Sri Lankan Buddhist monks criticize lawmakers

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Sri Lankan Buddhist monks criticize lawmakersSri Lankan Buddhist monks have criticized elected representatives for failing to provide relief to people suffering due to the ongoing economic crisis.

“Although we expected to see the three-day debate in parliament to come up with clear solutions to the existing social, economic and political crises, we regret how the people's representatives acted irresponsibly,” said the chief prelates in a statement on April 11.

The monks said they were looking to hold discussions with the leadership of all political parties represented in parliament to defuse the crisis and provide relief to the people.

“The monks have a historical responsibility to provide guidance whenever the security of the country and the well-being of the people are challenged,” they said.

Meanwhile, pro-government Buddhist monks staged a protest march in Colombo on April 12 even as people across the island nation continued to demand the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Many Christian priests and nuns joined the young protesters in front of the presidential secretariat in Colombo.

“A high-ranking police officer called me and said, ‘Brother, give a correct view of the innocent struggle of our children. I'm with you behind the fence’ … a tear fell from my eyes"

“I climbed the iron fence in front of the presidential secretariat with the help of boys and picked up the speaker to strengthen the holy struggle,” said Charles Thomas, a Catholic singer-songwriter.

His cellphone rang even before he came down from the fence. “A high-ranking police officer called me and said, ‘Brother, give a correct view of the innocent struggle of our children. I'm with you behind the fence’ … a tear fell from my eyes ... love ...,” Thomas posted on social media.

Many artists too have joined the protests by youngsters in Colombo by organizing cultural programs throughout the day. “All these young people have united for the future generations of the country,” said Nanda Malani, a veteran singer.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa appealed to protesters to be "patient" while promising a solution to the economic crisis. “We ask our dear sons and daughters not to take back the country into the dark past,” he said.

Anti-government protests erupted in the country in early March as the worst economic crisis in decades unfolded. Protesters accuse the government of mismanaging the economy and creating a foreign exchange crisis that has led to shortages of essentials.

Protesters have set up temporary camps with food, water and toilet facilities besides a makeshift medical facility in the open space opposite the presidential secretariat.

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