06/05/2017, 13.37
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Sri Lanka Protestants report 20 anti-Christian attacks but no arrest

by Melani Manel Perera

The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka has reported 190 cases of violence since 2015. For the National Peace Council, the failure to arrest the perpetrators is the failure of the police. The Human Rights Commission notes that it is the government's task to prevent and curb hate speech.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), an umbrella movement for Evangelical Churches, has reported at least 20 anti-Christian incidents, as well as other attacks against Muslims and other groups so far this year.

In view of this, the National Peace Council (NPC) has complained that no one has been arrested in connection with the violence.

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has joined its voice, calling on President Maithripala Sirisena to order the Ministry of Law and Order and the General Inspector of Police to take all the necessary action to deal with criminals and those who instigate religious hatred.

In recent months, the NCEASL has recorded 20 cases of anti-Christian violence, including attacks against Christian places of worship.

“Since the current government took office in 2015, over 190 incidents of religious violence against churches, clergy and Christians have been recorded,” the group noted in a press release.

In one such incident, on 18 May, about 30 Buddhist monks and a crowd of 2,000 people staged a protest against a Christian place of worship in Devinuwara (Matara district)."

"Freedom of religion or belief is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Sri Lankan Constitution," the Evangelical association said. This is why it is "vital for the government to speedily stop the current situation and address attacks against minorities in order to ensure the integrity of its reconciliation efforts."

For the National Peace Council, “The failure of the police to protect people subjected to violence is an abdication of the government’s duty to protect all citizens equally”.

Worse still, “The rise in verbal and physical violence has been accompanied by public statements that Sri Lanka is a Sinhalese and Buddhist country with the implication that ethnic and religious minorities have a lesser place.”

Likewise, for the HRCSL,” the spate of attacks on places of Christian religious worship in the recent past adds to an alarming trend of religious bigotry and intolerance which has gone unchecked."

“Both national law and international human rights obligations of Sri Lanka obligate the government to prevent such acts of violence and take timely action to stop the spread of hate speech, which foster and promote violent conduct,” the HRCSL noted.

"Failure to do so will be a black mark on the human rights record of the country and will be another serious obstacle to the reconciliation process," it added.

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