Sri Lankan Christians want the COVID-19 fight entrusted to scientists, not politicians

Christian groups, clergy and believers issue a statement criticising the government’s handling of the third wave. Politicians act more out of personal interest than for the public good. The statement contains six requests on what to do to address the pandemic, including lockdowns and vaccines. Since the start of the crisis, the country has reported 175,000 cases and 1,325 deaths.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – A group of Christian activists has spoken out against the government for failing to prevent the spread of the virus causing COVID-19.

The “transition” from fighting the virus to defeat it to a strategy of “living with” it “has brought the consequences we are experiencing right now,” said the group in a statement.

Better protection could have been provided had the government taken advantage of the country’s insular nature. Many deaths could have been prevented if the authorities had not pursued their own “selfish political interest”. For this reason, “the state will be held accountable to history”. Yet, there is still time to act and reverse course.

The statement, which was issued by the Kithusara group, the Christian Solidarity Movement, as well as members of the clergy and lay people, criticises the government’s decision to appoint a military man to carry out its pandemic prevention policy since its main goal was to protect the Armed Forces’ good name.

The decision to authorise Sinhalese and Tamil religious celebrations, combined with a certain relaxed attitude towards the pandemic allowed the virus to spread, sparking a surge in the number of cases.

In its latest press release, the Director-General of Health Services reported 27 new COVID-19 deaths as of midnight yesterday. According to the Ministry of Health, this brings the total death toll to 1,325 since the start of the pandemic. Some 2,572 new cases were also reported in the last 24 hours, for a total of 175,000 cases in a population of about 22 million.

The third wave numbers scare Christian groups, clergymen and believers since the number of dead keeps rising compared to the first and second waves, which were better contained.

According to the statement, clashes between health experts and politicians have contributed to this situation. Political leaders would rather pursue their own “hidden” agenda and personal interests at the expense of people’s health.

Hence, the statement’s authors call for an end to sterile controversies, over issues like the cremation of Muslims who died from COVID-19, and put forward six requests to tackle the pandemic and meet the challenge it represents.

Calling on the government “to act immediately in the name of God”, Christian leaders want to see an end to the pointless and harmful row with health experts. Lockdowns and closures should be implemented on the basis of data from scientists and experts, not for the sake of politicians or to protect the economic interests of unscrupulous business people.

Public health policies should be in the hand of experts and scientists. It is also urgent to guarantee food, basic necessities, medicines and support for at least two weeks to the poorest families when a hard lockdown is in place. This, for many, is the only way to contain the spread of infections.

At the same time, vaccination should not be limited to doctors and their families but should be extended to as many people as possible, especially all healthcare and essential workers involved in containing the pandemic.

With respect to vaccines, Christian leaders warn that Sri Lanka must not choose countries with “imperialist interests”; instead, the government must remain independent and invest adequate resources to buy on the market, while supporting the fight for the abolition or suspension of patents.


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