Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Another Clergy Brutally Murdered

by K. Mylvaganam, April 24, 2008

“Once I was invited for a meal by Kili Father at his farm in Vannivilankulam. I was surprised when he insisted his driver also to join us at the dinner table. This illustrates the Human Right he practiced in his day-to-day life. This is very unusual in Sri Lanka. The drivers are normally treated as part of the vehicle he drives.”

The demise of Rt.Rev.Fr. Karunaratnam is another example of the inhuman action of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL). One can understand the government targeting the military and economic targets of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). But to kill a clergy, who dedicated his life to uplift the downtrodden masses and expose to the world the oppression imposed on a minority community by a Sinhala Buddhist chauvinistic regime is beyond anyone’s apprehension. His goal was to redeem the suppressed from despotism. It is a cowardly act to use force from behind the bush to kill a clergy. After all he is an unarmed priest who preaches and practices nonviolence and attributed his life to safeguard the Human Rights of the people.

For over a quarter of a century Fr. Karunaratnam dedicated himself to Human Rights activities. He was the Chairman of the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) Consortium. His contributions to Radio Veritas were immeasurable. The North East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESoHR) was founded and chaired by him.

Incidentally, there were three more founder members of NESoHR who were also assassinated by the GoSL. The first was Mr. Chandra Nehru M.P. Amparai. The next was Mr. Joseph Pararajasingam M.P., who was shot and killed on X’Mass Eve while he was praying inside the Church with his wife beside him. The third was Mr. Sivabalan [Sivapalan], an Attorney at Law. Hence, NESoHR has lost four of its founder members.

Kili Father was the champion for the Human Rights in many ways, not only within Sri Lanka but also internationally. He was in the United States of America, Switzerland and Canada, where he met the officials of the foreign ministries and other Human Rights Organisations and briefed them of the atrocities and the Human Rights violations committed by the Sri Lankan army and its paramilitary groups. The messages of condolences that are pouring in from all over the world speak of the enormousness of the service he had rendered internationally.

Today I received an email from a Norwegian, who is a mutual friend of both Kili Father and I. Therein he narrated an incident which I copy below:

“Once I was invited for a meal by Kili Father at his farm in Vannivilankulam. I was surprised when he insisted his driver also to join us at the dinner table. This illustrates the Human Right he practiced in his day-to-day life. This is very unusual in Sri Lanka. The drivers are normally treated as part of the vehicle he drives.”

It is a striking example of how he treated a fellow citizen.

Killing clergies are a well known phenomena to the GoSL. During the past two years the following clergies have succumbed to the brutality of the GoSL.

No

              Name

         Place

      Date

   How Killed

1

Rev.Fr.T.N.Jim Brown

Allapitty Jaffna

20.08.2006

Abducted & Killed

2

Rev.Fr.N.Packiyaranjith

Vellankulam, Mullai

26.09.2007

Claymore

3

Rev.Fr.Samsen N.Edrisinghe

Amparai

17.02.2008

Shot & KIlled

4

Rev.Fr.M.X.Karunaratnam

Vavunikulam, Mullai

20.04.2008

Claymore

Several Hindu priests too were killed during the ongoing war. Just to mention the brutality of their modus operandi I may refer to the Hindu priest who was pulled out of his Temple in Kalutura and burnt alive by pouring petrol over his body under the notorious communal riots of July1983. Hundreds of Sinhalese people stood there watching the “Bonfire.”

Very few people knew of Fr. Karunaratnam's affinity to nature. To understand the depth of his involvement with nature one should visit his farm in Vavunikulam, where he lived in. I had the pleasure of spending a couple of weekends with him in those beautiful surroundings. He had converted a piece of jungle land into a blossoming garden filled with fruit trees, flower plants and several types of climbers left to grow in the natural way. With the help of bulldozers he had made a tank and made use of the soil thus dug out to form a graceful-looking hill. He planted the hill with various types of herbal plants. It gave me the feeling of being in the Himalayas. It looked so natural.

He has reserved a very special place for his mother’s graveyard. It appeared to be an open Temple to me. There was a sort of a celestial touch in it. I still remember his taking me there for the first time. We sat there in silence. It was so peaceful that not even the faintest rustle of leaves broke the profound silence of that solemn scene. I almost felt I was listening to the silence that prevailed there. Though I am a Hindu I really loved that serenity of the surroundings.

Both of us have worked together in the same office and I have watched his approach towards the employees. Whenever he wanted to speak to one of them or get any information or a paper he always made it a point to walk up to the room of the person concerned and ask very politely for his needs. If he wanted a report or some statistics by the afternoon he would politely ask, “Do you think it is possible for me to have it in the afternoon?” He conquered the love and admiration of his fellow workers by the love and kindness he poured on them.

Many people say Kili Father can never be replaced. But I know there is one who can replace him and that is none other than Kili Father. To me he will ever be here with us and guide us in his own way. His presence will always be felt around in Vanni and remembered as a living legend.

Dear Father, your sudden demise does hurt but I am beginning to enjoy that suffering by thinking of you. It gives me a sense of your presence around me. Your calling me "Myl Aiyah" will always be ringing in my ears.