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SLA enters Madu shrine

[TamilNet, Friday, 25 April 2008, 11:55 GMT]
Government of Sri Lanka on Friday officially admitted that the Sri Lanka Army had entered the Madu Shrine. Analysts in Colombo observed that the move, which comes in the wake of the SLA debacle in the Northern Front, was timed to divert increasing focus on recent SLA casualties prior to the provincial elections in the east. Meanwhile, Informed sources in Vanni told TamilNet that the SLA had been stationed 1.5 km away from the Shrine for weeks and it could have entered the Shrine at any time as LTTE defensive units were strictly kept away from the peace zone.

Armed soldiers at holy premises of Madhu
Armed SLA soldiers in uniform at holy premises of Madhu (Photo: Lankadissent.com)
Armed soldiers at holy premises of Madhu
Armed SLA soldiers in uniform at holy premises of Madhu (Photo: Lankadissent.com)
All civilians had vacated the area, which was located inside the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam administered territory, before the priests left the Shrine with the statue of Our Lady of Madu. Bishop of Mannaar, Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph, told TamilNet on 03 April that he had instructed the remaining four reverend priests, four reverend sisters and five civilian assistants to flee the premises of the Madu Church with the statue of Our Lady.

"This is the first time Our Lady of Madu becomes refugee in her own land," Mannaar Bishop had said.

Later, the Sacred Heart Church of the Madu Shrine complex was destroyed in shelling, according to the photos taken by a photojournalist attached to the Eelanatham daily, who risked to visit the Shrine on 06 April.

"Any desecration of Madu is likely to be understood as an effort of the Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism to erase out the symbols of other religions and thus serving a spiritual blow which is the most dreaded stage in the process of ethnic cleansing," Vanni District Parliamentarian Selvam Adaikkalanathan told TamilNet on 08 April.

"The social and cultural formation of Tamil Christianity, especially the Tamil Catholicism, is about 500-years old. Madu Church is the foremost symbol of this phenomenon. It is also looked upon with the same feeling by the Sinhala Catholicism of the western coast which was once part of the Tamil Catholic identity," the MP, who is a catholic hailing from Vidaththaltheevu in Mannaar told TamilNet.

9 years ago, on 20 November 1999, Sri Lanka Army (SLA) troops, numbering around 300, who had taken up positions in the environs of Madu church allegedly fired shells from their tanks, killing 33 Tami refugees on the spot inside the Sacred Heart Chapel. More than 60 IDPs were wounded. Four of the victims died later at the hospital and 12 of the killed were children below 18. Around 3000 IDPs had taken refuge in the precincts of Madu shrine at that time.

Three months ago, on 29 January 2008, 20 civilians including 11 school children were killed when Sri Lanka Army Deep Penetration Unit (DPU) triggered a Claymore mine targeting a civilian bus close to the Madu shrine.


Related Articles:
21.11.99   Wounded Madhu refugees allege SLA fired
21.11.99   37 killed at Madhu church


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