Dedicated to the Memory and Heritage of the Democrat, Peace-maker, Tamil Leader, and Martyr to the Tamil Cause, Appapillai Amirthalingam on the occasion of his 90th Birthday Celebrations at the Jaffna Public Library Auditorium at 4:00 pm on Sunday 3 Sept. 2017.
Presiding: The Rt. Rev. Dr. S. Jebabanesan;
Chief Guest: Hon. R. Sampanthan, Leader of the Opposition.
Special Guest: Attorney Kanaha Manoharan of Canada
wo news items from India this week have parallels to Sri Lanka. First, the persecution watchdog Open Doors reported that Indian Christians experienced almost as many attacks in the first half of 2017 as in all of 2016. Second, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, a self-styled guru was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the “custodial rape” of 2 underage followers by a judge who called him a wild beast. Investigations are pending on 40-50 complaints by other women. Riots by his followers resulted in 38 further deaths.
Attacks on Sri Lankan Churches
Attacks on Christians in Sri Lanka are well-documented. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s surprising denial of such attacks (documented by attorney Lakshan Dias), added tongue-in-cheek (or perhaps foot-in-mouth) “I do not know whether fundamentalist Christian groups may have attempted to establish churches.” An assertion from a Christian leader that fundamentalist groups have no rights!
The Cardinal, recall, worked for the re-election of President Rajapakse and had his niece Ruwani Cooray appointed second secretary to our French Embassy without passing the required examinations. He also upset Tamil Catholics for urging the US government to go easy on soldiers who engaged in war crimes. Says a US Embassy Cable from WikiLeaks that the Archbishop told the US Ambassador, “pushing the government of Sri Lanka too hard on the war crimes accountability issue now could destabilize Sri Lankan democracy and could suffer revolution from the right or a coup by the military.”
The Cardinal and his opinions therefore deserve immediate dismissal. However, following his denial, then Minister of Justice and Buddhasasana Wijedasa Rajapaksa demanded a public apology from Lakshan Dias, threatening disbarment. Dias fled the country and is reported to be abroad.
Northern Scene: C.V. Wigneswaran
Like Gurjeet Singh’s followers, our Chief Minister in the words of Veluppillai Thangavelu, “is a devotee of [Matara’s] Premananda who was convicted of raping under-aged orphans living in his [Indian] Ashram and murdering a young engineer Ravi.” His was a double life-imprisonment with an I-Rs 66.4 lakh fine. His victims were Jaffna girls who followed him to India after the 1983 riots.
Wigneswaran shortly after his election (by when Premananda had died in prison) requested PM Modi to release three others convicted for life for raping 13 Sri Lankan Tamil girls, including minors, and conspiring to murder ashram inmate Ravi who objected to the rapes and abortions. Despite the evidence and appeals turned down by the Supreme Court of India, Wigneswaran argued that the convictions were wrong.
In a Thinappuyal interview on 14.04.2017, Wigneswaran was asked about his being a devotee of a convicted criminal. He answered, Jesus Christ was convicted 2000 years ago but people now worship him as God. He said a lot more damaging stuff but the “website has deleted extremely controversial sections of the interview on Wigneswaran’s request” as he feared Catholic outrage (Island 10.05.2017).
Wigneswaran’s Foot in his Mouth
Wigneswaran continues his anti-Christian diatribes. As the veracity of what I have said before has been questioned, I repeat it here with sources. Speaking at the Thirtieth Anniversary Celebrations of the Department of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs (Uthayan, front page, 19.11.2016), Wigneswaran first talked up Arumuga Navalar’s brilliance. Then he said that the missionaries knew that local Christians came to work for them only for the money but Navalar was different so the job of Bible translation was given to him and that his knowledge of the Bible exceeded that of the Christian clergy. In reality, Navalar did not translate the Bible into Tamil He joined Principal Percival’s college at the age of 12, and was still a student 13 years later when he, according to the Morning Star, 25.11.1847, walked out with half the boys objecting to Percival admitting Gabriel Jeroni of the toddy-tapping caste. He founded a school for upper castes, but because the teaching there was deficient, most students returned. This puts Wigneswaran’s history in the mythological genre – faith-based wishful thinking transformed into history, abusing the powers of the majority.
Dragging in the Pope
The man cannot help himself. He continues to insult Christians who, comprising 20% of the Jaffna electorate and forming the ITAK-Chelvanayagam base, made Wigneswaran CM. The occasion was an argument with NPC’s S. Thavarasa, who accused Wigneswaran of not delivering. Wigneswaran thereupon claimed that the Pope makes statements repeatedly to see himself in the news, and Thavarasa is doing just that (102nd NPC sitting, 17.08.2017 around 9:30 am; Virakesary 21.08.2017).
