Buddhist Monk-Led Mob Attacks and Vandalizes Two Churches in Sri Lanka

Christian Persecution Continues to Skyrocket

1/16/2014 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that two churches located in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka were attacked and vandalized by a mob led by radical Buddhist monks. Local police, charged with protecting the churches, stood by as the mob ripped religious items off the walls of the churches, smashed chairs and pews, and set Bibles, hymnals and other religious materials on fire.

When congregants of the Assemblies of God Church and the Calvary Free Church in Hikkaduwa gathered for worship on Sunday, January 12, a mob of  approximately 250 Buddhists bent on closing their churches began to gather. Led by radical Buddhist monks from an organization named Hela Bodhu Pawura, the mob carried loudspeakers blaring anti-Christian messages to the gates of the Assemblies of God Church. Soon after arriving, the mob broke into the church and began to smash windows, the church’s roof and other equipment, forcing all of the worshippers to flee. 

The mob then moved on to the Calvary Free Church, which was only a short distance away from the Assemblies of God Church. Police were able to delay the arrival of the mob until the entire congregation had fled to safety. Once the mob arrived, they again smashed into the church and began to destroy everything they could lay their hands on.

Local police say they have identified and intend to arrest 24 individuals, including eight Buddhist monks, who participated in the attacks last Sunday. In a report by the BBC, police spokesmen Ajith Rohana admitted to police “inaction,” but claimed insufficient numbers was the reason police were not able to protect the churched. He went on to say that legal action would be taken against the people identified as the attackers.

According to the Colombo Page, the Buddhist monks who led the attack claim that local authorities have ordered the churches to close down. However, the pastors in charge of these churches claim that they are legally registered and that the eviction notices were illegal. 

A local pastor has claimed there are further plans to attack the churches a second time over the coming weekend. This pastor has also said that police in Hikkaduwa have yet to take serious action to investigate and thwart these plans.

ICC’s Regional Manager, William Stark, said, “Religious intolerance and Christian persecution has skyrocketed in Sri Lanka over the past 18 months. Driven by Buddhist nationalism, Christians and their places of worship are now the targets of mobs led by radical Buddhist monks who believe Christianity to be foreign religion that is a threat to Sri Lanka’s Buddhist heritage. According to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), Christians in Sri Lanka were violently attacked over 65 times in 2013 alone. In an effort to protect Christians and their places of worship, ICC is calling on people to contact the Sri Lankan Embassy, either by phone at (202) 483-4025 or email at slembassy@slembassyusa.org, and demand the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of anti-Christian violence and for Sri Lanka to take positive steps to protect Christians from future attacks.”      

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