Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) relayed concerns from Christians in Sri Lanka of the government shutting down churches for "security" purposes in the wake of the bombings. Some members of the military guarding the churches also tortured Catholics in the country's recent civil war, she said, adding that "many" Christians there "are understandably nervous about the Sri Lankan government's intentions."
Brownback answered that the State Department has been pushing for the government to uphold the rights of religious minorities while maintaining security.
There are "deep wounds within the society that need to be addressed," Brownback said. "There needs to be some major reconciliation." He praised Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith for an "outstanding job" in calling for no retribution for the Easter attacks.
In addition, Brownback noted that a result of last year's Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, hosted by the State Department, was the creation of a fund for victims of religious violence, and that fund had been made availibe to victims of the Sri Lanka bombings.
Nadine Maenza, Vice Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, noted that in Pakistan, "state security forces in last year have disappeared dozens of young Christian" in the city of Karachi. Although many have been released, Christians are fearful of an escalation, she said.
In Burma, although the plight of the Rohingya Muslims has garnered international attention, "less known is the plight of the Christians," she said.
Due to conflict between the country's military and ethnic armed organizations, thousands of Christians have been displaced, and the government has used the conflict as a pretext to crack down on Christian leaders, "accusing them of working with ethnic armed organizations."
"The Burmese government has created a culture of fear and violence for Christians that fundamentally undermines their ability to practice their faith," she said, calling for U.S. sanctions on Burmese Senior General Min Aung Hlaing "for his direct role in perpetrating atrocities against Rohingya and ethnic minorities in Burma including Christians and Rohingya Muslims."