The Conflict Largely has a Military Solution Part-II - War Won Us the Church, the Statue, a Bishop and the Archbishop!

Dilrook Kannangara

Praise be to God for salvaging the Madhu Church and the vicinity. The Holy Bible is testimony of how King David waged war and succeeded in saving his nation. Similarly Sri Lankan security forces have done a mammoth task in wining not only the premises of the holy Madhu Church, but many more. This journey was never easy; every inch had to be toiled. It started at a time when some Catholic priests unashamedly held placards of a ruthless killer, held processions in support of the LTTE and openly sided with the LTTE on many important matters. Some of them howled that this problem cannot be solved by war. However, they failed to set an example; they failed to move LTTE big guns from the premises of the holy Madhu Church; they failed to allow unhindered public access to the Church and the vicinity; above all they failed to tell the truth that war can win all these. The then Jaffna Bishop was openly supporting the LTTE's cause. He was quietly replaced by a more accommodative Bishop who made very constructive gestures towards all the parties to the conflict without siding with one group. His blessings fell on the damaged relations between peace loving people and the northern church.

The Madhu Church area fell into the hands of Tigers in 2002-03. President Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil thought it best to allow Tigers capture this than fight for it. Soon Tigers managed to camp in the area and install their big guns. When hostilities increased in 2006 the importance of what Tigers grabbed peacefully enhanced significantly. Security forces led by Brigadier Shivendra Silva were advancing in the Mannar theatre. All LTTE strongholds along the way fell one by one. However, when they reached the surrounds of the Church, their march was halted, not by the LTTE but by the presence of the Church. As usual LTTE played they human shields ploy very well. They shelled army position from within the safety of the Madhu Church premises. Repeated appeals to the Mannar Bishop fell on deaf ears. However, when the army made a strong statement followed by little courageous actions that Tigers shall be neutralised even within the Church premises, Tigers were forced out of the vicinity. However, this didn't happen with ease. The government and the LTTE were at loggerheads for a long time and eventually Tigers had to withdraw. But they forced the Bishop to remove the statue from the church. He also demanded that there should not be military camps within a certain range. This demand was not met for good reasons as the army needed to guard the areas from infiltrators. Dedication, courage and the uncompromising demeanour of the late Jeyaraj Fernandopulle contributed immensely to these victories. However, within weeks the premises was handed over to the rightful owners. The Bishop could have taken the statue to government controlled areas very easily. But he took it deeper into Tiger territory. He may have had his reasons.

After liberating the Madhu area, security forces proceeded with their advance. By July they had reached the edge of the Mannar diocese and statue couldn't be hidden anymore. It was safely returned to where it belongs. Rev. Rayuppu Joseph, who refused to accept the handing over of the holy Madhu Church by the army, was comprehensively beaten by the gracious will of the God who brought about victory after victory to Sri Lankan security forces. The Mannar Bishop who once conducted himself in a manner unbecoming of a responsible person while abetting LTTE terrorism, opted to change.

To top it all the Archbishop has recently admitted to the undeniable reality that most Sri Lankans believe in a military solution. This may come as revolutionary in a country telling the truth is considered ?controversial' or revolutionary by the heavily politicised media. It may also give shocks to some foreign media goons who maintain a policy of media Apartheid against Sri Lanka's war effort.

What the war has won is for everyone to see. If anyone still parrots that war cannot solve this problem, he needs psychotherapy.

Meanwhile the Sri Lanka army has done another fabulous job in renovating the Church. War has achieved what was termed 'peace' couldn't.


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