Sri Lanka Brief
FeaturesNewsOpen letter to His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith

Open letter to His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith

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Without going into specifics, your general comment on the handling of  the international community infer that you have taken the side of the government to hide the truth about the war and to prevent the much needed fair process of reconciliation and justice for the war victims.
by Rajasingham Jayadevan

This is my brief letter to you.

‘The Official Government News Portal of Sri Lanka’ and the state run ‘Daily News’ reported that you made your observation when you received a group of media personnel at your House on Tuesday (5/7) that ‘Sri
Lanka must rise with one voice before the international community to take the country forward for the benefit of our younger generation’.

Without going into specifics, your general comment on the handling of the international community infer that you have taken the side of the government to hide the truth about the war and to prevent the much needed fair process of reconciliation and justice for the war victims.

If I had misunderstood your inference, I am subject to correction, as your ‘Sri Lanka must rise with one voice’ comment can also be meant of wanting a collective voice to stand with the international community to
bring justice and fair play in Sri Lanka. But unfortunately, I do not wish to subscribe to this assumption, as your comments so far on the post war issues, has not been victim based and has only alluded with
the government’s stand of hiding the truth and campaigning to undermine a due process to be followed on the very serious accountability issue.

This open letter is written with the thoughts of the great leaders of the Catholic diocese like the Late His Eminence Cardinal Sinn of Philippines who played an important role to remove the discredited dictator Marcos and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa who campaigned against the Apartheid regime and Chaired the very successful Truth and Reconciliation Commission to heal the wounds of his nation.

Unfortunately, your stand so far has been pro-government and failed to focus on the failures that has brought about the international pressures and only aimed to provide solace to the unjust government.I am the nephew of Late Rev Dr Donald J Kanagaratnam, the one time Anglican Archdeacon of the Northern Sri Lanka until he passed away. He is one of those arbitrarily arrested and put behind bars with the Catholic Fr Sinnarasa and Fr Singarajah in 1983 on unfounded allegations of the state security forces soon after the anti-Tamil
pogrom. My uncle who had helped the cross section of the Sri Lankans

beyond the communal divide was arrested by none other than the Superintendent of Police of Vavuniya Mr Liyanage. When my uncle asked for the reasons for his arrest in a godly way, Liyanage’s response was
‘Father! There is no God at the moment in this country. If I want, I can shoot and kill you and I do not have to justify my conduct’.

Liyanage’s comment in 1983 is still the agenda of the government that is not prepared to be accountable of its conduct.When I met my uncle in 1992, he took me around to meet the religious heads of Buddhist, Hindu and Islam religions. The harmony that prevailed was unbelievable and was very touching. I recall him saying
to me how he was able to persuade the President Premadasa at a public meeting attended by the religious leaders to remove the army stationed at the Shiva temple in Vavuniya. His words still has not faded from my
memory. He publicly appealed to the President by telling him that ‘the presence of the army in the Hindu temple is hurting the feelings of the Hindu community and I appeal to you with great earnest to remove the
sentry immediately’. The response from the President was instantaneous and he publicly pledged for the removal of the sentry and kept his word by removing it soon after.

What this experience shows is of the responsibility the religious leaders have to respond to the needs at the times of crisis by not alluding with the violators and propping up their mission, but to respond to the cries of the pained and the condemned. I regret your stand on the war in Sri Lanka is not a drop of tears for the victims but is to play the trumpet for the state’s hopeless music to justify its conduct.

At the time when persons of eminence who have to stand for justice are not peddling their way in the righteous and responsible way, your stand on the very serious issues of war crimes makes me nauseous. I feel that
you are unable to come off your Sinhala hegemonic mindset or that you have lost the senses to understand the pains of the victims of the war because they are not your race and of the hated stock.

Your eminent position as Cardinal is not a status to cry with the foul players, but to steer the way forward to speak for the suffering people.

I hope this brief letter will touch your conscience and help guide Sri Lanka in the just way forward.
Yours sincerely
R Jayadevan
A victim of the failures of Sri Lanka
who have paid a heavy price like many others
for being born a Tamil in the Island nation.
SLG

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