Asia Pacific Baptist Federation & Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya Call for justice and upholding of Human Rights in the economic and political crisis in Sri Lanka

The APBF constituted by 65 member conventions in 22 nations across Asia Pacific with over 33,000 members, part of the 47 Million Baptist among the Baptist World Alliance spread in 126 nations worldwide, with 241 member bodies, together with the Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya ( SLBS - the Union of Baptist Church of Sri Lanka), expresses its condemnation over the recent attacks unleashed against unarmed civilian protestors by the Sri Lankan police, that has resulted in death and injury of several of those involved. 

We endorse the statement made by our member body the Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya and stand together with them and the people of Sri Lanka in solidarity with them:

“The Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya (SLBS), vehemently condemns the recent attacks by the police on the protesting civilians in Rambukkana resulting in one death whilst injuring several others. This action by the police violates the democratic right of the civilians to protest peacefully. While we condemn any violent acts by the civilians, we do not approve the taking of a life under whatever circumstance it was committed. 

As a Christian Church in Sri Lanka, we do not approve any violent acts, whichever quarter it emanates from, whether it is by the civilians, or by the police or the security forces. We understand that the person who was killed was an innocent civilian, who did not engage in any violent acts. We call upon the authorities to carry out an impartial investigation into this incident, where one person was killed and several others injured - someof them critically taking necessary action against the perpetrators”. 

Sri Lanka is reporting its worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948. The shortages of cooking gas, fuel, milk powder, essential medicines and daily power outages in addition to resultant snowballing rate of inflation has made daily living a challenge to a large segment of the population. The absence of justice on those that perpetrated the Easter Sunday bombings of 2019 even three years later, blatant corruption and nepotistic rule, by the extended and family members of the President Rajapaksa, has caused a public outcry against them and members of Parliament that support them. We are aware of the resultant people’s protest entering its 52nd day, calling for the resignation of the President, the stepping down of the Rajapaksa family and the formation of a new government. We firmly believe that it is the bounden duty of the government in power to give ear to the protesters who are carrying out a wave of protests all over the country and provide solutions to the burning issues raised by the people. 

APBF upholds the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Freedom of expression and peaceful protests of citizens, without attempting to stiffle or hinder such. We deplore the reports received of excessive and unwarranted police violence against protester; the attempts to subvert justice; the justification of such acts of violence by the Minister of Public security; and call for an impartial inquiry into the chain of command that gave the order to shoot live ammunition. We are concerned that such measures are aimed at preventing or discouraging people from legitimately expressing their grievances, frustrating their expression of views on matters of public interest. Against a backdrop that Sri Lanka has, of a long history of failing to provide justice and redress to victims of human rights violations, we call upon the Government of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan
authorities to comply with international Human Rights law. 

SLBS together with APBF urges the Government, to heed the voice of the people and their legitimate concerns and find a solution for the pressing economic and political challenges that Sri Lanka faces and to avoid further polarization of the situation. We join together with SLBS, in raising our voice in appeal and in prayer; praying for peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, for democracy to be upheld and restored and for the safety and protection from violence and brutality of all ethnicities who are citizens of Sri Lanka.