Monday, 17 January 2011

Bishop Rayappu Joseph’s short sighted solution to “ethnic” problem in Sri Lanka

Bishop Rayappu Joseph and terrorist Thamilselvam

Today the Catholic Church is very much alive and awake in Sri Lanka, there is no one to check their uncalled for political mission in favour of the Tamil Catholic congregation of faithful of the North an East, which makes one wonder whether the objective of the Catholic Church is its own prosperty and power in Sri Lanka rathan the salvation of souls.

As it had always been, the Catholic Church does not take an interest in the country where it has built its Cathedral. Its interest is more for its faithful. Because it is on the congregation of faithful it exists, like a parasite tick on a dog. When the Church smells that there are possibilities of enlarging its congregation of faithful, it goes for their conquest whoever they are, and where ever they are. In the terrorist infested north and east of Si Lanka the Catholic Church flourished.

The South of Sri Lank is not fertile soil for the Catholic Church, because it has to compete with the Buddhist Temple of the majority Sinhala, The Church cannot call those in South our people in the same voice it speaks of “ our people “ of the North, how divided is its interest. The Catholic God loves only those who follows him, and to hell with others.

The latest submission of Bishop Rayappu Joseph of the Catholic Diocese of Mannar is a missive for division rather than unity. Catholicism introduced by the Portuguese Missionaries was to steal away the people of other faiths into its own fold and take their allegiance away from their motherland to the Church and the Colonial Ruler in Portugal and then to Rome. Today 500 years after, the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, blessed in Rome and deified by the appointment of a Cardinal, continues to divide the Country, and separate the Communities for the cause of the congregation of the faithful.

In Sri Lanka the duty of the Catholic Church goes beyond the salvation of souls, to chose for its congregation of the faithful the political path it should follow to ensure the power of the Church.

The Catholic Church was imposed on Sri Lanka by the Portugues conquering forces, through their accompanying Missionaries, to facilitate their task of keeping the colonised people under control and the establishment of the Portuguese colonial rule in Sri Lanka. It was like India imposing on us the 13th Amendment to facilitate the Indian Peace Keeping Force to control terrorism in the North and East of Sri Lanka.

Rayappu Joseph’s submission curiously begins with the same Western pre-occupation with regard to Sri Lanka, of human rights violations and extra judiciary killing.

In his submission the Bishop refers to only to ” our people “ that is the Catholics. 2006 was a time that the terrorism was at its height and what happened to people and property in the North and the East is no secret. The suffering under, terrorism was not restricted to « our people or your people », because all people without exception suffered through terrorism.

The actual perpetrators of the crimes of burning Churches, mosques, or killing bus loads of Buddhist monks cannot for certain be alluded to any one person and the actul killers themselves cannot be found except that the teorrorist were behind those murders and massacres. An act by any one of the terrorists becomes the responsibility of the whole group of terrorists.You cannot accuse the Army as going round killing, people and burning Churches and mosques as the Army is not a terror group, but they were also the likely victims of the terrorists. The Army fought for the country and its population.

The Government Armed Forces defended all the people without exception , which is evident in its remarkable humanitariation evacuation of the innocent Tamil Civilians kept as a human shield by the terrorist. Bringing these Tamil Civilians to safety risking their own lives was a daring act unque in the history of warfare . The terrorists in the face of a count down to death and elimination resorted to ultimate terror, shooting any thing that moved not caring whether it was an escaping civilian or soldiers rescuing the civilians.

Despite all that the Catholic Clergy want to know the truth as to who killed who. Under the circumstances that prevailed can the Catholic Church which is seeking the truth pretend the killers were the Armed Forces and the terroists were “ innocent” bystanders ? What or for whose agenda is the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka acting posing these absurd questions ?

A Cardinal and several Bihops of the Catholic Church have already presented several submissions to the LLRC every one of them calls for a negotiated political solution. And they still want more time now for « our people », having already usurped for themselves, the time allocated to the people of the region to mak their submissions.

Rayappu Joseph states in his submission, « …Although LTTE and other Tamil armed groups have caused much suffering, their actions were prompted by the failure of successive governments to respond favorably to Tamil’s efforts to resolve their problems through peaceful and political means. While acknowledging the part played by LTTE and other armed groups in the suffering of the people, we wish to point out that the state military and their secret agents are feared more by the people and are held responsible for much of their woes. »

The Mannar Bishop’s submission was more a pleading to absolve the terroists of the crimes they have committed , and to put the blame on the previous successive govenments. The Mannar Bishop says the people fear more Military and the Secret Agent of the government.

