Army must be given more powers - Cardinal | Daily News


Army must be given more powers - Cardinal

The Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith expressed dissatisfaction at the rate the investigations and search operations are proceeding, following the Easter Sunday suicide attacks targeting churches and hotels.

He said the Army has still not been given the required powers to search, arrest and interrogate the suspects. “Although the government claims that the military has been given the power to act, they have only been given the authority to carry out search operations but they don’t have the authority to interrogate the suspects. Then what’s the point in engaging the army? They must be given the power to search, arrest and interrogate and extract information.”

Addressing the media he said a request had been made to carry out an extensive search operation in Negombo, especially the Periyamulla area. “However, during the search operations in the Periyamulla area, the houses that had been closed, had not been inspected. They have just gone to selected areas only. That won’t do.They must search every house, especially the ones that are closed up. The people have a right to know the truth. Hence, don’t try to hide the truth.”

Referring to video footage on social media depicting a group of Muslim extremists protesting and calling for the uprising of Muslims in Sri Lanka, the Archbishop called on the UK government to take measures to prevent such terror groups from trying to instigate clashes in another country.

He also urged youths to use social media responsibly and avoid sharing materials that could arouse racial or religious tensions. “I urge the younger generation who use social media and other advanced technology to be responsible and refrain from posting or sharing material that could ignite tensions between the communities. Right now they have a responsibility to contribute to dousing the flames of hatred and tension that has gripped the country. Although social media is restricted, the younger generation have found advanced methods of bypassing these restrictions. However, they should not use such facilities to cause harm to the people or the country,” he said.

He commended the media for their impartial reporting at a time of crisis without any political motive.

His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and the Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera also reiterated that much needs to be done in order to return the current situation to normalcy.

Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera commended the Archbishop for having refused the bullet proof vehicle and termed it a true sign of a leader. “Today we see the opposite from our political leaders who ensure their own safety, caring less about the safety of the people. Now the politicians are asking for increased security. If we are to provide additional security for the 225 parliamentarians, then there won’t be enough security personnel to provide security to the country. Therefore, I urge the politicians to please remain at home if they are worried about security or please lock yourselves up in parliament and stay safe without venturing outdoors and allow the security personnel to protect the people.We urge the country’s leaders to follow the example of the Archbishop.”

Referring to the protest in London, the Thera noted that extremists had staged a protest in the UK and the British Government had failed to prevent it. “Even British citizens died in the terror attacks in Sri Lanka. Therefore, is this the policy of the Commonwealth? As the head of the Commonwealth, the Britain should take the lead in rising against extremism. When the ruthless ISIS terror group is trying to target Sri Lanka, I would like to ask on whose side is Britain? Hence this incident is enough for us to opt out of the Commonwealth if Britain cannot stand up for us.”

The Thera also sighted a BBC report which had implied that the Muslims had retaliated against the actions of the extremist Buddhist atrocities. “Not only are the Catholics, but we all affected by this tragedy. That is why we stand together with our Catholic brethren at this time of need. Our Buddhist communities are in solidarity with the Catholic leaders and people with heavy hearts. This is a tragedy that affected the whole country. I call on the Cardinal to take the lead and convene all religious leaders and all moderate communities to join hands and stage a massive Sathyagraha for peace in the country.”

He said following this incident, the security forces have been finding weapons from mosques and the Muslim leaders should take responsibility. “If we are to live in peace and trust the Muslims, then they must act in a manner that we can trust them. It is the Muslim leaders and religious leaders who should take the lead in eradicating Muslim extremism. I urge the Muslim people to please create an atmosphere where we can live again in unity. If mosques are places where God is present, then why are weapons found in them?” he said following the example set by the Cardinal and invited the security forces to examine all temples as well.

The Thera revealed that 300 large knives (Kathy) used for cutting sugarcane had gone missing from the Hingurana Sugar factory stores. “We know what they are getting ready for. Security forces have found swords and daggers from Mosques.They are preparing for a Jihad attack. Their enemy is the Christians, Buddhists and Hindus. It is the innocent people who will fall victims to these extremists. Hence, I urge the security forces to seek out these terror groups and restore peace in the country. If the government fails to do so, then we will have no choice but to get together with the rest of the country and the Catholics and take the law into our own hands,” he warned.

He said they are left with no alternative. The Thera said the security forces should be given the authority to carry out their duties effectively. “There is no point in giving them the sword case without the sword,” he said, adding that it is the security forces who come forth to safeguard the people and it is the duty of the country’s leaders to protect these security force members. He called on the government to release all security forces and intelligence officers in custody under a general amnesty.

Meanwhile, a group of youth monks commended the Cardinal for the manner he acted at a time when the country was in turmoil and presented Archbishop Malcom Cardinal Ranjith with a song compiled by them in appreciation for his actions. “The Rev. Cardinal acted like an angel sent from heaven,” they said.

Cardinal declines bullet-proof vehicle

The Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith declined to accept a bullet-proof vehicle provided for his security by the government.

Addressing a press briefing at the Bishop’s House yesterday together with Ven. Omalpe Sobhitha Thera, the Cardinal said, he does not want to ensure his safety at a time  when the safety of the people is at risk. “I heard that I was being given a bullet proof vehicle. I did not know if it was bullet proof or not, I have been provided security and also asked not to travel. However, when I need to travel I get into the vehicle that security personnel provide me with. I never asked a bullet proof vehicle for me. As soon as came to know, I said I don’t need a bullet proof vehicle and asked them to take it back. I can travel in a normal car and I leave it in the hands of the Lord to take care of my safety. In the event anything happens to me, I am ready to face it. The safety of the people and the country is more important than mine.”


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