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Cardinal urges UN to support justice in Sri Lanka

Protesters call for release of activists held without charges under Prevention of Terrorism Act
Protestors hold placards as they take part in an anti-government demonstration in Colombo on Sept. 25

Protestors hold placards as they take part in an anti-government demonstration in Colombo on Sept. 25. (Photo: AFP/UCAN files)

Published: November 09, 2022 11:58 AM GMT

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to play a part in establishing freedom and justice in Sri Lanka.

The prelate said the current government has brutally cracked down on rights activists who speak out against fraud and corruption.

"The government is suppressing human rights activists who speak out against corruption, protest peacefully and organize protest marches," the outspoken cleric said on Nov. 8.

He said it is unacceptable that Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma Thera, convenor of the Inter-University Bhikkhu Federation, and Wasantha Mudalige, convenor of the Inter-University Student Federation, have been unjustly detained for 75 days.

The two leading anti-government activists have been detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) without charges.

They were arrested following a protest march in August in which police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse university students who were marching against corruption and fraud.

Religious leaders and rights activists who oppose their arrest say that the two leaders are not terrorists.

The student federation has organized a series of protests against the government's brutal clampdown on dissent. Several protests were held today in different cities including Colombo urging the government to immediately release Mudalige and Ven. Siridhamma Thera.

According to media reports, at least 129 people are in jail under the PTA. Most of them have been detained on suspicion of involvement in the Easter bomb attacks in 2019.

Anura Mudalige, Wasantha's brother, said Wasantha's life is under threat.

University student Mary Sadani said politicians are still trying to cheat the public to protect their power.

"Religious leaders like Cardinal Ranjith should come forward to address the issues of people suffering due to the economic crisis. Politicians stole the money, not the public," said Sadani.

Lawmaker Patali Champika Ranawaka said in parliament that a massive social revolt may occur in the future due to the worst economic crisis in decades.

"Industries are closing, jobs are lost. We should all remember that this ceasefire will come in the next round as a massive social problem," said Ranawaka.

Cardinal Ranjith said the program of acquitting those arrested on various charges related to the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks is only a drama to mislead the people.

"The efforts to keep certain volumes of the Presidential Commission hidden from the public is another facet of the cover-up of the truth about the Easter attacks," he said.

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