Mannar Bishop, TNA protest against war  crimes report delay

* Jaffna prelate skips demo due to political presence


By Shamindra Ferdinando

A section of protesting TNA activists in Jaffna

Bishop of Mannar Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph on Tuesday (Feb 24) joined a Tamil National Alliance (TNA)-led demonstration in Jaffna against the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) delaying the release of a report that dealt with accountability issues in Sri Lanka during the war as well as post-conflict period.

Addressing protesters, Rt. Rev. Joseph strongly condemned the postponement of the report consequent to a request by the new Sri Lankan government.

The UNHRC now will unveil its report in Sept. 2015, though it had earlier planned to present it during next month’s session. The UN conducted the probe in accordance with resolution 25/1 adopted in March last year.

Alleging that the UNHRC had deceived the Tamil people, the priest stressed that Tamils had no faith in a domestic war crimes investigation under any government.

TNA MP Suresh Premachandran was among those who joined the demonstration.

Jaffna based sources told The Island that 1,000 to 1,200 persons, mostly Jaffna University undergraduates had joined the protest. Asked whether there had been any untoward  incidents, sources said that protesters had dispersed peacefully after handing over a petition to Rt. Rev. Joseph to be submitted to UN.

The Jaffna protest followed Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran’s call for a broader UN investigation into what the retired Supreme Court judge called genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka. CM Wigneswaran’s call on Feb. 10, 2015 received the backing of 15 Tamil organisations based in the US, Europe, Australia as well as Scandinavian countries.

Some of the Jaffna protesters displayed pictures of LTTE cadres killed during the conflict, according to sources.

The Diocese of Jaffna yesterday said that the Bishop of Jaffna Most Rev. Thomas Savundranayagam had refrained from joining the protest due to the participation of politicians in the event.

Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) leader Mavai S. Senathiraja said that he couldn’t respond to a query posed by The Island due to a mobile phone signal problem. However, he had not replied to our question sent to him via SMS until last evening.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church yesterday told The Island that priests hadn’t been directed to participate in events meant to highlight social issues, though they weren’t supposed to throw their weight behind political projects.

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