Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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Letter to UN on Fr. Jim Brown's Disappearance

by Commission for Justice & Peace of the Catholic Diocese of Jaffna, August 8, 2006

24. 08. 2006
Your Excellency,
The General Secretary of the UNO,
Jaffna, Sri Lanka.
Your Excellency,

This is to draw your kind attention to the recent happenings in the Jaffna Peninsula. We are deeply grieved at the deplorable state of affairs at the moment, especially the disappearance of our brother priest Rev. Fr. Thiruchelvam Nihal Jimbrown and his pillion rider Mr. Wenceslos Vimalan.
Rev. Fr. Jim Brown is a young Catholic priest of the diocese of Jaffna. Fr. Jimbrown was born in 1972 and ordained as a priest in 2004. He took up the assignment as the Parish priest of St. Philipneri’s Church, Allapiddy in July 2006.
On the 13th of August early in the morning the Sri Lankan Army from Jaffna fired multibarrel artillery at Allapiddy to repulse the LTTE; eventually some of the bombs fell on the church and destroyed it fully. Meanwhile, many people who sought refuge in the church were seriously wounded and among them 20 people died. We hear the bodies of the dead people are strewn all over and still remain under the debris.
Miraculously escaping from the same artillery fire, Rev. Fr. Jimbrown and some of his parishioners collected the injured people, and together with the rest of the villagers marched towards the navy and pleaded with the navy ‘to allow them to leave the place’. The navy threatened the people not to leave the village and finally after much persuasion permission was reluctantly granted for the priest to take the injured to Kayts. The priests in Kayts brought busses and removed all the people, numbering 850, to St. Mary’s Church, Kayts. Meanwhile, the ICRC along with the Magistrate of Jaffna brought some other injured and 4 dead bodies to the Teaching Hospital of Jaffna. Fr. Jim Brown stayed with the displaced people at Kayts looking after their daily needs.
On 19th of August Rev. Fr. Jimbrown came to Jaffna and had a long chat with His Lordship, Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Saundaranayagam, the Bishop of Jaffna, about the incidents at Allapiddy and the angry reaction of the navy, as well as the difficulties he faced in obtaining the provision for the people.
On 20th Sunday afternoon though Fr. Jimbrown wanted to go to Mandaithivu to meet his parish people, he was not permitted by the navy. Therefore, along with the pillion rider Mr. Wenceslos Vimalan aged 40, he went to Allapiddy junction, obtained permission from the navy and went to Allapiddy.
Thereafter until now, Fr. Jimbrown and his pillion rider Mr. W. Vimalan are missing. Mr. Ranaweera (Northern Navy Commander) was contacted by his Lordship, the Bishop of Jaffna. After the inquires Mr. Ranaweera informed the Bishop that Fr. Jimbrown’s name had been registered at the checkpoint along with the motorbike holding the number plate NPGO 6486 (red in colour) at 1.50 PM as entering Allapiddy and leaving at 2.10 PM. But he never returned to Jaffna.
We could cite a good number of evidence from the people who saw Fr. Jimbrown before the disappearance. At 12:30 PM on Sunday he left Kayts to enter Mandaitheevu. When refused permission, he went to Jaffna and made telephone calls. His entry into Allaipiddy at 1.50 PM was confirmed by Rev. Fr. Peter, the parish priest of Naranthanai and other lay people. The navy register at the checkpoint indicates his entry and exit. (the exit could not be verified independently except by the navy at the checkpoint).
The Bishop of Jaffna has informed the H.R.T, ICRC, the Magistrate, and the 51 army brigade at Jaffna. Inquires were made in different parishes in Kayts and the media carried the news of their disappearance. They are found missing up to now. We are anxious and worried about the safety of our brother priest and his pillion rider.
Therefore, with deep shock and regrets, we implore your Excellency, to pressurise the government of Sri Lanka to keep the principles of democracy and to hold an impartial inquiry to know the whereabouts of Fr. Jimbrown and his pillion rider.
There are many incidents which happened at Allaipidy under the present naval authorities and the following are worth mentioning,
a)         The Shocking massacre of ten people which took place on 13th of May 06.
b)         The cold-blooded murder of an elderly man on 30th of April 06.
c)         Multi barrel artillery shelling of the church and its destruction killing 20 and wounding many people on 13th of August 06.
d)         The unwarranted pressures and serious death threats to the people of Allapiddy and to Rev. Fr. Jimbrown by the navy personnel and eventually the disappearance of him and his pillion rider.
All these incidents prove the glaring contradiction between the ideals of democratic government that guarantees equal protection to all citizens under the law and realities of life in the Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka. Moreover, the extrajudicial killings and the search for the relatives who have been disappeared has been one of the most anguishing struggles we are undergoing in Jaffna.
Therefore, we the Bishop of Jaffna, the priests religious and Catholic people along with the people of Jaffna implore and request you to compel the government of Sri Lanka to take the necessary political steps to achieve justice and to stop all the extrajudicial killings and disappearance of the people. 
President                                                                                                                                                              &n Secretary
Commission for Justice & Peace of The Catholic Diocese of Jaffna
T. Phone No: 021 – 2161
P.O. Box: 02
Bishop’s House,

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