Thousands of people, including a large crowd of students and youth, gathered at the funeral of Ravishan Perera on Wednesday, the 07th August 2013 at Weliweriya.
Ravishan Perera, a student of St. Peter's College, Gampaha, was shot on the head by the Armed Forces during the proetst rally at Weliweriya on 01st August 2013.
A large number of students, youth of Weliweriya wept loudly as the funeral procession proceeded from his home to the Catholic cemetery, Weliweriya. Rev. Fr. Lakpriya Nonis, Parish Priest of Weliweriya presided at the funeral service at home together with Rev. Fr. Travis Gabriel, Rector of St. Peter's College and Rev. Fr. Chaminda Wanigasena, Principal of St. Peter's branch school, Gampaha.
His Lordship Bishop Maxwell Silva, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese, presided at the funeral service at the Cemetery Chapel.
His Lordship Bishop Maxwell, addressing the people said, " the Armed Forces have gone beyond the assigned responsibilities to cause the death of this student Ravishan and two others. These are innocent children who were seeking refuge in the church and in safe place, while shooting was going. Parents have lost their precious children. Ravinesh was to do the Adavanced Level today. No one has the right to kill anyone. We the Catholic Church categorically condemn the killing of these children and desecrating the St. Anthony's Church, Weliweriya ".
After the final rites were over., the youth of Weliweriya, while weeping bitterly, filled and covered the grave by their own hands.
The message of His His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop, was read after the religious services at the cemetry Chapel.
His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday expressed shock and distress over the Weliweriya incident and condemned the attack on people seeking sanctuary at St. Anthony’s parish in the town last Thursday, 01st August.
" We wish to condemn unhesitatingly the attack that was carried out by some elements of the forces on people who had sought refuge at St. Anthony’s Church, Weliweriya. It was sacrilege for anyone to enter such sacred precincts with arms in their hands and to behave in a violent manner there. Such actions cannot be accepted by anyone. It is always necessary that we preserve this sanctity of sacred premises of any religion and respect the people who enter such premises seeking protection. We request that those found guilty be punished without consideration of rank or status. We wish to reiterate at this point that we do not accept attempts to resolve questions either, taking the law into one’s own hands."
His Eminence said it was unacceptable, under any circumstances, the attacking of unarmed civilians during a demonstration. “We do not accept using one’s power in a repressive manner to suppress protests, even if they get out of control. For every question, the best way out is the way of peaceful dialogue and discussion."
His Eminence also urged all those affected in Weliweriya and people of the area to remain calm and patient.
There were also three Buddhist monks from Weliweriya temple participating at the final rites at the cemetery.
Ravishan, a Catholic of Weliweriya, was to do the Adavanced Level exam in Commerce stream on Monday 05th August 2013, was shot by the Armed Forces at Weliweriya, while trying to return home. According to the Rev. Fathers at St. Peter's College, Colombo, his brain was heavily damaged with internal bleeding and was in the Intensive Care Unit at the General Hospital, Colombo for two days..
A 17 year old Akila Dinesh a student at Chandrajothy Maha Vidyalaya in Yakkala, and 20 year old Nilantha Pushpakumara from Udahenthenna, Gampolala were also killed during the Weliweriya protest.
It has subsequently been reported that the third person, Nilantha Pushpakumara,who was killed in the violence died of blunt force trauma after troops stormed St Anthony’s Church, where he had fled for refuge
Residents of Weliweriya, Rathupaswala and surrounding villages stage the protest on Thursday to demand the government to permanently close a factory that has allegedly contaminated the ground water with its chemical waste.
Police had used tear gas and water cannon to disperse a group of residents blocking the Colombo-Kandy main road in protest against ground water contamination.
Armed troops were called in to assist the police in dispersing the protesters and that resulted in a tense situation with the protesters refusing to abandon their agitation.