Buddhist monks attack six churches in Sri Lanka. PCP Report.
10 Dec 2003
Colombo. The Christian population is under constant attacks of Buddhist majority community in different provinces of Sri Lanka, where churches have been desecrated, Holy Bibles burnt and clergy attacked by the processions led by the Buddhist monks.
The Sri Lanka, an island in south Asia with 74% of Buddhist, 15% of Hindu and 7% of Muslim population with Republic of Sri lanka constitution have never faced riots among religious communities since independence of British rule in 1948. The recent wave of attacks on Christians in Sri Lanka are great danger to the integrity of this Island with 98% literacy rate, the highest in the South Asian countries.
The first incident was in the 'Jeevana Diya' branch Church where Christians meet in Moragahahena at an old factory premises belonging to a parishioner. They have meeting here for over 1 year. On Saturday 29th November, at approximately 11 am, a large mob of persons with several Buddhist monks leading them arrived at this premises. The building was deserted except for 2 caretakers.
The mob entered the building and tore down Scripture verses that were put up on the walls. These and Bible tracts were set on fire. Files and documents belonging to the Church - including lists of names of prayer cell group members were taken away. Bibles and hymnbooks were also taken away.
In another incident Pastor Wickramasinghe of the United Christian Fellowship Church ministers in Piliyandala, residing in Moragahahena, On Saturday 29th November evening faced a mob that broke in to his home damaging the door while the inmates were away. Bibles, notes and some other belonging were burned. The sum of Rs. 24,00 collected for a children's programme was stolen. On the walls of the house the mob had painted a death threat, asking the pastor to leave immediately. A Police entry was made.
The Christian Centre branch in Gonapola came under attack on the evening of 29th of November. A large crowd with Buddhist monks arrived at the house church and threatened the Pastor to stop services. He was threatened with death if he continued. The mob also attempted to remove files and documents from the premises. A Police complaint was made. Some Christians in the area have been receiving anonymous phone calls with threats that their homes will be burned or they will be killed if they did not denounce Christianity.
On the 30th of November in Homagama at 1.30 pm, a mob with about 20 Buddhist monks in 16 vehicles arrived at the home of the Pastor of the A.O.G. Church in. The Pastor was away and only his wife and three lady parishioners were present. The mob had been very loud and unruly, demanding that the Pastor should leave immediately. The landlord was asked to evict them. The Pastor was given an ultimatum to leave or face violent consequences. A video camera was brought in and the interior of the house, the Pastor's wife and the other ladies present were videoed. The Pastor's files including membership list, notes etc were taken away. A police entry was lodged in this regard. Police are making inquiries.
It is also reported that the same mob that carried out the above attack, went in to the Katuwana Road Catholic Church on 30th November 2003. The cross atop the Church was broken and a Buddhist flag was fixed in its place. A Bo tree (Sacred to Buddhists) was planted in the premises by the mob. The Parish 'family books' with records of the members was taken away. A Police complaint was made. Police are making inquiries.
An independent ministry 'Kithu Himi Sevana' in Homagama came under attack on the 30th of November. A group of monks and laypersons caused damage to the building, furniture and musical instruments. A police complaint has been made.
The A.O.G. Pastor in Ambalangoda was threatened and asked to vacate the rented home in which he lived. The Pastor obliged. His landlord, a Buddhist was sympathetic and helped him to move to a new location. On the 30th November 2003, while they were packing to make the move, a mob arrived with about 20 Buddhist monks and demanded that the Pastor leave the Ambalangoda area. His life was threatened if he continued to defy their order. He was asked to give an undertaking that he will leave Ambalangoda. The Police arrived on the scene and took the Pastor to the Police station while the trespassers remained on the premises. The Police too requested the Pastor to leave the area to avoid problems. However, he refused to do so. This church came under threat on 28th September (reported earlier).
The Evangelical Christian community in Puttlam area was granted land by the State for a burial ground over one year ago. Some Buddhist and Roman Catholic clergy have objected to the use of two of these burial plots. On the 2nd of December 2003, a meeting chaired by the Pradeshiya Sabha chairman (local council) was held to determine the matter. Six Buddhist monks and a Catholic priest attended the meeting together with many villagers. The monks refused to allow the use of the plots in question in spite of the council Chairman ruling that it was lawfully given by the State for the use of the Christian citizens. The meeting turned unruly and the Evangelical Christian pastors were threatened. The meeting was terminated with no clear decision.
The first weekend of December too saw a similar spate of attacks on Christians in Sri Lanka.