Colombo Telegraph

Stop Harassing Bishop Rayappu Joseph

By Fr Pan Jordan OP and Fr Claude Mostowik MSC

We, Christians and concerned people, are disturbed by past and continuing actions by the Sri Lankan government against the Catholic Bishop of Mannar, Most Rev Dr Rayappu Joseph. Bishop Joseph has consistently expressed concern at the plight of the all people of the North and East of Sri Lanka. His concerns have been taken President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), the UN Human Rights Council (by Skype, because travel was too dangerous), to visiting US Ambassadors who came to Sri Lanka prior to the UNHRC meeting in Geneva (March 2012), and a detailed letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself expressing his concerns at the problems faced by civilians in the north and east..

Bishop Joseph has raised major concerns about the fate of the asylum seekers deported to Sri Lanka by Australian authorities without any proper investigation and sometimes with no investigation at all.

Having had no response from the Sri Lankan President, Bishop Joseph wrote to the Australian Government urging it not to send back any asylum seekers to Sri Lanka because of harassment, and worse by Sri Lankan Armed Forces and Police who are 99% and 95% Sinhalese respectively.

Bishop Joseph was subsequently questioned for 3 hours by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) of the Sri Lankan police when he was in the Bishop’s Conference building, Balcomb Place, Kotta Rd Colombo. He has been interrogated by the TID and the Criminal investigation Department (CID) with the aim of intimidating him into silence.

We call on President Mahinda Rajapaksa to:

  • stop the harassment of Bishop Joseph immediately; and

  • respond constructively to Bishop Joseph’s suggestions to improve the human rights of people in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa

President

Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka

C/-Office of the President

Temple Trees

150 Galle Road

Colombo 3

SRI LANKA

E-mail: secretary@presidentsoffice.lk

We call on the Australian Government to:

  • urge the Sri Lankan Government to stop the harassment of Bishop Joseph immediately; and

  • halt the arbitrary deportation of Sri Lankan asylum seekers and that their applications for protection be properly processed in accordance with the UN Refugee Convention and Australia’s own immigration policy.

The Hon Julia Gillard MP

Prime Minister

Parliament House

CANBERRA ACT 2600

E-mail form: http://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm

We call on UN Human Rights Council and church groups to:

  • urge the Sri Lankan Government to stop the harassment of Bishop Joseph immediately; and

  • urge the Australian Government to halt the arbitrary deportation of Sri Lankan asylum seekers and that their applications for protection be properly processed in accordance with the UN Refugee Convention and Australia’s own immigration policy.

Honourable Ms. Navanethem Pillay
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson
52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva
SWITZERLAND

E-mail: npillay@ohchr.org

This material has been produced through the collaboration of Pax Christi Australia, the Catholic Justice & Peace Commission of Brisbane and the Sri Lanka Justice Forum Brisbane. For further information, please contact:

Fr Pan Jordan OP – pancrasjordan@gmail.com, 61 (0)415 461620.

Fr Claude Mostowik MSC – mscjust@smartchat.net.au 61 (0)411 450953

Back to Home page