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Minister says Caritas wants anarchy
Accuses Church social arm of conspiring to undermine governmentA farmer in a paddy field
- ucanews.com reporters, Anuradhapura
- Sri Lanka
- March 27, 2012
Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena said Caritas members had organized recent farmersâ€™ protests and had gone to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva to speak against the government ahead of the war crimes resolution made last week.
â€śCaritas provided buses for the farmers to go to the protests and gave them food as well,â€ť said Sirisena, who is also the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Partyâ€™s general secretary.
â€śTrade union leaders do not know who is running these protests. It is Caritas Sri Lanka, who also went to Geneva to speak against the country,â€ť the minister said at a public meeting at the weekend in Colombo.
Farmers groups and Caritas said the allegations are completely groundless.
The protests were organized by the Joint National Program for farmers, fisheries and labor organizations, said Nihal Winadhipathi, a farmerâ€™s representative.
â€śFarmers and workers made several demands including an increase in the price of paddy rice because of diesel and kerosene oil price hikes, not to overthrow the government,â€ť Winadhipathi said.
â€śIt is our fundamental rightâ€ť to protest, he said.
â€śCaritas or any other organization did not provide buses or meals. Many priests and Buddhist monks came to offer moral support,â€ť he said.
Church officials called Sirisenaâ€™s UNHRC allegation an â€śabsolute lie.â€ť
â€śWe did not send anybody to the UNHRC meeting in Geneva â€¦ it is an absolute lie. Instead, the Church worked closely with the government to support the cause of the country,â€ť said Bishop Harold Anthony Perera, Chairman of the Catholic National Commission for Justice, Peace and Human Development.
Caritas distributes aid to fishing families