ISSN 2330-717X

Sri Lanka: Cardinal Warns Against Emergency Power Abuses

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By Quintus Colombage

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(UCA News) — Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has urged Sri Lankan security forces not to turn their weapons on people amid rumors of orders being issued to shoot protesters in the crisis-ridden island nation.

Sarath Fonseka, a former army commander and a member of parliament said: “Rumors are currently spreading among people that orders to fire have been issued. There is a serious danger of conflict between the armed forces and unarmed civilians in the country.”

Fonseka appealed to the security forces to refrain from following such orders if any are given by the acting president.

“The police and Ministry of Defense are requested not to abuse the state of emergency,” Cardinal Ranjith said in Colombo on July 13 amid reports of 84 people, including two police officers, a soldier and two journalists, being admitted to hospitals with injuries sustained during street clashes after a state of emergency was declared earlier in the day.

There were reports of police firing tear gas at protesters making their way to the parliament building.

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Cardinal Ranjith said people’s expectations and demands need to be understood fairly. “Controlling the people through a curfew and an emergency law is not very optimistic,” he said.

The cardinal further called for the protection of the people’s right to information and respecting the media’s freedom to report.

Senior Buddhist monks who have told parliament to immediately form a government, also called on the security forces to maintain peace by allowing a free flow of information to the people.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has stated that the security forces must respect human rights and exercise restraint.

Meanwhile, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said in a statement that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled to the Maldives on a military plane, had informed him that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had been appointed as acting president.

The acting president has since imposed a curfew once again in the Colombo district from 12.00 noon to 5.00 am on July 14 and said a committee has been appointed to restore law and order in the country.

But his political opponents are demanding that Wickremesinghe resign from his position as premier to help resolve the current crisis situation.

UCA News

The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News, UCAN) is the leading independent Catholic news source in Asia. A network of journalists and editors that spans East, South and Southeast Asia, UCA News has for four decades aimed to provide the most accurate and up-to-date news, feature, commentary and analysis, and multimedia content on social, political and religious developments that relate or are of interest to the Catholic Church in Asia.

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