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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2374

Unrepentant alliance of National Christian Council of Sri Lanka …..

By Ranjith Soysa – Melbourne

"I do not think that the political power of the church is often used for purely religious and moral ends. It is notorious that political Christianity excites bitter hatred against the church, such as is almost unknown in countries where there is no such organization. The choice for the church is between political power and moral influence…." (Ralph Inge- Dean, St Paul’s Cathedral- London)

"An NGO is valuable to an insurgent group if it has the resources and connections to bolster the insurgency’s campaign; an insurgent group is valuable to an NGO if support will advance the NGOs agenda." (Clifford Bob in The Marketing of Rebellion)

The partisan role of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka in the context of Sri Lanka’s socio-political issues and more specifically concerning the war against the LTTE is obvious to discerning observers. The main objectives of the NCCSL and its affiliates seem to be the creation of space for the LTTE and strengthening of the separatist agenda. National Christian Councils in other Western countries who are continually fed with information from NCCSL have constantly adopted a stance to brush aside the realities facing Sri Lanka, a sovereign country, and, her people. Their past and present actions compel one to conclude that they prefer Sri Lanka to be Balkanized and LTTE to hold sway in the North and the East of Sri Lanka.

The Christian Church came to Sri Lanka with the three western colonial nations as a religious institute of the invaders. The history of Sri Lanka, from 1505 to 1948, is replete with a number of sordid incidents in which the Christian Church and its administrators acted as the agents of suppression of the Sri Lankan people, mainly the Sinhala Buddhists.

However, at present all Sri Lankans accept the Christians and Church organizations as a part of multi-religious Sri Lankan society. The NCCSL, however, and many of the Christian organizations have chosen to pander to the LTTE by bending over backwards to justify their claims, the activities of their fronts and the separatists. They, unfortunately, collude with the LTTE propaganda arm to blacken the image of Sri Lanka and the Sinhala Buddhists all over the Western world through their powerful network.

The NCCSL is the umbrella organization of following Christian groups:

Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya

Christian Reformed Church of Sri Lanka

Diocese of Kurunegala of the Church of Ceylon

Diocese of Colombo of the Church of Ceylon

Methodist Church, Sri Lanka

Presbyterian Church

Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India

The Salvation Army

YWCA of Sri Lanka

YMCA of Sri Lanka

Ceylon Bible Society

Christian Literature Society

Students Christian Movement

Commission for Justice and Peace

In one of the significant pro-LTTE statements read at the 50th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights held in Geneve in Feb 1994, signed by the World Council of Churches, Action de Christian pour l’Abolition de la Torture, Pax –Romana and Christian Live Community among others attempted to promote the concept of traditional homeland theory of the racist Tamil fronts. This document has been quoted very often by the LTTE and their allies at various international fora to ‘prove’ the legitimacy of their mythical claims. This is a very clear case of NCCSL’s and their affiliates’ diabolical role in misleading the international community

In Australia, the National Council of Churches of Australia champions the cause of ‘innocent Sri Lankan Tamils’ by completely ignoring the broader issues and justifying anti-Sri Lanka activities of the intransigent LTTE. The NCCA activists pounce on the Sri Lankan Government and the 'chauvinist' Sinhala Buddhists of Sri Lanka so hard and so often, they create a very bad impression about Sri Lanka and her people in Australia. The NCCA is very vocal in issues ranging from Sri Lankan refugee in Australia to drafting of a new Constitution for Sri Lanka while the common theme being the sad plight of "Sri Lankan Tamils" with LTTE as the preferred leader of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

When a discerning observer compares the 'holier than thou' statements issued on Sri Lanka and actions taken by the NCCA with regard to the plight and the destruction brought about by the Australian establishment on the Aborigines, the hidden and misguided agenda of the organization becomes very visible. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to comprehend why NCCA spends time and resources to pontificate to countries like Sri Lanka when they have a far more important duty to restore the confidence of the their fellow countrymen; the aborigines to move up from the lower than third world living standards they are subjected to at present!

The NCCA knows that their key role in Sri Lanka is to denigrate the Sinhala Buddhist specifically and bring down the esteem of the country to make it easy for Western nations to classify Sri Lanka as a failed state and perhaps make it a R2P case! In short, Sri Lanka can be made acceptable only thorough a Western intervention. A country of 2500 years of civilisation to be mangled by a set of yesterday’s civilised with a truly colonial mind set.

Jehan Perera is one of the widely used commentators on Sri Lankan issues by the Church organizations and through their introductions, by the foreign media as well. His organization, National (?) Peace Council was formed in 1995 with the backing of NCCSL. NPC’s annual income is in the region of Rs 70 million and the donors to NPC includes Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, NORAD, SLIDA and a number of EU, German donor organizations.

