Pope Francis, visit war-torn areas and survivors – Tamil Civil Society Groups

Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) has called upon Pope Francis to visit war-torn areas in the North and East and visit the survivors of the “war  against Tamils”, as part of his visit to Sri Lanka in 2015.

TCSF – a network of Tamil civil society social activists from the North and East including Bishop Rayappu Joseph of Mannar, aired their appeal in a letter to the Pope on Sunday. It requested him to openly call upon the Government of Sri Lanka to genuinely address grievances of Tamils during his meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The text of the letter is published on Eye Sri Lanka

Address grievances of all factions – human rights, justice and peace advocate

In her presentation to last month’s International Conference on Politics and International Affairs in Athens, Salma Yusuf, pointed out that while the defeat of the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) in May 2009 ended the three decades-long conflict, its root causes remain.

Yusuf, university lecturer and adviser to programs on human rights law, transitional justice, comparative social justice and peace-guilding, stressed that grievances of all factions in the conflict have to be addressed. 

“When advocating reconciliation and unity, the fears and anxieties of all communities must be acknowledged, understood and addressed,” Yusuf said.

She warned, “An over-emphasis on the grievances of the Tamil community alone which is the natural tendency can lead to new waves of conflict and at must be avoided at all costs.” 

Read full text of her presentation  titled Sri Lanka: Reconciliation is Both a Process and a Goal 

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Cardinal Ranjith: Protect Sri Lanka as one family

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka [Wikimedia commons}

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka [Wikimedia commons}

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, in a press release on recent clashes and riots at Aluthgama, says all those who foster divisive thinking should be punished and all such thoughts of hegemony or separatism should not be encouraged anywhere in their country, a photo story posted on the official website of the Archdiocese of Colombo reported.

The report quotes Cardinal Ranjith’s appeal for protection and preservation of the diversity of the various ethnic and religious groups and for fostering unity.

The cardinal also reportedly called upon government officials to “do their utmost to ensure that discipline, rule of law and harmony exists among all groups. “


Read the full statement

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Secularism and fundamentalism demean religious heroism – Sri Lanka cardinal at UNESCO


Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka, addressing guests at the May 21 kick-off of events commemorating the birthday of Buddha in France said he was delighted to be the cardinal in a country where 74 percent of the population is Buddhist.

There are also about 1.2 million Catholics among Sri Lanka’s population today (about 6 percent), and there are Hindu and Muslim minorities. 

Cardinal Ranjith described relations of Sri Lanka’s people of different faiths as “a long standing amity.” However, secularism and fundamentalism “demean the supreme value of religious heroism which can help humanity to achieve true nobility, freedom from self and unity,” the cardinal said at the celebration of the festival called Vesak.

The Catholic Church of Sri Lanka faces the challenge to work towards national reconciliation and peace after a 26 year war with ethnic Tamil people ended in 2009 with accusations of human rights violations by both sides leaving tens of thousands of civilians dead.

Cardinal Ranjith who is president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka was among “distinguished” guests at the inauguration organized by the Permanent Delegation of Sri Lanka to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization  (UNESCO) and the Embassy of Sri Lanka in France to commemorate Vesak at UNESCO in Paris. 

Sri Lanka First Lady Shiranthi Wickramasinghe Rajapaksa also addressed the gathering centered on the theme “Interfaith and Intercultural Awareness towards Peace.” Guests included a delegation of government officials, Buddhist leaders and priests from around the world.

To read the full report, view photos click First Lady inaugurates series of events to mark Vesak at UNESCO