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(May 17, 2006) The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) www.www.persecution.org has learned that violence towards Christians in Sri Lanka is increasing at an alarming rate.

As Sri Lanka faces the threat of war yet again, Sinhala Buddhist extremists continue with a campaign of terror against Christians. The NCFSL (National Christian Fellowship of Sri Lanka), which represents over 100 indigenous churches and is the largest representative body of Sri Lankan Christians across the island, recently announced that it was alarmed by the rising attacks on Christian places of worship, which it identified as a dangerous trend of anti-minority behavior. These incidents are part of an extremist agenda that wants to see Sri Lanka isolated and condemned internationally.

The Methodist Church at Piliyandala (South East of Colombo), which was forced to close down under threats from Buddhist monk-led agitators following the funeral of Ven. Soma Thero in 2003, opened its doors yet again to worshippers on Sunday, April 23, 2006. The senior pastor had been threatened not to re-open the church by radical Buddhists, and when he complained to the police he was able to obtain a police guard for the opening service.

As the church opened, a taxi with loud speakers paraded along the street, disturbing the service, with inflammatory anti-Christian slogans blaring from the speakers. As if on cue, a group of about 100 people gathered outside the church and tried to forcibly enter and assault the believers, but were prevented by the three policemen on guard.

Two Buddhist monks from the area did manage to forcibly enter the church and started to shout, threatening and verbally abusing the pastor conducting the service. The mob outside let the air out of the tires of the cars in the church parking area and turned over motorcycles and vehicles, causing heavy damage to the vehicles. This included the pastor’s van, which was smashed.

As the situation got out of hand, the congregation attempted to leave. One pastor was slapped by a member of the mob as he left the church, and an agitator tried to sexually abuse a female believer. A third pastor was hit on the leg with a flag pole flying the Buddhist flag.

A Methodist Church at Kesbewa was also attacked by a mob led by Buddhist monks. The workers were attacked and beaten, and windows of the church were smashed. In addition, in May, the holiest month for Buddhists, two churches in Panadura on the southern coast and a church at Wellawaya in the deep south were attacked.

Over 250 churches have been attacked since 2000 – with little or nothing done to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“This is a very alarming situation. While the reputation of Buddhists around the world is deservedly peaceful and non-violent, the Buddhist monks of Sri Lanka have a history of agitating hatred towards Christians. It seems this hatred is now metastasizing into acts of violence against Christians. We also have seen that in the past, Sri Lanka is a country that cares about its relations with the United States and will respond to requests to protect Christians. Therefore, ICC is requesting that all concerned individuals contact the Sri Lankan embassy in their country to politely request protection for Sri Lankan Christians,” said Jeff King, ICC’s president.

Below is contact information for Sri Lanka’s embassies in the USA and in the United Kingdom:

US EMBASSY OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA
Chancery: 2148 Wyoming Avenue NW,
Washington DC 20008
(202)-483-4025-28
Fax: (202)-232-7181
Email: [email protected]

UK The High Commission of the Republic of Sri Lanka
13 Hyde Park Gardens
London W2 2LU
United Kingdom
Tel: (0171) 262 1841 to 6
Fax: (0171) 262-7970
E-mail: [email protected]