SLN permits worship in Ma’ndaitheevu St. Peter’s church after 20 years
[TamilNet, Saturday, 23 January 2010, 15:03 GMT]
Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) occupying Ma’ndaitheevu in the islets of Jaffna since 1990 allowed people to worship in St. Peter’s Church in Ma’ndaitheevu Friday, sources in Jaffna said. Jaffna Bishop, Rt. Rev. Thomas Soudaranayagam and the SLN top officials stationed in the islets of Jaffna were present on the occasion, sources added. However, only a group of people permitted to resettle in Ma’ndaitheevu were allowed to participate in the mass. Meanwhile, Jaffna Bishop stressed that the armed forces should vacate the surroundings of the church so that residents could observe their religious rites freely.
SLN officer for Oorkaavattu’rai, Sam Samarasinghe, Ma’ndaitheevu SLN officer Abeywardene and Pungudutheevu SLN officer Mahanantha were some of the SLN participated in the mass.
Sri Lanka Armed forces occupied Ma’ndaitheevu in 1990 in order to prevent Liberation Tigers capturing Jaffna Fort.
All residents of Ma’ndaitheevu were evicted and the area was declared High Security Zone (HSZ) by the government since then.
Now SLN occupies around 50 houses in Ma’ndaitheevu and the presence of the armed forces does not permit people to worship freely in the church, the people of Ma’ndaitheevu complained.