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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Sri Lanka Seeks to Strangle Non-Buddhist Religions

You are free to disseminate the following news. We request that you reference ICC (International Christian Concern) and include our web address www.www.persecution.org. Contact Samuel Wallace, Regional Manager for South Asia, Europe, and Latin America, 1-800-ICC (422)-5441, samuel.wallace@www.persecution.org.

(January 13, 2009) The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) www.www.persecution.org has just learned that Buddhist monks have once again introduced an anti-conversion bill to restrict conversions in Sri Lanka.

The Jathika Hela Urumaya (National Heritage Party), which is led by Buddhist monks, introduced the bill under the title “Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Bill” on Tuesday, January 6. The bill was first introduced in the Sri Lankan parliament in 2004, and was subsequently challenged in the Sri Lankan Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that the bill was valid except for two clauses, and since then the bill had remained in committee after being revised in accord with the Court’s ruling.

Reports indicate that the bill will be debated in parliament next month. Though proponents claim that the bill would only restrict “fundamentalist” groups from using monetary rewards or coercive methods to convert people, the language is so broad that it would criminalize any form of humanitarian assistance from religious groups.

The bill is especially concerning because it is the culmination of a widespread pattern of violent attacks on Christians in Sri Lanka. Similar measures enacted in several Indian states such as Orissa have led to an increase in attacks on Christians. If this bill is passed, it would likely serve to legitimize anti-Christian persecution.

ICC calls on all concerned parties to contact the Sri Lankan embassy in your country and express your opposition to this bill.

Sri Lankan Embassies:



United States

Embassy of Sri Lanka

Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya

2148 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008

Phone: (202)-483-4025

Fax: (202)-232-7181

Email: slembassy@slembassyusa.org

Canada

Sri Lanka High Commission

High Commissioner Daya Perera

333 Laurier Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1C1

Phone: 613 233 8449

Fax: 613 238 8448

Email: slhcit@rogers.com

United Kingdom

High Commission of Sri Lanka

No.13, Hyde Park Gardens, London W2 2LU

Phone: 020 7262 1841-6

Fax: 020 7262 7970

Email: mail@slhc-london.co.uk

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ICC is a Washington-DC based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC delivers humanitarian aid, trains and supports persecuted pastors, raises awareness in the US regarding the problem of persecution, and is an advocate for the persecuted on Capitol Hill and the State Department. For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.