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Sri Lanka: Rt. Rev. Dr.

Rayapu Joseph The


Prophet of our Time

The meaning of the voice of Bishop Rayappu is that justice should be a flowing
steam and righteousness a river flowing without drying up. A prophet while
witnessing the truth tries to warn of the dangers ahead.
This is a story of a man who dedicates himself to propagate the Kingdom of
God(Kingdom Values) and established a Just and Peaceful country for all those
Men and Women who born, live and die together as members of one family. He is
one who has devoted himself to achieving spiritual liberation, but in his it is not
only for him, but more importantly, for the sake of others, specially the Tamil
language speaking people live in North and East of Sri Lanka who have humiliated,
brutally killed, suffered for more than 50 years in the history and he is doing so
from the Island of Mannar situated in North predominantly Tamil population live.

by Susil Hettiarachchi-Oct 10, 2017


( October 10, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) We
have confused and complicated our struggle in gaining independence as a country
which had been colonized by the imperial powers for nearly five centuries, while
our elder sister gained independence effectively; we paid allegiance to the
imperial powers but was allergic to the use of English language. India opposed the
imperial powers and preserved the English language. As a consequence, we and
our children lost our way in social, economics and political development. Even in
the field of education we have stranded ourselves.
As a nation, oppressed and exploited for a number of years, we should have
forged our Sri Lankan identity by adopting a strategy recognizing the socio
economic, political aspirations of all the communities who have inherited this
country as their mother land. But what happened was that we engaged ourselves
in a form of governance dividing the country already divided by the colonials.
India, through her intelligentsia was able to create a more democratic form of
government and draft a constitution of her own. We blindly adopted a
constitution drafted by the colonial masters. The republic constitution of 1972
and the 1978 constitution have shown our inability to unite our country. It was
Dr.Colvin R. De Silva who prophetically acclaimed that one language create two
countries and two languages create one country but the constitution developed
by Dr. Colvin R. De Silva moved away from being secular state to a quasi religious
state where Buddhism was tacitly entrenched as de facto state religion. The
minority communities who were already discriminated in the use of language
began to feel that they were totally sidelined and marginalized in the Sri Lankan
republic that was born with that 1972 constitution.
As a nation, oppressed and exploited for a number of years, we should have
forged our Sri Lankan identity by adopting a strategy recognizing the socio
economic, political aspirations of all the communities who have inherited this
country as their mother land.
Even the dreams in 1919to 1930 for a just and inclusive political system of people
of the caliber of Mr. S W R D Bandaranayake who was conscious of the
demographic composition of the country was aborted in the 1950s for selfish
political gain. Towards the end of 1950s pancha maha balawegaya(five major
forces ) gathered around Mr. Bandaranayake. This movement challenged the
humanistic and democratic process in the country and thereby the whole nation
was led to the extreme ends. This extremism was legalized by Mr Bandaranayake
so called liberal leader, as a nation we continue to suffer politically, educationally
and economically, as a consequence of the ill effects of the arbitrary and totally
unjust steps taken by the S.W.R.D Bandaranayake government. It was since 1958
that the majority community began to harm and oppress the other communities
who also have equal historical claim to Sri Lanka as Sinhalese. It was mainly the
18% of our population the Tamil speaking community who became the victims of
this ceaselessly dastardly evil process. This community which was mercilessly
suppressed and attacked brutally and violently in 1950, 1960, 1970 and 1980
decades continue to react in democratic ways but in 1980 they were pushed to
their tethers end, compelling them to respond violently with arms and declare a
civil war with the Sri Lankan state.

It is we the majority who have to take the responsibility of making the whole
nation a victim of destruction. It is said that what has gone cannot be drown
back even by elephants and now we have to protect what is left.

