PRESS STATEMENT by Dr John Dayal
Mourning the death of Fr Karunarathnam in a mine explosion in Sri Lanka
The Christian community in India has received with deep sorrow and grief the news of the death last Sunday of Sri Lankan Catholic Fr M X Karunaratnam, Chairman of the North East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESoHR) in the explosion of a remote controlled Claymore mine in close proximity to his residential prayer and counselling centre near Kuzhanthai Jesus Church at Vannivi’laangku’lam. Reports suggest his vehicle, which had broken down when he was on his way back to his residence from Maangku’lam Church, was being towed and he was seated in the driver seat steering it when the mine exploded and a piece of shrapnel hit his head. He died on the spot
Some of us in India knew Fr Karunaratnam, and most of us in the Human rights movement in South Asia had followed his compassionate work with much admiration. His centre was a haven for many.
The Priest’s death comes close to the damage in Lanka air force action to the Mary Statue in the Mada Shrine, also a popular pilgrim site and a safe refuge in the midst of hostilities that continue to ravage that hapless island.
Fr Karunaratnam headed the NESoHR which was set up in July 2004 as part of the 2002 Peace Process, The South Asian civil society movement watched in awe and admiration Fr Karunaratnam’s effort to strengthen the human rights protection mechanisms in the North East of Sri Lanka. He was the one who focused global attention on the recruitment of children by the LTTE. He also criticized the Colombo regime for its violence upon the Tamil people.
We mourn an activist who lived up to his priestly vows of committing his life to the service of the common people, and for peace.
National President, All India catholic Union
And United Christian Action
Secretary General, All India Christian Council
Member, national Integration Council, Government of India
New Delhi, 21st April 2008