by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai
"I have come to bring good news to the poor,
to set the oppressed free" (Luke 4:18)
As the bells toll around the globe, getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, a rare event of sharing experience in Jaffna was initiated by two individuals who visited Jaffna recently. "Christmas hopes from Jaffna was initiated by Ruki Fernando and Angelica Chandrasekaran. It was held on December 21st 2007 at the Centre for Society and Religion in Maradana.
Experiences shared by the individuals at the event are compiled below:
"I attended a Hindu wedding while I was in Jaffna. Someone told me at the wedding that they are married; they will have children; and they have to worry about their children not getting killed, abducted or conscripted. The people of Jaffna are worried; they just want to lead a normal life".
"People of Jaffna do not need anything except peace. They have learnt to lead a life with what is available. But they want long-lasting peace".
Reverend Father Tissa Balasuriya OMI:
"Many Sinhalese do not know that they are the cause for the idea of "Tamil Eelam" to be created. Bandaranaikes, Jeyawardenas and Chelvanayagams opposed each other’s proposal. Sinhalese are mislead; and they are the reason for the division of the country".
Reverend Rohan Silva OMI:
"There are Sinhalese who care for the Tamil brethren. The presence of Sinhalese brethren in war torn Tamil areas is essential. Voice for peace is quiet. When we met the people in Jaffna they wanted the Sinhala Catholic priests to stay with them. They felt comfortable sharing their stories with us".
Dr. Anita Nesiah:
"The streets go deserted after 3pm in the afternoon due to curfew. I was told that a cylinder of LP gas is sold for Rs. 5,000/= in Jaffna. People of Jaffna are frightened; they are helpless and voiceless".
"Civilians who surrender themselves to the Human Rights Commission due to life threats are kept in prison along with the accused. They get contracted to contagious disease like chicken-pox in prison cells".
Later a drama was performed by women who have been victims of war. The drama depicted despair, displacement and difficulties in a conflict situation. Most of these women who performed were unborn babies, when the conflict began three decades ago.
Prayers were said for peace and justice; songs of 'Happy Christmas (War Is Over)' by John Lennon, 'Fallen Leaves' by John Denver and 'I want to live' were played. An exhibition of photographs and reports from Jaffna was also held. The event of attend by Catholic priests, nuns and concerned citizens of Sri Lanka.
The participants have decided to fast on Christmas eve in solidarity with the victims of war.