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Anti-Christian Violence Escalates in Sri Lanka

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 | Tag Cloud

By BosNewsLife News Center

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (BosNewsLife) -- Anti-Christian violence "is escalating" in Sri Lanka amid ongoing fighting between security forces and Tamil rebels seeking independence, human rights investigators said Monday, November 27.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a major advocacy group investigating the situation on the troubled island, told BosNewsLife in a statement that this month several churches and individual Christians have been attacked by militants.

"On November 22, the Lighthouse Church” in the Gompola area of Kandy District “was attacked while the Pastor and a Church worker were inside. Rocks were thrown at the building, shattering the front window, and the Church worker was seriously injured when a rock hit him on the head," CSW added.

That violence came after 10 days earlier, on November 12, members of the congregation of the Assemblies of God Church in the Yakkala area of Sri Lanka’s Gampaha District were reportedly prevented from attending a church service by a mob of over 100 people, some of whom were armed with clubs.

Four Buddhist monks accompanied the crowd of attackers and anti-Christian posters had appeared on the walls, CSW and other Christian sources said. "Only two policemen were sent to the scene initially, but they were unable to control the crowd. They had to ask for re-enforcements twice before twelve other officers arrived," said CSW.

WOMAN ATTACKED

Four days later, a young woman from the congregation had a container of black oil thrown over her as she traveled to the Pastor and his wife’s home, CSW claimed. The Church had been threatened in a similar manner two weeks earlier, however CSW said that "police protection was not provided despite previous assurances. The church has temporarily stopped holding services."

In Kandy District on November 12, the Sunday service at Mizpah Prayer Ministry was disrupted by a crowd of 35 people who were accompanied by 12 Buddhist monks and a Provincial Council member, Christians said. The church’s pastor reported that the mob threatened to flatten the building if the congregation gathered together to worship again.

On the same day, four members of the Prayer Tower ministry in the Puttlam District, were reportedly threatened by a group of men as they returned from a funeral. They were told not to return to the village and were hit with fists and rocks.

CSW Worldwide Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said he was concerned as "at a time when ethnic violence is escalating in Sri Lanka, this recent spate of religiously motivated attacks is particularly discouraging."

SRI LANKA AUTHORITIES

He said his group had urged authorities in Sri Lanka to ensure “that all citizens have the opportunity to practice their chosen religion with out fear of harassment by mobs and urge all faith communities to show tolerance and respect for one another.”

Buddhist militant groups have criticized the spread of Christianity in Sri Lanka and pushed for legislation to make that more difficult.

National authorities also claim that the group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) also known as the Tamil Tigers, kidnapped Christians, but there have also been reports that Sri Lanka national security forces attacked refugee camps which killed people fleeing the fighting, including apparently Christians, BosNewsLife established.

The LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers, has been fighting for an independent homeland for Tamil-majority regions within Sri Lanka. About 3,000 troops, civilians and rebel fighters have been killed this year amid the worst fighting since a now tattered 2002 ceasefire, which ordinary Sri Lankans fear could snowball into a return to a conflict that killed more than 67,000 people since 1983. (With reports from Sri Lankia).

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