22 September, 2018

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Civil Society Condemns Buddhist Extremists Attacks On Religious Places, Police Inaction And The Silence Of Mainstream Religions And Media

Referring to the recent attacks on religious places, members of the Sri Lankan Civil Society urged the law enforcement authorities to ensure strict adherence to rule of law and prosecute those who are responsible for these heinous crimes, in the existence of abundant evidence available with the public and media organisations.

Issuing a statement today they said; “we are very disturbed to see continued Police inaction and delays in responding to incidents of racist mob violence, which is a clear indication of State complicity, and the lack of any interest by the newly minted Ministry of Law and Order headed by the President, to hold perpetrators to account.”

We publish below the statement in full;

Monks attacking Church in Sri LankaWe the undersigned, strongly condemn the continuing attacks on places of worship by Buddhist extremist mobs, the inaction of the Police in the face of these violent attacks and their failure to take the assailants into custody, and the silence of the established religious institutions and mainstream media.

We are outraged over the spate of violent attacks against places of worship of religious minorities, including those of Christians, Muslims and Hindus, and remain deeply concerned at the apparent State complicity and level of impunity enjoyed by certain extremist groups. Between January to September 2013, 227 attacks against Muslim places of worship and other institutions[1] have been recorded, and in the year 2013, 103 cases of attacks on Christian Churches and Pastors have been recorded.[2] During the same period many Hindu temples too have been attacked[3] around the country. The actual number of incidents is much higher, as many incidents remain unreported, due to fear of reprisals and the lack of confidence in law enforcement agencies.

We urge all communities to respect the religious beliefs and constitutionally guaranteed rights of freedom of assembly in the act of worship of their fellow citizens, and not to be misled by the bigoted propaganda of hate groups.

The most recent attacks took place at around 10am, on January 12, 2014, when the Assemblies of God (AoG) and Calvary Churches in Hikkaduwa (Galle district), were attacked by a 300-strong mob led by men in saffron robes claiming to be “Buddhist monks”, party to an extremist group named Hela Bodu Pawra (loosely translated as Buddhist Heritage Fortress), during their Sunday morning service. Serious damage was caused to the two buildings. Stones were also thrown at the premises while some worshippers were trapped inside. On the night before these attacks (11), the pastors of both churches had received information of the impending attacks, and having informed the Police, were guaranteed protection and instructed to go ahead with the regular service of worship the following morning. Still the Police was still unwilling or unable to stop the mobs from attacking these churches and further, refrained from using legally permitted minimum force at least, to dispel these mobs. (However, on previous instances, the police and security forces have shown very little restraint in using maximum force such as tear gas and even gun fire, as evident during the Free Trade Zone[4] and Weliweriya[5] protests for instance.)

The violent mob alleged that these­­­ churches were not registered with the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs, and were therefore illegal. The tense situation prevailed past 12pm, with the Police unwilling to disperse those engaged in these acts of violence. A senior police officer who arrived at the scene gave an assurance to the monks that the churches would be closed for 2 weeks (until 10th February, 2014), during which time the issue would be resolved. Thereafter, the mob had dispersed.

In another incident earlier in the morning on the 12th at around 2.30am, a place of worship of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Pitip­­­­ana, Homagama, was set on fire by unidentified persons, and a threatening note was found hanging on the gate of the premises warning Christians who gather there of possible dire consequences. [6]

On the following day (13), the Police Spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana stated that the police have compiled a report on the attacks and submitted a list of identified suspects (inclusive of 8 monks), to the courts, and that all investigations concerning protests and demonstrations related to religion will be handed over to the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs. It is ironic that investigative duties coming within the direct purview of the Police have, in this instance, been handed over to the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs. This action is however in keeping with the trend initiated by the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, in their Circular dated 16th October, 2008, which calls on all new religious places of worship to obtain written approval from the Ministry prior to the setting up/maintaining of such places. This raises the troubling question as to why a multi-ethnic and religious country must seek approval from a Ministry that clearly prioritizes one religion over the rest, by its name alone. Whilst acknowledging that there must be a central and independent body to register/monitor churches and places of worship, we find there lies a conflict of interest in a Ministry tasked (although not exclusively,) to further Buddhism, being the sole authority on approving/registering other places of worship.

The deafening silence on the part of mainstream religious institutions in relation to these attacks, is appalling, albeit not surprising, considering their unwillingness to show solidarity with each other and to confront the government, with the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka being the one exception.

We welcome and reiterate the open letter published by the Muslim Council to President Mahinda Rajapaksa calling on him to “…order the law enforcement agencies to rein-in these mobs that infringe on the peoples fundamental right to worship. Should there be any breach of law by any individual or groups, we kindly urge that due process is followed and necessary legal action is taken without letting individuals or religious groups to take the law in to their own hand.”