Therefore what we have to do is to be wise and humble to learn from the


experience of the civilized world, who have experimented with deferent
approaches and political strategies and create our own political system suitable
for us. But unfortunately we are wasting our time on wearing masks and playing
games with the intend of beating the others rather than searching for a durable
solution. As a result of this, we are pawing the path for evil international forces to
interfere with our sovereignty.
It is we the majority who have to take the responsibility of making the whole
nation a victim of destruction. It is said that what has gone cannot be drown
back even by elephants and now we have to protect what is left.
The deferent groups of political parties are making varied statements based on
their own presumption and while away the time. The religious, political leaders
and the policy makers have failed to act as socially responsible actors who are
conscious of the tensions developing among the minority groups and the need of
the time as a nation. Because of the inability to create a solution to these causes,
the critical situation has become cancerous destroying the nation. Similarly all the
problems that we are facing today are the accumulated results of the neglect of
social responsibility by the socially responsible institute and organizations and
also the procrastination of resolving the national question. Shading our myths and
misconceptions but our efforts should be to search for a solution to our national
question which has remained unsolved for decades. In this search we have to be
open to global knowledge but place our top priority in the best inters of Sri Lanka
which presently rests in healing and reconciliation of country.
The prophetic challenge
It is in this context that Bishop Rayappu Joseph Bishop of Mannar as a person who
feels and experience the true reality of the Tamil speaking community raises his
voice obeying the will of God whom he believes. Bishop Rayappu Joseph is the
only person to raise a just voice for the Tamil speaking communities, who have
suffered immensely by the severe oppression of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Elam (LTTE) and the militarization of the Sri Lankan government. Observing the
prophetic tradition of the Bible, we can see that the Bishop Rayappu is facing the
same prophetic challenges. Every time a nation fell the Lord acted through
prophets. Even today the same phenomenon is taking place. He proclaims that
the future of the minorities should not be the same as in the past and that the
time has come to deviate from the unjust patterns. Moreover the Bishop
emphasizes that peace should prevail in the country and for this justice should be
meted out. Fulfilling justice is not an individual function but a result of a socially
collective process.(the sovereignty of the minority cannot be established only by
His Excellency The President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime minister Mr. Ranil
Wicramasinge . (It is the responsibility of all the political parties and the
democratic social forces.)

In the face of the oppression of our people as a result of not meeting out justice
through the people due for various social injustices the Lord cries out woe to
those who makes unjust laws ,to those who issues oppressive decrees, to deprive
the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppress of my people.
Isaiah 10,1-2 Holy Bible.
The meaning of the voice of Bishop Rayappu is that justice should be a flowing
steam and righteousness a river flowing without drying up. A prophet while
witnessing the truth tries to warn of the dangers ahead. It is this challenge the
Bishop attempts to show that a golden opportunity has dawn after 30 years of
war to search for a meaningful solution to the long delayed national question he
predicts that the consequences of our failure to solve this problem through
sincere dialog among the deferent stake holders would lead to an unimaginable
crisis. Therefore the history (God) has entrusted the members of the majority
community of the responsibility to be shouldered and also orient the responsible
individuals and authorities towards this responsibility. Therefore who libel against
the Bishop has belittled his commitment and has the obligation to search for the
answer for the reality he reveals with a widen heart and a critical mind.(The
essence of the statement of repentance made to the nation by Her Excellency
Chandrika Bandaranayaka Kumaranatunga on 4th. February 1998
commemorating the 50th. Anniversary of Independence is an admission of the
failure to forge a strongly united nation amidst its diversity of different ethnicities.
In the same way during the period what we did was not to use those diversities
for our progress but to unleash processes destroying the total features of our
society.)

The reality the Bishop faced

Since the beginning of human civilization the critical challenge that the human
had to face was the ownership and the right to utilize land and water. As a nation
we are endowed with the just and righteous models and strategies of the ancient
civilization and also from the era of Lord Buddha in Indian history. But even today
we have failed to find a solution acceptable to all the communities to address
core factor of the ownership and the utilization of land that is affecting the
different communities. What Bishop Rayappu repeatedly proclaimed is the
disinheritance of their land ownership and the ill effects of this disinheritance.

