On Monday, the Sri Lankan government declared a 10-day state of emergency—the first since the civil war ended in 2009—following clashes between Muslims and Buddhists on Sunday. This latest clash took place in Kandy, a tourist city in the center of island, after a Sinhalese truck driver succumbed to his injuries following a non-racial altercation with some Muslim youth. Hardline Buddhist monks arrived in Kandy allegedly to pay their respects, but Sri Lankan authorities believe they were there to incite violence, as they have done in the past.
This fresh wave of communal violence has the potential to derail an already unsteady reconciliation process, unless the Sri Lankan government takes active measures to increase the public’s faith—specifically the Tamil and Muslim communities’ views—in its political system and law enforcement agencies. Actions must include preventing police brutality by reforming the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and using its current hate speech legislation to legally targeting militant Buddhist monks from inciting violence.