We also note with growing concern that Breaking News Alert Service or mainstream media institution has given little or no coverage to these attacks, or previous attacks instigated by Buddhist extremist groups.

Further, we wish to highlight and commend the orders made by the Galle Additional Magistrate to the Hikkaduwa Police on 16th January, and ask that they be implemented with immediate effect. The orders call on the Police to arrest all identified suspects immediately, and all media institutions to provide the police with unedited footage of the attacks, to assist with ongoing investigations.

We therefore urge law enforcement authorities to ensure strict adherence to rule of law and prosecute those who are responsible for these heinous crimes, in the existence of abundant evidence available with the public and media organisations. In addition, we are very disturbed to see continued Police inaction and delays in responding to incidents of racist mob violence, which is a clear indication of State complicity, and the lack of any interest by the newly minted Ministry of Law and Order headed by the President, to hold perpetrators to account.

Signatures;
Individuals

  1. Ahilan Kadirgamar
  2. Ajit Abeysekera
  3. Ameena Hussein
  4. Anberiya Hanifa
  5. Anushan Selvarajah
  6. Anushaya Collure
  7. Asoka Obeyesekere
  8. B. Gowthaman
  9. B. Skanthakumar
  10. Bhavani Fonseka
  11. Buddhima Padmasiri
  12. C. Dissanayake
  13. Cayathri Divakalala
  14. Chamira Perera
  15. Chandralal Colombage
  16. Chandrika De Silva – Freelance Journalist
  17. Chandula Kumbukage
  18. Damaris Wickremesekera
  19. Deanne Uyangoda
  20. Deborah Philip
  21. Devika Karunaratne
  22. Dilhara Pathirana
  23. Dilshy Banu
  24. Dr. G. Chris Rodrigo
  25. Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai
  26. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
  27. Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran
  28. Emil van der Poorten
  29. Faizun Zackariya
  30. Farzana Haniffa
  31. G.A. Prabath Kumara – Chief Coordinator, Future In Our Hands Development Fund , Badulla
  32. Gajen Mahendra
  33. Godfrey Yogarajah – Executive Director, Religious Freedom, World Evangelical Alliance
  34. Herman Kumara
  35. Hilmy Ahamed
  36. J. Henry de Mel
  37. Jansila Majeed
  38. Jayasingam. T
  39. Jayatilaka Kammallaweera
  40. Joe William
  41. Johann Tranchell
  42. Jovita Arulanantham
  43. K. Rajaledsumi
  44. K.S. Ratnavale
  45. Kumari Kumaragamage
  46. Kusal Perera – Journalist
  47. Lakshan Dias – Attorney-at-Law
  48. M. H. Mohamed Hisham
  49. M.N. Mohideen
  50. Maduka Peiris
  51. Mahaluxumi Kurushanthan
  52. Mahendran Thiruvarangan
  53. Marisa de Silva
  54. Melisha Yapa
  55. Michael Mendis
  56. Mirak Raheem
  57. Mohammed Mahuruf
  58. Nicola Perera
  59. Nilantha Ilangamuwa
  60. Nilshan Fonseka
  61. Nimalka Fernando
  62. Nirmanusan Balasundaram
  63. Niyanthini Kadirgamar
  64. P.N. Singham
  65. Padmini Weerasooriya
  66. Prof. Jayantha Seneviratne – University of Kelaniya
  67. Prof. Kumar David – Marx School
  68. R.M.B. Senanayake
  69. Ranil D. Guneratne
  70. Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Sebamalai
  71.  Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
  72. Rev. Fr. Nandana Manatunga
  73. Rev. Fr. Ravichandran Emmanuel
  74. Rev. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda
  75. Ruki Fernando
  76. S. M. Praveen – OMI
  77. Sampath Samarakoon
  78. Sanjana Hattotuwa
  79. Sanjaya Senanayake
  80. Shantha Pathirana
  81. Shreen Abdul Saroor
  82. Silma Mohideen Ahamed
  83. Siritunga Jayasuriya – United Socialist Party
  84. Srinath Perera – Attorney-at-Law & General Secretary, Free Trade Union Centre
  85. Sritharan Sritharuni
  86. Stalingeorge Nishanthini
  87. Sumathy Sivamohan
  88. Sunanda Deshapriya
  89. Sunil Jayasekera
  90. T. Mathuri – Attorney-at-Law
  91. Taanya Tranchell
  92. Tehani Ariyaratne
  93. Thiruni Kelegama
  94. U.L. Jaufer
  95. Udaya Kalupathirana
  96. Victor Panangala

Organizations

97. Almuslimaath

98.Association of Family Members of the Disappeared

99. Buddhist Liberation Front

100. Center for Social Concerns, Ja-Ela

101. Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)

