The Right to memorialisation of Tamils & harassment of Tamil activist leading memorialisation

Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim civil society activists have co-signed  statement on the continuing harassment of Rev Fr Elil Rajendram over his efforts to conduct a remembrance event on May 18.
See below for full statement. PDF can be found here.

 

We, the undersigned individuals and organisations, strongly condemn the continued police harassment of Rev. Fr. Elil Rajendram, a Tamil Catholic Priest belonging to the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), based in Mullaithivu, Northern Sri Lanka.

 

Many of us have met and know of Fr. Elil through his human rights activism. He has been working with Tamil war survivors and families of victims, supporting their struggles and advocating for their rights. He is known for his engagement and collaboration with Sinhalese activists from other parts of Sri Lanka, inviting and hosting them in the North, and often travelling down to Colombo for dialogues. He has also been engaging with the international community and the government. Last year, he had served as the district Chairperson of the Zonal Task Force of the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms, an initiative of the Sri Lankan government.

 

Fr. Elil was instrumental in organizing a memorial service in Mullivaikkaal on 18th May, the day and place Sri Lanka’s three decade long war came a to a bloody end.  This year, the memorial involved families carving names of their loved ones who had been killed in the war on stones, and placing them by a monument that was placed there on the 18th of May last year. Carving of names on stones was a way for family members to remember their killed loved ones, especially as most had no grave.

 

During the preparations, the organizers were subjected to regular surveillance and intimidation. Fr. Elil and the youth hired to inscribe names on the stones, were then summoned and questioned by the Police on 16th and 19th May respectively. He was summoned to the Police again on 22nd May, but was told by a senior police officer not to report to the police, but that the investigation would continue, implying that he would be subjected to continued scrutiny. A consistent demand of the police has been a full list of the names that were, and were to be carved on the stones. In the meantime, on 17th May, the police had obtained a Court Order stopping Fr. Elil and others from holding the memorial event at the pre-planned site in Mullivaikkaal. Though the Order was challenged in the court, the courts didn’t allow the event to go ahead as planned, and only allowed a memorial event to be held in the nearby church.

 

At the same time, the Sri Lankan government had organized a memorial service for “war heroes” on 19th May, in Colombo, with the patronage of the President. This was following a series of such events throughout the country, during the month of May, which had been named “War Heroes Month”.

 

The policy and practice of the present and former governments towards remembrance of the war dead and memorialisation is blatantly discriminatory towards Tamils, both dead and alive. This is a real obstacle towards peace and unity, and if continued, would only add to further polarisation and mistrust.

 

We affirm that all persons and communities have a right to cry and grieve for family and community members killed, to erect monuments, privately and publicly, individually and collectively. For many families and friends whose loved ones were killed, this is a way to heal their painful past, and move towards the future.

 

Thus, we appreciate and fully support the work of Fr. Elil and others, towards the realisation of this universal right, which is a crucial element of transitional justice and reconciliation. We express our solidarity to them in the context of intimidation, threats and reprisals from the government that they are current facing. We see their work as crucial towards reconciliation and co-existence, and commit to support them.

 

We call on the government to ensure the right to remember and memorialisation of all communities, and stop the persecution of Fr. Elil and others working to realise and promote this right. We condemn the anti-reconciliation policies and actions of the government, extend solidarity and stand by Fr. Elil and others facing persecution, and extend our fullest support to them to continue their important work.

 

Signatories:
Individuals

  1. Ainslie Joseph – Convenor/Chief Animator, Christian Alliance for Social Action (CASA)
  2. Ajayakumar M. K. – India
  3. Anandaraj L. Ponnambalam – New York, USA
  4. Annemari de Silva
  5. Anthony Mary Bastian Coonghe
  6. Anthony Row – General Secretary, Methodist Church in Malaysia
  7. Anthonyaiah Everest Dias CMF
  8. Antony Arulraj – Chennai, India
  9. Gowthaman
  10. Bishop Duleep de Chickera
  11. Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe
  12. Kangatheran
  13. Caryll Tozer
  14. Chandrika de Silva – Writer
  15. Crystal Fernando
  16. Damaris Wickremesekera
  17. Deanne Uyangoda
  18. Deekshya Illangasinghe
  19. Deshakeerthi Dr. Muhammed Muzzammil Cader – Chairperson, Zonal Task Force – Central Province
  20. Deshamanya Godfrey Yogarajah
  21. Dinal Edirisinghe
  22. Joe William
  23. Maureen Ernest
  24. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
  25. Dylan Perera – South Asian Centre for Legal Studies (SACLS)
  26. Jayasree – India
  27. Emil van der Poorten – A supporter of human and civic rights for ALL
  28. Farah Mihlar
  29. Frances Harrison
  30. Francis Xavier – India
  31. Fred Carver
  32. Freddy Gamage – Editor, Meepura
  33. George Mathen – India
  34. George Pulikuthiyil – India
  35. Hamshi Karunarajah
  36. Herman Kumara
  37. Hilary Wirasinha – Diocese of Colombo
  38. Yardsan Figurado
  39. A.N. Neil Priyantha Fernando – Activist for Social Justice
  40. Jacob Thacharattil – India
  41. Jake Oorloff – Artist
  42. Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala
  43. Jeanne Samuel
  44. Jey Iyadurai
  45. Joanne Senn
  46. John Kavalakkatt – India
  47. Johnson Ainikal – India
  48. Aingkaran – Attorney-at-Law
  49. J. Brito Fernando
  50. Kalani Subasinghe
  51. Kochurani Abraham – India
  52. Kolitha Bandara
  53. Kumaran Nadesan
  54. Kusumam Joseph – India
  55. Lakshan Dias – Christian Rights Front
  56. Leslie Augustin
  57. Logan Rasiah
  58. Lourdes Joseph
  59. Lucille Abeykoon
  60. L. Rohan Peries
  61. Manju Kulappuram – India
  62. Mario Arulthas
  63. Mario Gomez
  64. Marisa de Silva
  65. Melani Manel Perera – Journalist
  66. Melisha Yapa
  67. Mohammed Majeed Jansila – Women Activists, Mullaithivu
  68. Mohammed Thahir Kubais – Social Activists, Mullaithivu
  69. N. Gokuldas – India
  70. Nagulan Nesiah
  71. Nigel Nugawela
  72. Nilshan Fonseka
  73. Nirmanusan Balasundaram
  74. Nishanthini Stalin George – Women Activist
  75. Selvaratnam
  76. Sunilkumar – India
  77. J. Williams
  78. M. Mujeebur Rahman – Journalist and Human Rights Defender
  79. N. Singham – Activist
  80. Parakrama Niriella – Dramatist
  81. Paul Joseph Kattookaren – India
  82. Prathibha Perera
  83. Jayantha Seneviratne
  84. Kumar David – LSSP (MG) – Signing in a personal capacity
  85. Ralston Weinman
  86. Bro. Jurinesz R. Shadrach – Church of Ceylon, Diocese of Colombo
  87. Bro. Marious Croos
  88. Bro. Shabilaash
  89. Dr. Jayasiri T. Peiris – Principal, Theological College of Lanka, Pilimatalawa
  90. E.C. Handy
  91. Fr. A.A. Surendrakumar, CMF
  92. Fr. Aloysius Pieris, SJ
  93. Fr. Chandran Crispus
  94. Fr. F.J.G. Croos (Nehru)
  95. Fr. J.C. Paul Rohan
  96. Fr. Jeevantha Peiris
  97. Fr. Jeevaraj Thangarasa, SJ
  98. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
  99. Fr. Lionel Peiris, SSF (Society of St. Francis – Anglican Franciscans)
  100. Fr. M. V. E. Ravichandran
  101. Fr. Manoj Rasanjana, OP (Order of Preachers)
  102. Fr. Nandana Manatunga
  103. Fr. Nandana Saparamadu
  104. Fr. Niroshan de Mel
  105. Fr. Oswald Firth, OMI
  106. Fr. Pan Jordan
  107. Fr. Reid Shelton Fernando
  108. Fr. Rohan Dominic
  109. Fr. S.D.P. Selvan
  110. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda – Christian Solidarity Movement
  111. Fr. Sherard Jayawardane
  112. Fr. Terence Fernando
  113. Jason J. Selvaraja – Assembly of God, Chavakachcheri
  114. Maxwell Doss
  115. Sr. Beatrice Fernando, SDS
  116. Sr. Jenita Ragel
  117. Sr. Jeyam
  118. Sr. Matilda Lazarus
  119. Sr. Naomi
  120. Sr. Nichola
  121. Sr. Noel Christine Fernando
  122. Sr. Patricia Sandana Savary, SDS
  123. Sr. Rajeswary Arokianathar, SDS
  124. Sr. Rasika Pieris
  125. Rex Bowie
  126. Richard Gowing
  127. Rohini Hensman – Writer and Activist
  128. Revd. Dan Kgomosotho Dd(Hc) – Bishop of Mpumalanga, South Africa
  129. Ruki Fernando
  130. C.C. Elankovan
  131. Sampath Samarakoon – Editor, Vikalpa
  132. Sarah Arumugam – Attorney-at-Law
  133. Sebastian K. Jose – India
  134. Selvaraja Rajasegar
  135. Selvy Thiruchandran
  136. Shayma Silva
  137. Sheila Richards
  138. Shenali De Silva
  139. Shiran Illanperuma
  140. Shreen Abdul Saroor
  141. Sinthuka Vivekananthan – Youth Activist
  142. Sivasanthirabos Sureshkumar
  143. Sivasaravanabavan Sunthareswaran – Civil Society Activist, Tamil Civil Society
    Forum (TCSF), Jaffna
  144. Sunanda Deshapriya
  145. Suren D. Perera
  146. Suresh Babu – India
  147. Balamurukan
  148. Theepa So
  149. Thomas Htang Shan Mong – Director, Justice and Peace Commission (CBCM),
    Yangon, Myanmar
  150. Thyagi Ruwanpathirana
  151. Udaya Kalupathirana
  152. Jemstan Loga
  153. Perera
  154. Yasmin Sooka

Organisations

 

  1. Centre for Police Alternatives (CPA)
  2. Families of the Disappeared (FoD)
  3. Human Rights Office, Kandy (HRO)
  4. INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre
  5. International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP)
  6. Mannar Social and Economic Development Organization
  7. National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL)
  8. National Fisheries Solidarity Organization (NAFSO)
  9. Sri Lanka Campaign (SLC)

 

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