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Sinhala Archbishop says ethnic parties are ‘inimical’

The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, has called for a review of parties based on ethnic and religious lines, saying they were “inimical” to social cohesion.

The archbishop, an ethnic Sinhalese, was speaking at an event organised by the Congress of Religions, alongside members of the Buddhist clergy.

Asked by The Island whether the Congress of Religions believed that the new constitution, demanded by the cardinal, should contain provisions to deny recognition to political parties based on ethnicity and religion, Buddhist monk Dr Itthepana Dharmalankara Nayaka said he fully endorsed Mr Ranjith’s stance and that such parties should be abolished and formation of new parties prohibited.

Mr Ranjith also said there was an urgent need to address issues experienced by Tamil speaking people living in areas in the North-East and an environment created for them to feel that they were “Sri Lankans”.

The Archbishop has been criticised for his lack of concern over the plight of Tamil clergy at the hands of the hands of the Sri Lankan military at the final stages of the armed conflict and for his denial of reports of war crimes, made by Tamil bishops.

In 2012, as the Tamil Bishop of Mannar appealed to the UN Human Rights Council about the on-going structural genocide taking place in the North-East, the Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka condemned the UNHRC's resolution calling for accountability and justice in Sri Lanka, asserting that "such efforts by western powers is an insult on the intelligence of the people of Sri Lanka".

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Letter to UN from NE Sri Lanka Clergy (20 Feb 2013)

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