102. Free Media Movement

103. INFORM Human Rights Documentation Center

104. Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum

105. National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka

106. National Peace Council of Sri Lanka (NPC)

107. Secretariat for Muslims (SFM)

108. The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka



[1] Address by Ms. Flavia Pansieri United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights at the 24th session of the Human Rights Council, Geneva, 25 September 2013 – http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13820&LangID=E

[2] Source:  National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka – http://nceasl.org/

[3] Colombo Telegraph, Dambulla Kovil Attacked; Hindu Politico Says Mosques And Kovils Must Not Be Shiftedhttps://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/dambulla-kovil-attacked-hindu-politico-says-mosques-and-kovils-must-not-be-shifted/ & Tamil Guardian, Attacks on Hindu temples escalatehttp://www.tamilguardian.com/article.asp?articleid=4839

[4] The Sunday Leader, FTZ Worker Succumbs To Injuries – http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2011/06/01/ftz-worker-succumbs-to-injuries/

[5] The Republic Square – Akila Dinesh, 17-year old killed during Weliweriya clashhttp://www.therepublicsquare.com/politics/2013/08/02/akila-dinesh-17-year-old-killed-at-weliweriya-clash/

[6] Incident details – Source:  National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka – http://nceasl.org/category/religious-liberty/incident-reports/

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Latest comments

  • 1
    0

    Does religion ,or race really matter when it comes to being poor and with zero choice , are not people who make a big bang about their religions really hypocrites?

    All it takes for each community is to contribute a dollar a day to reach out and help their own people,instead everyone’s looking for scape goat to blame it on and the only motive behind I can see is that the priests ,businessman and the politician want to make sure their own people remain on poverty line .

    They abuse the trust of their people for their own gains and continue the fake attacks on people of other faiths and races to divert the attention ,a way of make believe everything ,include anything that is inhuman ,in the name of safeguarding the majority’s faith and heritage and birth right,is this not an age old hypocrisy still going on everywhere? even in the so called advanced modern west where everyone is promised equal rights but only enshrined in the constitution but never practiced.

    What a Hypocritical world we have chosen to bear with rather than standup in one voice in The Name of Humanity ..

  • 2
    0

    Does religion ,or race really matter when it comes to being poor and with zero choice , are not people who make a big bang about their religions really hypocrites?

    This clip a sad story of a poor Thai girl ,who was left with Zero choice when her father walked away still misses him and loves him ,but the story will break your heart and then you will realize religion or race really does not matter – but sad tales of others no matter what religion or race they are from if it touches your heart strings and makes you weep, you are truly a wonderful person.

    http://youtu.be/vqo3DA9ymOM

    NB: I am not sure if CT can allow this clip , but the story is amazing and touching. in case CT is unable to allow the link due to their regulations which I will always respect..

    People who really care and want to watch may watch it on Youtube :

    BANGKOK GIRL — Thailand Night Life Documentary.
    Independent_Documentary·16 videos,

    Ignoring greater evils that may take a strong grip of this Islands by diverting our attention in attacking the minorities without creating a legal system to check and sue the people concerned with a civilized law , while Buddhists clergy is chasing followers of Jesus ,Krishna and Mohammad , the evil force of destruction may consume the entire society to complete destruction.

    One has to only Look deep into countries where religious fanaticism is high and to then look deeper to see what hell the country has been driven into . India ,Thailand <Burma, Bangladesh ,Indonesia, Philippines to name a few have no real value for the human soul.

    I was surprised to once read( the almighty ) BBS stating that the Muslim man's dietary regulation is more harmful than the casinos.

    Well let us wait and see when it begins ,what other goodies it brings along with it,,,

  • 1
    1

    There must be a proportionate number of other religious establishments and structures according to country statistics (given a + or – index of 1-2% for conversions).

    For it is found that other religious groups are using the power of money to convert Buddhist persons at a very high rate, and that is a travesty of justice for any modern democratic institution.

    It is well known that the majority Buddhist population is below the economic scales of the minority religions. Devious conversion of persons in exchange for money and social status of the converted persons defies the morality of any religion (and hence democracy).

    • 3
      0

      I agree completely with you Ms. Fernando. But, do you agree taking the law in to one’s own hands and attacking a religious place of worship is a crime ? Thank you. This is what most Sinhala Budhists are in DENIAL of !

      • 1
        0

        If the buddhists are being converted in large numbers to Christianity as you say, then why is the overall percentage of them going down from census to census/\?