The LLRC will be examining submissions made to them to sort out lies, exagerations,and misinformation to establish the truth. In that context the Rayappu Joseph’s contenion « …Although establishing the truth is not explicitly mentioned in your mandate. » is an impertinent uncalled for remark belittling the task entrusted to the Commissioners of the LLRC.

Rayappu Joseph among other matters in his submission to LLRC states, « …. It is our belief that this culture of impunity over the years, led to more and more crimes against Tamil civilians during the course of the conflict. Measures such as forgiveness, amnesty are only possible when there is genuine acceptance and repentance of wrongs done and the truth is acknowledged »

This is strange as in Sri Lanka there had been no culture of impunity. These are phrases concocted to mislead situations and discredit the Government. The terrorist had continued their campaign of terror in the North and East . It is not the government that should be held responsible for the crimes committed by the terrorists without leaving incriminating traces of evidence that lead to them, but they signed their crimes from the style and method of their execution. The Government did not commit any crimes against the Tamil Civilians during the conflict that require repentance.

Rayappu Joseph seems to be misinterpreting the situation that existed during the conflict, in favour of the terrorists. This makes one wonder whether it is not the Catholic Church in Rome acting along with the anti Sri Lanka Western Govrnments instigating the Catholic priests in Sri Lanka, after making one of them a Cardinal, to implicate the Government of Sri Lanka for the crimes committed by the terrorist.

If not what other “truth” do the Catholic clergy in Sri Lanka want the government to establish ?

Rayappu Joseph says, « …It is our earnest appeal that the LLRC will give high priority to establish in public the truth of what has happened in the course of conflict and war. »

Everybody who was hiding when the terrorists were running riot killing every one they wanted to kill, when and where they wanted to kill , using pistol gangs, snipers, grenard lobbers and claymore bombs were holding the people of the North and East to ransom, not coming forward to ask questions , are now up in arms against the Government . The Catholic Priests themselves have already made more than three or four submission to the LLRC against the Government Armed Forces in accusatory terms.

The Bishops and the Clergy of the Catholic Church, unlike Ban Ki Moon, were not outside Sri Lanka during the period of the terrorism to ask the government to now establish the truth of what happend in the course of the conflict and war. The Priests of the Catholic Church were in fact inside the war Zone with the terrorists and they should know better what went on.

Sri Lanka Armed Forces have nothing to hide. Every thing they did was to eliminate terrorism and bring to safety the Tamil Civilians held by the terrorists as a human shield. The Sri Lanka Army was a disciplined Armed Force and they conducted the military operations against the terrorists avoiding damage to Tamil Civilians.

Under a caption « Importance of Political Solution”, the Mannar Bishops- Joseph, Sousai and Croos say that the Tamils having their own identity, culture, language, religion and trditional habitations have to be recognised along with other habitants.

The statement seems to have been made for the outside world to believe that the Tamils are treated differently. But the truth is that the Tamils , Sinhala and Muslims all of them have their own identity, culture , language, religion and traditional habitations, and they are all recognised as Sri Lankans.

There is no different political solution to follow, as the existing political system has no evident defect. The only problem is that the Catholic Church seems to want the Tamils in the North and East treated as a Community apart from the rest of the Communities.

The Constitution does not treat any Community differently . The Constitution is for all Sri Lankans. If there is a notion that the Tamils as a community is treated differently in the Constitution it is because the Tamils would like to stand out of the Sri Lankan National identity. It is an attitude created by the Tamil Political leaders and the religious leaders like, Malcolm Ranjith and Rayappu Joseph and the rest.

That is why the Tamils should give up their narrow communal identity to become full fledged Sri Lankans. This is what the Catholic Church should do, which is to unite the communities into Sri Lankans instead of peddling their bogus Church made political theories of division, disunity, hatred and animosity. Where is th “love” of the Catholic God in all that ?

The Submissions to the LLRC by the Catholic Clergy in Sri Lanka beginning fom Malcolm Ranjith ,Rayappu Joseph to Kingsley Swampillai have gone beyond their vocation for spiritual dispensation to the congregations of faithful- the salvation of souls, to political agitation better left for the politicians.

