State officials unlawfully demand end to religious worship activities

October 23, 2019 

At around 08:30 a.m., the Kotapola Divisional Secretary, an officer of the Deniyaya Police, and the Kandilpana Grama Niladhari arrived at the church premises and began questioning the pastor about the legality of his place of worship. They asked if he had received authorisation from the Divisional Secretariat to conduct his religious worship activities and demanded the immediate cessation of his activities until he receives the necessary approvals. The police officer insisted that the local police should also be informed if there is a church functioning in the area.

Later that day, at approximately 09:30 a.m., the pastor received a phone call from the Deniyaya Police Station asking him to be present at the station in an hour to make a statement. The pastor, however, refused to attend without his lawyer.

 The Hokma Bible Centre has been in existence at this location since 2007 and the pastor receives his electricity bill in the name of the church, for which he has a signed letter of consent from the Grama Niladhari, the DS, and the estate managerAlmost a week prior to this incident, the committee at the local Hindu kovil had submitted a petition against the church with the Kandilpana Grama Niladhari.