    • 0
      0

      IF A BUDDHIST COULD BE CONVERTED TO ANOTHER RELIGION BY GIVING HIM MONEY
      AND OTHER THINGS,IT SHOWS HOW WEAK HIS BELIEF OR FAITH IN BUDDHISM IS.
      WELL IT IS UP TO YOU BUDDHISTS TO,COUNTER IT BY SEEING TO THEIR NEEDS.
      INSTEAD OF YOU DOING YOUR BIT, IT IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE TO ATTACK
      THE CHRISTIANS WHO DOLE OUT MONEY,TO HELP THE POOR RATHER THAN WINNING THEM OVER TO THEIR FAITH. OF WHAT USE IS IT TO GET ONE MORE INTO YOUR FOLD WHO SELLS HIS SOUL FOR A PITTANCE.
      BUDDHISTS SPEND YOUR MONEY AND SAVE YOUR SOULS,INSTEAD OF BLAMING.
      THE BLAME GAME ONLY EXPOSES YOUR GUILT.

  • 5
    0

    Please someone let me know why the monks are attacking Mosques ,churches and Hindu temples ?

  • 0
    0

    Elections are coming soon and the Rajapaksa Goverment is trying to win Sinhala Buddhist vote.

  • 0
    0

    @ramona therese fernando ,
    Thank you ramono sounds a Christian Nick with a Buddhist Crusade shield.

    However you hit the nail right on the head, which I have been waiting for..
    ————————————————————————
    Here is something I been advocating among all faiths not just Buddhist ,a solution for all the problems , not only for the community alone, but it will help the country at large too ,help reduce the pressure on the law enforcing authorities and help the ruling government to focus on more relevant and urgent issues that are in dire need of attention after the 30 years of a bloody war, that has destroyed the country and robbed everything of all the people ,livelihood, dignity ,loss of family members,and most of all even the thin hope we had for reconciliation and rebuilding the society and the country which is being taken a part by unruly Mobs led by Monks disgracing a honorable teaching of a Noble Prince ,he did not give up his Kingdom for people to abuse his teaching , for the greedy to achieve their own worldly kingdom in the name of his teaching. .

    =================================

    Please permit me to quote you :
    It is well known that the majority Buddhist population is below the economic scales of the minority religions. Devious conversion of persons in exchange for money and social status of the converted persons defies the morality of any religion (and hence democracy).
    Unquote;

    So the way to handle this is through violence against all faiths ?

    And not to investigate honestly in a civilized manner and take actions according to The Law of The land only on those who are guilty?

    Why not the monks encourage the people to follow the Dhamma and advice , organize and divert the rich Buddhist who waste their wealth on evil that destroys ones self and the society instead to spend it on the their poor fellow Buddhists ,even the average Buddhist citizen waste their money which they can not afford to in such evil which can be contributed to uplift the Poor Buddhists.

    It is not the right or civilized way in a civilized world today to use modern day dubious methods and a whole lot of lies fabricated and directing at one community to make robbing , denying their dietary rights ,their birth rights , their want of peaceful coexistence under a fake disguise of a modern day “Utuwankande Sura Saradiel” style which even must be making him turn in his grave ,if you care and love your community please for the sake of humanity give up your foolish deceitful approaches of attacks you been carrying on so far ,like trying to shove down the throat of a people dietary that is prohibited to them using dubious and unethical ways , encouraging people to rob them, emotionally black mail them, the game is over and people are well aware of everything that is going on – did not Lincoln say you can not fool all the people all the time? You are not invisible anymore , people know who and who are working behind the scenes from A to Z , if you do not change and take a more ethical approach to deal with the problem of conversation ,without spreading lies and hate among your people to suppress and attack a people because it makes you brave to think they are in small numbers , believe me one day it is all going to blow up on your own faces.

    I like to remind the Majority of this Country if anyone is guilty of the LTTE atrocities , it this The Majority that has the larger share in it who were responsible in creating the monster, but it seems nothing has changed ,all the effort and even at the cost tarnishing the country’s image bloodshed is the only option you seem to prefer,very unfortunate.

    If a community is living in hunger , homeless , and without basic human needs , it is the entire community members who are guilty as hell and not the the others .

    Why don’t people understand this simple thing?

    In future if The Buddhist clergy does not halt this shameful act of lie to its members and get the community to work to uplift the community it will be regretful but the entire world must then understand the only motive behind these actions are to emotionally black mail, harass, and create fear psychosis among the Minorities , by denying the right to worship without fear ,deny their very dietary, wearing of their attires in public , denial of buying or renting homes , denial of conducting business, education etc , are nothing more than a discrete manner of ethnic cleansing by hoping to create an exodus of the minority from The Country.
    =====================================================================

  • 0
    0

    if you do not change and take a more ethical approach to deal with the problem of conversation ,without spreading lies and hate among your
    =============
    people to suppress and attack a people because it makes you brave to think they are in small numbers , believe me one day it is all going to blow up on your own faces.

    correction to be read as——-CONVERSION

  • 0
    0

    Be a good Buddhist
    Be a good Hindu
    Be a good Muslim
    Be a good Christian

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