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Attacks on religious minorities continued says US State Department

Religious minorities in Sri Lanka continue to be attacked, said the US Department in its 2018 report on International Religious Freedom.

According to the report, Buddhist nationalist groups, such as the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), continued to promote the supremacy of the ethnic Sinhalese Buddhist majority and vilify religious and ethnic minorities, especially via social media during the Kandy riots in March 2018. These social media campaigns targeting religious minorities fuelled hatred and incited violence.

The report stated the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka documented 74 incidents of attacks on churches, intimidation of and violence against pastors and their congregations, and obstruction of worship services.  

“Local government officials and police reportedly responded minimally or not at all to numerous incidents of religiously motivated violence against Muslim and Christians minorities,” the report added.  

The report also said the US Ambassador has regularly met with the President, Prime Minister and other senior government officials to emphasise the need for respect for and inclusion of ethnic and religious minorities as part of the post-conflict reconciliation process.

Read the full report here.

Last year, the State Department report noted that the construction of Buddhist shrines by Buddhist groups and the military in the North-East continued, despite the shrines being built in areas with few, if any, Buddhist residents.