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  • » 08/17/2012, 00.00

    SRI LANKA

    Forty radical Buddhists attack Protestant clergyman and his wife in Matara

    Melani Manel Perera

    The attack occurred on 9 August in Deniyaya, southern Sri Lanka. President Rajapaksa's brother-in-law was present. The two, who belong to the Assembly of God Church, are accused of handing out Christian religious material in the area.

    Colombo (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.

    According 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.

    Some eyewitnesses 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 government secretary.

    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.

    In southern Sri Lanka, radical Buddhists have been engaged in anti-Christian campaign for some years. For them, the Christian minority constitutes a threat to local religious traditions.

    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".

    The Jathika 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.

    Christians, 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.

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    See also

    11/05/2011 SRI LANKA
    Christians should take part in ‘Vesak’ celebrations to boost ethnic reconciliation
    Many Buddhist and Christian values are similar. Christian human rights activist Jehan Perera explains why Christians, Muslims and Hindus must take part in the celebrations marking the enlightenment of the Buddha.

    11/03/2005 INDIA
    Christian and Muslim Dalits backed by fellow Dalits from other religions


    04/02/2005 SRI LANKA
    Mgr Gomis urges politicians to work for human rights and religious freedom
    In his Independence Day message, the Archbishop of Colombo stresses how peace and solidarity are necessary to rebuild the country after the tsunami.

    30/01/2009 SRI LANKA
    Anti-conversion bill: minorities fear restrictions on religious freedom
    Tabled in January by a party led by Buddhist monks, the draft law could be adopted before the end of next month. Its purpose is to stop people from changing religion under pressure or in exchange of economic advantages. A similar bill had been presented in 2004 but failed after the Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. Protestant Churches have already mobilised against the bill; Catholics are concerned about it and waiting for their bishops to take a stand.

    13/04/2007 NEPAL
    Muslim minority wants quotas in parliament and civil service
    Muslims claim that despite the end of the theocratic monarchy Nepal remains a Hindu state. They want guarantees and quotas for their minority. Members of other minorities agree. For them it is essential that Nepal become a secular state.



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