||Home > Justice and Peace > 2014-01-09 17:07:12
Mannar bishop wants international probe in Sri Lanka
January 9, 2014: The Catholic bishop of Mannar, Sri Lanka, has called for an international investigation into alleged war crimes against Tamils in Sri Lanka saying people have no confidence in an internal process.
"We urgently need an international investigation to ascertain the truth about alleged war crimes, given that most of the Tamils in the north and east of the country no longer have confidence in an internal process," said Bishop Rayappu Joseph.
Such an investigation "will contribute to reconciliation," he reportedly said in note to the Vatican news service Fides pointing out that many priests, lawyers, journalists and activists who have tried to cooperate with the institutions on the topic of "war crimes" have been threatened and intimidated.
"On many occasions, the police and the Commission for Human Rights have even refused to accept complaints. Thousands of cases of human rights violations, sexual abuse, murder, disappearances, extrajudicial killings remain unpunished," he said.
The Sri Lankan government categorically rejects the idea of an international investigation and the Bishop was labeled as "a political activist" because of his demand for an outside investigation.
"There are too many controversial issues in Sri Lanka: people who disappear, others arrested and illegally detained, tortured or killed in prison. I hug, talk and deal with the aspirations of the faithful who live in my diocese and, more generally, throughout Sri Lanka. For me it is a human, spiritual and religious mission," he said. According to him people in the north and east of the country "still live in fear. The women live in fear of being raped. Others live in fear that the military seize their lands. Many who are in prison live in fear of being tortured. And all those who criticize the government, including representatives of many churches, live in fear and insecurity".
He questioned the need of high number of armed forces in the North and East of the country "Why can’t one completely restore the civil administration in those areas, such as in the rest of the country?" He denounced "the colonization sponsored by the state in the Tamil areas" to create an electoral imbalance and progressively eliminate the language, the culture and customs of a people.
"In Sri Lanka we have a lot to learn from South Africa. There, the majority was dominated by the minority; in Sri Lanka there is a majority that dominates a minority. In Sri Lanka, the government, which is accused of war crimes and massive violations of human rights, is still in power, and is reluctant to committing itself in genuine dialogue".