Mannar Bishop appeals to President

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 06 April 1999, 23:12 GMT]
The Bishop of Mannar, Rt.Rev.Dr.Rayappu Joseph, has said that the Sri Lankan Army is using refugees around the Madhu church area as a human shield. The Bishop has asked the President to remove the Army from the 400 square areas of church land surrounding Our Lady of Madhu.

"The recent entry of the Sri Lankan Army into the sacred Precincts and its continued presence there in large numbers with its war machines and weapons using the innocent refugees as its human shield is religiously very painful and humanely untenable" he said in a letter addressed to the President.

The historical Shrine of Our Lady Madhu has served the country as Spiritual Abode of Prayer and Meditation for the last 350 years and in a very special manner during the last 100 years, said the Bishop.

The common and neutral nature of the shrine has contributed to its serenity and peace and it has always been a zone of peace out of bounds to all armed groups, he further said.

"Besides, its precincts had since 1990 become a heaven for war refugees and is functioning at the moment as an Open Relief Centre under the international mandate of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) housing at present over 10,000 refugees in its 400 acre sacred precincts," Dr.Rayappu Joseph noted in the letter.

The Bishop further said that the presence of an armed force had robbed the spiritual site of all its serenity and peace and that the area had been turned into a potential location of armed conflict not only endangering the lives of the refugees but also threatening the 'Sacred Edifice of the Shrine and the Venerable Statue of Our Lady of Madhu' .

He has described this in all respects is a very serious situation.

The Bishop urged the President to treat the subject with all the urgency and earnestness it deserved by immediately ordering the removal of all armed security forces from the area.

 

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