LTTE And Churches Protect Each Other
Posted April 7, 2005
The history of LTTE reveals a discernible pattern in its relations with religious institutions: it has ruthlessly attacked and killed Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists but hardly ever touched Christians. It has never confronted the Churches the way it has taken on the other three main religionists.
In fact, it has had a very cozy relationship with the Churches. Though the LTTE has raided and taken over Hindu Temples by force in Western countries it has never dared to touch a single Christian church run by the Jaffna Tamils abroad. The Christian churches are considered to be richer than the Hindu Temples. Nevertheless, the fear of severe backlash from the dominant Christian governments and Christian communities abroad has prevented the LTTE from grabbing Christian Churches.
In any case there has been no necessity for the LTTE to act against the Churches because they have been the backbone of LTTE politics in Western countries. The LTTE does not want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Some of the leading Christian priests have acted as front men for the LTTE in Western countries. Fr. S. J. Emmanuel, former Vicar-General of Jaffna, who is now residing in Germany, is a prime example of the Church joining hands with the LTTE. He is on record saying that he is first a Tamil and then a Christian. Once he compared Prabhakaran to Jesus. He not only campaigns for the LTTE abroad but he is also the first to claim that he is writing a theology for Tamils only. Imitating the radical priests of Latin America he is supposed to write a new "liberation theology" praising Prabhakaran. He was followed by S. Jebanesan, Bishop of the Church of South India (CSI), who said that he too was working on a theology for the Tamils. A theology only for the Tamils excludes Sinhala Christians.
Obviously, this theology is tied to LTTE politics glorifying the new "Surya Devan" (Sun God). The obsession of the Churches with Prabhakaran's racist politics makes them blind to the teachings of Jesus who preached a doctrine in which all are children of God. The object of their theology is to tie Christianity with the brutal ethnic politics of Prabhakaran. Emmanuel rushed to Bishop Desmond Tutu and managed to convince him to write an foreword to his booklet, Let My People Go. But to where? Into Prabhakaran's hell?
The close links between the Church and the LTTE was revealed when Jebanesan brought in LTTE muscle-men to influence the vote of the last annual general meeting of the CSI that was to decide on an extension for Jebanesan as he has reached retiring age. He wanted an extension to mark time until another pro-LTTE candidate comes of age to contest. Pro-LTTE Bishop Jebanesan thrown out by young Church delegates in Jaffna. Despite the LTTE agents speaking on behalf of Jebanesan, the young turks in the Church refused to give pro-LTTE Jebanesan another extension. As he has reached retiring age he will be thrown out unceremoniously from the Bishopric of the CSI.
Quite early, LTTE joined hands with Radio Veritas, a worldwide Catholic broadcasting station. The Hindustan Times (May 25, 1999) reported that the Voice of Tigers (VOT) "has established on Sunday 23rd 'a coordinating office' to tie up Radio Veritas at St. Sebastian Church in Mallavi located in the Wanni. "The rationale behind the tiie-up is that it will give VOT access to the vast audience of Radio Veritas. Nearly 850,000 Sri Lankan Tamils living as refugees or migrants across the globe ro tune in to Radio Veritas, because it gives sensational "Eelam Tamil" news, often ahead of the BBC Tamil service Tamil Osai, said the Hindustan Times. Radio Veritas is a Catholic outfit run by the Asian Catholic Bishops' Conference. The Tamil wing of the Catholic church in Sri Lanka has been active agents of Tamil separatism. They have been in the forefront manufacturing excuses and covering up for the political crimes of the LTTE.
Tamil Christian priests have infiltrated the Churches in Western countries and through them they propagated pro-LTTE politics. A good example is that Prof. S. Chandrakanthan attached to the Theology Department of the Toronto University, Canada. He is a political fundamentalist disguised in Christian robes. To him Christianity is merely a vehicle to propagate separatist politics and white-wash LTTE crimes against humanity.
In Australia, for instance, the LTTE got a foothold in the Uniting Church through Prof. Christie Eliezer who was a lay preacher of the Uniting Church. His proxy was Rev. Dick Wootton who was viewed as card-carrying member of the LTTE. He had an office in the Headquarters of the Uniting Church in the city of Melbourne. Finally, the Uniting Church eased him out after strong protests from Sri Lankans who demanded that the "Uniting Church must Unite and not Divide".
The Anglican Church is not far behind the Catholic Church and CSI. Bishop Kenneth Fernando returned from a visit to Prabhakaran, with Charles Abeysekera and Jayadeva Uyangoda and announced to the media that "Prabhakaran is humane". It shocked the Sri Lankan community, Christians and non-Christians alike.
The LTTE and the Churches maintain this lovey-dovey relationship because it serves their mutual interests. LTTE has found in the international network of the Churches easy access to Western media, politicians, churches and other powerful lobbies to cover-up their crimes against humanity. The pastoral letters written by Sri Lankan bishops and priests are distributed world-wide. No Churchmen has ever said that a Sinhala-Buddhist leader is "humane" though some of the world's biggest welfare schemes have been implemented by them within a democratic framework that respects all religions.
The Churches too find it necessary to tie up with the LTTE (1) to weaken the Sinhala-Buddhist community for conversions (2) to prevent the Church breaking up on ethnic lines (3) to win converts to the Churches in the guise of being their best political allies and (4) to break up the state which would help them to establish a separate church and hierarchy of their own. Under (4), for instance, the Tamil Catholic need not go the Pope through the Sinhala Bishops in Colombo. Under (4) the ambitions of the Church and the LTTE coincide. In this and in other respects, both fulfill each other's needs. The Churches in Sri Lanka which could have acted as the most effective instrument in uniting both communities through the channels of the common churches established in both communities took sides and worsened the ethnic enmities.
Though the separatist movement claims to have its roots in the Jaffna Hindu Tamils, it has always had a strong element of Christians either leading it or influencing it. Its very first leader, S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, was an Anglican. However, when the Church of South India established its branch in Sri Lanka he switched over from the Anglican to CSI because of its ethnic leanings. Chelvanayakam preferred to be linked with Tamils of South India than with the Anglicans, most of whom were Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. Chelvanayakam mono-ethnic politics extended to every aspect of his life. He did not want to buy a house in Colombo fearing that his children would be influenced by the multicultural forces that would liberalize their thinking and attitudes. He did not want Tamil public servants to learn Sinhala fearing that the Sinhala influence would make them less amenable to separatist politics. He did not want to attend the Christian God's church fearing that the God in Sinhala-dominated Churches would dilute the Tamil identity and make them children of a Sinhala God rather than a Tamil God. In short, he was the arch symbol of racism designed to separate communities.
The seeds of dissension sown by Chelvanayakam saw his political descendants blow up the Sacred Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, massacring Muslim praying in Kathakudy in the East, shooting in broad daylight a Japanese Buddhist monk who went on a mission of peace in the north, spraying bullets on Buddhist pilgrims at the Sacred Bo Tree in Anuradhapura and … the list is unending. But his political children dared not touch the Christians. They are too powerful and the backlash against them would be too hard to bear.