Bishops protest SLA's presence in Madhu

[TamilNet, Saturday, 10 April 1999, 12:47 GMT]
Deputy Minister of Defense Anuruddha Ratwatte speaking on the extension of emergency in Parliament yesterday said that the Army is in Madhu to clear the LTTE from the area and to make Madhu safe for civilians.

He told the Parliament that the Army will pull out from the sacred precincts as soon as the Army achieves this objective.

The emergency was passed later yesterday afternoon with 103 votes for and 6 against. The SLMC, CWC and EPDP voted with Government. TELO (1) and the TULF (5) voted against. The UNP, PLOTE and JVP were absent.

Meanwhile over 2000 people, including 45 Parish Priests from the Mannar district, took part in a prayer-fast on Friday from 6 a.m to 1.30 p.m. protesting the presence of Sri Lanka Army soldiers in sacred precincts in Madhu.

The prayer-fast was led by the Bishop of Mannar Rev. Rayappu Joseph.

The Bishop of Ratnapura, Rev. Ranjith Malcolm, also took part in the prayers.

Rev. Rayappu Joseph said that the reason given by the Government for the presence of SLA in the sacred area of Madhu is not acceptable.

"There are signs that fighting may breakout at any time. The SLA is using the 20000 refugees as human shields. We cannot permit this situation to continue," said Rev. Malcolm.

Meanwhile Civil Affair Officer, Col. Senanayaka, said yesterday evening that SLA camp situated at the Assistant Government Agent's Office (AGA) near the Madhu Church has been moved to Pandivirichchan and another camp situated at a school on the Madhu-Thadchanamadhu road will be relocated soon.


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