» 02/14/2012, 00.00
Govt ignores fuel protest by thousands of Catholic fishermen
Melani Manel Perera
A Negombo men, women and children from Western Province block roads, torch street signs and burn tyres. They fear higher fuel prices will wipe out small-scale fishery. Fisheries minister agrees to subsidies but says price hike will go ahead.
Negombo (AsiaNews) – “We do not need relief assistance or subsidies, we only need humane and sustainable prices. Otherwise, the government will sanction our end and that of small-scale fishing,” some fishermen told AsiaNews. Since yesterday, thousands of them, mostly from Sri Lanka’s Western Province, have blocked roads in Negombo to protest higher fuel prices. So far, the government has ignored their demands. Card Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, Vicar General Farther Pattric Perera, Father Lester Nonis the Coordinator of Fisheries affairs and another Two Parish Priests of Negombo have come and talked to protesters and requested to stop the protest. They had come out in favour of the protest, trying to speak in person with Fisheries Minister Rajith Senarathna who, however, said that the government would provide subsidies but not reduce prices.
Fuel prices went up overnight Saturday. Diesel increased by 31 rupees a litre (US .25), gasoline increased by 12 rupees 8US $ 0.10 and kerosene increased by 35 rupees (US $ 0.30).
Protesting fishermen are from Negombo, Kochchikade, Wennappuwa, Marawila, Chilaw and Mannar, coastal villages and towns in the Western and North Western provinces. Some 5,000 men, women and children are from Negombo lagoon alone.
On Sunday, fishermen from the Northern Province raised black flags and moored their boats for a day in solidarity with protesters in Colombo.
The demonstration has been peaceful so far, but tensions flared yesterday when protesters torched some road signs and set fire to tyres.
“Usually, a fibber replaced plastic (FRP) boat spends LRK 3,000 (US$ 25) a day in fuel. With the new prices, it will take LKR 4,500 (US$ 37.5),” one fisherman said. “That is something we small fishermen cannot sustain.”
“This time it’s too much. They cannot bear up at all,” said Herman Kumara, national convener of National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO), as he spoke about fishermen’s predicament.
Sri Lanka’s Private Bus Owners Association (LPBOA), the largest private bus operators union in the country with 20,000 private buses, also ended its strike last night after reaching an agreement with the government to raise fare by 20 per cent.
For his part, Minister Senarathna on state TV and radio slammed Catholic priests and by NGOs for supporting the fishermen’s protests. He insisted that subsidies, not prices, were negotiable.
Under the government’s scheme, fishermen would get back LKR 25 (US$ 0,20) for kerosene and 12 (S$ 0,10) for diesel.
13/07/2007 SRI LANKA
Fishermen protest against higher kerosene prices
Fishing communities complain about 30 per cent hike in kerosene price. Colombo approves government fuel subsidies but then turns around and raises prices blaming the civil war and the tsunami for the economic crisis.
21/06/2012 SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka, a father commits suicide because he cannot support his family
Jesumaria Kingsley, a 40 year-old Catholic fisherman, lost a leg during protests against rising petrol prices. Sebastian, 14, left school to help his mother and siblings. Tried by the situation, the man decided to hang himself. An activist for the rights of fishermen: "We are all responsible for his death."
New record for oil, repercussions in Asia
Losses for stock markets. Airlines in difficulty. Grave consequences for poor populations, already struck by food crisis.
20/02/2012 SRI LANKA
Catholic fisherman's killing by police a "beastly deed"
This is how Mgr Norbert M. Andradi, general secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka, describes the incident. Anthony Warnakulasooriya, 35, was among the demonstrators protesting against hikes in fuel prices. A year ago, a 21-year-old Catholic man died during pension reform protest.
16/02/2012 SRI LANKA
One person dies in clashes with police as fuel protests spread
Police use tear gas, water cannons and guns to stop demonstrators. Protests spread across the country. Small-scale fishermen and private bus companies are hardest hit. Social activists denounce low wages and a high cost of living.
POLAND - CHINA - WYD
Beijing's tricks and violence to stop Chinese youth from reaching WYD
Vincenzo Faccioli Pintozzi
The government yesterday blocked a group of 50 young pilgrims who had already boarded a plane bound for Krakow. Interrogated for hours by immigration, they were "admonished" and sent home with orders not to contact anyone abroad. Meanwhile, "young Chinese Catholics" hang around central World Youth Day locations in groups of five or six, with the task of spying on fellow countrymen. They work for cultural institutes or Chinese companies in Poland.
ISLAM - EUROPE
Fr Samir: Islamic terror in France and Germany a crisis of integration, but above all of politics
Samir Khalil Samir
The kidnapping and murder of a priest near Rouen (France) and the various attacks in Würzburg, Munich, Ansbach (Germany) were carried out by young people, who were indoctrinated with ease. Germany was a model for the integration of refugees. But radical Islam cannot be assimilated. It is supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. There is no other road other than integration. But we must tell the truth: the Koran contains elements of war and violence. Western politicians suffer from ignorance and a loss of all moral sentiment.
23/07/2016 POLAND - VATICAN - WYD
21/07/2016 MALAYSIA - MYANMAR
26/07/2016 POLAND - CHINA - WYD
26/07/2016 ISLAM - EUROPE
23/07/2016 INDIA - AFGHANISTAN
AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!
AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.