The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), or Buddhist Power Force, continued to promote the supremacy of the country’s ethnic Sinhalese Buddhist population and propagated views hostile toward members of religious and ethnic minorities, the US State Department said in a new report.
In 2015 Report on International Religious Freedom, the department said that BBS General Secretary Ven. Galagodaththe Gnanasara Thero regularly made inflammatory statements about “Islamic invasion and aggression” and “forced conversions” by Christian groups as posing an existential threat to the country’s Buddhism.
The report further added, “Sources stated Buddhist monks continued to operate with government protection, and some monks, particularly outside Colombo, regularly tried to close down Christian and Muslim places of worship on the grounds they lacked the Ministry of Justice and Buddha Sasana’s approval.
The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) documented a total of 87 cases of attacks on churches, intimidation and violence against pastors and their congregations, and obstruction of worship services during the year. NCEASL had reported a total of 96 such incidents in 2014.
The Secretariat for Muslims (SFM) recorded 82 incidents of hate speech, acts of discrimination, attempts to desecrate or destroy Muslim religious edifices, and verbal insults upon or use of physical force to impede Muslim cultural practices and rituals, a 62 percent reduction from the previous year. There were no reported deaths related to interreligious disputes.
The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), or Buddhist Power Force, continued to promote the supremacy of the country’s ethnic Sinhalese Buddhist population and propagated views hostile toward members of religious and ethnic minorities.
The U.S. Ambassador urged government leaders at the most senior levels, including President Maithripala Sirisena, to arrest and prosecute perpetrators of crimes against religious minorities and to protect religious freedom for all citizens.
The embassy continued to meet regularly with representatives from a broad range of religious groups to promote cooperative engagement and strengthen bonds between and among various religious and ethnic communities.”