Even though NPC carries the nametag of National, it propagates Thimpu principles of accepting Tamils of Sri Lanka as a separate nation etc. The members of the governing council of NPC are, Rev Sr. Mary Barbara, Dr Anita Nesiah, M. Rajasigham, Joe William and T. Jayasingham to name a few. Some of them are well known supporters of the Tamil separatist movement who make their presence felt when they speak ill of Sri Lanka at seminars held in foreign countries.

NCCSL’s programme to create a ‘failed state’ by denigrating Sri Lanka at national and international level consists of a number of well-planned strategies.

1. NCCSL and their agents do not accept that the majority Sinhala Buddhists have played a major role in building the Sri Lankan nation. NCCSL always speaks of discrimination of Tamils and also Christians by the majority. NCCSL very often uses terms such as 'extremism', 'majoritarianism', and 'chauvinism' when referring to Sinhala Buddhists. They write about 'state colonization', 'disenfranchisement of Tamils', 'ethnic war', 'Sinhala Buddhist mobs', 'genocide of Tamils', 'the civil war between the Government dominated (Sic) by the Sinhalese majority and the rebel LTTE of the ethnic minority, in discussing events in Sri Lanka without referring to other more relevant issues.

2. They promote the view that Tamils had their own kingdom in ‘their traditional homelands in the North and the East’ and it was the British who ‘created’ Ceylon as a single country’. They accept that the Tamils are a separate nation and they have the right of self-determination.

They never speak of the divide and rule policy of the white colonialists that created the politics of the privileged Northern Tamils in the 20th century, their unreasonable demands and creation of racist political parties by them.

3. They never refer to the LTTE as a terrorist organization and do not see anything wrong with the armed insurrection against the State or the massacres and murders carried out by the LTTE. They propagate the view that the LTTE represents all Tamils.

4. They hardly, if. ever mention the human rights violations of the LTTE, child soldiers, suicide bombers, bomb explosions in the cities, kangaroo courts, targeting of civilians, land mines, ethnic cleansing, commandeering of food and other facilities meant for civilians, use of human shields etc carried out in advancing the LTTE agenda. They ignore LTTE ‘s intransigence regarding the attempts of SL Governments to negotiate and blame the Sri Lankan governments and Sinhala political parties for deceiving the Tamil leaders.

5. They never give publicity to that fact that some Tamils support the Government and that the Sri Lankan legislators are elected through a democratic process. They always cite Sinhala Only policy introduced in 1956 as a retrograde step ignoring the subsequent steps taken to elevate the Tamil language.

6. While highlighting the unfortunate events of 1983 as if all Sinhala Buddhists in Sri Lanka went on rampage against the innocent Tamils in a racist, religious frenzy, they ignore the atrocities committed against the Sinhalese and the Muslims and acts of ethnic cleansing carried out by the LTTE.

7. NCCSL and their agents use the media locally as well as internationally to promote their views placing the country in a very vulnerable position. They issue regular newssheets, media releases to propagate their views. NCCSL meets the foreign diplomats, international agencies to influence their decisions. They travel to foreign countries for seminars, study groups where they denigrate Sri Lanka. NCCSL, through their sister organizations, disseminate their “story” to the foreign churches.

8. On the basis of doctored information received from NCCSL, the National Council of Churches in Western countries and the World Council of Churches in Geneva, present reports of an extremist Sri Lanka to the world where the minority Tamils are persecuted and suppressed. Stories of Tamils being forcibly removed and attacks on the churches are thrown in for the consumption of the unsuspecting Westerners to canvass their sympathy towards this unfortunate minority.

9. In Australia, NCCA regularly circulates information on Sri Lanka to various Government agencies; NGOs and other groups and more than 90% of these reports are overtly or covertly supportive of the separatist terrorists. NCCA also wields influence on important agencies such as Australian Council for International Development and Aus AID.

10. When the Government of Australia was discussing the ban of the LTTE under its Criminal Code. NCCA played an important role in lobbying to defer the ban and also to continue recognition of the TRO as a welfare organization. Similarly, National Council of Christian Churches in all the Western countries engage in activities to propagate their version of the Sri Lankan situation to their clientele in respective countries.

11. While the World Council of Churches make use of vast opportunities at the United Nations to drum up support for the LTTE and their racist politics, their affiliates in the West channel the doctored version of Sri Lankan events to the churches in respective countries and from some of the churches located in areas where the LTTE fronts are active or where pro- LTTE Tamil priests officiate another propaganda stream emerges.

