SRI LANKAN PRESIDENT WARNS AGAINST ANTI-CHRISTIAN VIOLENCE
14 Feb 2004
COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, has warned that anyone who incites the Buddhist public to attack Christians and their places of worship would be dealt with firmly.
In a public statement, the Sri Lankan President appealed to the media to act responsibly and help promote ethnic and religious harmony, according to a report from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
CSW reports the warning came after the government received intelligence indicating organized Buddhist lobby groups with political patronage were preparing to incite anti-Christian attacks.
This latest wave of anti-Christian hostility was sparked off by the sudden death of one of Sri Lanka's most revered monks, CSW reported.
Venerable Gangodawila Soma Thero, a champion of Buddhist nationalism, died in mid-December last year while visiting Russia. Although an autopsy confirmed he died of natural causes, the Sri Lankan media has speculated on the 'mystery'
surrounding his death, indicating a possible Christian conspiracy. Some of Ven. Soma's supporters even claimed that he was number four on a 'hit list' of an unnamed Christian group, CSW said.
Tamils were also targeted after false rumors that some Tamils denigrated the deceased monk, the group reported. At the state funeral of Ven. Soma on Christmas Eve, a small number of nationalist monks reportedly called for a 'holy war' against Christians, the group said.