Violence and Threats against Sri Lankan Christians increases

|TOP|Sri Lanka has recently witnessed an increase in attacks and threats against the Christian community there. The increase has led to fears that a new wave of anti-Christian violence is about to begin, reports Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

According to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) "there is a visible increase in the number of attacks on Christian places of worship and acts of intimidation during the past two months."

A report from NCEASL claimed that the pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church in Galle was subject to a host of virulent threats on 6th February. He was warned that his limbs would be “torn off” and that he would be killed if he visited Hikkaduwa, another town in the district.

A few weeks before the pastor had received more death threats, as had local Christians in Werellana village, Hikkaduwa. The death threats were aimed at keeping the pastor away from Hikkaduwa.

|AD|Threats have also been made against Assemblies of God (AOG) churches in Gampaha District. A group of fifteen people gathered outside an AOG church in the village of Bolatha.

As church-goers arrived for the Sunday Service on 12th February, the group questioned them, asking them which village they came from. Those who were not from Bolatha village were chased away by the group.

The church had received threats on previous occasions and even had a service disrupted on 22nd January. On 6th February the pastor of the church was summoned by the police for an inquiry and was coerced into agreeing only to hold services for people from Bolatha, report CSW.

The pastor said that the decision was not his choice and that he had acted under duress. He continued by pointing out that the Sri Lankan Constitution guarantees the right of every person to worship at the church or temple of their choice, and so he could not turn people away.

Another incident in Sri Lanka, involved the beating of a pastor in Yakkala on 8th February. He was admitted to hospital for minor injuries, explain CSW.

The Chief Executive of CSW, Mervyn Thomas said that: "These threats and attacks are a cause for grave concern. We urge the Sri Lankan police to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice and the violence ceases. We encourage the new Sri Lankan President to do all he can to protect religious freedom and human rights in his country."

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