Angry Mob Invades Assembly of Families of Disappeared at Oblate Center in Sri Lanka
August 12th, 2014
On the afternoon of August 4th, a group of Buddhist monks with a large number of civilians and media personnel forced their way into a meeting being hosted by the Oblate Centre for Peace and Justice in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The mob was intent on disrupting a meeting of families of the disappeared that were meeting in the place to tell their stories to an assembled group of priests, nuns, human rights activists, and representatives of civil society organizations as well as of diplomatic missions. The aim of the meeting was to pinpoint methods and strategies for helping the families of missing people locate their loved ones. The center, which is currently led by Oblate priest, Fr. Ashok Stephen, has been helping civil war victims for years.
Despite repeated requests from the organizers and the diplomatic corp present, the police failed to disperse the mob, but suggested rather that the meeting be disbanded and representatives from both parties attend an inquiry at the police station. Fr. Ashok Stephen, OMI, Director of the CPJ, filed a complaint of criminal trespass against the one Buddhist whose name he was able to determine, but does not think anything will come of it. The families present, which included children, were frightened but the mob, which shouted abuse and took photographs of those present.
Statements on the incident from Fr Ashok Stephen, OMI and Fr Rohan Silva, OMI are available on the website of the Colombo Province.
The Conference of Major Religious Superiors of Sri Lanka have also issued a statement condemning the incident. (Download PDF here)