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Easter Sunday carnage:Pope wants truth unveiled



The Pope greeting Sri Lankan Catholics in St. Peter’s Basilica, in Rome, on 25.04.2022.  (Vatican Media)

Pope Francis on Monday expressed his closeness with the families of the victims of Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday bombings three years ago, and urged the country’s authorities to unveil the truth behind the attacks, saying it would usher in peace, accordign to Vatican News (VN).  He also prayed that the country be able to tide over its worst economic crisis in memory.

The Pope was addressing some 3,500 Sri Lankan Catholics working in Italy, including a delegation of the families of victims and survivors of the 2019 terrorist bomb attacks, led by Archbishop

Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith of Colombo, the VN report said.

“Some 270 people were killed, including at least 45 foreign nationals and some 500 were injured, as three Churches and three luxury hotels were hit in a series of coordinated Islamist terrorist suicide bomb attacks on April 21, 2019.

“Most of the casualties took place in St. Sebastian’s Catholic Church, in the suburb of Negombo, belonging to Cardinal Ranjith’s Archdiocese of Colombo, where 113 died. The other Churches hit were St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, also of Colombo Archdiocese, and the Evangelical Zion Church of Batticaloa, on the eastern coast.

“The outspoken Cardinal has been vigorously calling for justice, alleging that the government has been covering up the investigations into the bombings in order to protect the brains behind them.

“Speaking to the Sri Lankan group, at the end of a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Ranjith, in St. Peter’s Basilica, in the Vatican, Pope Francis noted that they were gathered there to mark the “anniversary of the tragic events which, on Easter Day 2019, sowed death and terror in Sri Lanka”. “Today you have offered the Eucharistic Sacrifice in suffrage for the victims of those terrible attacks, and you have prayed for those injured – some of whom are present here – and for their families, as well as for all the people of Sri Lanka. With all my heart I join you in prayer.”

“Assuring them with the Easter greeting of the Risen Lord, “Peace be with you”, he said.  “In the face of the horror and absurdity of certain acts, which seem impossible to be committed by people,” he explained, “it is evident it is the work of the Evil One.”

“He said this explains why “the Son of God, the Innocent, the Holy, the Righteous, had to die crucified to save us”.  “He took upon himself not only death, but the cruelty of evil, hatred, fratricidal violence. His Cross and his Resurrection are light of hope in the thickest darkness,” the Pope said, urging the Sri Lankan Catholics to “pray for all the victims of violence and war, especially terrorism”.

“Pope Francis made an appeal to the authorities of Sri Lanka regarding the Easter bombings.  “Please, out of love for justice, out of love for your people, let it be made clear once and for all who were responsible for these events,” he said, assuring, “This will bring peace to your conscience and to your country.”

“The Holy Father told the Catholics that he also wanted to join them to pray for their homeland, which he visited in 2015.  “Let us pray for the rulers, for those who have social and educational responsibilities and for all the people,” the Pope said.  “May the present difficulties be solved with the commitment and collaboration of all,” he urged.

“The Holy Father was referring to Sri Lanka’s worst economic nightmare in its history since its independence from British rule in 1948.  With foreign exchange reserves abysmally low, the South Asian nation is struggling to import essential goods, such as food, fuel, cooking gas and medicine, and is facing power cuts of up to 13 hours a day.   The devaluation of its currency has sent inflation soaring to 21.5 per cent in March, the highest so far, hitting the already struggling businesses and exporters but especially the people.

“Sri Lanka has been roiled with nationwide protests demanding the resignation of President Rajapaksa and his government over the unprecedented crisis blamed on rank corruption and mismanagement.

“In conclusion, Pope Francis imparted his blessing on the Sri Lankan community, inviting them to pray for the Church in Sri Lanka that it be filled with the Holy Spirit and joyfully announce the Gospel of Christ the Saviour.

“Cardinal Ranjith marked the 3rd anniversary of the Easter Sunday bombings with a ceremony at St. Sebastian’s Church on Thursday.  Without mincing words, he blamed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government for failing to keep his pledge to grant justice to the victims and cleansing the country of “all elements of terror”.

“The incumbent president who campaigned on a promise to investigate the attack have forgotten all those promises, brushed commission findings under the rug, attempted to hide facts,” Cardinal Ranjith said.  Condemning the coverup, he warned that “everyone responsible for this will suffer the consequences of their actions soon”.

