Colombo (AsiaNews) - Tensions are rising in Sri Lanka because of the
violence perpetrated by some radical Sinhalese Buddhists groups against
Christian communities, whom they accuse of engaging in "forced
conversions" and of trying to "destroy" Buddhist culture.
The latest incident occurred on 8 September when a group of
fundamentalists attacked the Pentecostal Church of the Living Water in Meegoda,
a village near Colombo.
"The attack was unmotivated," Buddhist lawyer Susantha Dodawatta told AsiaNews, because "nothing happened
between the two communities in the area."
Pitipana Seelawansa Thero, a Buddhist monk who heads the Padukka
Puraanas Viharaya Temple, led the attack, along with four of his followers:
Rangana Jayarathna, Chandrapala, Sunil Perera and Damith Nilanga. None of them lives
The attackers claim the church is unregistered and that conversions by
Christians are a big problem for the village. Despite complaints by the pastor,
Rev E K Pryantha, the police have not yet arrested the culprits.
"Such attacks," the lawyer said, "show that there is a political
agenda that aims to unite the Buddhists. Everyone should have the freedom to
change religion in this country. We Buddhists are the first to be harmed in our
culture and religion from these petty actions. Whoever is behind this incident should
not be supported. As a Buddhist, I feel embarrassed because real Buddhism is not
about attacking and killing."
In the recent
past, some radical Sinhalese Buddhist groups have targeted Muslims and
Two extremist groups, the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and the Sinhala Ravaya (Sinhalese
echo), have led the attacks, ostensibly on a "mission" to protect the
Sinhalese population and the Buddhist religion.