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Boat capsizes during prayer for safety

COLOMBO (AsiaNews): An boat overloaded with people taking part in a procession as part of the celebration of Our Lady of Good Voyage capsized on February 19 off the southwest coast of Sri Lanka claiming many victims.

Our Lady of Good Voyage is considered to be the protector of fishing people and ironically, the victims perished in the midst of their prayer for safety at sea. Eleven passengers, including three children, drowned.

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President meets Asian bishops in Colombo

COLOMBO (SE): The president of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, praised the Church’s dedication to service of the poor at a meeting with a delegation from the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, which has been holding a plenary assembly in Colombo.

He invited the bishops to a meeting at his official residence in Colombo on November 30 and took the opportunity to highlight the work the Church has done in the volatile island nation.

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In the crosshairs at the crossroads

COLOMBO (UCAN): Banners appeared in the streets of Colombo, Sri Lanka, reading Are bullets the only gift the government has for Tamils? and Such killings destroy reconciliation after two Tamil students from Jaffna University found themselves caught in the crosshairs of police guns at the crossroads at Kulappidi Junction on October 20.

Five police were arrested and remanded until November 4.

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Learning curve on both sides of the bars

KANDY (SE): Billed as the Mandela Shield, a debate between inmates at the Bogambara-Dumbara Prison in Kandy, Sri Lanka, and the prestigious law faculty of the University of Perandeniya on September 8, saw the prison team show there are talented people behind bars deserving the same respect and dignity as anyone else in society, and the students come away with a deeper understanding of the problems that exist on the other side of the law.

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Bringing former enemies together in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO (UCAN): In a move to encourage reconciliation in post war Sri Lanka, Caritas has set up 40 Caritas Village Peace Committees in 13 dioceses that span Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslim communities.

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Mandela Shield pits prisoners against law students

KANDY (SE): Inspired by a debate that took place in the Eastern New York Correctional Services Facility in the United States of America last year, where a team made up of prisoners talked a team from Harvard University into the ground on the topic of whether schools should have the right to deny places to undocumented persons, the Kandy Human Rights Office in Sri Lanka is taking up the challenge.

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Saying no to everyday police torture

KANDY (SE): The Human Rights Office–Kandy launched a signature campaign on International Torture Day calling on the Sri Lankan government to prosecute perpetrators of torture.

To mark the day, which fell on June 24 this year, religious leaders and civic society administrators gathered to showcase the importance of saying no to torture at St. George E. de Silva Park in the heart of Kandy.

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Looking for Sri Lanka’s missing droves

COLOMBO (UCAN): The resistance of the government of Sri Lanka to investigate war crimes committed during the 1983 to 2009 conflict between the army and the Tigers of Tamil Eelam has sown doubt and cynicism about a new office set up to investigate the fate of missing persons.

Father P. Jebaratnam, from Jaffna, which was heavily affected during the civil war, said that the office is necessary, but questioned its genuineness, based on past experiences.

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Sheltering flood victims in Sri Lanka

Colombo (UCAN): Caritas Sri Lanka has come to the assistance of thousands of people affected by floodwaters and landslides that have so far left at least 58 people dead and 132 missing.

Heavy rains have lashed the island nation since the weekend of May 14 and 15, flooding wide scathes of Colombo and large areas of the country’s central region.

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Where are Sri Lanka’s missing priests?

Killinochchi (UCAN): “We are waiting for a sincere attempt from the new government to find the culprits, reveal the truth and show accountability so as to really promote reconciliation,” Father S.V.B. Mangalarajah, the president of the Justice and Peace Commission in the diocese of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, said on May 18, as he called for answers from Sri Lankan authorities about the fate of the  priests who disappeared in suspicious circumstances during the country’s decades-long civil war.

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