Sri Lanka: Cabinet Minister Says Caritas Wants Anarchy
Posted on March 28th, 2012
March 28, 2012
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Caritas yesterday dismissed allegations from a senior cabinet minister accusing the ChurchÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s social arm of involvement in a major conspiracy to create anarchy within the country.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena said Caritas members had organized recent farmersÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ 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.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“Caritas provided buses for the farmers to go to the protests and gave them food as well,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â said Sirisena, who is also the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom PartyÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s general secretary.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“Trade 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,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â the minister said at a public meeting at the weekend in Colombo.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Farmers groups and Caritas said the allegations are completely groundless.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â The protests were organized by the Joint National Program for farmers, fisheries and labor organizations, said Nihal Winadhipathi, a farmerÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s representative.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“Farmers 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,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Winadhipathi said.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is our fundamental rightÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â to protest, he said.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“Caritas or any other organization did not provide buses or meals. Many priests and Buddhist monks came to offer moral support,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â he said.
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Church officials called SirisenaÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s UNHRC allegation an ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“absolute lie.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â We did not send anybody to the UNHRC meeting in Geneva ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦ it is an absolute lie. Instead, the Church worked closely with the government to support the cause of the country,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â said Bishop Harold Anthony Perera, Chairman of the Catholic National Commission for Justice, Peace and Human Development.