Sri Lanka’s Christian Refugees Displaced by Retaliation Threats

Pakistani asylum seekers in Negombo fled terrorist attacks in their home country, only to fear retribution for more deadly violence in their place of refuge.

Fleeing persecution in Pakistan, Christians and other religious minorities once found refuge in Negombo, a heavily Catholic area north of Sri Lanka’s capital. But ever since the deadly Easter bombings—the worst taking place at the town’s St. Sebastian Church—these Pakistani asylum seekers have once again had to leave their homes and neighborhoods in search of safety from threats of violence.

Since some instances of retaliatory violence or threats in the Southeast Asian island nation have targeted Pakistani and Afghan nationals, hundreds of families have been forced out by landlords worried about further attacks or have left on their own to find temporary protection in crowded government buildings, mosques, or other locations.

At least 60 Christian asylum seekers camped outside the Negombo police station after being evicted, according to the British Pakistani Christian Association. Others joined several hundred Ahmadi Muslims who took up shelter at area mosques, some helped to safety by their Christian landlords, Human Rights Watch reported.

“It is a blight on their country that innocent victims are being persecuted, especially as many of those who are being targeted have already suffered a similar fate in their homeland,” said Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the BPCA.

The tragic attack that left 250 dead in Sri Lanka—now blamed on an Islamist terror group—may ring familiar to Pakistani believers, who suffered an Easter Sunday bombing that killed more than 70 people just three years before.

“I appeal to the Christians and other communities of Negombo to stand strong in the face of such provocation and to extend love instead of hate,” said Chowdhry, whose organization said …

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