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  • » 03/07/2012, 00.00


    Bishop of Mannar appeals to the UN. Buddhist Party calls for his arrest

    Melani Manel Perera

    Bishop Joseph Rayappu and 30 other priests are asking the Rights United Nations Council for Human to push the Rajapaksa Government to recognize their war crimes. Seizures of human rights activists, hate campaigns against non-governmental journalists; disorder of peaceful protests, witnesses never heard of violence amid post-conflict government abuses.

    Mannar (AsiaNews) - The Buddhist nationalist party Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), in government, is calling for the arrest of Msgr. Rayappu Joseph, bishop of Mannar (Northern Province), for his appeal to the UN. In fact, in a letter, the prelate, and 30 other priests have asked the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to intervene to push the Sri Lankan government to "protect human rights" and "implement the process of reconciliation." On 27 February, the UNHRC in Geneva announced a resolution on the alleged abuses committed by the government and Tamil rebels during the civil war. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has denied all charges, accusing Western countries of wanting to interfere with domestic politics. The resolution follows a UN report of April 26, 2011, in which the government is accused of the murder of thousands of civilians, during the final stages of the conflict in 2009. Even Card. Ranjith, president of the Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka, has criticized the UN resolution, calling it "an insult to the intelligence of Sri Lankans."

    "We are writing - we read in the appeal of the clergy of Mannar - as a Christian religious group in northern Sri Lanka, who have been affected directly by war and have always worked to help the people of our region."

    The priests continued: "Given the constant refusal of the Sri Lankan government to recognize the scope and nature of the abuses committed during the conflict, to address the concerns of the people in the postwar situation; [date] the seriousness of the allegations of abuse made against them and their  co-responsibility in such, we believe that an independent international body would better address the question of truth, responsibility and reparation for victims. For them, the survivors and their families to regain confidence. " Sri Lanka has more than 200 thousand IDPs (Internally Displaced People, IDPs), 39 thousand war widows and at least 12 thousand missing, mostly men.

    The appeal, Msgr. Joseph and the other signatories recognize the commission created by President Rajapaksa (the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission, Llrc) had "correctly identified the crimes committed by Tamil rebels" and "gave positive suggestions for reconciliation." However, they add, "the Llrc has failed in addressing the most critical issues: the search for truth and accountability, despite the existence of evidence and testimony."

    The priests also suggest some events that occurred after the war: "Seizures of activists to disrupt the demonstration organized in Jaffna for Human Rights Day; disruptive actions against the peaceful campaigns in the north, the murder of a fisherman during the protests in Chilaw [ those against the rising cost of gasoline, ed] vicious hate campaigns against journalists who criticize the government and organizations; singing of the national anthem only in Sinhalese, when even Tamil is also the official language of the country. "

    Based on this, the men end their campaign letter calling for the UN to urge the Government to: implement the suggestions in the report Llrc; present a detailed action plan by the 20th session of the UNHRC (May - June 2012), present a guide to what has been done by the 22nd session of the UNHRC (2013), accept the intervention of an independent international body, and collaborate with it to control all matters not identified by Llrc.

    For these requests, Msgr. Joseph could now go to jail. The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) is a party born in 2004 from the ashes of the Sinhala Urumaya, the Sinhalese nationalist party. A group of Buddhist monks inherited the ideological leanings of the party creating the JHU. This party is the Upfa (United People's Freedom Alliance), the coalition government led by Rajapaksa. Many other Buddhist monks, including the All Island Clergy Organization, condemned the decision of monks entering politics. However, the JHU has the support of the conservative middle class (Sinhalese and Buddhist) and young Buddhists.

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    See also

    27/08/2013 SRI LANKA
    Navi Pillay in Sri Lanka to vet human rights violations
    The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is in Colombo at the start of a five-day visit. She plans to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa and make short trips to the country's hotspots.

    25/08/2009 SRI LANKA
    Death of Mgr. Fernando, "voice of the voiceless" in Sri Lanka
    A leading figure of the island’s episcopate, he became bishop at only 34 years. The faithful and people of his diocese remember him for the battles in defence of small fishermen, the poor, the environment and for his support for media as an instrument for evangelization. In 2004 he led the opposition to anti-conversion law proposed by the party of Buddhist monks.

    04/03/2014 SRI LANKA
    Church calls for an international investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka
    Members of the clergy in northern and eastern Sri Lanka send an official letter to the United Nations Council for Human Rights (UNHRC) in which they slam "disappearances, sexual abuse, arrests, detention, torture, restrictions on religious freedom" and other violations that take place in the country.

    20/07/2011 SRI LANKA
    Rajapaksa: Sri Lanka does not need Europe’s advice
    The president spoke at a campaign rally in the northern province. Dialogue, cooperation and mutual understanding are the weapons that the government will use to solve the country's problems. Tamil young people imprisoned for terrorist activities: "We will use compassionate justice with them."

    07/09/2010 SRI LANKA
    Rajapaksa vying for more powers, re-election
    Under current rules, a president can be elected consecutively only twice. Rajapaksa wants to abolish term limits in order to run again.

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