During the 30 years of war the Terrorists demanded a separate Eelam State, they spread this message in their heroes day speeches and at several negotiations. The Norwegian Solheim, American Rober O Blake, and a host of other Western Diplomats and Minsters continued to demand a political solution to the problelm, and now Rayappu Joseph in his submission to LLRC makes the same demand , « …… While a political solution to the conflict is essential, we would like to highlight several immediate issues that need to be addressed to ensure that we move forward on the path to reconciliation. Without addressing these needs, people affected by the war will not be able to move towards reconciliation and neither will they have any confidence or hope in any reconciliation process initiated at macro level. »

He stresses the suspision that the Government is not objective and will withhold redress to the Tamil people affected by terrorism. Rayappu Joseph makes demands which are unfortunately not in the interest of the ordinary Tamil people , but in the Catholic Church’s proper interest pretending to be the saviors of the Tamil people defending thei interest, inorder to win them over to the Church through heir innocent gratitude .

Rayappu Joseph then comes to a rather vexing issue which had already been treated by Malcolm Ranjith « Demographic changes and colonization ». In Sri Lanka there cannot be colonizations, not any more. Colonization is defined as setting up colonies by developped countries. Rayappu Joseph must have been thinking of his Colonial benefactors of the past who have blessed him with a Bishopry, the result of his forefathers conversion to a foreign religion.

In Sri Lanka with the elimination of terrorists a new chapter has opened, where the past differences have to be changed to find new avenues for promoting unity, peace and a Sri Lankan Nationhood. The whole of Sri Lanka belongs to Sri Lankans. In that dawn of equality of status of all citizens North and East of Sri Lanka cannot stand strictly reserved for one community.

Therefore, more Sinhala and Muslim people should be allowed to settle down in the North and East making these two provinces representative of all Communities, living harmoniously together as it is in the South of Sri Lanka. Rayappu Joseph who repeats Malcolm Ranjith is undoubtedly pronouncing a decision taken by the Catholic Church to keep North and East for the Tamils without changing the existing demography.

If the Catholic Church has come forward to oppose any members from the other communities settling down in the North and East it is a very un-Christian move and a shameless interfernece into the rights of the citizens of Sri Lanka, their freedom to live where ever they want to live. In supporting such a racial view Catholic Church will only be defending today the same objectives for which the terrorists created hell on earth for innocent Tamil Civilians in the North and the East.

The Catholic Church instead of being alarmed of the news as Rayappu Joseph says in his submission that, « …. we are alarmed at reports that there are plans to handover land to large number of people from outside the district……», should be happy that North and East of Sri Lanka is not going to be isolated any more from the rest of the country, but it would instead be a part and parcel of the whole of Sri Lanka.

There is no question of historical habitations of Tamil people in the North and the East, that again is a often made declaration of the terrorists that Rayappu Joseph seems to have burrowed from them, now claiming, perhaps in memory of the terrorist Prabhakaran, to keep the North and East only for the Tamils. There were Sinhala people already residing in the North and East before they were made to leave their homes by th terrorists.

Rayappu Joseph states that, « …..There is suspicion amongst historical inhabitants in the district that these are part of a government plan to bring about demographic changes in terms of ethnic and religious composition of the districts and the Northern Province as a whole. Such efforts in the past have been a key factor that led to the conflict, war and violence…… »

But contrary to Rayappu Joseph’s above contention, a good mixture of communities with different cultures in the North and East will keep those Provinces free from ethnic conflict and would give an opportunity for all communities to live harmoniously together respecting each others culture, religion and language. If there would be conflicts it is the duty of Rayappu Joseph and other religious and political leaders to pacify the people and make them understand the necessity to evolve as a nation togther with other communities.

About the Military presence of the North and East Rayappu Joseph states in his submission that, « Almost 20 months after the end of the war and after more than a year since the resettlement process started, we are disturbed that there is a heavy military presence in Mannar district particularly in recently resettled areas of Manthai West, Madhu and Musali divisions. This is something most Tamil civilians fear and not happy about, due to the many negative experiences they have had in the past. Many activities and decisions that should be attended to by civil authorities are still being handled by the military. »

This is really an area where the Catholic Church if it has any influence over the Tamil people, inform them that they should be ever grateful to the Sri Lanka Armed Forces, as what ever freedom, peace of mind, and thea ability to speak up for their rights they have now, is the result of the immense sacrifice the Soldiers of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces made on their behalf to redeem the land they occupy from the cruelty of terrorim, where they were not able to move freely, and assure the safety of their children from being kidnapped to swell the terrorist cadres.

