Sri Lanka

The Dual Reality of the Present Time – Some Comments

Under the heading, ‘Limited Freedom’, JP says, "…A high powered inter-religious delegation from Colombo visited the North… delegation was given military escort… this would have dissuaded the war displaced people being open in their expression of dissatisfaction… When the delegation met with religious counterparts in Jaffna they were able to hear a critical expression of views… militarization of governance… Freedom of expression has its limits in the North was very clearly made…".

Compared to the above, a person named Mylvaganam(M), from Jaffna, participating in a dialogue in Lanka Web on April 11 says, "…My ‘periya appa’ (72), father’s brother, now works with his children in his paddy fields at Pungududivu, after 20 years. Free from air bombs from SLAF. No more Army checking. No more hassels from the Navy. No more recruitment of children as fighters, harassments and collections by the LTTE. Thank you President Rajapaksa and the Sri Lanka Army. God Bless you…" And he continues the dialogue with other contributors.  

The views expressed by M and JP are poles apart. M and his family are ordinary citizens in Jaffna and are trying to make a living, minding their own business. JP is a visitor to Jaffna from Colombo and Director, of a foreign funded NGO, The National Peace Council. And people know the role played by NGO’s during the war. So it is obvious that JP is singing for his supper.  

Further, JP has also not made it clear as to which religious denominations were in this group and who were in his ‘high-powered inter-religious delegation’. At the height of the LTTE power we had similar religious delegations visiting Sri Lanka from Australia, New Zealand etc., funded by the LTTE and sympathetic to them. 

At the time, it was a matter of public knowledge, that Christian clerics from western countries come to Sri Lanka for short visits to study the ground situation and then write adverse reports against the government and heavily tilted in favour of the LTTE and damaging the image of the country. Much of the blame in their reports was on alleged human rights abuses by the security forces with hardly any mention of the planned and premeditated acts of inhumanity of the LTTE. After their visits to Sri Lanka, they travelled to other countries addressing social and religious gatherings and collecting funds for the LTTE.  

It is also an open secret that some members of the clergy in the North sympathised with the LTTE and this is confirmed by Mr. S.Dixit, former High Commissioner for India, in his book, ‘Assignment Colombo’. 

Therefore, it is not surprising that when JP’s ‘high-powered’ religious delegation met with counterparts in Jaffna they were able to hear a critical expression of views about life in the North. 

 JP now comes as ‘saviour’ of the people. But towards the end of the war, when these people were held as a shield by the LTTE preventing them from escaping to freedom and when the government was involved in a ‘Humanitarian Rescue Operation’ JP did not have the same feelings for them. He was then operating on a different wave length.  So it is not difficult to separate the chaff from the wheat. 

P. A. Samaraweera, Australia‘

Bishop of JaffnaThanks Defence Secretary

Jaffna Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Savundranayagam has thanked Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa for granting permission to celebrate the feast of St. Anthony at the Kachchativu island.

He has written expressing gratitude for the assistance provided by the Sri Lankan Navy which had taken much pains to carry out the necessary preparations for the feast.

“The Parish Priest of Delft was granted permission to proceed with his assistance in order to prepare the church and its premises for the feast. Nearly 4000 devotees from here and India had taken part in the feast.

The Sri Lankan Navy had taken much pains to carry out the necessary preparations for the feast,” the letter from the Bishop said. (Courtesy: Daily Mirror)

Haj Pilgrims to Increase this Year

The Sri Lankan Government has taken steps to increase the number of Hajj pilgrims and to reduce the charges on the Hajj pilgrimage this year. Senior Minister A.H.M. Fowzie who is in charge for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage held a media briefing yesterday morning at his official Residence before he left to Britain.  “We will negotiate with the Saudi Government to get more facilities to the Hajj pilgrims. I have a duty to safeguard President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan Government, pilgrims and the Hajj operators” Minister Fowzie said. He also said that the Sri Lankan delegation comprising five members including deputy minister A.R.M. Cader would meet the Hajj Affairs Minister of Saudi Arabia.

Temple Buildings  Bulldozed

The Chief Incumbent of the Arugambay Sambodhi Viharaya filed a rights plea in the Supreme Court against the bulldozing of several buildings belonging to his temple.

Special Leave Facilities for Muslim Employees during Ramazan

Special leave will be provided for the government sector Muslim employees during Ramazan period to pursue their religious observances.

Dutch Priest in Sex Abuse

Bishop Ad van Luyn of Rotterdamin the Netherlandshas reported a Dutch priest to the police for alleged sexual abuse in Sri Lanka. Pending an investigation, the priest has been suspended with immediate effect by the Rotterdamdiocese, which contacted the police following questions raised by Radio Netherlands Worldwide and daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad. The priest, who until today was pastor in the towns of Leidschendam and Voorburg on the outskirts of The Hague, was a regular visitor to Sri Lanka where, according to the diocese he is "active in the field of charity".A spokesman for the diocese said it was informed in July 2009 about "possible sexual abuse and possible financial misappropriations by this priest while in Sri Lanka". The priest is the fifth Roman Catholic clergyman who has been suspended because of an investigation into alleged sexual abuse. The Dutch embassy in Sri Lankasays it knows nothing about the case.Information in the hands of RNW and NRC Handelsblad shows that the same priest was known to have had sexual relations with boys in the 1990s. At the time he was serving as a pastor in the former St Anthony parish in the city of Dordrecht. In 1995, he was reprimanded by Bishop Ad van Luyn because of his "lifestyle".However, despite this he was then promoted to the post of Deacon of The Hague, where he remained for a couple of years. The diocese spokesman said that what happened in Dordrechtwas "a possible failure to comply with the pledge of celibacy", and not sexual abuse. (Radio Netherlands) Source: Radio Netherlands17/04/2010Daily Mirror