In a statement, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCSL) condemns violence against prison inmates that often leads to hospitalization, even death; threats and reprisals against farmers who do not supply enough rice and the failure of the government to ensure human rights for all its citizens.
In the statement, signed by CBCSL president, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, and the Secretary General, Monsignor Norbert M. Andradi, the Bishops stress that what is happening in the nation’s prisons is first and foremost “a violation of international laws, which requires that prisoners be treated with dignity and that their safety be ensured”.
According to the CBCSL, also what is happening to some farmers in the North Central Province is cause for “deep concern”, given that late monsoon rains have impeded rice farmers from meeting established targets, and for this reason suffer intimidation. The Bishops stress that “such abuses create a sense of loss in terms of human and religious values in Sri Lankan society”. “The government must work towards a political solution. After all it went through in the past, this nation needs a lasting peace”, adds the statement, in reference to a 36 year civil war between the Sri Lankan armed forces and LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) rebels.
Another cause of concern is the educational system, to which the government of Colombo responded closing universities after the failure of negotiations. The Catholic UCANEWS agency reports that teachers have been on a strike for over two months. Unions, religious figures and students are taking the streets against budget cuts that undercut the public education sector: it went from 0.52% in 2005 to a current 0.27%. “The government must deal with the issues raised by the professors without delay because Sri Lanka’s young people are paying the price”, warns the CBCSL.