Jaffna Bishop tells LTTE :
Don’t station artillery among civilians
*Bishop expresses gratitude to
President for concern for civilians
*Our priority is safety of every
We urgently request the Tigers not to station themselves among the
people in the safety zone and fire their artillery - shells and rockets
at the Army. This will only increase more and more the death of
civilians thus endangering the safety of the people, said the Bishop of
Jaffna Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Savundaranayagam in a letter to President
Mahinda Rajapaksa calling for the extension of the Safety Zone for
civilians in the Mullaitivu District.
The Bishop’s letter expressed gratitude to the President for his
concern for the civilians who have taken refuge in Vanni in the ongoing
military operations and thanked the President for declaring a part of
the west of Mullaitivu at the safety zone for civilians.
The Bishop stated that the area thus set apart is small considering
the large number of people congregating there and requested that it be
He requested that areas such as Mathalan, Valaiayarmadam, Mulivaikal,
Iranaipalai and the eastern sector of Puthukudiyiruppu be also declared
safety zones. He added that the only motive in requesting the extension
of the safety zone is to preserve as much as possible the lives of the
civilians in these areas.
“We are not against the war but our priority is the safety of every
innocent civilian in those areas of war,” the letter stated.
The text of the letter by Bishop Savundaranayagam of January 25,
“We are very grateful to you for your concern for the civilians who
have taken refuge in Vanni in the on-going war.
We thank you sincerely for declaring a part of the west of Mullaitivu
as safety one. The area indicated is small and uninhabitable considering
the large number of the people who are congregating in this area.
Some of the Priests and the Sisters who are with the displaced people
have informed me that they are with the people who have assembled in the
Churches which are in the Eastern part of Mullaitivu (Mathalan,
Valiayarmadam, Mulivaikal, Iranapalai and eastern sector of
I have requested to treat them also as safety areas for the thousands
of people gathered in these places and thus assuring the safety of the
priests and religious also. As the Bishop responsible for these areas
they have made this urgent request to me. The G.A. of Mullaitivu also
has made at this proposal to the ICRC requesting them to explore the
possibility of declaring the above areas as safety zone with the
permission of SL Security Forces.
Our only motive in requesting Your Excellency for the extension of
the safety zone is to preserve as much as possible the lives of the
civilians in these areas.
My Priests and Sisters have told me that they will not abandon the
people but move along wherever the people are going. Having lived with
them always and suffering with them. They will not leave them at this
time of crisis.
This has been always the practice of the Catholic priests, to be
among the people even in the time of danger. We are also urgently
requesting the Tigers not to station themselves among the people in the
safety zone and fire their artillery-shells and rockets at the Army.
This will only increase more and more the death of civilians thus
endangering the safety of the people. I insist that both parties must
observe the safety zone strictly. Therefore, I am pleading with Your
Excellency to consider declaring the western portion of Mullaitivu also
a safety zone for the sake of the innocent civilians.
We are not against the war but our priority is the safety of every
innocent civilian in those areas of war.”