Christian Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Sri Lanka Now in Hiding After Easter Sunday Bombings

NEGOMBO, SRI LANKA – APRIL 23: Coffins are carried to a grave during a mass funeral at St Sebastian Church on April 23, 2019 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. At least 311 people were killed with hundreds more injured after coordinated attacks on churches and hotels on Easter Sunday rocked three churches and three luxury hotels in and around Colombo as well as at Batticaloa in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan authorities declared a state of emergency on Monday as police arrested 24 people so far in connection with the suicide bombs, which injured at least 500 people as the blasts took place at churches in Colombo city as well as neighboring towns and hotels, including the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Persecuted Christian refugees and asylum seekers in Sri Lanka are in hiding inside a police station as a result of death threats from angry Sri Lankans following last month’s Easter Sunday bombings that claimed the lives of over 250.

Multiple human rights organizations are raising an alarm as several migrant communities in Sri Lanka who originated from South Asia or the Middle East have been forced to seek legal protection as communal revenge violence has escalated in the wake of the bombings.

Although enraged Sri Lankans have primarily targeted peaceful Muslims and their property in response to last month’s bombings claimed by the Islamic State, asylum-seeking Christians from Afghanistan and Pakistan who fled the country over religious persecution are also in fear for their lives.

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Anton Kyanq, a Sri Lankan pastor who has traveled the country to bring assistance to Christians in need, told The Christian Post in an interview that as many as 60 Pakistani and Afghani Christian refugees are currently housed inside of a police station in Negombo (one of the three cities where the Easter suicide bombings have occurred).

Kyanq has worked with the London-based charity British Pakistani Christian Association to provide aid to the displaced Christian refugees at the Negombo police station. He estimates that as many as 160 asylum seekers are being sheltered at the station.

Sri Lanka is home to about 1,600 asylum seekers from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran who fled religious, political or ethnic persecution in their homelands. About 800 asylum seekers live in rented homes in Negombo with the backing of United Nations assistance.

The other 100 migrants house at the station are of the Muslim faith, he said.

“People were told it was a terrorist attack from an Islamic background. So they thought maybe [since] these people are also from a background similar, maybe these people are also connected to these groups,” Kyanq explained. “So they were angry at them.”

Inside the police station, Kyanq said that the migrants have been given nothing but mats to sleep on and must deal with the mosquito bites, the cold breeze, and the rain.

The migrants are allowed to go back to their rented homes and come back to the police station should they want to risk their safety.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith

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