(AsiaNews) - A group of 40 Buddhists attacked a clergyman from the Assembly
of God Church and his wife in Deniyaya (Matara District, southern Sri Lanka) on 9
August for allegedly promoting Christianity in the area. Radical Buddhists do
not tolerate the presence of Protestant groups, and want them expelled from
predominantly Buddhist regions. Deniyaya is home to about 500 Christians.
to the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), the
attackers stoped the clergyman and his wife with a jeep and three
three-wheelers, acting in total impunity since local police did not intervene.
said that among the attackers they recognised the group's leader, Thusitha
Ranawaka, who owns a local construction company and is President Mahinda
Rajapaksa's brother-in-law. Although present, he simply looked on what was
happening. The attackers included five Buddhist religious and the local
The NCEASL reported that, in addition to the attack against the
Protestant clergyman, another mob of Buddhists harassed a Methodist woman,
forcing her to leave the area.
Sri Lanka, radical Buddhists have been engaged in anti-Christian campaign for
some years. For them, the Christian minority constitutes a threat to local
In June 2008,
more than 7,000 people took to the street in Middeniya (Hambanthota District)
in order to expel the Assembly of God Church and its members because they are a
menace to "Buddhist integrity".
Hela Urumaya (National Heritage) Party and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna
(People's Liberation Front), two extremist parties in the ruling coalition
government, back the anti-Christian campaign. The first is made up of Buddhist
monks who support anti-conversion laws; the second is Marxist-oriented.
Muslims and Hindus have seen their religious freedom curtailed in other parts
of the country. On 20 April, about 2,000 Buddhist believers and monks attacked
a mosque in Dambulla (central Sri Lanka), calling on the government to tear it
down and ban the construction of more non-Buddhist religious buildings.