Published: 15:00 GMT Daylight Time - Tuesday 26 July 2011
Christians attacked and church desecrated with human waste in Sri Lanka
Country/Region: Sri Lanka, South and East Asia
Christian homes were attacked by a mob, a pastor was assaulted by a Buddhist monk, and a church was desecrated with human waste in three separate incidents of anti-Christian persecution in Sri Lanka.
Map showing the location of Sri Lanka
The most recent, on the evening of 19 July, happened in Badulla District, where the homes of the five Christian families in Dehiwinna village were attacked by a mob of around 50 people. The attackers threw rocks and stones at the houses, damaging roofs, and smashed windows with clubs and rocks. As threats were shouted at them, some of the families fled to the jungle until the violence abated. A grocery store made of wood belonging to one of the families was broken into and demolished; some goods were stolen. The owner was caught and beaten up by the attackers; he required hospital treatment for his injuries.
There are reports of plans to force these Christian families to renounce their faith or leave the village.
In an earlier anti-Christian attack, on 10 July, a pastor was attending a meeting in the village of Keviliyamaduwa, Ampara District, about land distribution when he was assaulted by the Buddhist monk who had convened the gathering, and other assailants. They later followed the pastor to his home and continued to abuse him and members of his family verbally; the monk kicked him while he was near the entrance to the property. The pastor was taken to hospital, suffering from injuries to his arm and severe pain from blows to his stomach.
On 5 June, a church in Mahawewa, Puttlam District, was desecrated with human waste before the Sunday morning service. The mess was cleared up by the pastor and others, and the service started as normal. At 10am the congregation of around 300 worshippers was warned that a mob was heading for the church to disrupt the service. Within half an hour a 200-strong mob carrying placards forced their way into the church and began shouting threats. A lay leader who tried to speak with them was beaten and left bleeding from the nose. The intruders, some of whom were armed with clubs, continued to shout, demanding that the service be stopped. Police arrived, but rather than dealing with the aggressors, they asked the pastor to stop the service. Fearing for the safety of the congregation, he complied, and as they all left, the mob clapped and cheered, claiming victory.
Sri Lanka is around 70 per cent Buddhist, with Christians comprising some eight per cent of the population.
Although Buddhism has a reputation for being peaceable and non-violent, Sri Lanka has a strong Sinhalese Buddhist movement that wants to impose its identity on the whole country, and some of its members are prepared to use force.
Sri Lankan Christians are therefore subject to attacks by Buddhist extremists, as well as facing incidents of persecution from Hindus and Muslims. Buddhist extremism in Sri Lanka is expressed in organised opposition to some churches, especially in rural areas and places seen as Buddhist preserves. Christian buildings and church leaders are sometimes attacked.