Very often Tamil priests do travel to Western countries either for short-term or long-term assignments. These visits are naturally made use of by the LTTE fronts to propagate the message of the plight of the Tamils and the ‘blood thirsty Sinhala people and the Sri Lankan Government to the congregations. On a closer examination it can be seen that these are some of the crudest and vicious disinformation campaigns conducted against Sri Lanka and her people.

The LTTE has never wavered from its goal of creating a separate country from the territory of Sri Lanka and its armed struggle to achieve it. There is no record of them agreeing to ‘negotiate’ with any Sri Lankan Government to lay down arms or for anything less than a separate country.

On the other hand successive Sri Lanka Governments have on numerous occasions, starting with the Thimpu Conference to recent Norwegian led CFA, attempted to engage the LTTE to settle issues in a more civilized manner. On each of theses occasions it was the LTTE that was responsible for the collapse of the discussions. The LTTE propaganda machinery, however, with the help of INGOs and more especially with the National Christian Church Organizations has successfully placed the blame with the Sri Lanka Government and the Sinhala Buddhist group. When the Western governments as a ritual insist that ‘the parties’ to the conflict should negotiate and denounce violence caused by "all parties" it reminds us of the vigour of the forces which help to create such nonsensical attitudes among "very responsible" members of the international community.

Unlike the LTTE, the Church in Sri Lanka is an integral part of the Sri Lankan society. In short, the Sri Lankan Nation state should be more important to the Church than the LTTE. Any weaknesses or under-performance of the Sri Lankan state has to be examined only after accepting the existence and continuation of the Nation State.

Another vital issue, which should receive attention, is the question of the moral adequacy of the Church to dictate State policy to countries such as Sri Lanka. It is necessary for us to reiterate the glaring mistakes made by the Church in the past and the present. The unenviable historical burden it carries should guide the Church to be more circumspect rather than assuming to be an advisor or a policy maker or take a “holier than thou” attitude to Sri Lanka.

In the circumstances, NCCSL’s posturing, policies, statements as regards the LTTE terrorism and Tamil racist separatism smack of an unholy agenda to weaken the Nation State. There is no other plausible explanation for the Church to have gone to such lengths to ‘ridicule Sri Lanka and her people’.

In a recent interview on BBC a retired senior Army officer of India speaking on LTTE tactics mentioned that, depending on their fortunes, this terror group has been surviving on three main slogans:

When the LTTE is militarily powerful they propagate a military slogan saying that they are invincible hence the SL Government must accept them as a de facto Government in the North and the East.

When they are at the receiving end they use the human rights slogan and set in motion the cry about the human rights of Tamils.

When the LTTE‘s on the brink of defeat they concentrate on the political slogan to arouse the South Indians by publicizing the plight of the Tamils in Sri Lanka and about Sinhala warmongers.

If one were to examine the reports and documents issued by the NCCS and its affiliates on Sri Lanka for last 15 years, it is very clear that these institutions have loyally followed the LTTE ‘s needs in regard to their military and political objectives.

It is relevant to mention that the World Council of Churches or any Church organization in Sri Lanka or Australia have never written articles, issued media releases or gone before the UN about the massacres carried out by Sudan’s Christian dominated PLF, or about the Church’s role in Rwanda and in Congo to mention only a few such incidents. Is it due to different worldviews or the refusal of the Church to find fault with its own flock?

The balkanization of Sri Lanka with the active help of countries like Norway and INGOs were averted at the eleventh hour when President Rajapakse saw through the treachery of the LTTE.

At present, the members of the valiant Defence forces are fighting the LTTE in the jungles in Killinochchi and beaches of Mullativ braving the inclement weather while the LTTE leaders are holed up in a very small area. The policy of defeating the LTTE to save Sri Lanka has received the support of the majority of the Sri Lankans including Tamils, Muslims and more especially the substantial segment of the Christian population.

The time is ripe for NCCSL and it’s affiliates to re-examine its position and re-appraise its unenviable, often traitorous role in Sri Lanka so that the Sri Lankan Christians will be able to stand up along with the others to build a strong democratic country or risk losing their disillusioned followers from the majority community.

The way forward is not by deconstructing Sri Lanka to meet ulterior or misconstrued motives, but by strengthening and jointly playing a responsible role. If the NCCSL opts for such a policy change, Sri Lanka will gain a lot internationally as filtering of information to powerful international network will be more positive. The question, however, remains whether the church in the Nation State of Sri Lanka has the authority or strength to decline the orders of the "dictating masters with a master plan".

Will the NCCSL consider casting off the white man’s burden and joining hands with Sri Lankans to build a ‘Democratic, United Sri Lankan Nation’ and a truly National Church?

- Asian Tribune -

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