20 April, 2019

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133 Christian Priests Call For A Strong And Action Oriented Resolution On Sri Lanka At The UNHRC

By Colombo Telegraph

One hundred and thirty three Christian priests from Sri Lanka have written to the UN Human Rights Council urging much tougher action on war crimes and human rights. The priests call for a strong and action oriented resolution on Sri Lanka at the 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council.

We publish below the statement in full;

As a group of concerned Christian clergy living and serving in North and East of Sri Lanka, we are writing to appeal for a strong and action oriented resolution in relation to accountability, reconciliation and human rights in Sri Lanka, which will go beyond the resolution adopted at the 19th session of the Council.

As noted by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in her report to the Council, what we have seen since the rather weak resolution adopted at the 19thsession of the Council is a total lack of political will on the part of the government to implement recommendations therein, such as the call for investigations into allegations of international law during the final stages of the conflict and cooperation with the UN Special Procedures, as evident by the lack of response to requests for country visits by 8 thematic UN Special Procedures for a number of years.
We had also witnessed continuing ignorance and violations of the key LLRC recommendations, related to political solution to the ethnic conflict, release of political prisoners, appointment of a Commissioner to look into disappearances, reparations, release of land occupied illegally by the military, restrictions on media, commemorating those dead and disappeared, use of both national languages etc. In the last year, those criticising and challenging the government in peaceful ways including by engagement with the UN, have been assaulted, questioned, arrested, threatened, discredited and intimidated by government ministers, officials, military and police. Victims include some of us and fellow clergy who are not signing this letter due to fear of reprisals.
We feel that the killing and disappearance of tens of thousands of Tamil people and actions that are supressing the Tamil people and community, our culture, religions, language, land in a systematic way before, during and after the war, appears to be done with an intent to destroy us in whole or part, and thus, it is imperative that the international community addresses this seriously even at this late stage. We fear that at the pace these oppressive methods are carried out after the war, our identity as a people will be destroyed in the near future. Hence there is an exigency to arrive at a political solution which acknowledges the internal self-determination of the Tamil People.
While we have focussed on issues confronting the Tamil people, particularly in the North and East, we also remain deeply concerned about increasing authoritarianism all over Sri Lanka, such as the recent attacks against Muslims, killing of 27 Sinhalese prisoners in November last year, lack of investigation into discovery of skeletal remains in Matale of those suspected to have been tortured and killed, threats, attacks and intimidations of journalists, human rights defenders, student leaders, trade unionists and religious clergy who criticize the government. We remain in solidarity with victims, their families and those who struggle for justice. The most recent impeachment of the Chief Justice bypassing Court decisions and due process, attacks and threats on judges and lawyers, as well as inaction of statutory bodies such as the Police, National Human Rights Commission and Attorney General’s Department reinforces our long held view that justice for Tamils through domestic processes is not realistic, despite our own engagement with several such bodies in good faith.
We are attaching a letter written by the Catholic Bishop of Mannar to the President in August 2012 and a letter to the Catholic Bishops Conference by the Justice and Peace Commission of Jaffna Diocese in January 2013, giving details of our concerns and also serve as examples of the numerous unsuccessful domestic efforts we have undertaken.
We are convinced that the root cause of these problems is a lack of political will, than the capacity. Hence, it is our firm conviction that technical assistance from the UN in the form of training, advice, financial and material support will not suffice, and may even serve as red herring if not accompanied by more substantive investigative, monitoring and reporting role.
Thus, we appeal for a strong and action oriented resolution, which will:
  • 1. Note the lack of progress on human rights and reconciliation since the last year’s resolution, the continuing repression of minorities and those with dissenting views and unwillingness of the Sri Lankan government to address allegations of past violations
  • 2. Establish an international and independent commission of inquiry to look into allegations of violations of international law by all sides during the war, with a proper witness protection mechanism and including with specific reference to findings and recommendations of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts report
  • 3. Appoint a Special Representative / Rapporteur on Sri Lanka with a broad mandate to address the past and on-going violations and assist and advice the government on future reconciliation initiatives
  • 4. Identify a team of thematic UN Special Procedures to visit Sri Lanka considering pending requests for visits
  • 5. Set up an accountability mechanism for UN officials implicated in the failure of the UN’s protection mandate in relation to last stages of war in Sri Lanka as identified in the UN’s own Internal Review
  • 6. Welcome the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to the 22ndsession of the Council and request her to report back to the Council’s 25thsession her observations on progress of the above and recommendations.
Thank you.
Sincerely yours,
Signatures

Read the full text of the statement and annexes here.

