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06/02/2022 Sri Lanka (International Christian Concern) – In recent weeks, the Sri Lankan government has harassed and arrested peaceful protestors who are demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa amid the country’s worst economic crisis since its formation in 1948. The protestors have held demonstrations in the capital and other major cities, accusing the Sri Lankan government of corruption and mismanaging the nation’s economy and currency, which has caused severe shortages of food, cooking gas, medicines, and fuel. The police have cracked down on religious protestors, including Christians.

The Buddhist leader of the National Bhikku Front reported that the authorities arrested several Buddhist monks and activists. On May 30, he explained, “The aim is to punish and discourage Buddhist monks who speak out against the government. We demand the government release all activists immediately.” While members of Sri Lanka’s majority Buddhist Sinhalese population have often been at the forefront of these anti-government protests, many Christian priests and nuns have joined in the protests. Christian protestors have also been suppressed by the government. A priest was assessed with a foreign travel ban on May 23 for participating in the ongoing protests. The Catholic priest stated plainly, “The activists are being suppressed by the government.”

These recent events highlight the significant human rights risks confronting religious, anti-government activists in Sri Lanka. Despite the protests, the embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has refused to step down. As the Rajapaksa regime seeks to maintain its powerful grip on the country, government authorities will continue to target and suppress religious activists. We pray for those Sri Lankans, Christian and otherwise, who struggle for freedom and justice against this repressive regime.

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