Priest threatened, accused of praying for LTTE chief

Father SS Johnpillai, priest of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the diocese of Trincomalee in Eastern Province said local authorities suppressed news of the attack that took place on Nov. 26.

Admin
Sri Lanka
Dec 04 2013, 2:52 PM
Priest threatened, accused of praying for LTTE chief
Father SS Johnpillai.

A catholic priest in Sri Lanka says two gunmen last week threatened to kill him, accusing him of saying a Mass for the head of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Father SS Johnpillai, priest of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the diocese of Trincomalee in Eastern Province said local authorities suppressed news of the attack that took place on Nov. 26.

According to the priest two men claiming to be Special Forces officers men accused him of celebrating a Mass that morning in honour of Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader LTTE, also known as Tamil Tigers.

The same day, the Sri Lankan government had declared illegal any commemorative events connected to the LTTE rebels.

"As a priest, every morning I celebrate Mass, but I did not honour Prabhakaran or the Tamil Tigers," Father Johnpillai said. Eventually, he wrote a statement to publicise what happened to him.

"That night, I was in the hut next to the church, reading newspapers. Nobody was around and it was already dark. The cleaners and the sacristan were elsewhere. Suddenly, two men came out of nowhere, asking if I was the parish priest. When I introduced myself, they said they had to question me. I asked them to identify themselves. They told me they were Special Forces agents, but did not provide any proof of their identity."

Father Johnpillai said he refused to answer their questions. "They became furious and started to insult me," he explained. "They accused me of commemorating Prabhakaran during Mass, something which I denied. Ignoring my words, they put a gun to my head, threatening to shoot."

"I fell to the ground in shock. They left telling me not to come out or report what happened, promising that they would return soon. I followed them to take down their license plate, but their motorcycles did not have any".

Once his attackers had gone, the clergyman called the episcopal vicar to tell him what had happened. The latter, in turn, called the police officer in charge of the area, who said he could not identify the two.

At the request of Bishop Kingsely Swamipillay of Trincomalee, two policemen were sent to provide security to the church and the priest.

The head of the local military in charge of local security said that none of his soldiers had been sent to question Father Johnpillai.

Source: AsiaNews

Top Stories

Using social media as a tool to evangelise

Archbishop Goh appreciated the many good intentions and effort put into all of the videos submitted as well as highlighted this initiative as a good one for other districts to follow.