( March 31, 2012, Brisbane, Sri Lanka Guardian) This is an urgent appeal to prevent the possible assassination/ ‘disappearance’ of the outspoken Roman Catholic Bishop of Mannar, his fellow Catholic priests in the North and East, and others, who call themselves ‘Civil Society’, who are the only voices of the Tamil people in this part of Sri Lanka.
| by Brian Senewiratne M.D
I write, not as a concerned Christian, but as a concerned human being, to apprise the international community, including the Pope, of what might happen in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, as it likes to call itself.
Anyone who is even minimally aware of what is going on behind the closed and censored door of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Totalitarian State, will know, that murder is rampant, and accountability non-existent. Murder or ‘disappearance’ is the Government’s answer to any problem, and the only method of silencing the dissenting voice.
If such a fate befalls Bishop Joseph (and his fellow priests), it will be a disaster for the Tamil people in the North and East. They, in particular Bishop Joseph, are the only voices that these people have, since their elected members of parliament have gone ‘quiet’ – as so often happens when a democracy is closing down. Bishop Joseph, his fellow Roman Catholic clergy, and ‘civil society’, have done more to high-light the terrible plight of a voiceless people than all their parliamentarians put together. In that blood-drenched country where so many thousands of Tamils have been butchered by the Rajapaksa junta, and some 300,000 Tamil civilians made ‘non-people’, Bishop Joseph, his clergy, and members of ‘civil society’, are the single biggest threat. This is not an opinion to be debated, but a fact to be faced and addressed before it is too late.
Bump them off
Already more than a dozen Christian priests, mainly Roman Catholics, have been murdered, abducted or have simply gone missing – “disappeared”. In the Sinhalese South, it is the dreaded ‘white van’ with no number plates that arrives. The victim is bundled in and that is that.
In the Tamil North and East, these niceties are not considered necessary. Just a straightforward abduction by ‘unknown men’ (read – President Rajapaksa’s gang of thugs, some in army or police uniform, others in civilian clothes), arrive, and that is the last that is seen of the victim. Whether he wears a cassock or not, is not of significance. It is brazen – plain simple murder, done with the assurance that the Government, the overwhelmingly Sinhalese (99%) Sri Lankan Armed Forces (now running the North and East), the Police, and the crumbling legal system under the heel of the Executive President with sweeping powers, will do nothing to bring the perpetrators to book. Many of these are, in fact, directed by members of the ruling junta.
There is no investigation, not even the pretence of one. The Government does not think it is called for, If there are calls, those who do so are ‘enemies of Sri Lanka’, ‘traitors’, ‘terrorists’ or even ‘Tamil Tiger Terrorists’. In Sri Lanka, any Tamil is a ‘terrorist’ unless he stands close to the blood-drenched Sri Lankan flag. So are others (like the writer of this paper, who is a Sinhalese). Ethnicity no longer matters. To be critical or even to question what the ruling junta does, is, by definition, ‘terrorism’ or treason, and treated as such. George Bush’s “You are with us or with the terrorists” is applied absolutely in Rajapaksa’s autocratic Sri Lanka.
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