Ten anti-Christian incidents in Sri Lanka in March

March 28, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Buddhism is afforded the "foremost place" in Sri LankaSri Lanka, March 27, 2013: A “sudden increase in violence against the Christian community” in Sri Lanka has been reported; incidents include a brutal attack on a pastor’s home and the burning down of a church building.

Barnabas Fund received news last week of ten anti-Christian incidents in different parts of the country during March.

The most violent of them was an attack by Buddhist extremists on Pastor Pradeep Kumara’s house in Katuwana, Weeraketiya, that was used for worship meetings. The family was out when the mob forced open the gate and broke into the premises on 18 March.

Pradeep’s wife and children returned as the assailants were damaging the property. They threatened her, and she called both her husband and the police. Four officers arrived but could not control the mob.

The attack went on for three and a half hours; the assailants desisted only once they had forced Pradeep’s wife to promise that there would be no more worship meetings at the house.

The pastor has faced intense opposition to his ministry. On 8 December 2012, Buddhists had threatened him and told him to close down his church. The next morning, the group returned and attacked the building during a service. They damaged equipment, furniture and vehicles, and warned Pradeep, “Leave this place or be killed.” He was injured during the attack.

The pastor complained to the police and filed a case at the Supreme Court, which allowed him to continue holding services at the centre for the time being and ordered police protection.

The Supreme Court is still considering the matter. A further hearing took place this month, in the week after the attack on the pastor’s home.

CHURCHES HARASSED

Among the other anti-Christian incidents in Sri Lanka this month were the burning down of a church building in Batticalao on the 9th and, around the 12th, a pastor from Angunakolapelessa being threatened by police, who told him to stop holding services.

Additionally, seven churches faced harassment, mostly from Buddhist monks but sometimes with police or mob support.

Around 2 March, two Pentecostal churches, one in Kottawa, the other in Galle, were targeted. The following Sunday (10 March), a different church in Kottawa was disturbed, and on Sunday 17 March, three churches, in Agalawatte, Polonnaruwa and Embilipitiya, were harassed. Another church in Hikkaduwa was also threatened.

They were told to stop their meetings amid claims in some cases that the Christians had not obtained permission from the local authority. In one of the incidents, four monks arrived with a cameraman and accused the pastor of converting Buddhists.

It is rare to hear of so many anti-Christian incidents in one month in Sri Lanka; these may indicate a concerted campaign by Buddhists.

On Sunday (24 March), hard-line Buddhist group the Bodu Bala Sena said that Sri Lanka is not multiracial or multi-religious but a Sinhala Buddhist country. Secretary Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara thera said that the country should be ready to rally against what he described as Christian and Muslim extremist groups operating in the country.

The Christian minority, who comprise around 8% of the Sri Lankan population, are vulnerable to discrimination and attack, as Buddhism is afforded the “foremost place” by the government. The authorities consequently do little to investigate or prevent attacks by Buddhist extremists.

– barnabas team

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