Last week, the government of Sri Lanka announced the creation of a special police united specifically mandated to deal with the increasing religious intolerance against Christians and other religious minorities. In recent years, the number of attacks on Christians and other religious minorities has skyrocketed coinciding with the rise of Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka. Many Christian leaders have criticized the creation of the religious police unit claiming that it is “useless” and “misleading.” Whether the new police unit will be able to reign in Buddhist nationalist groups remains to be seen. Many Christian leaders feel that this will never happen because many of the Buddhist nationalist groups already enjoy the protection of the government.
5/7/2014 Sri Lanka (Asia News) – The government of Sri Lanka has set up a “religious police” in response to the increasing religious intolerance against minorities by some Buddhist extremist groups. President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week announced it. The unit’s agents will answer to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Buddha Sasana. However, representatives of Sri Lanka’s Christian clergy told AsiaNews that the government’s decision to set up a new police unit to investigate and solve religious disputes is “useless” and “misleading.”
In the past year, Sri Lanka’s Muslim and Christian communities have been targeted by some radical organisations, like the Bodu Bala Sena and the Sinhala Ravaya, who act as self-styled vigilante groups for the country’s Buddhist Sinhalese majority.
Contacted by AsiaNews, Fr Emmanuel Sebamalai, a Tamil Catholic priest and human rights activist in the north of the country, said, “The special unit will not solve the crisis we are experiencing. Its creation proves that there is a problem between Buddhism and other religions. However, the government supports Buddhists and helps their radical elements when they attack minorities with impunity.”
Rev Marimuttu Sathivel, an Anglican pastor who works for human rights in the capital Colombo, agrees. In fact, “the big question is what law can allow the creation of such a unit.” For him, it “is an attempt to give official protection to groups like the BBS.”