AOG Church, Yakkala (Gampaha District)
12th November 2006
While the Pastor was preparing for the Sunday morning worship service, he noticed that his congregation members were not present. Only two members had arrived early in the morning. It was then that he heard that there were mobs on the road, threatening the congregation members and preventing them from coming for the service. Anti-Christian posters had appeared on walls and there was a vary large mob of over 100 gathered on the road. With them were 4 Buddhist monks. The monks sat across the road and refused to leave. Some of the men were armed with clubs, suggesting the motive for the gathering was not entirely peaceful. Christians who attempted to attend the service were accosted, threatened and verbally abused in foul language.
The Pastor called the Police for assistance, but only 2 Policemen arrived. They were unable to control or disperse the crowd or the monks who were sitting on the road. They demanded that the Church must close down. Later, the Police called for re-enforcements twice and about 12 Police officers arrived. However, the mob and the monks remained. Witnesses say that when the Police arrived, the men who were carrying clubs threw them away surreptiously.
On the 29th of October 2006, two weeks ago, this Church was threatened in a similar manner. Police protection and an investigation were sought, and there were assurances of both. However, the Pastor reports that there has been no action taken to stop the harassment. The Church has stopped holding services as a temporary measure.
16th November 2006
A young woman was visiting the home of the Pastor and his wife in the morning, for prayer. While she was on the road, close to the house of the pastor, a man threw a container of black oil (burnt oil) on her. She has made a complaint to the Police, identifying the attacker.
Congregation threatened and chased away – mob arrives with ‘journalists’
Mizpah Prayer Ministry, Nawalapitiya (Kandy District)
12th November 2006
12th November 2006The congregation was gathered for the Sunday service at 9 am. At approximately 10.30 am, half way through the service, a mob of about 35 persons including about 12 Buddhist monks and a Local Government (Provincial Council) Member walked in and disrupted the service. They demanded that the service must be stopped immediately. The congregation was jeered and scolded using very abusive language. “We were threatened that if we gathered together for worship again, the building will be flattened” says the Pastor. The mob chased the congregation away and recorded video footage and photographs of the scene.
The mob had with them 2 persons who identified themselves as journalists, giving the names, Nimal Bandara of the Ravaya newspaper and Weeraratne from the Lankadeepa newspaper.
A member of the congregation called the Police, however, by the time the Police arrived, the mob had left. The mob was there for about 1 hour. Later they returned, armed with a wooden club. They threatened the Christian workers who were still there and hit one of them. They also broke some chairs.
A formal complaint was made to the Police (entry no: CIB I 126/144). No arrests have been made.
Christian workers beaten up
Prayer Tower, Anamaduwa (Puttlam District)
12th November 2006
12th November 2006Four members of the Church attended a funeral of a Church member. When they were on the way back, a group of several men accosted them and threatened them not to come back to the village. The attackers hit them with their fists and also threw rocks at them. A Police entry was made by the Pastor of the Church. At the Police inquiry, the attackers accused the Church of disturbing the neighbours with loud noise during worship. However, the Pastor rejected this accusation, explaining that the worship service was held only once a week, for one hour. He further stated that the neighbours were all Christians and therefore the accusation of creating a loud noise is baseless.
The parties agreed to settle the matter amicably. The attackers promised not to harass the Church members again.
The NCEASL is alarmed at the manner in which unruly elements use violence and force against minority Christians engaging in prayer and worship. It is appalling that the very organs of government that exist to dispense justice and maintain law and order, are totally ineffective in doing so. The State has, for too long, turned a blind eye to such excesses. The Government and the law enforcement authorities must actively protect the basic fundamental rights of a citizen to practice one’s religion without harassment.