His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith appeals
in the Protest Rally in Ragama

[ Fr. Sunil De Silva - 30.07.2016 ]

Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim religious leaders staged a protest in Ragama to express concern over the rise in the drug trade which targets the youth especially school children. The protest was di­rected as a against this menace that has also infiltrated the schools.

Leading the protest march His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, presiding at the rally held at the Basilica Vidyalaya Grounds on Saturday 30th July, in Ragama said that it was the duty and responsibility of both parents and the Re­ligious to protect the chil­dren from this catastrophe.

The drug trade he said was causing a se­vere problem to the so­ciety and it ruins the life of innocent children who are the future generation of this country.

His Eminence said that those involved in this drug trade are in the high echelons of society and the hand of the law should deal with such culprits who destroy our youth.

He reminded the Security Forces that pro­tecting the country from the drug menace should be their formost duty as officers of the law.

His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo has called on the public to do their utmost to eradicate the sale of intoxicants and drugs to Sri Lankan schoolchildren.

"A principal in the Catholic school in Ragama area has found that some students have been consuming heroin and marijuana," said Cardinal Ranjith at a press conference in the Archbishop’s House, Borella 13th July 2016.

"After finding out their activities, the principal received threatening phone calls. Many schools face similar problems," he said.

"We should raise our voice against drug dealers selling near schools and the law should be tightened," said the cardinal.

"The proposed Customs Ordinance Amendment Bill contains loopholes that allow drugs to enter the country," he said. His Eminence Cardinal Ranjith also urged religious leaders, police, educators and politicians to fulfill their responsibilities.

The media have highlighted that some politicians are behind drug trafficking and some of them are Catholics. "But we can't take action against them without proof," said Cardinal Ranjith.

Father Neville Bernard, principal of Basilica Vidyalaya School in Ragama, said 15 of his students have been caught taking drugs and are undergoing rehabilitation. "I have found students hiding

According to the National Dangerous Drugs and Devices Control Board there are an estimated 45,000 heroin users and around 200,000 cannabis users in the country. Each year about 1,000-2,000 people become addicted to drugs for the first time. Anti-narcotic organizations say Sri Lanka is a transit point for drug trafficking. drugs in their shoes and socks. We have taught an awareness program at the school with the help of police but drug consumption has not stopped," said further.

Venerable Kollupitiye Mahinda Sang-harakkitha, Chief Buddhist Incumbent of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya also spoke.

A large gathering of school children, teachers and parents were present Their Lordships, Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Fernando and Most. Rev. Dr. Maxwell Silva, Auxiliary Bishops of Colombo, the IGP, Mr. Pujith Jayasudera and sev­eral priests and religious joined in the protest march.

The protest march was organized by the Principal of Ragama Ba­silica Vidyalaya, Rev. Fr. Neville Bernard Fernando together with the School Organizing Committee and the deanery heads of Ragama, Jaela, Kadana, Kadawata and the parish priests of the respective parishes in the deaneries.

[ Photos by Nissanka Mendis ]