Government forces gun down Tamil Mission Church leader*
Posted: February 3, 2007
Assist News Service
Church officials who oversee the work of Christian ministers in Sri
Lanka are calling for international intervention in that nation, after a
church pastor was gunned down by Sri Lankan government security forces.
The report comes from Assist News Service.
It identifies the victim of the government-forces shooting as Rev.
Nallathamby Gnanaseelan, the pastor of Tamil Mission Church Jaffna, and
the father of four children, ages 1 to 7.
ASSIST reported that the bishop of Colombo noted the pastor had taken
his wife Serena and his daughter to the hospital on his bike.
"The killing took place at Chapel Street when Rev. Gnanaseelan was
returning, after dropping his wife and daughter at the hospital. He was
heading to his church to conduct a fasting and prayer event," the bishop
Reports reaching the bishop's office from the Clergy Fellowship of
Jaffna indicate that Rev. Gnanaseelan was shot in the stomach and then
as he lay on the street, shot in the head and killed. "His Bible, bag,
identity card and motorcycle were taken away and he was left lying on
the road," the report said.
"The security forces reports initially indicated that Rev. Ghanaseelan
was carrying explosives. Subsequently it was said that he was shot as he
did not stop when challenged to do so. This is a deliberate attempt to
frame Rev. Gnanaseelan," according to the bishop's report on the Jan. 13
Lanka Nesiah, personal assistant to the bishop of Colombo, told ASSIST:
"Rev. Gnanaseelan was a member of the National Christian Evangelical
Alliance Clergy Fellowship in Jaffna and was not involved in any
political activity. He was a law abiding citizen and a pastor to his
congregation. His death is not an isolated incident, but one of many,
which takes place in the North East of Sri Lanka, daily."
Nesiah also said that Jaffna recently has been the scene of
extra-judicial killings, abductions and disappearances. "The civilian
population has been facing a severe shortage of food and medicine,
enduring immense hardship and suffering. All this is in the backdrop to
human rights violations continuing in full force in Sri Lanka."
"Thousands of people are arbitrarily arrested, tortured or ill treated.
There are continued reports of extra judicial executions and forced
'disappearances,' with abuses by paramilitary forces … and the
government security forces," Nesiah said.
"We call upon the international community to raise their voices and
prevent the massacre of the innocents in this country. The establishing
of a United Nations human rights monitoring mission in Sri Lanka is an
urgent need. The world cannot stand by and watch as this situation
deteriorates, while every day, people pay with their lives."
A statement by Rev. Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo, obtained by
ASSIST, said, "The appalling manner in which he was reportedly killed
has greatly disturbed and shocked the community in Jaffna and all people
of integrity and goodwill throughout the country, and indeed in many
parts of the world.
"There are conflicting reports of what provoked the incident and only an
independent investigation will reveal the true circumstances. As a
fellow Christian leader, I earnestly request the president to initiate
such an investigation as the credibility of a religious leader and his
Church will otherwise remain in question.
"If there is any evidence, as alleged, of this pastor's involvement with
any militant groups or intended acts of violence, it should be
disclosed. If not, his innocence must be declared, compensation paid to
his family and appropriate action taken against the offenders," the