Guarantee the freedom to demonstrate freely – Anglican Bishops

Bishops and clergy of the Colombo and Kurunagala dioceses of the Church of Ceylon yesterday deplored the recent conduct of the police in the arrest of a group of young people who were taking part in a peaceful demonstration without any threat of breaking their the peace.

“These arbitrary arrests and illegal actions by law enforcement are a flagrant violation of the fundamental rights of our people. Such conduct will not help alleviate the suffering of our people,”

The Church of Ceylon, in a statement issued under the direction of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Ceylon and the Bishop of Kurunagala Rt. Rev. Keerthisiri Fernando and Bishop of Colombo Rt. Rev. Dushantha Rodrigo said the Anglican Church agrees with the protesters that the elected leaders of the country have failed the people of the nation.

“We recognize that our nation has faced different crises for decades and that in many of them, justice and fairness continue to be denied.” The Church also warns those involved in organizing the current struggle not to allow it to be manipulated for political ends or to satisfy the ulterior motives of unscrupulous forces who may attempt to hijack the real intentions of the people.

Full Statement: Bishops and Clergy of the Colombo and Kurunagala Dioceses of the Church of Ceylon Gathered to Confer Together Under the Theme “Love of Christ Moves the World to Reconciliation and Unity” Take Serious Note of Crises economic and socio-political issues that affect all Sri Lankans, especially the most vulnerable, which has resulted in an unprecedented grassroots movement that has launched a courageous and disciplined protest.

It is clear that there is a rejection of nepotistic family politics, corruption and the attitude of impunity in the face of the burning problems with which our people are forced to struggle daily. We agree with the protesters that our elected leaders have failed the people of the nation.

We recognize that our nation has faced different crises for decades and that in many of them justice and fairness continue to be denied. Among these are the long-standing, unresolved grievances of northerners and easterners, the plantation community and the Muslim community. We are also aware of the complex struggles of farmers, daily wage earners and victims of unemployment and underemployment, as well as the severe strain on health and education systems and threats to freedom of expression. It is further regrettable that the decision to approach the International Monetary Fund for a bailout has once again exposed the incompetence of those in power to make the right decisions at the right time, the outcome of which threatens well-being term and common good of the vast majority of our fellow citizens, many of whom will be forced into situations of abject poverty. We further express our deep concern over the militarization and intimidation that has taken place under the guise of the Prevention of Terrorism Act which we believe should be abolished. We raise our voice in support and solidarity with the political victims of our country and continue to maintain our position so that their aspirations are taken into account in a comprehensive way as we move forward as a nation. We call on those engaged in the current struggle to join those whose long-term aspirations remain unfulfilled.

We deplore the recent conduct of the police in the arrest of a group of young people who were participating in a peaceful demonstration without any threat of breaking the peace. Such arbitrary arrest and illegal action by law enforcement is a flagrant violation of the fundamental rights of our people. . Such conduct will not help alleviate the suffering of our people.

As representatives of a faith community, 1. We believe that now is the time for the whole nation to stand up, but also to engage in a process of self-examination.

2. We warn those involved in organizing the current struggle not to allow it to be manipulated for political ends or to satisfy the ulterior motives of unscrupulous forces who may attempt to hijack the true intentions of the people .

3.We propose that dialogue take place between groups of people with diverging political views so that the voices of those who diverge can be heard with respect and given serious consideration during the process of constitutional reform. 4. We further call for thoughtful proposals for a new political system that takes into consideration the fundamental rights of all people in Sri Lanka to live with dignity and equity.

5. We join our voices with those engaged in the ongoing peoples’ struggle and call on those responsible to step down and allow a comprehensive change in the system of government, including the abolition of the executive presidency and the 20th amendment to the Constitution.

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