SRI LANKA: An Open Letter to the Minister of Justice

An Open Letter from Professor A.N.I Ekanayaka, Ph.D (Lond.), DDPH.RCS (Eng.), BDS Emeritus Professor, University of Peradeniya forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

91, Epitamulla Road,
Pita Kotte,
June 22, 2017

Hon Dr Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha PC
Minister of Justice

Dear Dr Rajapaksha,

Arrogant and Foolish Attempt to Deny the Persecution of Christians in Sri Lanka

I was shocked and outraged to see a video news clip in which you sought to deny the numerous incidents involving the harrassment of Christians in this country in recent times while crudely condemning a reputable lawyer who had brought the relevant facts to light threatening to have him removed from the bar. Your arrogant and emotive reaction reflects a deplorable ignorance about the facts pertaining to Christian persecution in the country if not a deliberate attempt to subvert them on the principle that the shame and embarrassment accompanying the revelation of the truth is more important than the truth itself – which therefore must be covered up.

It is clear that your ill conceived remarks derive from a pronounced Buddhist bias. It shows that you know nothing of Christianity. It would seem that you are quite ignorant about the definition of a ‘Christian’ in a plural society and utterly misinformed about what constitutes the Christian Church. In this the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation ( which you have probably not even heard of ! ) where roughly half the Christians in the world are non Roman Catholic you seem oblivious to the existence of Christian denominations outside the Roman Church. Your equating Christianity with the Roman Church imagining that Cardinal Malcolm Ranjit can be a spokesman for Christians in Sri Lanka is on par with the naivety of a first year law student !

Moreover as a Buddhist politician preoccupied with your own political agenda you are obviously unaware of trends in the Christian Church where Cardinal Malcolm Ranjit has become a controversial figure even within the Roman Catholic denomination , who having betrayed the faith by his religious pluralism and open hostility to evangelical Christians, is consequently deeply distrusted amongst Christians many of whom would not even consider him to be a Christian from a strictly Biblical perspective.

In this connection I am annexing herewith a copy of my recent paper “ Cardinal Sin” which was a response to some previous remarks by the Cardinal. I hope the contents might prove instructive enabling you to appreciate the genuinely Christian position, leading to a more balanced and guarded view of this controversial priest without being deluded by pompous ecclesiastical rank and title into giving his opinions more credence than they deserve, thereby compromising your own reputation and bringing the government into disrepute.

Otherwise I have myself been maintaining a dossier (now running into nearly 100 pages ! ) of attacks against Christians in various parts of the country from 2002 – 2017 based on the information supplied by a balanced and responsible Christian organisation. According to my records there have been hundreds of incidents where Christian priests, pastors, workers and worshippers have been harassed during this period. Such incidents ( now receiving global publicity ) have included arson, death threats, obstruction of burials, destructive attacks on places of worship, disruption of worship, home invasions, stoning, assault, verbal abuse, mob attacks, threat of acid attack, police intimidation and inaction, and other disgraceful forms of harassment humiliation and interference with religious freedom. Given this dismal history current reports of some 195 incidents since 2015 are entirely plausible.

That you should be skeptical about such revelations reflects a complete misunderstanding of what constitutes a Church. Contrary to your preconceived notions Jesus said “ for where two or three are gathered in my name there am I among them”. However small the gathering of worshippers whatever the premises or location in which they assemble – that is a Church. Any interference with such a group of worshippers is an assault on the Christian Church. That is the bottom line.

If you really cared about the good name of Buddhism or had even a minimal commitment to the stated ‘vision’ of the Ministry of Justice you would be outraged by the contempt for the rule of law shown by the rowdy monks and their supporters who harass Christians. You would weep at the grotesque violation of the basic tenets of Buddhism by fanatics and hooligans whose aggression is a standing denial of the pure dhamma.

Instead your angry intolerant and peevish reaction with its echoes of the metaphor “shooting the messenger” instead of acting on the message, is unbecoming of the high traditions of dignity and independence one expects from your office. But then perhaps we should not be surprised that a legal establishment that has seemingly been so inept and relatively recalcitrant in bringing those in the ‘previous regime’ who have committed monumental crimes and misdemeanors to justice – should be so indifferent when mere Christians are getting a beating at this time !

Yours sincerely

Professor A.N.I EkanayakaPh.D (Lond.), DDPH.RCS (Eng.), BDS
Emeritus Professor, University of Peradeniya

Cc : His Excellency the President
Hon Prime Minister
Selected Cabinet Ministers
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjit