Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Urgent call to support Bishop Rayappu Josep in Sri Lanka

The Bishop and The President

The folowing report from the Asian Centre for the Progress of People  has just landed on my desk and I invite readers to join this campaign.

In the Clerical Whispers blog there is a suggestion that we are witnessing tension among Church Leaders in Sri Lanka. The tension is now quite public. There is a vindictive online attack being orchestrated against  Msgr Rayappu Josep Bishop of Mannar  and his supporters.

This tension is not surprising given the experience here in Brisbane where our Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has spoken out in support  of human rights for the Tamil population, a cause that is not always appreciated by some members of Brisbane's Sinhalese Catholic community.

Msgr Rayappu Josep Bishop of Mannar in Northern Sri Lanka, together with 30 priests, has written to the UN Human Rights Council urging them to call on the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the positive recommendations of the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee, the body of inquiry it set up to look back at the Sri Lankan Civil War and provide recommendations for moving forward to an era of healing and peace building), among other things. The Bishops and the priests have since been attacked through intimidation and discredit by media and government-friendly groups. 

Concerned civil society groups in Sri Lanka and abroad are rallying around Bishop Rayappu Joseph and the priests for their “principled and courageous position” in the light of UN’s belated interest in the human rights situation in Sri Lanka .  As the UN is discussing a US-led resolution on Sri Lanka this week, letters of support for the bishop’s letter have been solicited and directed sent to the UN HRC. However, the on-goings at the Human Rights Council in Geneva is anyone’s guess, and already there are those who are questioning the US resolution, which even if passed, are predicted to be much watered down. This means it would not have any meaningful effect on the human rights situation and national reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka .

Given this scenario, the pressure is thrown back to those opposing the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and civil society actors like Bp. Joseph and his priests. It is imperative thus, that they be affirmed and supported in their action, now more than ever.

To this end, ACPP and the Hotline Team appeal to you to send your notes and messages of solidarity to Bishop Rayappur Joseph and the 30 priests to affirm their courageous act of writing to the UN, to encourage them to be steadfast in their public stand and prophetic witness, and to give them support in the continuing and expected increased backlash on their action.

Read the text of the letter here and use this link to post your support.

You may address your messages of solidarity to:
E-mail:         /
Fax No.:               0094-23-2232709

Terence Osorio
Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples
1/F, 52, Princess Margaret Road
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Phone: (852) 2714 5123 / 2712 3989
Fax: (852) 2712 0152
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