Responding to Mannar Bishop Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph’s call for an international war crimes probe, the Defence Ministry yesterday accused the priest of working closely with the LTTE pushing for external intervention in Sri Lanka.
The ministry alleged that the clergyman was most probably working with the UK headquartered Global Tamil Forum (GTF) headed by Rev. Father, S. J. Emmanuel.
Had the Mannar Bishop been genuinely concerned about the well being of Tamil speaking people, he would have urged the one-time co-chairs of Sri Lanka’s peace process, namely the US, EU, Norway and Japan to turn the heat on the LTTE when the group quit the negotiating table in April 2003, during the tenure of the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, a senior Defence Ministry spokesman told The Island.
The official said that the Bishop of Mannar had remained silent as long as he felt the LTTE would overwhelm the army on the Vanni front. Responding to a query, the official said that the government was confident that the vast majority of Northerners as well as Easterners appreciated the eradication of terrorism in May 2009.
The Defence Ministry alleged that the Bishop of Mannar had turned a blind eye to LTTE atrocities, particularly the use of children as cannon fodder throughout the conflict and he had never opposed the LTTE’s decision to hold the civilian population as a shield until the very end.
Since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009, the LTTE had been working overtime to undermine the post-war national reconciliation process, the spokesman said.
The ministry said that the international community would be briefed on the Bishop’s longstanding relationship with the LTTE. The latest petition submitted by a group of Catholic clergy was meant to convey to the world that the situation was worse now than during the war, the ministry said. (The Island)