Amusingly, the day I read of this, Wigneswaran’s numerous statements in just one newspaper, Thinakkural, were in three pictured articles.
SJV Chelvanayagm Slighted
At the same Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs celebrations where Wigneswaran spoke, he was followed by his partner in religious hate-speech, Batticaloa District MP Cheeannah Yogeswaran. On that day, Yogeswaran outdid Wigneswaran in his hate for low-castes and Christians.
To describe Yogeswaran, it was in 2006 in Vaharai that my present Parish Priest at St. James’ Nallur, Rev. Fr. Gnanakarunyan, was Assistant Priest. Yogeswaran was an aspiring politician. Their paths crossed when attending to displaced refugees. Yogeswaran, disgustingly, expectorated phlegm and spat at him – the case of a marginal Tamil from Batticaloa trying to assert caste-status by insulting another marginalized Tamil. The irony is that Rev. Gnanakarunyan was unfairly accused under the PTA and spent over a year in jail and yet is called a non-Tamil in Yogeswaran’s speech.
He said (Virakesari, 19.11.2017) that the mark of a race is its religion; that it has been shown that it is Saivites who are Tamils; that the Saivite saints have sung tying up Tamil with Saivism; that all others are Tamil speakers; that only Tamils can be Saivites; and that Navalar’s dreams came true when Wigneswaran, a Saivite, was elected CM. Then the punch-line – obviously referring to the iconic Christian founder of the ITAK, Samuel JV Chelvanayagam: Yogeswaran said, some people had unfortunately been elected violating this Navalar vision as leaders by the people. He added, few come into politics to safeguard Saivism. Navalar’s vision must be upheld. We must follow Saiva culture and eat Saiva food.
Showing his confused mind, he advocated vegetarianism while at once regretting that few temples now have animal sacrifice and asked if this is fair!
The Saiva Juggernaut
The Saiva juggernaut, led by Wigneswaran, is inexorably moving in Jaffna crushing all in its path. A small shrine is built on public land and then expanded – just like the Buddhist temples sprouting up but to which we object. No one dares complain for fear of being accused of being anti-Hindu.
A case in point is the just concluded Nallur Thiruvilla. Point Pedro Road used to run between the temple and its idol’s bath pond. The road was diverted around and the land acquired by the temple. For this year’s festival a largely expanded zone round the temple was fenced off and declared holy ground. To go to my newspaper vendor, I was asked to remove my shoes and walk a large distance, despite the cuds of betel chew spat everywhere. A Hindu friend who lives in the closed zone had to remove his shoes to get home. He asked the police by whose order he had to remove his shoes. It turns out that Shayanthan Kumaradas Maapaana Mudlaiyar, the son of the temple owner, called the police daily to give instructions, which they obeyed, and in turn had special poojas performed for their families.
Now that the festival is over, it is strangely not holy ground any more and we are allowed to walk with shoes again. A grand long-term scheme is transpiring whereby the Nallur Public Library on temple land (across Cross Road) will be built into a second temple, and then the in-between stretch of Point Pedro Road will be taken over, diverting traffic via Cross Road and Navalar Road.
Normally one would expect the university to lead. Yet the insistence that Council meetings should be vegetarian when most Hindu Council members are voracious carnivores (ironically, the only Christian councilor is vegetarian) shows what little fairness can be expected against the naked demonstration of power to assert Hindu culture on others.
The university has a long history of communalism. Letters called Anglican priest and Senior Lecturer, the late Dr. Jebamohan who vied to be Head of Christian Civilisation, Nalapillai (son of a toddy-tapper) and, contradictorily, even Paraiyah. Similarly, when Roman Catholic Priest, Prof. Pilendran, contested to be Dean/Arts recently, the campaign witnessed a letter circulated saying that a university that refused to accept Prof. Hoole as VC because he is a Christian, should not now accept a Christian as Dean. Pilendran was defeated.
Iconic Christians and Christian clergy are under attack. Unable to deliver, Hindu leaders are depicting Christians as the enemy. Dispossessed castes are put down and marginal Hindus are using this for self-elevation. Capacitation by Christian missions is denied. In the name of spirituality, Jaffna is fast losing any semblance of ethics. We need the ITAK to take a strong stand and exercise leadership. Uthayan (31.08.2017) blames Mr. Sampanthan for bringing Wigneswaran into politics and then failing to supervise him. Our franchise is an entrenched right under articles 3 and 4 of the constitution. It cannot be exercised when religion and caste are so freely used to disempower a section of the population.
Tamils have a just struggle for equality in Sri Lanka. Occasionally some Sinhalese admit that we have been wronged. I challenge the Hindus – is there anyone, even one, who would publicly say that we too are wronging our own minorities?