Feature Article

CBK, Kadirgamar condemned at Navaali genocidal massacre remembrance event

[TamilNet, Saturday, 11 July 2020, 03:40 GMT]
SL Foreign Minister in 1995, the late Lakshman Kadirgamar, a Tamil, denied that Colombo had carried out the massacre targeting St Peters Church in Navaali. It has taken 25 years for the then SL President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (CBK) to admit it to some extent, and that too as an incidental one 4 km away from the battlefield, Rev Fr SJ Emmanuel observed in his speech. He blamed not only Kadirgamar and CBK but also the Sinhala Catholic establishment as well as sections of Tamil Catholic priesthood for failing to speak the truth about the attack. Tamil politician MK Shivajilingam said CBK had failed to admit the nature of the crime. “It is not an accidental event of dropping a parcel. The bombers targeted the church with 13 bombs,” he said. Former NPC Councillor Ananthy Sasitharan said the chain of attacks including Chemma'ni mass graves establishes that they were premeditated.

Former TNA Parliamentarian and political leader of Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) Mr M.K. Shivajilingam and former Provincial Councillor and Ms Ananthy Sasitharan, the wife of former Trincomalee political head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) strongly condemned former SL President CBK for failing to admit SL State responsibility for Navaali church massacre committed by the SL Air Force under her command.

CBK was dodging responsibility and the nature of the crime in her recent remarks, they said.

“Tamils also remember that 600 Tamils were massacred and dumped in Chemma'ni grounds by SL forces under Madame Chandrika’s command. She is now trying to project these attacks as accidents,” Mr Shivajilingam said stressing that the air attack on Navaali Church was a clear case of genocidal crime.

“Now she agrees that we have the right to commemorate the victims, but fails to admit the nature of the crime. It is not an accidental event of dropping a parcel. The bombers targeted the church with 13 bombs,” he said.

Shivajilingam and Ananthy Sasitharan talked to media outside the church after the episode on Thursday.

Their remarks came after a hitherto unknown Tamil, David Navaratnaraj, was making political statements while the SL Police was blocking Mr Shivajilingam at the event.

On Friday, Mr Shivajlingam directed his criticism towards Mr Navaratnaraj, who is contesting the forthcoming elections representing Vasudeva Nanayakara's Democratic Left Front, which is aligned with the Rajapaksa regime.

“These alliances that collaborate with Rajapaksa regime are much worse than the Kadirgamar and CBK alliance that carried out the carnage,” Mr Shivajilingam told TamilNet in a separate audio comment on Friday.

David Navaratnarajah walks between Mahinda Rajapaksa and Angajan Ramanathan wearing red and white. D
David Navaratnarajah walks between Mahinda Rajapaksa and Angajan Ramanathan wearing red and white. Douglas Devandanda in white and white

Ananthy Sasitharan, while addressing media outside the church on Thursday said the chain of the attacks witnessed during the CBK times and in the successive regimes established the fact that they were premeditated.

Rev Fr SJ Emmanuel was Vicar General of the diocese of Jaffna at that time. He was in Kozhumputh-thu'rai near the city of Jaffna when he heard about the brutal massacre. He immediately informed the Bishop of Jaffna. But, the Bishop was not prepared to visit the spot to witness the carnage. Then, he proceeded to Jaffna Teaching hospital with Fr Jeyaseelan. There they saw the dead bodies were piled on each other. Later, he came to the site of the attack, Navaali Church, and reported the killings to BBC and other media.

It was not the only incident Fr Emmanuel had witnessed.

At Naakar-koayil he saw 28 children getting killed in school uniform. Thirty-seven people were killed at St James and the list continued. What he witnessed was profoundly painful, he said in his memorial speech at the church.

Whenever Emmanuel spoke about the massacres, Colombo was quick to label him as ‘terrorist’, he recalled.

Emmanuel and CBK
CBK still not prepared to admit SL State responsibility for Navaali Church massacre that took place under her command. Fr Emmanuel, here seen with CBK, criticised her and the late Lakshman Kadirgamar for hiding the brutal massacre
The CBK government hid the incident. SL Foreign Minister at that time, the late Lakshman Kadirgamar, maintained that the incident never happened, Fr Emmanuel observed.

Recently, CBK said the incident had happened by accident, 4 km from the battle zone.

Sinhala Buddhists in the South did not care, and the Christians among the Sinhalese also did not show any solidarity with the victims, he said.

Whatever happens one must speak the truth bravely, Fr Emmanuel continued.

“The SL government and its military are still intimidating us. But, we have to go the right way, and we have to walk in the light. We have to raise the voice for the community,” he said.

Fr Emmanuel, who was associated with the Tamil struggle in the past, later became a proponent of the so-called Singapore Principles-based discourse of 2013 as a representative of the UK-based outfit, the Global Tamil Forum (GTF).

Emmanuel joined hands with TNA's MA Sumanthiran, former SL Minister Mangala Samaraweera, SL Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe and the former SL President CBK.

But, on Thursday, while addressing the participants of the remembrance event at Navaali St Peters, he openly criticised CBK.

He urged the Tamils to be armed with truth and sustain their “Veeram” (valour/courage). The remembrance events would strengthen their resolve to achieve justice in their just struggle. It is a long and tedious path, Fr Emmanuel said.

When 250 people were slain in the attacks in South last year, Tamil priests momentarily showed their solidarity by joining hands with the Sinhalese. But, when massacres took place in North back in the 1990s, no one among the Sinhala Catholics was prepared even to admit the nature of the attacks, he said.

“The lack of solidarity will not erase the truth.”

Fr Emmanuel thanked rights activist Ruki Fernando and fellow Sinhalese who had come from the South to take part in the 25th remembrance of the massacre.

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