Jaffna Bishop urges SL President to stop bombardment

[TamilNet, Friday, 16 January 2009, 14:35 GMT]
Jaffna Bishop Rt. Rev. Thomas Saundaranayagam has urged the Sri Lankan President and Commander-in-Chief of the Lankan armed forces to stop all shelling and aerial bombings at civilian places in Vanni, in an urgent letter sent to President Mahinda Rajapakse Monday, before the latest mass exodus towards Puthukkudiyiruppu. "It is the duty of the Government to open a safe corridor for the safety of the civilians. Please stop all shelling and aerial bombings at civilian places," the Bishop said in his letter titled "Humble but urgent request to stop shelling on civilian places in Vanni."

Owing to the ongoing shelling and aerial bombings by the Sri Lankan forces on civilians who have taken refuge on the Paranthan Mullaiththeevu A35 Road, the people are getting killed and many sustain injuries daily, the Bishop said in his letter to Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The displaced innocent people are in terrible plight, the Bishop said and noted that he had urged the people to gather in the churches and temples. The preists are also with the people, he said. "Churches and temples are traditionally places of refuge in time of danger in our country," the letter said. However, the situation has worsened to deadlier scales within the last three days, after the letter from the Bishop. The scale of displacement is such that all the civilians could not be accommodated only in churches and temples. The whole area is full of displaced civilians, according to latest reports.

There are also reports of artillery shells exploding inside the premises of Athisaya Vinaayakar temple in Visuvamadu. Earlier, Colombo had announced the whole area as a secure zone, but later intensified attacks inside the region, also dropping cluster bombs on civilian settlements.

Copies of Bishop's letter to the Sri Lankan president have also been sent to the Sri Lankan prime minister, defence minister and to the foreign ambassadors in Colombo.

This is the second appeal made by Rt. Rev. Thomas Saundaranayagam to the President of Sri Lanka this year to immediately stop the aerial strikes unleashed on the innocent civilians in Vanni; the first was made along with his New Year message to Mr. Rajapaksa.

Rt. Rev. Thomas Saundaranayagam had earlier made particular mention of the innocent civilians killed in the aerial strikes on Paranthan and Murasumoaddai areas, in his New Year message to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.


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