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    What is the reason behind demolishing about 2000 temples by rajapakse,,,,if he wanted to eliminate ltte or prabharan,,do like osama bin laden,,not by eliminating a race

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    So how nicely osama was send away,,,u should hv senf pirabharan in tt way,but rajapakse did race eradication,,now rajapakse deserves punishment like sadam or gadafi,abdul kasam

  • 0
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    Dear Senguttuvan

    I do not disagree with your reply to me except with reference to two points. Let me respectfully say why.

    Sumantiran was never elected. He was a nominated MP, a nominee of Sampanthan who has only raised issues in a destructive confrontational manner. I would rather that we have those MPs who actually reside in the North and in the East to defend our interests, not those who live in the relative comfort of Colombo practising law there, earning well, hobnobbing with the Sinhalese elite but then proceeding to systematically attack anything Buddhist nationalist which only serves to alienate the Sinhalese establishment further.

    Chelvanayakam was a similar story whose only claim to fame was to contest the rabid racism and opportunism of SWRD Bandaranaike, an Anglican turned Buddhist turncoat who changed religion for mere electoral reasons.

    Chelvanayakam too lived in Colombo, practiced law there and never had land in Jaffna until the end. This is what makes the LTTE different from the Federal Party. Terrorist or no terrorist, they walked the talk and were not professional politicians whose only goal was to be returned to parliament at the next polls and what better way to ensure that than to raise the Tamil communal cry.

    Do not get me wrong – I dislike Bandaranaike immensely. I detest Rajapakse. This said, we do need to be strategic. In 1965, the UNP had barely won the Sri Lankan polls. It was dependent on the Federal Party to retain power. Remember that the UNP was not in power since 1955. Chelvanayakam could have easily demanded that the UNP enforce the District Councils Act within six months or that he would otherwise withdraw support. The UNP would have had to concede or it would have otherwise lost its place in Government. It would have conceded the District Councils Act at that point rather than cede power to the SLPF once again. Its position was precarious.

    Chelvanayakam intentionally gave the UNP the space to hoodwink the Tamils only because he feared the Buddhist nationalist in Sirimavo more. He was no Thantai but a cynical manipulator. We as a people have effectively demolished the pretentions of GG Ponnambalam. Its now time to deconstruct the Federal Party and its so-called opportunistic Thanthai.

    Rayappu Joseph is a similar case. Iqbal is right. Bishop Joseph conveniently turned the otherside when the Muslims were evicted making Mannar the first Christian majority district in Sri Lanka in the process. For what ever reason, Evangelical Protestant Christianity has made major inroads into the Catholic constituency in Mannar (look at the 2012 census to note that the Catholic church has ceded ground to Protestants in several districts – the vast majority of Evangelist Protestants are ex-Catholic, not Buddhist or Hindu) and in the process begun to undermine his authority in Mannar.

