Since 2016, Christian Solidarity International (CSI) has been supporting endangered religious minorities in Sri Lanka through its local partners. The persecution of religious minorities has been on the increase under the Sinhalese Buddhist government which was elected in August 2020. Human rights activists are also being monitored, harassed, or detained without charge.
Around 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s population are Buddhist, just under 13 percent are Hindu, and Muslims and Christians make up 10 percent and 8 percent, respectively.
In addition to legal support, CSI provides medical and material assistance to the victims of religious persecution. In Sri Lanka, Christians are subject to frequent harassment and attacks by Buddhist extremists.
Pastor Balasingam and his family have experienced religious hatred first-hand. Balasingam grew up south of the capital, Colombo. In the year 2000, he founded his first Christian church in his home country. The very next year Buddhist extremists attacked and destroyed the small building. Over the next few years Pastor Balasingam and his congregation worked hard to rebuild their sanctuary. But just three days after the construction was finally completed, a violent mob of some 1,000 extremists attacked the church. Pastor Balasingam and several members of his congregation were injured and spent time in the hospital.
For years, radical Buddhists tried to obtain a court ruling declaring the church building illegal. But since a legal intervention by CSI’s partners in Sri Lanka, the legality of Pastor Balasingam’s church, which has grown to around 200 members, is no longer in question. And after the church installed surveillance cameras, paid for by CSI, the pastor and his family feel safer.
CSI continues to monitor the situation in Sri Lanka.