NPC condemns Rev Fr Karunaratnam assassination

[TamilNet, Monday, 21 April 2008, 12:08 GMT]
The assassination of Rev. Father M X Karunaratnam, Chairman of the North East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESoHR), who succumbed to injuries sustained in a remote controlled claymore mine attack that had targeted him within the LTTE controlled territory where he lived and worked is a shocking and callous act. Fr Karunaratnam died in close proximity to his residential prayer and counseling centre which was a haven to those who suffered the travails of the ongoing war. As head of NESoHR which was set up in July 2004, as part of the 2002 Peace Process, Fr Karunaratnam worked tirelessly to strengthen the human rights protection mechanisms in the North East of Sri Lanka, the NPC said.

Full text of the press release issued by the NPC follows:

A Lamentable Loss to Civil Society and to the Country

NESoHR meeting
Jehan Perera of NPC took part in a meeting organised on Human Rights Day, on December 10, 2005, by NESoHR
The killing of Fr Karunaratnam adds to the heavy toll of humanitarian, human rights and religious workers killed in the course of the ethnic conflict. The National Peace Council condemns this targeted killing of a senior Catholic priest and human rights worker. In addition to his many contributions to society, Fr Karunaratnam helped to facilitate some of NPCís own peace programmes and study tours in the Wanni and Jaffna.

As head of NESoHR which was set up in July 2004, as part of the 2002 Peace Process, Fr Karunaratnam worked tirelessly to strengthen the human rights protection mechanisms in the North East of Sri Lanka. He was active in highlighting recruitment of children by the LTTE and worked tirelessly for their release. Fr Karunaratnam also sought to publicise the human rights violations to which the people living in the north east, particularly the Wanni region, were subjected to. He publicly criticised the government for many of the sufferings inflicted upon the Tamil people and challenged the national human rights institutions to live up to their mandates.

Fr. Karunaratnam entered the priesthood relatively late in life having started his career with Bank of Ceylon before opting to become a priest. He had many friends among the majority Sinhala community. He was fluent in the Sinhala language and saw the whole country as his home.

The LTTE has accused the deep penetration unit of the Sri Lankan military for the killing of Fr Karunaratnam. Whoever perpetrated this evil act has taken away yet another bridge builder who loved the whole country. While it may never be known who was responsible for his assassination we are convinced that another moderate voice has been stilled. Fr Kili, as he was popularly known, had a deep love and commitment to build bridges between ethnic and religious communities in Sri Lanka. The National Peace Council laments his loss.

Executive Director
On behalf of Governing Council


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