Whether a minority demanding justice (like us Tamils) is using the concept of justice for its own benefit, or, really believes that true justice is important in its fight for justice, makes that minority either great or diminishes it greatly.
We have seen in these pages the story of the Tellippalai Mission House. Matters came to a boil when an elder of the Tellippalai Parish, Gnanatheepam Rasakanthan, wrote the story in Tamil in Kalaikathir, perhaps the most liberal newspaper in Jaffna which is edited by Mr. N. Vithyatharan.
Gnanatheepam aired the church’s grievances, particularly naming Union College (UC) Principal T. Varathan with connections to the Saiva Maha Sabai which in its opening Facebook page has a photograph of Hitler and a quotation from him. Varathan, say those from UC, has been on visits to India in cooperation with Ma’ravan-pulavu K. Sachithananthan of Siva Senai (which plastered Jaffna with posters in 2018 asking Tamils not to vote for Christians). Sachithananthan is advertised as a Senior Central Committee Member of the ITAK. The Administrator of ITAK, Xavier Kulanayagam, is emphatic that he was never even admitted as a member. That is TamilNet. Very European in appearance, Sachithananthan seems to be trying to prove that he has a pure Hindu bloodline, said a professor who teaches anthropology. Such a phenomenon is also documented by Prof. Stiraat who noted Roman Catholic Sinhalese attacking Tamils in the Kotahena area during riots, even Tamil Roman Catholics, as if to prove their Sinhalese identity.
The Tellippalai Mission House has been owned by the America Ceylon Mission for 200 years and occupied by missionaries. When I.P. Thurairatnam became first “National Principal” of Union College, by an internal arrangement between the church and the church school, he was allowed to occupy it. When schools-takeover came, the issue was whether the Mission house was the Mission’s or the school’s. In negotiations involving the ministry and the church’s Bishop D.J. Ambalavanar, the church got Mission house and the government got the Parsonage occupied by the “Assistant Priest.” Unfortunately, during the war, maps appear to have been created and when the church returned in 2009 to its location, the school, Union College, had already begun its encroachment redrawing maps to show ownership of Mission House, which however are proven to lie because of extant older maps.
Up to yesterday (8 April) the Church had control of the Mission House. Today Principal Varathan moved into action. He had already had the front gate of Mission House padlocked. Early morning the side gate was ripped off but the church had placed asbestos sheets across. However, a line of students removed the asbestos sheets and were climbing over into the Mission House. The photo shows Theepam watching in a red dress. Principal Varathan was directing the show from the back, violating ICCPR which condemns taking underage children into political action.
Soon the mission house was over-run by the Union College mob of children, alumni, parents, teachers and the Principal.
As if not to be outdone, 4 students entered hospital claiming that “Missionaries” had attacked them, when there are no Missionaries in Jaffna. From yesterday I as a correspondent have been alert to what could happen. From this morning I have been regularly fed from video cameras. The photo-evidence establishes a line of students forming the first phalanx, parents and alumni a second and being directed by Varathan from behind. There are photographs establishing the students removing the asbestos sheets that blocked the side gate, and entering Mission House. It is 3 pm now and I am still receiving my feeds. The priests inside mission house did not assault anyone. If they had, I would have seen it. I doubt that any student self-inflicted injuries and my fear is that communal passions are so high that even the doctors are in the game, admitting students with no injuries. Mathialagan and Sasikala, parents of students whom Theepam identified, as well as 4 alumni whom she cannot identify, pushed Theepam to the ground and injured her. She has filed a police report. She was hospitalized and delirious, and could be spoken to only through those whom she knew well.
A Facebook page has been opened by alumni claiming the missionaries attacked the students. These pages are widely shared by Mr Kabildev (wife Niro).
Kabildev was resident in the Church Seminary in Chunnakam (CTS) attending Union College, Tellippalai in 2014. Niro was a theological student at CTS, sent by the America Ceylon Mission CACM to USA for update and higher studies in theology. On her return they married each other at Murikandy Church, CACM and are living there. Something soured. She gave up ministry. He is sharing widely the Material put out by the Union College supporters.
The police took no action against those who broke the school gates. An overstaying tenant cannot be removed without a court order, the police tell us. For 8 years I have been trying to eject a doctor overstaying in my house in Sagara Road Bambalapitiya without paying a single cent’s rent. The police want me to get a court order. The courts are half asleep. Here the police are trying to force the church out of what belongs to it and hand it over to a mob. If the police truly are looking for errant citizens, pictured here is one who was after the Christians of Tellippalai with a log. It is from their Facebook pages
The Rev. Thevasakayam Thevanesan, Chairperson, CACM and President, ACM, and The Rev P Kamalakumaran, Principal, Christian Theological Seminary, Asia House, Maruthanarmadam were both on site. They too confirm that any violence was from Union College. They say the children came at 6:30 am and were kept standing in the sun till 10:30 am. The parents then pressured the church authorities to let the children park their bicycles inside, ignoring that till now the children had other places to park. They say their weakness was that they could not be harsh with children.
Varathan’s main argument is that in 1961 at take over the Mission House was given to them. He has no explanation for why the Church had control till now and repeats the mantra that 90% of the students at Union College are Hindu. Being in Tellippalai for long, the school has powerful friends. Despite the Tellippalai Church being SJV Chelvanayakam’s family church, Mavai Senathirathah, the Federal Party’s Secretary General has taken no interest, not even to dig into documents to find out the truth after being appealed to. He did not even acknowledge the appeal.
Governor Charles, a Roman Catholic, had given an appointment to the church this morning at 8:30 am and a part of this morning’s exercise appeared to be to keep Reverends Thevanesan and Kamalakumaran away from it. Even Governor Charles ducked the issue by asking them to come back on the 23rd to meet the GA.
The police tried to arrest Reverends Thevanesan and Kamalakumaran. They refused to get into the police vehicle and agreed to go in their own vehicles. After a long argument, the police seemed to say they are not being arrested. Was the drama to please Varathan by humiliating two senior priests in front of his gallery crowd?
Not surprisingly, TamilWin, the one-time mouth piece of the LTTE, ran this headline against the truth: “Union college Students Assaulted by those Identified as American Mission People.”
Until Tamils are liberated from this journalism, we will never have freedom. It is a good time to ask if we Tamils treat our minorities better than the Sinhalese do theirs? Simply pondering the question should make us a better people.