Mobs attack Sri Lanka Methodist center for disabled on Palm Sunday (VIDEO)


Christians attending a prayer meeting at a center for the disabled were pelted with stones and burning firecrackers, by an abusive anti-Christian mob, says the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka.

This latest attack on non Buddhists had been launched when devotees were celebrating Palm Sunday, a holy day for Christians.

A leading evangelical organization has recorded thirty-five violations against Christian minorities in the first three and a half months of this year alone.

The leader of the Methodist church says the Koombichchankulam Methodist Centre 11 kilometers from the north central town of Anuradhapura was attacked on Palm Sunday by a group of violent youth who first threatened him demanding to abandon the premises.

Bishop Asiri P Perera told journalists in Colombo that he managed to bypass the mob and conduct the  prayer service with Reverend Dinuka Priyashan Silva, only to be pelted with stones and burning firecrackers.

“This is not the first time,” Bishop Perera said in a video message posted in social media.

Alongside scores of Christian institutions, the Koombichchankulam center has also been a target since February.

Established nearly 15 years ago in a predominant Buddhist locality, the center aims to serve the physically disabled and the hearing-impaired, said the Bishop.

The Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled estimates that 20,000 people disabled by the war live in the Northern Province. Official figures put the number of troops injured during the last three years of Sri Lanka's 30 year long civil war at 30,000.

Police inaction

“There are also previous complaints for which nothing much has happened. There we were promised that we will be given protection to do our worship in that place. But that did not materialize yesterday (14) until I called for police intervention.” 

Bishop Perera says that he had to telephone the most senior police officer in the Anuradhapura district to escort him and the congregation through the angry mob who had locked the gate from outside and blocked the exit.

“It was scary. We were made prisoners of our own Methodist center.”

However, no arrests have been made.

The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) has recorded 363 violations of the religious freedom of Christians in Sri Lanka since the present government came into power in 2015. Almost half of them involve state officials.

It says over 500 violations against Muslims have been reported since 2013.

In 2017, human rights lawyer Lakshan Dias who publicly criticized continuing violence against religious minorities, had to flee the country after being threatened by the Justice minister at the time, Wijayadasa Rajapakshe.

Local politician

Police told journalists on Wednesday that six were summoned to appear at the Anuradhapura district court on Thursday.

However, church representatives from Colombo who went to Anuradhapura expecting suspects to be produced in court had been made to return after police recorded statements from both parties.

"Once again the police hoodwinked us", a Methodist church representative told JDS. Nalin Siriwardhana, a local politician representing the political party led by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa was also seen with the alleged assailants at the Anuradhapura police station.☐



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.