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Religious violence against Christians:Disruptions and Distractions

Ethno-religious violence is an enduring feature in Sri Lanka irrespective of the changes to the country’s socio-political and economic landscapes. This study offers insights into key patterns of violence directed against Christians between November 2021 and October 2022.  A total of 75 incidents of anti-Christian violence were recorded during this period.


This study unpacks insights into the disruptions and distractions to the upward momentum of violence. A disruption was defined as the occurrence of extraordinary logistical barriers that prevented perpetrators from engaging in violence, while distractions were events that had an extraordinary impact in diverting the attention of perpetrators. During this period, these disruptions and distractions were primarily observed during the months of June and July 2022. These months coincided with the national convergence around the aragalaya (struggle), changes to Sri Lanka’s political leadership and restrictions to mobility caused due to fuel shortages and police curfews.

Continuing past trends, state officials including the police were the main perpetrators of anti-Christian violence. Meanwhile, a district-level evaluation of these incidents showed that the majority of violence occurred in Kalutara, Anuradhapura and Mannar.

Overall, the findings of this study re-affirm the concerning pattern of the state’s negative bias towards minority faiths in Sri Lanka.

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Last modified: December 5, 2023