by Melani Manel Perera
Colombo (AsiaNews) - Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims together to remember Fr Nihal Jim Brown, an ethnic Tamil Catholic priest, who disappeared on Aug. 20, 2006. The group of people, and relatives of the priest, met yesterday at the Centre for Society and Religion in Colombo, "because the memory of Fr Jim Brown and his assistant can not be erased from our hearts".
Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslims together to remember his disappearance. Fr. Brown was last seen August 20, 2006.
The church of the diocese of Jaffna entrusted to Fr Brown was immersed in the war zone between army troops and Tamil rebels. On 20 August 2006, the fighting came very close to the parish. To give the faithful shelter from the bombs, Fr. Brown opened the church. The clashes left 20 dead and 100 wounded, and the priest asked the military permission to take survivors to hospital.
The last witness, who saw him at a Navy checkpoint of the, claimed that he was with Wenceslaus Vimalathas, his assistant and 40-year old father of five children. An officer of the Sri Lanka Navy was threatening them. Once Fr Brown and Vimalathas left Allaipiddy, they disappeared without trace.
Fr. Nandana Saparamadu opened the meeting with a prayer in Sinhalese and said: "Fr. Brown asks us to grow in faith in God and develop our courage to build a more just society". Sandhya Eknaligoda, the wife of Prageeth, a journalist who also disappeared, lit a candle next to a picture of Fr Brown, saying "the candle flame gives us strength and courage to move forward in defence of our loved ones." Fr. Selvarathnam called everyone to unity in the name of Fr Brown: "God always takes the side of the oppressed and asks us to take care of our brothers. And where is our brother Jim? We must take care of each other: take care of the Tamil and Sinhalese of Sri Lanka's Muslims. "
Fr. Jim Brown is one among the thousands of civilians, journalists, human rights activists and academics, mostly ethnic Tamils, to have disappeared since 2006. - Courtesy: Asia News.it -