Fr. Prasad Perera obstructs the use of a national monument for the disappeared - Sri Lanka Guardian

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Fr. Prasad Perera obstructs the use of a national monument for the disappeared

The monument is placed near St. Cecilia's church at Raddoluwa junction. When the monument was eructed the then parish priest of the church Fr. Cyril Anthony actively cooperated in the commemorations and even allowed the Buddhist monks to have their traditional dana inside the church itself. The cooperation extended by the church was appreciated by everyone as an expression of solidarity with the families of the disappeared. All through out the 12 years up to now this cooperation has existed.

(October 21, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) The national monument for the disappeared at Raddoluwa, Seeduwa is nationally and internationally known and respected place where the families of the disappeared persons gather to pay respects for their loved ones who are counted among the disappeared in Sri Lanka. The monument was eructed in 2000 at a place where the bodies of two persons from Negambo who had been partially burned were recovered. One was a well-known trade union activist.

Every year a large number of the families of the disappeared gather on 27 October to have religious ceremonies and to place wreaths before the photographs of their family members. Those who have watched this moving remembrance have found that the families commemorate this day with religious fervour.

The monument is placed near St. Cecilia's church at Raddoluwa junction. When the monument was eructed the then parish priest of the church Fr. Cyril Anthony actively cooperated in the commemorations and even allowed the Buddhist monks to have their traditional dana inside the church itself. The cooperation extended by the church was appreciated by everyone as an expression of solidarity with the families of the disappeared. All through out the 12 years up to now this cooperation has existed.

However unfortunately a new parish priest who has been appointed Fr. Prasad Perera has taken some steps to obstruct the use of these monuments. He has a build a concrete wall preventing the family members of the disappeared approaching the monument to place wreaths and pay respects. When questioned the priest have said that he himself does not have any objection of his own to the activities of the monument but that some office members of the church has some objections. However no one has come forward to express such objections. This act of disruption manifest sheer lack of sensitivity to the human suffering of a large number of families who have faced the problem of forced disappearances.

Now this priest has lodged a complaint at the local police station regarding the use of this monument. When the priest was questioned as to what legal right he has on this place he was unable to provide any legal titles. In fact the place does not belong to the church at all.

Many leading politicians including the present executive president has come and attended the ceremonies at this place. It is regarded as a place encouraging harmony and in dealing with past human rights abuses in a humane manner.

The priest's objection may disrupt the only monument to the disappeared in Sri Lanka, which has become a popular place to everyone.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the readers to take this matter up with the Catholic Church and with Fr. Prasad Perera himself.

His address is:
Rev. Fr. Prasad Perera
Parish Priest
St. Cecilia's church
Raddoluwa Junction, Seeduwa
Sri Lanka
Tel/Fax - 0112292060


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