“The cardinal has also been blaming the government for the current economic crunch, calling for unity among politicians to save the nation from becoming a failed state.”

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Govt. allows private operators to import fuel for industries – minister



ECONOMYNEXT – The Government has allowed private bunker fuel operators to import fuel for industries, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said on Friday, in a bid to reduce the burden on cash-strapped state-run fuel retailer Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).

The move comes as a severe dollar shortage has reduced CPC’s ability to import fuel and meet the demand as earlier amid long motorists’ queues for fuel.

“Approval was given to all the private bunker fuel operators to import and provide diesel and fuel oil requirements of industries to function their Generators and Machinery,” Wijesekera said in his Twitter platform.

“This will ease the burden on CPC and fuel stations providing in bulk. The meeting was held yesterday.”

Approval was given to all the Private Bunker Fuel Operators to Import and provide Diesel and Fuel Oil requirements of Industries to function their Generators and Machinery. This will ease the burden on CPC and Fuel Stations providing in bulk. The meeting was held yesterday.

— Kanchana Wijesekera (@kanchana_wij) May 27, 2022

In April, Sri Lanka cabinet has agreed to amend the Petroleum Products Act making provisions to issue licenses to “properly identified parties” to import fuel which will end an import monopoly held by the CPC.

There was a push to make the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to import its own oil as the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation was unable to get foreign exchange and the power utility ran out of cash due to lack of a price increases.

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Protesters ask PM to serve justice for May 09 attack



ECONOMYNEXT – Hundreds of anti-government protesters agitated in front of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesighe ’s office Colombo demanding justice for May 09 attack by the supporters of previous prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and immediate measures to overcome ongoing economic crisis to prevent a looming social unrest.

The youth-led groups which had been protesting near presidential secretariat and prime minister’s official residence in the heart of commercial Colombo shifted neat the prime minister’s office and shouted against the new government’s inaction against the brutal attack at unarmed and peaceful protesters by Rajapaksa supporters on May 09.

They demanded the new Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to implement the rule of law without being biased to any parties and serve the country.

Rukshan, a 25 years old protester said, as per the initial demands of their protests, former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned from his position, but his successor should do his duties towards the country and the people without trying to protect corrupt politicians.

“When we started the protest back in April our main demand was to bring all Rajapaksas before justice and get all the wealth they have stolen from the common people of this country,”  Rukshan told Economy Next.

The protest started around mid-day on Thursday (26) and protesters’ route was blocked by police barricades on the main road in front of the prime minister’s office.

The protesters, however, withdrew from their positions and regrouped at a nearby road to go towards the Wickremesinghe’s office.

However, by the time the protesters regrouped, a court order was issued by the Fort Magistrate to stop the protest due to inconvenience to the public.

“Ranil Wickramasinghe should remember why he is here now. We’re not asking him to resign. He is here to do his duty towards this country and its people,” Rukshan said.

“On May 09, we were attacked but no justice has been served yet. That is the main reason we came today to the prime minister’s office,” he said.

“We still see queues for medicine, fuel, and gas. To be honest, there is no medicine in the market. No medicine for cancer patients. If you get bitten by a dog, then there is no medicine for you. They (the market) don’t have any of that.”

Wickremesinghe has been working over a new budget and discussing with international partners to ensure uninterrupted supply of essentials, officials close to him have said. However, it will take time, they say.

Rukshan said the country is running due to the state workers, who are working as they are being paid salaries after the government’s excess money printing.

“When that stops, then there will definitely be a revolution in this country,” he said.

“When a person goes to office in the morning, there is no fuel for the vehicle, or no public transport available. They get late and the salaries are being cut because of that. And when they come home, they don’t have gas to cook a meal.”

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Weerawansa’s wife gets two years for passport offence



Her lawyers file appeal challenging sentence

Colombo Chief Magistrate Buddhika Sri Ragala on Friday sentenced Shashi Weerawansa the wife of former minister Wimal Weerawansa to two years in prison. Shashi was found guilty of using falsified documents to obtain a passport.

The Magistrate also ordered the accused to pay a fine of Rs. 100,000 in addition to the imprisonment and an additional six months of jail if she does not pay the fine.

Sashi Weerawansa is found guilty by the court for obtaining diplomatic and general passports by submitting birth certificates with forged names and dates of birth.

She had applied for a diplomatic passport in 2010 by submitting false personal information which was different to what appears in her previous normal passport that expired on May 24, 2009.

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