Our inheritance has been turned over to aliens. Our homes for foreignness. We
have become orphans and fatherless. Our mothers like widows. We must buy the
water we drink. Our wood can be had only at a price.( Holy Bible lamentations
5:1-4)

Because of the increase in demand for land in the context of the future economic
expansion of Mannar due to the fuel- gas economy already external actors
giving various reasons are either acquiring or buying and owning the land
belonging to the people of Mannar. It was because of disclosing this reality, that
Bishop Rayappu was blamed and shamed by the parliamentarian Reshard
Baduddeen using his parliamentary privileges. These evil forces are trying to
silence the prophetic voice of the time. All over the history the just men who
voiced against the perpetuation of injustice against the powerless have had to
face harassment and even to compensate by giving the ones life.
Come, lets plot against Jeremaiah for the teaching of the law by the priest will
not be lost nor will counsel from neither the wise nor the words from the prophet
to proclaim the word. So come let us attack him with our tongues and pay no
attention to any thing he says.(Holy Bible Jeremiah 18:18) They crucified Him
(Holy Bible John 19:18)
Man who challenged Prabakaran

The mental stress caused by a delayed unresolved problem eventually explodes in


a violent nature. This has been clearly evident by the struggle of our people
against the oppression by the colonial power for years. Similarly the insurrection
that erupted in 1971, 1988/89 are violent reactions to prolong situation of
suppression among the youth. The northern insurgency that irrupted in 1972 and
repressed in 2009 also was the result of fighting against all suppressive forces that
denied their hope and aspiration. They released their anger in a violent way
resulting in destruction (experience 1971, 1988/89 and 30 years war)
The basic problem of the Tamil speaking people still remain unresolved. It has
become a stalemate. It is like unquenched thirst. Because of his strong stand
the Bishop became a severe target of LTTE.
The only person who could challenge V Prabakaran the live force of the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) was Bishop Rayappu. His challenge was to search for
the nature and the discipline of the mode for securing the self dignity and the
sovereignty of his people. His stand on this was that of following the teaching of
the Christ and the Church on society, the rights of minorities and their human
freedom and political freedom and aspiration. Inspired by these social teaching of
the church Bishop Rayappu opted for the liberation of his people who have been
made powerless. He proclaimed the truth about justice and peace emerging from
the teaching of Jesus: the human being have to be free from fear and oppression
but he could not make the struggle of his people for an authentic liberation, a
meaningful struggle responding to the prophetic call of the time.

The basic problem of the Tamil speaking people still remain unresolved. It has
become a stalemate. It is like unquenched thirst. Because of his strong stand
the Bishop became a severe target of LTTE. He has also become a victim of
accusation and humiliations by the extremist of the majority community and also
as well as by the other minorities. What is ridicules in this context is that even
some of the Sinhala Catholics are considering the Bishop as a pro LTTE persons.
Their behavior show that they are more attracted to the secular power than to
exemplary life of our LORD who scarified His life for a just and righteous society.
The Mystique who cried at the loose of his children
As the war continued Bishop Rayappu agonizingly prayed and meditated deeply.
He commented the children, the future promise of the Lord and the hope of Sri
Lanka are falling dead, their bodies are scattered. What remained for us was to
turn to Jesus love Him and wait for justice

Bishop Rayappu the mystic through his praying and meditating has remained true
to his Christian calling to protect and promote human life by opposing all the
inhuman, violent forces and thereby bring about a democratic human society full
of hope and fill with love and affection. He has gracefully proved his commitment
to this vision of a democratic humane society full of hope and fills with love and
affection.

The deferent actors who have misunderstood his liberative process continue to
blemish him socially but the Lord and the Master of the creation speaks through
prophet Isaiaa in Holy Bible.(50:8-11) he who vindicate me is near. Who then will
bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him
confront me! It is the sovereign Lord who help me. Who is he that will condemn
me? They will all wear out like a garment the moths will eat them up. who among
you fears the lord and obeys the word of his servent? Let him who walk in the
dark who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. But now
all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches go walk in the
light of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my
hand; you will lie down in torment.
Posted by Thavam