by: Prof Rajiva Wijesinha
The Peace Secretariat regrets a recent article by Christian Post Reporter Ethan Cole which gave a distorted account of an attack on a church in Talahena Sri Lanka. In particular it was a pity that he did not note that the police acted promptly, arrested three persons on the day of the attack, and sought seven more who surrendered to Court. These were produced at the hearing of Court on July 22nd, while the police had identified one of the monks involved and the court directed that he and two others also be produced on the next court date.
The Christian Post seems to have received much of its information from the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), which had previously also sent distorted information to advocacy groups abroad. Recently, with regard to an attack on a pastor in Amparai, Christian Solidarity Worldwide said it was 'reportedly carried out by members of a government sponsored security force'. It was further suggested that the police were not acting in such instances and that this was government policy.
Our investigations revealed that the police had promptly produced the suspected assailants in court, and that only one of them was a home guard. There was no response from NCEASL to this information. CSW did however engage, and in response to the suggestion that unwarranted generalizations did more harm than good promised to send details of recent cases. These are awaited.
Other distortions are apparent in the reporting. Far from everything inside the church having been destroyed, according to the complaint 38 plastic chairs, a fan, the ceiling of the church and a van and car were damaged. Goods and money were also robbed, which suggests another dimension to the behaviour of the mob. Though certainly sectarian violence must be stopped, Sri Lanka has suffered in the past too from criminal elements precipitating and taking advantage of such for their own ends – another reason why the state cannot and will not tolerate such behaviour.
Again, prompt action has been taken with regard to the incident at Middeniya and, in the case of the shooting in Amparai, the motive seems to have been suspicions of personal misconduct. This may be unfair, but it is equally unfair to claim sectarian reasons and hold the state responsible.
Irresponsible confrontational reporting will not help to reduce ill feeling and promote social harmony, whereas some recognition of the efforts of police officers attempting to do their duty might. It is to be hoped that more responsible Christian organizations, whilst drawing attention to problems and abuses, will refrain from promoting other agendas by bearing false witness.
(Courtesy : SCOPP )