Priests, public demand release of Allaippiddy Parish Priest
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 29 August 2006, 09:46 GMT]
A token hunger strike and a special Mass were held Monday from 9.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. at the St. Theresa's Church, Kilinochchi, demanding the release of Allaippiddy Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Jim Brown and his aide Venseslos Vincent Vimalathas who were abducted by the Sri Lanka
Forces in Allaippiddy in Jaffna District on 20 August and condemning the killings of Tamil civilians by the Sri Lanka Forces.
All Catholic priests belonging to the Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu Dioceses and devotees from Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu Districts participated in great numbers.
Following the prayer and hunger strike, the participants marched to the UNHCR office in Kilinochchi along the A-9 road and handed over a memorandum requesting Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, to influence the release of the abducted priest and his aide.
Rev. Fr.A.P. Bernard hand over the memorandum to M.Camilla Kragelund, the representative of UNHCR for Kilinochchi District.
Rev. Fr.A.P. Bernard handed over the memorandum to M.Camilla Kragelund, the Resident representative of UNHCR for Kilinochchi District, on behalf of the priests and people of Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu Dioceses.
Rev Fr. James Paththinathan, Mullaithivu Parish Priest delivered a speech condemning the act.
A copy of the memorandum was handed over to S. Vethanayagam, the Additional Government Agent for Kilinochchi District.
Rev. Fr. Bernard, speaking to journalists, expressed concern over the abduction and told that the Sri Lankan Armed Forces possibly have a hand in it. The excerpts of his interview are: "In general, the abductions are carried out in order to frighten other priests and persons involved in serving the public and particularly to punish Fr. Jim Brown for his involvement in taking the injured people in the Army shelling to Allaippiddy Church.
As far as I know, an Army shell hit the Church, where Fr. Jim served, and killed 20 people and injured many. He tried to take the injured people to the hospital and when the Army denied permission, he approached the Jaffna District Judge. That might have provoked the Army and made them to kidnap him. I do not have any concrete evidence on this so far, because the Bishop is dealing with the matter. However,
incidents of this nature affect our services in the military controlled area."
Earlier, in late 1990, a Jesuit priest from U.S.A., Rev.Fr. Herbiet and his aide disappeared in the same manner while travelling in a motorbike in Eravur area in Batticaloa District and later was found out to have been kidnapped and killed by the Army and Muslim Home Guards.