SLA deprives Tamil devotees from attending Madu Shrine

[TamilNet, Friday, 15 August 2008, 21:14 GMT]
Sri Lanka Army (SLA) hierarchy in Mannaar blocked Friday Tamil Catholic devotees from taking part in the special mass of blessing from Our Lady of Madu. Tamil Catholic devotees from Mannaar and Vavuniyaa were deprived from taking part in the mass, according to sources associated with the Church. Around 500 Catholic devotees from the South along with three Sri Lankan ministers were escorted by the Police to take part in Friday's blessings in Madu. However, Tamil speaking devotees who were present at Madawachchi were refused entry by the Police.

The statue of Our Lady of Madu was taken back to the church last Saturday and Sri Lankan forces announced that the devotees could visit Madu church.

This year, Madu feast was not held due to the prevailing conditions in the surrounding area of the Madu shrine.

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP for Vanni district, Sivanathan Kishore said that when he informed SLA command that he wanted to travel to Madu, he was told to report to Madawaachchi, in order to be escorted by police to enter the church. If he wanted to travel on his own, he should have clearance from the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry to travel to Madu, Mr. Kishore was told Friday.

Similarly several Catholic priests in Mannaar and Vavuniyaa requested the Sri Lankan forces to allow the devotees to visit Madu. But, they were told whoever want to travel to Madu should have to be escorted by the Police from Madawachchi.

Kishore said he had to abandon his trip to the Madu Shrine, due to the inordinate procedures imposed by the SLA, designed to discourage Tamil Catholics from attending.

541 Catholic devotees from South, along with three ministers, took part in the blessings at the Shrine.

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