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Bishop’s plea for peace in Sri Lanka: The Church of England Newspaper, April 14, 2013 p 6. April 19, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of Ceylon, Church of England Newspaper, Persecution.
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The Bishop of Colombo has called upon India to protect its Sinhalese visitors following a series of high profile assaults on Buddhist monks.

While the April 1 letter of Bishop Dhiloraj Canagasabey is addressed to the Indian government and leads with the condemnation of last month’s attack on two Buddhist monks in Tamil Nadu, sources in the Church of Ceylon tell the Church of England Newspaper the true audience is the government of Sri Lankan Pres. Mahinda Rajapaksa and its subject the sharp increase in sectarian violence targeting Ceylon’s Christians and Muslims

Bishop Canagasabey wrote “several incidents of intimidation and violence against Sri Lankans have been reported recently from within and outside the Sri Lanka,” adding the “most serious” had been the attack on Buddhists monks in Tamil Nadu state.

“In the first incident in Tamil Nadu, a group of post graduate archaeology students had been attacked during a study tour to a temple site in Thanjavoor. In the second a group of Buddhist pilgrims who had arrived in Chennai from a visit to sacred sites in North India had been attacked at the Chennai Railway Station. In both instances the monks had been singled out for abuse and physical violence, possibly due to their distinctive dress. Several extremists Tamil groups have been identified as perpetrators of these attacks in India. I appeal to the Central Government of India, and the State Government of Tamil Nadu to stop this act of violence immediately,” the bishop said.

The Bishop added that “within Sri Lanka, attacks in the form of intimidation and violence especially on Christians and Muslims have been too many to list out.”

The Church “views with grave concern and denounces this growing and very dangerous trend of sectarian violence. These incidents are yet another manifestation of the fast spreading intolerance and fundamentalist extremism which is engulfing many societies today,” the bishops said.

It was a “reflection of the refusal to listen to people who think believe and act differently from us and to accept their freedom and right to do so. From here it is but a short step to blind and mindless violence against the group or groups we choose to demonize,” he said.

He stated that “while we very rightly condemn such acts by others, we also need to turn the spotlight inwards and reflect on and examine our own failings in this regard. It may be that unconsciously in the practice of our own beliefs and religion we have caused avoidable irritation and offence to those of sister faiths,” he said, adding “we can hardly demonstrate against and condemn such acts by others against us, if we ourselves condone or participate in similar behaviour against those who are different from us.”

It was the duty of state to guarantee the protection “of all groups in society,” the bishop said, warning the Buddhist nationalist government “during the past decades we have witnessed in this country the tragedy, huge damage and destruction brought about by the negligence of this primary duty. We must not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

Cry for justice for Ceylon: The Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2013, p 6. February 7, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of Ceylon, Church of England Newspaper, Politics.
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Shirani Bandaranayake

Sunday February 3rd will be a “day of lament” for Sri Lanka, the Bishop of Colombo told his clergy last week.

In a 23 Jan 2013 pastoral letter, Bishop Dhiloraj Canagasabey said “it is with a heavy heart that I write it, the reason being that in the past few days we have seen the complete collapse of the rule of law in our nation. We no longer appear to be a constitutional democracy.”

Sri Lanka’s government and the judiciary have been on a collision course since President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ruling party filed an impeachment motion against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake on 6 Nov 2012. Last month a parliamentary panel found her guilty of irregularities after she ruled that a bill submitted by the president’s younger brother, Basil Rajapaksa, proposing an 80-billion rupee (£400 million) development budget must be approved by nine provincial councils.

“If the impeachment motion is passed in parliament in defiance of decisions of the country’s judiciary, it will signal a massive breakdown in the rule of law and checks and balances,” warned Sam Zarifi, the International Commission of Jurists Asia director.

However, a government spokesman told reporters in Colombo the chief justice had politicised the judiciary and her actions were “very unbecoming of a chief justice.”

Bishop Canagasabey disagreed. “The rule of law means that we as a nation are governed by a system of laws to which the lawmakers themselves are subject. This is a way of ensuring that power is not concentrated in the hands of one person, or group of persons and exercised arbitrarily.”

“The breakdown of such accountability is a process that has been building up for the past several years. It has now climaxed in the recent events that have seen both the Executive and the Legislature disregarding the provisions of the very Constitution which they swore to uphold and defend, giving the appearance of a country ruled on the principle that ‘Might is Right’.”

The bishop said that warnings from the church and “civil society bodies repeatedly issued have been ignored. There is currently a climate of fear and helplessness, where people remain silent rather than speak out against rampant injustice, intimidation, violence and falsehoods.”

Bishop Canagasabey asked members of the diocese to fast and wear white clothing on 3 Feb 2013 as a sign of their prayers and “to grieve over the state of our country today.”