Fr. Karunaratnam remembered on First anniversary

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 21 April 2009, 11:24 GMT]
Mr. K.Sivapalan, Deputy Chairperson of North East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESoHR), on the first year anniversary of the killing of founder Chairperson of NESoHR, Rev.Father Mariampillai Xavier Karunaratnam, recounts his services to the community, and asks why the International Community is standing by as a Rwanda unfolds in Vanni. Father Karunaratnam was killed by the Deep Penetration Unit (DPU) of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) on 20th April 2008 while he was driving from his residential prayer and counseling center in Vavunikku'lam.

Rev. Father M X Karunaratnam
Rev. Father M X Karunaratnam
Popularly known as ,'Kili father', he hails from the village of Karaveddy in Jaffna district, and has been a Teacher and a Bank Employee before he decided to become a Priest to serve the people he loved.

He worked tirelessly to change the conditions of the poor and oppressed. He felt the need of the day to fight against the Human Rights violations faced by the Tamil people especially the youth, who were subjected to arbitrary arrests and torture making use of the two draconian laws, The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the Emergency Regulations.

He was a dedicated humanitarian worker. When the Tsunami devastated the lives of our people, in addition to providing food and shelter, he also coordinated through NESOHR counseling services for the kith and kin of the deceased.

He worked to regain the rights of the Tamil people tirelessly and ultimately made the supreme sacrifice for it at the hands of his killers.

K. Sivapalan
K. Sivapalan
We, the co-founders of NESOHR, along with the Tamil people and other Human Rights activists remember him with profound sorrow on his first death anniversary. It is indeed a bad reflection of times that even NESOHR, the only independent Human Rights Organization of the people of the Northeast finds it difficult to function in the present calamitous situation in Vanni caused by a tyrannical regime watched by the mute International community which dare not order them to stop the war.

NESoHR is deeply concerned about the carnage that is unfolding in the Vanni Region. For months now people who were already living in Vanni and the IDPs who were involuntarily and forcibly displaced from the government controlled mannar area and the West Vanni region, by bombing and shelling by the GOSL, numbering over 300,000, who have sought safety in Vanni are facing sub-human conditions without shelter, food, drinking water, medicine and adequate medical attention.

They are being killed like animals even on a 'Poya' day(the Buddist religious day), according to Mr. Ananadasangari. What is going on is a slur on Humanity and the powerful governments and the International community are standing by as mute witnesses.

The Government of Sri Lanka(GOSL) is staging a farce with intermittent announcements of 'pause',' stoppage of war' , and 'ceasefire' whilst artillery shelling, aerial bombardment, RPG and MBRL attacks,which cannot be targeted with sufficient precision to be accurate against military targets, are going on unabated. Weapons of mass destruction are being used freely on innocent people.

Even hospitals and self declared 'Safety Zones' of GOSL are being subjected to target bombing. Between December 15, 2008 and Feb 10,2009 alone there had been 20 instances of deliberate attacks on hospitals in Vanni. This no doubt is a 'War crime'. Pregnant mothers and new born babies and children have been killed in large numbers.

UNICEF and Special Representative of the UN Secretary- General for Children and armed Conflict, Ms Radhika Coomaraswamy's voice is hardly heard during this disastrous time for Tamil children.

Dead bodies are strewn all over. Babies are hanging on trees and fences.

Elsewhere in Vavunia Tamil IDPS are kept in internment camps behind Razor barbed wires under army guard. Their fundamental rights of movement and UN guiding principles on IDPS are being blatantly violated. Even injured IDPS in hospitals cannot be visited by their relatives, Journalist or even members of Parliament.

A delegation of 37 Parlimentarians for human rights lead by Jayalath Jayawardena, M.P., has been denied access to IDPS camps. Young men and women in the IDP camps are reported to be interrogated in the nights by police and military inteligent personnels. Males and females of all ages moving out of Vanni area are being stripped naked beyond any norms of decency.

In spite of the joint statement of the ten UN Rapporteurs and special representatives on the Human Rights situations in SriLanka criticising enforced disappearence and Involuntary removals, extra judicial killings ect., no action has been taken by the GOSL to stop the blatant violations of Human Rights. The tyrannical Regime of Rajapakses is waging a Genocidal War on the Tamils in Vanni. Even causing serious mental harm to an Ethnical, Racial or religious group is enough to cause 'Genocide' according to the UN convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of Genocide and GOSL has already surpassed these elements of Genocide.

Kofi Annan at the 61st sessions of the Human Rights Commission lamented that we can not afford to have another Rwanda. It is indeed lamentable that none of the members of the International Community has requested the Sri Lanka Government to stop the war altogether.

Lt.General Romeo Dallaire, the Head of Mission of the U N Chapter 6 Peace Keeping Force in Rwanda stated, in his book, 'Shake hands with Devil- The failure of Humanity in Rwanda', "What is the reason for this attitude of the developed Nations? In the Twentieth Century self-interest, sovereignty and taking care of number one, became the primary criteria for any serious provision of support or resourses to the world's trouble spots. If the country in question is of any possible strategic value to the world powers, then it seems that everything from covert operations to the outright use of overwhelming force is fair game. If not, indifference is the order of the day. To imagine that these same world powers have magically leapt ahead in this new age of humanity (as Kofi Anan named it in his seminal speech at the millennium UN General Assembly in September, 2000) could not be further from the truth. It will take the world's dedicated will and means to move from the 20th century - the century of 'Genocide' to the century of Humanity."

Does the International community want to stand-by whilst another Rwanda unfolds in Vanni? Do they want 'Post-conflict development' when in fact the conflict has got an extended lease of life as wars can only win territories but can not bring solution to the conflict.

Deputy Chairperson,
North-East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESoHR)


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