The Armd Forces should be pemanently based in the North and East, not only to stop any future terrorism to raise its frightful head in the Provinces but also to defend the North and East from any expansionist move by any foreign county or by a forced militay occupation by any powers wanting to station themselves in the North to prevent Chinese, Indian or Russian influence in the Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka should establish Army Camps in strategic areas and provide living quarters for the Army personnel with an appropriate housing poject fo married staff. The Police Force should also be similarly well entrenched in these areas with living qaurters for the Single and Married officers.

That is a necessity about which no body, the Church, the Hindu temples or the Interntionl Community should interfere to dictate terms. Many are the Soldiers who had fertilised the soil of both North and East with their blood and they have therefore a right to be a part of the North and East of Sri Lanka, and through them their fmilies and their children have acquired a right to belong to North and East. And that is a greater right than that of those who acclaim a religion strange to the Sri Lankan Soil.

Rayappu Joseph’s submission shows the pre-occupation of the Catholic Church in its inability to make martyrs of the dead terrorist, pointing out to cancellation of religious services to remember and prey for the «c ivilians killed or missing ». In this respect it is pertinent to ask Rayappu Joseph whether the Catholic Church had any special service in their Churches for the Soldiers who died in liberating the people of the North and East from the terrorists, and povided security to their Church in Madhu and for repairing it by the army personnel ?

As far as the Government and the General population is concerned the North and East should continued to be kept in surveillance not to allow any one trying to make any attemp to separate the Tamil people in the North and East from the rest of the population in Sri Lanka. This the Catholic Clergy in the North do not want to understand as they are themelves keen in keeping the North and East an enclve of the Tamil people who will be obedient to their religious demands.

Rayappu Joseph also seems to have a desire to have a presence of the NGOs in the area . The presence of NGOs should be controlled and their activities constantly surveyed as their agendas are quite different from those of the Government of Sri Lanka- which is to unite the communities after the elemination of terrorists, and bury for good the North, South, East and West difference, integrating all into one whole Sri Lanka.

Eventually the Rayappu Joseph comes to the biggest challenge of the Catholic Church- its nightmare the Buddhism. Buddhim is the religion of the Sinhala people of Sri Lanka before the birth of Christ and the advent of Christianity. It is the Buddhism that is the identity of the culture of the people of Sri Lanka. Other religions such as Christianity and Islam are recent religious faiths compared to Buddhism and Hinduism. On the other hand Catholicism and Christianity have their beginning in the Colonialization of our country by the Portuguse, the Dutch and the British and it is a religion foreign to our culture. There had been Buddhist places of worship in the North and the East long before Catholicism was introduced by the foreign conquerors.

Rayappu Joseph states in his submission that, “….Building a Buddhist place of worship (Pansala) in Murunkan Town where there was a Hindu Kovil is something that has caused a lot of concern, particularly as there is no Buddhist population in this area. Erections of Buddhist statues in prominent public places in many new locations in the North have also made our people fearful of Buddhist domination of majority Hindhu, Christian and Islamic areas.”

Rayappu Joseph should understand that, the Buddhist temples and Stupas stand for peace and unity. The Buddhist priests unlike the Catholic Clergy have always called for the unity of the Communities. It is the tolerance of the Buddhists that had allowed the Catholic Church to become so voiferous in speaking for the people of the North and East.

The Hindu Culture of the Tamil people and Budddhism are closely related and it will continue to foster unity between the Sinhala and Tamil pople. The Hindu Kovils have a statue of the Buddha and the Buddhist temples often hav statues of Hindu Gods in their temple premises. Therefore the building new temples and Dagabas in the North and East will bring the two communities together both spiritually in worship, and physically in the participation in each other’s religious ceremonies and festivals.

It is the Catholic Church that will stand strangely outside the religious and culturl back ground of the two communities- the Buddhist Sinhala and Hindu Tamil, as it is every where in Sri Lanka.

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