2ND LEAD (ADDS VOICE)
Colombo lacks sincerity in investigating Fr. Jim Brown's disappearance - Jaffna Bishop
[TamilNet, Monday, 03 December 2007, 12:05 GMT]
The Bishop of Jaffna, Rt. Rev. Thomas Saundranayagam, who is on a mission to Vanni, on Sunday said that the manner in which Colombo was handling the investigation on the disappearance of Rev. Fr. Jim Brown, seemed like an eyewash exercise without any sincerity, being conducted to "hoodwink the International Community" into believing that investigation was continuing. "Two weeks ago, a CID officer from Colombo came to meet me. He only knew Sinhala. I was shocked to realize how he could conduct investigations without working knowledge in Tamil and English to collect evidence on the disappearance of Fr. Brown," the Bishop said while briefing media on the prevailing situation in Jaffna.
Voice: Jaffna Bishop on the investigation of
Fr. Brown's disappearance
The Jaffna Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Savundranayagam, speaking to the media in Ki'linochchi further said that "Peace cannot be achieved in Sri Lanka by military means, and any attempts to find a solution by such methods will only end up further aggravating the sufferings of the people."
"The A9 highway has to be reopened for the use of people of Jaffna and only then people can live there," he said.
Jaffna Bishop meets LTTE Political Head [Photo: LTTE Peace Secretariat]
The Bishop met with the Liberation Tigers Political Head B. Nadesan and discussed the current situation Sunday morning, according to the officials at the Liberation Tigers Peace Secretariat.
Excerpts from Jaffna Bishop's remarks to media follow:
"It is almost two years since the land route for Jaffna was closed, and as a result the daily life of the people in the peninsula have become very difficult. Peninsula residents are facing severe hardships. Their sufferings are increasing daily with no end in sight.
"Food supplies for the nearly half a million people in Jaffna are brought in by cargo ships but everything from unloading the goods and distribution has become very difficult. The prices of essential food items have sky rocketed, and many are finding it difficult to buy essential food items. The price of coconuts and firewood has increased several fold. A coconut is currently sold at Rs. 80.00. The power supply is irregular, and it has greatly affected the educational activities of students. The students are compelled to continue their studies with the help of bottle lamps.
"There is acute shortage of money circulation among the people. Unemployment is severe. The absence of normal situation in Jaffna has made life difficult for ordinary citizens.
"The fishing community in the peninsula is facing the greatest difficulties since they are not free to go out to the sea for fishing. People in the peninsula obtain most of their nourishment from sea food but due to restrictions imposed on fishing, the people are becoming under nourished. The limited supply of fish is sold at exorbitant prices.
"Since all night curfew has been imposed in Jaffna, the movements and normal activities of the general public has been severely curtailed.
"What is more frightening are the killings and disappearances taking place that has instilled great fear among the public. In general, it has become extremely difficult to live in Jaffna.
"The Commission for Justice and Peace of Diocese of Jaffna, of which I am a member, is tasked to inform to the Sri Lanka Government and the Sri Lanka Army (SLA), the difficulties and injustice faced by the people in the peninsula. The members of this organization are not affiliated with any political group. As a result, the representatives of the various international and local organizations visiting the peninsula contact us to find out the situation prevailing in the north. We keep them informed of the problems faced by the people living there.
"What we really need is peace. The A9 highway has to be reopened for the use of people of Jaffna and only then people can begin to see normalcy. We have been stressing this fact to the representatives of the international community(IC). Although many listen to our grievances, but nothing has yet been done to rectify the situation. Whether we gain any benefit or not, we continue to inform the hardships faced by our people.
"Whenever we meet the president of Sri Lanka and his representatives they treat us with respect and listen to l what we say, but they also fail to implement the promises they make.
"During early part of this year, my self together with the Bishops of Anuradhapura and Mannar met president Rajapakse and explained to him in detail all our problems. We advised him to resume the peace talks to find a solution for our problems.
"Peace cannot be achieved in this country by military activities and any attempts to find a solution by such methods will only result in threatening the people still more. Such an act will only result in the opposite of Peace .Peace can be achieved only by dialogue .That is why in our Christmas message for this year, we have requested that the Government of Sri Lanka to stop military activities and resume peace talks."
The Government of Mahinda Rajapaksa has not proposed any solution for any of the problems faced by Tamil community. If they provide some form of solution then we can analyze it and point out any drawbacks in the suggested solution and provide our opinion as to whether it will be an appropriate solution for the problems of Tamils. However the coalition government has not provided any solutions or proposals to resolve the ethnic conflict. Only Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has proposed a solution which is 15 years old. No one can accept that kind of proposals. The Bishops too have not accepted it.
ďAll the political parties in the south have to unite and provide a unanimous solution representing the consensus of the South. In that case we are willing to review it to see whether it will be a panacea for the problems faced by the Tamils.
When the representative of Vatican, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Mario Zenari talked to me last week, he asked from me about the plight of Jaffna Tamils and the various incidents of civilians dying of air attacks by Kfir jets. I explained everything to him in great detail and he expressed his desire to see everything in person.
"We have not received any new information about the abduction of Rev.Fr.Jim Brown but the officials of Criminal investigations Department (CID) are still conducting investigations. Two weeks ago, a CID officer from Colombo came to meet me. He only knew Sinhala. I was shocked to realize how he could conduct investigations without working knowledge in Tamil and English to collect evidence on the disappearance of Fr. Brown.
"When I think of this it appears that such actions are being taken due to pressure from International Community and to hood wink them into believing that action is being taken to continue the investigation. The government is taking such actions as an eye wash without any sincerity in finding the culprits.
The Bishop expressed serious concern on media freedom that has been severely threatened in Sri Lanka in the recent times.
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