    Vanakkam

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      tamil hindu woman, i must admit that i am fanatical about my religion and language. i hate conversions whether its voluntary or otherwise. i can’t imagine myself converting to an alien faith. in my opinion there is no useful purpose is being served by talking about tamil leaders of the past.i believe there were hindu politicians during the period that you mentioned. i wonder why they didn’t prevail over christian leaders of that time. were they so timid to permit the christians to take over the destiny of tamil people. my argument is that a convert is no less tamil than a believer of original faith. in some cases the reverse is true. when prabhakaran was alive and kicking for 30 years , sinhala scum were like pussy cats. there were no protests , no marches and no shouting of slogans. sinhala scum were too scared to come out because of prabhakaran’s bomb. look at now 13 amendment protests, unitary status marches, territorial integrity slogans,sovereignty marches and lately halal protests. you can also see condemnation of tamil catholic clergy not only in this forum but also in every sinhala forum under the sun. don’t you think now sinhala scum is worried about the tamil catholic clergy. whatever said and done their voice is more powerful than that of yours and mine even though we form the majority of the tamil population. can’t you see the point i am making. in international forums the voice of a catholic priest will be heard more sympathetically than that of an “iyer”. i would urge you to face the reality. as i mentioned elsewhere , i believe the catholic clergy know their place in a predominantly hindu society. please understand that converts are also tamils and they have feelings like you and me.

      • 0
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        Rama

        You are a Tamil Hindu. You allege that the voice of the catholic clergy carries more weight. That is simply not correct.

        China, India and Brazil will be increasingly influential in world affairs. India, currently under Sonia Gandhi, is impotent but once there is a change in the power configuration in New Delhi next year, that would change. The current administration in India has been hostile to Tamil interests regardless of its rhetoric. Its geopolitics that matters, not Christian clergy.

        The Catholic church is in crisis as witnessed by several scandals rocking the church, a disillusioned laity, empty pews, declining membership in the West, not to mention the sudden unprecedented resignation of the Pope which appears to indicate far more than what we are made to believe. The second largest religious group in both Canada and the United States are what is called ‘ex-Catholics’.

        Tamil woman has already answered your point on converts being allegedly just as Tamils. Why did the Tamil Catholics in Negombo and Puttalam redefine themselves as Sinhalese in the 1930s and 1940s long before the ethnic crisis??

        In fact, the voice of the Tamil Catholic clergy can backfire – it generates a hell of a lot of hostility where it matters most i.e. Asia.

    • 0
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      Amma,

      Pardon me, I have a feeling that you are no Tamil and are an impostor. It would be nice if you picked a nom de plume more appropriate coz Goebbelian style disinformation has outlived its use-by date and most readers can see through you.

      I must apologize profusely if you are genuine :)

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    Dear Madam (who goes as Tamil Woman)

    I think much of the difference between us is more in the realm of opinion. I will respect yours and stay with mine. Events later will
    prove us right or wrong.

    To the speculation if a lawyer practising in Colombo can be a good MP
    in his electorate far away from the metropolis my humble answer will be in the affirmative. Colvin R. De Silva was a good lawyer and MP for
    Agalawatta; Felix Dias Bandaranaike for Dompe; T. Sivasithamparam from the Jaffna District. Some Nominated MPs did excellent work – like Lakshman Kadirgamar PC and Jayampathy Wickremaratne PC (LSSP) These are a few names that come to my mind. There can be many more. Sumanthiran, within a short time, has established himself in both sides of the House and indeed the country as a very useful and productive member. My take is he will peak with the passage of time to the benefit of us all and the parliamentary culture.

    I notice in the matter of SJVC and Bishop Rayappu Joseph we also differ. So be it.

    Vanakkam, Amma.

    Senguttuvan

    • 0
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      Mr Sengutuan in his reply to Tamil Woman says the whole Tamil Nation is reaching to the Buddhists and Muslims.

      Is Tamil a Religion?.

      Mannar Bishop has gathered 132 fellow Reverends to plead Navai Pillai to fix Rajapaksa and allow the country to drift into the same old Terrorism that wrecked the lives of the inhabitants for thirty years.

      Don’t these 133 Reverends serve only 100000 Catholics, whilst the total Catholic population in Srilanka is well over One Million and three hundred thousand?.

      Are these also counted as his Tamil Nation?.

      If that is the case where are the signatures of the Reverends who serve the other 1.2 Million Catholics?.

      • 0
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        K.A. Sumanasekera

        “Is Tamil a Religion?”

        What do you think? It is unusually a difficult question for you to answer. Let me try and explain to you about Tamil and Tamils.

