25 July 2016
AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook
Geographic areas




  • > Africa
  • > Central Asia
  • > Europe
  • > Middle East
  • > Nord America
  • > North Asia
  • > South Asia
  • > South East Asia
  •    - Brunei
  •    - Cambodia
  •    - East Timor
  •    - Indonesia
  •    - Laos
  •    - Malaysia
  •    - Myanmar
  •    - Philippines
  •    - Singapore
  •    - Thailand
  •    - Vietnam
  • > South West Asia
  • > Sud America
  • > East Asia

  • mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato


    » 08/07/2013, 00.00

    SRI LANKA

    Weliweriya: protesters seeking refuge in church mowed down by the army

    Melani Manel Perera

    After a week of peaceful demands, the government deploys troops in Weliweriya to stop demonstrators asking for drinking water. Shooting to kill, soldiers fatally wound three young people and injure an additional 45. The Sisters of the Good Shepherd were threatened with death as they tried to protect the fleeing kids. The parish priest at St Anthony recalls the "utter fear".

    Colombo (AsiaNews) - The people of Weliweriya are "still in shock" after soldiers attacked young people who were calling on the government to provide clean drinking water and stop pollution. During the standoff, soldiers fired on the Church of St Anthony. Some of them even aimed their machine guns at the upper torso of the mother superior in an attempt to get her to surrender protest organisers. The attack left three young men dead from gunshot wounds as they sought shelter in the church.

    After a weeklong peaceful sit-in, the protest ended in a bloodbath on 1 August. Local residents had called on the authorities to shut down a textile factory that is polluting local rivers and to examine the water's toxicity level.

    Unable to stop the demonstration, police called in the army. Once on the scene, the military expelled the media and told people to go home. At first, it was thought that the fighting had ended with 1 dead and 15 injured. Today, the real scale of the atrocity has become known.

    The three people who died are Akila Dinesh (pictured), a 17-year-old Buddhist who was cremated in religious ceremony on Sunday; Ravinash Perera; an 18-year-old Catholic who will be buried this evening in Weliweriya; and Nilantha Pushpakumara, a 29-year-old father of a year-old child, who was able to call his wife from the Church of  St Anthony before he was killed. Forty-five other people were seriously injured.

    Several eyewitnesses told AsiaNews that the soldiers fired on the crowd and chased a group of young people inside the Church of the Good Shepherd. Here, they started shooting at a wall to intimidate those present.

    The attackers included police, soldiers, members of the government's special task force and even the 58th Brigade, which was stationed in the north of the country during the war against Tamil rebels.

    Residents complain about the military's guerrilla tactics. "They came at dawn with special torches. What were they for?" some asked.

    According to witnesses, the soldiers also fired on purpose at lampposts and destroyed the local generator just to create darkness in the area. Taking advantage of this, they launched went on manhunt.

    "Where are the protesters?" some officers asked Sr Kanthi, mother superior of the convent. She told them that they were not in the church where "ordinary worshippers were instead reciting the rosary".

    With their machine guns pointed straight at her, the soldiers threatened the nun and insulted her. "You Catholics are always doing these things," they said.

    "We cannot tolerate these attacks on innocent young people," Sr Kanthi told AsiaNews.

    As soldiers kept on beating the young protesters, the latter "were screaming from fear and pain,. We had never seen anything like it; it looked like a small war. I do not even know how many rosaries we recited to try to stop that tragic night."

    "God has given every human life itself. We strongly condemn these killings and attacks committed by men against other men," said Fr Lakpriya Nonis, parish priest at St Anthony. "What is especially appalling is that they were chased into the church seeking refuge."

    "Every issue can be resolved through dialogue," said Jagath Ananda Silva, secretary general of the Independent Education Employees Union, "but the government chose not to listen, and this has led to tragedy. Although there were provocations on the part of the protesters, a government cannot send in the army to shoot. It is a brutal and inhuman act that no one can tolerate."

    e-mail this to a friend Printable version










    See also

    06/11/2006 PHILIPPINES
    Butuan bishop condemns military raid of Good Shepherd convent

    The bishop, Mgr Juan de Dios Pueblos, intends to ask the Melo Commission, which is tasked to probe human rights abuses, to investigate. The sisters said the attack shows the soldiers' disrespect for the law.



    24/12/2009 SRI LANKA
    Sri Lanka: Sisters of the Good Shepherd celebrate Christmas with the poorest children
    In the villages of Wewala, Weligampitiya and Kalaeliya near Jael, the nuns gave birth to a free afternoon school for poor and sick children. On 22 December they celebrated Christmas with gift to all 52 of them school uniforms and books.

    15/06/2009 SRI LANKA
    Less money on Saint Anthony celebrations, more for refugees
    In Dalupoth parish in Negomobo, near Colombo, the faithful use the patron saint’s feast day to collect aid for refuges.

    07/08/2012 TAIWAN
    Story of sisters who help victims of family violence becomes a documentary
    The congregation of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd have launched an initiative to support women and children experiencing domestic abuse. The numbers are shocking. In Taiwan in 2008 alone there were 75,438 cases known to the government, in 2009, the number rose to 83,728, in 2010 98,720.

    12/05/2014 NEPAL
    Nepali Catholics praying for the "good shepherds" of China, India and Syria
    In Kathmandu, the feast of the Good Shepherd was devoted to prayers for those who work in difficult situations in the world. For a Nepali priest, "many priests and nuns work amid great difficulties to spread the grace of God in the world. I am an example."



    Editor's choices

    ASIA – WYD
    Card Gracias: young Asians bring Asian values to World Youth Day in Krakow

    Nirmala Carvalho

    "Our Asian pilgrims not only bring the grandeur, the vitality and beauty of Asia, but also the multi-cultural diversity, pluralism as well as Asian values of hospitality and family and, of course, the Church of the young.” Asia youth come to discover Krakow and the charisma of John Paul II, founder of the WYD.


    SYRIA
    Horror in Aleppo: "moderate" rebel group beheads Palestinian child



    The Nour al-Din al-Zenki movement beheads 11-year old Abdallah Issa shouting "Allah Akbar". The child was executed for collaborating with government forces. Before he died he was tortured. The group’s leaders try to back away from the barbaric killing. The group is supported by Turkey, the US, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.


    AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!

    AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.
     

    SUBSCRIBE NOW

    News feed

    Canale RSScanale RSS 

    Add to Google









     

    IRAN 2016 Banner

    2003 © All rights reserved - AsiaNews C.F. e P.Iva: 00889190153 - GLACOM®