About a hundred Catholics from Colombo and Negombo went to Mullivaikal where up to 40,000 civilians died in 2009 caught in the crossfire between government forces and Tamil Tigers.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – A group of about a hundred Catholics from Colombo and Negombo carried out their own Way of the Cross on 7 April in the place where the Sri Lankan army carried out a final massacre of Tamils. The goal was to keep alive the memory of their suffering and highlight the current situation of civil war victims.
Catholic women, children and seniors chose Mullivaikal, northern Sri Lanka, for their spiritual exercises of Lent. Here, in 2009, the final phase of the civil war unfolded, killing up to 40,000 civilians.
Fr Jeewantha Pieris led the Way of the Cross. "The suffering of victims of war is not God’s will. It was not misfortune, bad luck, or other reasons,” he said.
These people “suffered because another group of people wanted to oppress them for money and power. Now their life is suffering. We must pray for them and work together for their freedom."
The procession, accompanied by songs and hymns in Tamil and Sinhalese to mark the Passion of Christ, started at Vadduvakal bridge, near Nandikadal lagoon.
Some 300,000 people tried to find refuge on the latter’s shores after the warring parties had declared it a safe haven. However, thousands were killed, caught in the crossfire and air force bombing.
Fr Jeewantha still remembers the displaced people "fleeing, some even without clothes. How much did they suffer to save their life! They spent the whole month of April  without food, medicines, tents. Pregnant women were forced to eat tree leaves and sand from the ground just to deliver babies. About 70,000 pieces of clothing are buried under the earth we're treading."
During the meditation, the clergyman noted that "in the days of the siege, in the absence of medicines and treatment, many people had injured limbs amputated to prevent infections, children included. In the absence of alternatives, parents were forced to do this.”
Before undertaking the Way of the Cross, Catholics met with civil war survivors and displaced people able to return home after their property was recently returned by the Navy.
Catholics from the capital have decided to return to this area next month, during the Buddhist festival of Wesak Pohoya, to show support to Tamils and, once again, be closer to the Passion of Jesus.