08/08/2013, 00.00
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Catholic Church: army violence in Weliweriya unacceptable and unjustifiable

At victim’s funeral Card. Malcolm Ranjith, President of the Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka, condemns the attack on behalf of all the bishops of the country. An armed raid on a church, he said, "is a sacrilege for anyone, the sanctity of the holy places must be safeguarded and those who enter in search of protection respected." The cardinal urges the government to "punish the guilty, regardless of their rank or social status."

Colombo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has condemned as "unacceptable and unjustifiable" the violence of Weliweriya, where the army opened fire on unarmed youths - killing three - chasing them even as they sought refuge in the local church. Along with hundreds of other people the young boys had been protesting against the government since the end of July over a lack of drinking water for their village and for the end to environmental pollution. Card. Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo and President of the Bishops' Conference of the country, attended the funeral of a victim (an 18 year-old), where he read a message on behalf of all the bishops of Sri Lankans.

"We the Catholic Church categorically condemn the killing of these children and desecrating the St. Anthony's Church, Weliweriya - said the cardinal - It was sacrilege for anyone to enter such sacred precincts with arms in their hands and to behave in a violent manner there. Such actions cannot be accepted by anyone. "

Card. Ranjith added "it is always necessary that we preserve this sanctity of sacred premises of any religion and respect the people who enter such premises seeking protection. We request that those found guilty be punished without consideration of rank or status. We wish to reiterate at this point that we do not accept attempts to resolve questions either, taking the law into one's own hands".

"We do not accept - he continued - using one's power in a repressive manner to suppress protests, even if they get out of control. For every question, the best way out is the way of peaceful dialogue and discussion". 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has announced compensation for the victims. But Ranjith said only an independent investigation, prosecution of those responsible, and "democratic behavior" by the authorities during future public protests would be an appropriate tribute to the victims.




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