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Sunday December 10th, 2023

Cardinal says Government must probe attacks on Muslims after Easter Sunday blasts

DEVASTATED TOWN – Minuwangoda with remains of damaged Muslim-owned businesses in post Easter Sunday violence/ Pathum Dhananjana EconomyNext

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s leading Roman Catholic Prelate says pogroms against Muslims three weeks after the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide attacks on Churches by Islamic extremists were carried out “by political elements who had nothing to do with the Christian community.”

Addressing a press conference today, Thursday, April 16, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said the attacks on Muslim-owned homes and businesses weeks after the suicide assaults were “by organized groups inspired by political elements wanting to create a rift between the Muslim and Christian minorities in Sri Lanka.”

Ranjith, the Catholic Bishop of Colombo and the island’s only Cardinal, called on the government to investigate these attacks as they were aimed at “destabilizing Sri Lanka and plunging us into conflict.”

He said that his community was able to control angry members of his community from retaliating against Muslims after last year’s suicide attacks on Churches on Easter Sunday that killed more than 260 people.

“It was hard but we were able to hold them back in the interest of the country,” he told reporters.

“We did not want to drag our country back into the era where we had thirty years of ethnic conflict,” he said referring to the devastating separatist conflict between the state and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that shackled the island nation.

He recalled that even a week after the attacks some “politically motivated elements” tried to attack Muslim places of worship in the Catholic majority city of Negombo.

Ranjith said that he and the head of the apex body of the Islamic clergy in Sri Lanka Mufti Rizwe Mohammad immediately visited the mosques in Negombo and were able to calm both communities.

Two weeks later, Ranjith recalled, he went to a place where the Muslim communities had been attacked.

“I asked members of the Catholic community whether they had stoned the Muslims and their shops and they told me the attacks were carried out by mobs that came from areas outside their towns,” Ranjith said.’

In extensive reporting, EconomyNext did in the areas where these conflicts had arisen we heard the same stories the Cardinal did.

In the town of Minuwangoda, a 20-minute drive from the country’s only international airport, more than 93 businesses were attacked and torched three weeks after the Easter Sunday attacks.

Most of the businesses that were damaged or completely destroyed are owned by the Muslim community although shops owned by members of other communities were also damaged as fires raged through the prosperous town.

The “mobs” described by the Cardinal consisted of young men between the ages of 18 and 24 who mostly wore full-face motorcycle helmets and were armed with cobble-stones.

They looted local businesses and vandalized them before setting fire to parts of the town. Local shop-owners we interviewed accused police of not intervening to stop them.

Local businessmen, civil leaders and clergy told us that they were organized by allies of the current ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party.

The Police sought warrants against Madhu Madhava Aravinda, a leader of the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya for leading the mob in Minuwangoda but eventually failed to arrest him. (Colombo, 16 April 2020)


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  1. Tuan says:

    I and all our Muslim community will not forget Cardinal Malcolm for showing the true leadership at a very critical juncture of our lives from the Singhalese Political thugs after the Easter attacks..We owe him a debt of gratitude.

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  1. Tuan says:

    I and all our Muslim community will not forget Cardinal Malcolm for showing the true leadership at a very critical juncture of our lives from the Singhalese Political thugs after the Easter attacks..We owe him a debt of gratitude.

ADB USD200mn loan for Sri Lanka economic stabilization efforts

ECONOMYNEXT – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US 200 million dollar concessional loan to Sri Lanka to help stabilize the country’s finance sector.

The Financial Sector Stability and Reforms Program comprises two subprograms of IS 200 million dollars each, according to a statement by the ADB.

“The program’s overarching development objective is fully aligned with the country’s strategy of maintaining finance sector stability, while ensuring that banks are well-positioned for eventual recovery,” ADB Country Director for Sri Lanka Takafumi Kadono was quoted as saying in the statement.

“The expected development outcome is a stable financial system providing access to affordable finance for businesses in various sectors of the economy.”

The ADB statement continues:

“Subprogram 1 targets short-term stabilization and crisis management measures that were implemented in 2023, while subprogram 2 is planned to be implemented in 2024 and focuses on structural reforms and long-term actions to restore growth in the banking sector.

The program will help strengthen the stability and governance of the country’s banking sector; improve the banking sector’s asset quality; and deepen sustainable and inclusive finance, particularly for women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.

According to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest review, Sri Lanka’s economy is showing tentative signs of stabilization, although a full economic recovery is not yet assured.

The program is a follow-on assistance from ADB’s crisis response under the special policy-based loan that was approved for Sri Lanka in May 2023.

It is aligned with the fourth pillar of the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility provided to Sri Lanka to help the country regain financial stability.

It is also in line with the government’s reform agenda, including strengthening the operational independence of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and its designation as the country’s macroprudential authority.

In designing this subprogram 1 loan, ADB has maintained close coordination and collaboration with the IMF to design targeted regulatory reforms for the banking sector—including the asset quality review—and with the World Bank on strengthening the deposit insurance scheme.

“The loan is accompanied by a $1 million grant from ADB’s Technical Assistance Special Fund to provide advisory, knowledge, and institutional capacity building for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Finance and CBSL.”

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Sri Lank in blackout as power grid hit by cascading failure

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka suffered a blackout as Saturday evening as the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board grid was hit by a cascading power failure.

The cascading failure is believed to have been triggered by the failure of the Kothmale-Biyagama transmission line.

“The Ceylon Electricity Board wishes to inform our customers that due to the failure of Kotmale – Biyagama main transmission line, an island wide power failure has occurred,” CEB Spokesman Noel Priyantha said.

“Step by step restorations are underway and it may take few hours to completely restore the power supply.”

With hydro plants running flat out, a outage of the line tends to create a big imbalance in the demand and supply, leading to tripping of more lines and generators.

Lines can trip due to lightening strikes, or equipment failures.

Sri Lanka last suffered a cascading failure in December 2021, due to the failure of the same transmission line.

RelatedSri Lanka power blackout as grid hit by cascading failure

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Sri Lanka to host regional Food and Agriculture Organization conference

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will host the 37th session of the Asia Pacific Regional Conference (APRC) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), from February 19-22, 2024 in Colombo.

The Conference will bring together agriculture ministers and officials from 46 countries across the region to discuss challenges in food and agriculture.

“The 37th APRC will provide a vital platform for regional collaboration, benefitting the agricultural landscape, fisheries sector and environment of Sri Lanka,” Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said at a press briefing on Friday (8) to announce the conference.

FAO has had an active presence in Sri Lanka for over 40 years. “FAO has supported the country in the implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and the development of the fisheries sector for growth and climate resilience,” Vimlendra Sharan, FAO Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives said.

“The APRC conference will be an opportunity to highlight the innovative approaches introduced in partnership with the government.”

By hosting APRC, Sri Lanka hopes to demonstrate the country’s dedication to the growth of sustainable agriculture, and showcase its commitment to sustainable agricultural development.

The APRC agenda will include a forum on agritourism, especially requested by the Sri Lankan government.

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