Christians oppose 'military' training

Three weeks of 'leadership' courses for more than 20,000 students nationwide

Christians oppose 'military' training
Catholic priest Father Dilan (middle) discussing university issues with military commanders in Colombo reporter, Colombo, Sri Lanka

May 25, 2011

Christian human rights leaders are urging the Sri Lankan government to do away with an introductory military-style training course for new university students. A three-week program began on May 23 for about 22,000 students across the country in locations that include army, navy, air force and police camps, as well as university campuses. “The government should follow the decision of the court and listen to appeals made by parents and students,” said Father Dilan Perera who had discussions with military commanders over the issue. The Supreme Court had earlier said the government should postpone such a program until a petition against it is taken up, according to the editor of Colombo Catholic archdiocese’s religious Bhakthi Prabodanaya magazine. “If leadership training is necessary, it can be conducted at schools or universities under the care of educational authorities,” said Father Marimuthupillai Sathivel, the Anglican priest in charge of the Christian Solidarity Movement. The United National Party, a major opposition party in parliament, has opposed the program, saying that there is no legal provision for this kind of leadership training for university students. However, the government says the program aims to build leadership among students. SR14290