An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission to His Eminence, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith
Borella, Colombo 08,
Re: The commemoration of the disappeared in Sri Lanka
We are writing to bring to your notice an action by some priests, namely, Rev. Father Prasad Perera the Parish priest of of the church at Raddoluwa Junction and Fr. SriLal Manoj Perera, the Bishop’s property caretaker, who were accompanied by a lawyer made a request to the Seeduwa Police to demolish the monument for the disappeared erected at Raddoluwa, Seeduwa.
The Families of the Disappeared, an organisation of the families of disappeared persons and many other individuals and organisations have been shocked and surprised by this sudden move of these clergymen. The seeking of the police to demolish monuments is contrary to Sri Lankan law. Due to local circumstances when police officers are used by powerful persons to intimidate and even to torture and ill-treat opponents there is a fear that these clergymen may be moving in that direction.
We are therefore writing to urge you to stop any such action. Further, there is also the fear that criminals and goon squads could be used for such purpose. This has become a common occurrence these days.
We therefore urge you to ensure that these clergymen do not engage in such actions.
In any case, the attempt by the church to demolish the monument for the disappeared, the only one of its kind that exists in Sri Lanka, is shocking and scandalous. Reconciliation, the church claims, is one of the great goals to be pursued in a conflict-ridden society such as that of Sri Lanka. Monuments of this sort are internationally recognised as significant contributions to the reconciliation process. The church needs to encourage rather than go against such endeavors by ordinary folk to engage in such reconciliation efforts.
Besides, today in Sri Lanka there is an epidemic of murder. The first commandment, “Thou shalt not kill”, is flouted to such an extent that people live in fear of their lives. Under such circumstances fighting for the assertion of the sacredness of life and preventing such killings is one of the moral imperatives for all those who care for the value of life. This monument is dedicated to the call for the end of such killings and for the strengthening of society’s involvement to ensure that the basic moral norms are protected and preserved. We hope that you will do all you can to ensure respect for life and the ending of murder and arbitrary executions in Sri Lanka.
In that spirit we hope you will advise the above named clergymen to desist from their actions and also thereby to prevent a serious conflict with civil society organisations committed to the protection and promotion of human rights.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission