National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) Incident Report – October / November 2009 – Part 1

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November 13, 2009  

Banning prayer meetings? 
13th November 2009
A report by Sri Lanka Watch - a web based news service (12th November 2009) and some local TV stations report that the Inspector General of the Sri Lanka Police, at a meeting with the National Sangha Council (National Council of Buddhist clergy)  revealed a decision to ban prayer meetings for faith healing within the Colombo city limits with immediate effect. (Related: Please see story below)  

Prayer Centre attacked by mob 
Jesus Never Fails - Prayer Centre 
Koswatte (Colombo District) 
5th November 2009
A mob of about 200 persons surrounded the prayer centre at approximately 12.45 in the afternoon and hurled stones at the building, damaging the building exterior, windows and air conditioning units and the gate. They shouted threats to kill the pastor, accusing him of unethical conversions and demanding he stops conducting healing services. A large protest march led by members of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) including some of their party M.P. monks preceded the violent attack. 

The protest and the attack were a reaction to the death of two women who were brought to an open air healing service conducted by the pastor of the church on the 31st of October 2009, at the Vihara Mahadevi Park in Colombo. A spokesman for the church said the women came of their own free will, seeking divine healing and they died on admission to hospital and not at the healing service.   

Police were called in to stop the attack but were unable to prevent damage to the building. No arrests have been made so far. The prayer centre suspended services & meetings due to fear of further attacks and threats issued to members of the church. Video footage of the attack on the church were televised by several local TV stations.  

Pastor Joseph is a respected member of the community and the prayer centre has been there for a considerable period of time, coexisting harmoniously with the local Buddhist temple. According to members of the church, the local Temple had no part in the attack.  

Ven. Athureliye Rathana Thero M.P. and leader of the JHU Parliamentary group on the 6th speaking in Parliament denied the JHU's involvement in the attack, but called for the arrest of the pastor and urged the Anti-Conversion Bill to be made law.  

Video of the attack can be found on the web: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PykosGP3VuU&videos=kejYYh9Wsx8 and http://www.dailymirror.lk/DM_BLOG/Sections/frmNewsDetailView.aspx?ARTID=66946    

Community Centre put up by Church attacked and damaged 
Methodist Church  
Mawathawewa, Eppawela (Anuradhapura District) 
25th October 2009
At approximately 8.00 P.M. a mob of about 200 people from Nallamudawa village which is situated two villages away from Mawathawewa where the incident occurred stormed the premises of the community center, led by the Buddhist monk from Nallamudawa. The mob armed with rods began destroying the building and threatened villagers not to intervene or call the Police. The roof was completely destroyed, doors and windows were damaged in this brand new construction. The rest of the building was spared when Police arrived and dispersed the mob.  

The Methodist church constructed the Community centre for the benefit of the Mawathawewa village community, with approval from the relevant government authorities. The villagers supported the construction of the centre which was to house a day care centre, library and other facilities for the community. It was to be ceremonially opened at the end of November.  

Since the incident, Police security had been provided for the damaged community center. The matter is under investigation, no arrests have been made so far. There are rumours from the area that a politician is preventing the arrest of suspects.    

Community Centre put up by Church attacked and damaged 
Calvary Loving Church  
Attampitiya, Bandarawela (Badulla District) 
5th October 2009
On the morning of the 5th, the pastor of the congregation received a message that the small hall used for prayer and worship has beendemolished during the night. A complaint was made to the Police. Neighbours had confirmed to the pastor that the structure was still standing at 9 p.m. the previous night, when they retired for the night. The Police are conducting investigations into the matter but no arrests have been made.