        My elders tell me that there are about 80 to 90 million Tamils still live in this world who speak Tamil as their mother language.

        Their old kings Cholas and Pandyas when bored usually came to this island to be entertained by the locals particularly by the Sinhalese. On many occasions they were invited to visit this island by the Sinhala kings. On almost all their visits they kicked the hell out of Sinhalese.

        When Sinhala kings fought each other Tamil mercenaries were invited to help support their respective armies. A few returned and many stayed and became Sinhalese. Later they too became Sinhala/Buddhists. Now these converted Tamils kick the hell out of Tamils of Sri Lanka on a regular basis.

        The lazy Sinhala/Buddhists descendants of kallathony coolies refused to work in the plantation sectors forcing the colonial masters to bring a large contingent of guest workers (Gastarbeiter) from Tamilnadu.

        Now the Sinhala/Buddists are in a twist.

        • 0
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          Brilliant Native,

          i thought this was old Paranavithana ‘s forte.

          Now the Tamils who want to fight Sinhalese ask for “Western mercenaries”?.

          History repeats!!!.

  • 0
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    “Mr Sengutuan in his reply to Tamil Woman says the whole Tamil Nation is reaching to the Buddhists and Muslims” says active reader Mr Sumanasekera, who knows all too well I said no such thing voluntarily. I was only using Tamil Woman’s description, ad verbatim. But I hasten to add I have no objection if there is to be such an effort. To answer him – Tamils, in this case, is an expression of the race – not a religion. Sinhalese Catholics do not come within this grouping although I appreciate many of them feel the Tamil Nation has been consistently wrong for long.

    Mr. Sumanasekera must also be aware the Sinhala Catholics feel more isolated because they have few to advocate their helpless cause. In their case, clearly the religious identity comes to the fore because, in addition to the attacks against Christians – many on the Evangelical formations – there have been several against main Christian and Catholics including the most recent high profile case in Avissawella when a newly constructed Statue of Mother Mary was totally vandalised – a pre-meditated act allegedly with Police collusion. The entire Christian/Catholic people in the Sabaramagamuwa and elsewhere are angry, in fear and distraught. Fear, because they are aware the shadow of leading actors of the State provides ready patronage to the mobs – both lay and cleric – behind the provocative sacrilege.

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
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    “I appreciate many of the Sinhalese Catholics feel the Tamil Nation has been wrong for long.” says our dear friend of the Sinhala Inhabitants Mr Sengutuan.

    It is not the Tamil nation as a whole, because there were many many Tamil people then and even more now who are quite happy to live as equals and share what evere there in our beautiful land ,which unfortunately was made a hell hole by a group of terrorists and their supporters who are comfortably located overseas.

    Only a few opportunistic Tamil politicians who pandered to the Terrorists and who are still towing the Terrorist line, dictated by the Overseas Terrorist supporters are the ones who have been wrong all along.

    • 0
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      K.A. Sumanasekera

      “in our beautiful land”

      Are you sure about the ownership of this island?

      “Only a few opportunistic Tamil politicians who pandered to the Terrorists and who are still towing the Terrorist line”

      They are just like your big boss MR who pandered to JVP terrorists and took the trouble to visit Geneva to plea on behalf of them crying war crime against the then Sri Lankan regime.

      Remember at that time his brother Gota and former commander SF together with other army units were hunting down JVP/DJV terrorists.

      I never understood Sinhala/Tamil hypocrisy, may be I am bit thick.

  • 0
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    Balu bala scared to talk about this? Mental ranawaka where are you?pimps.

  • 0
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    Sumane,

    If you don’t mind, I am no Malay-Battavian-Muslim Tuan. Seran
    Senguttuvan is one of the most Noble Hindu Warrior Kings that came out
    of India millennia ago, which you will see when you find sometime googling – from your busy white-washing schedule.

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 0
    0

    My Gosh! MY Foote!

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
    0

    Sri Lankan Tamil Catholic Church is in total shambles. This is suicide.

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