddhists in Kalutara district in southwestern Sri Lanka. The trigger for this wave of violence was an alleged assault on Buddhist monk Ayagama Samitha and his chauffeur by members of the Muslim community.
Indian stars leave a lot to be desired
While the situation may not be as grim in India, the response of our cricketing icons to most incidents leaves a lot to be desired. India’s professional cricketers rarely take a stand on issues and rarely say if it is the fear of political backlash or public wrath that deters them. While the Indian cricket board does not explicitly prohibit them from speaking up, most of them rarely choose to wade into debates on contentious issues.
In fact, former India opening batsman Virender Sehwag, recently ended up contributing to vitiating the atmosphere further in a case. His controversial tweet named only the Muslim members of a group that lynched Madhu, a tribal man in Kerala last month. The outrage forced Sehwag to post a follow-up tweet and apologise. He later deleted both tweets.
Many have pointed out that Jayawerdene, Jayasuriya, and Sangakkara all belong to the majority Sinhala community but they still took a public stand against aggression of their own community.
Very well said. A lot of Indian celebs can learn from this tweet.
THIS is how you tweet responsibly.
Thank you, Mahela.
Hope to see the Sri Lanka situation get normal soon. https://t.co/Avqc2BovkU
— Raja راجہ – awaaz do, hum ek hain (@Raja_Sw) March 7, 2018
But will it change anything about how Indian cricketers respond to events?