Sri Lanka: Rev. Gnanaseelan Shot Dead – January 13, 2007

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Rev.Nallathamby Gnanaseelan (38) was a father of four children, the oldest daughter is 7 years old, and youngest is a 1 year old. He has two sons in between the two daughters. Rev. Gnanaseelan was brutally gunned down by Sri Lankan security forces on Saturday the 13th of January 2007.

Rev.Gnanaseelan, was the Pastor of Tamil Mission Church Jaffna. On that fateful Saturday morning, he took his wife Serena and his daughter to the hospital on his bike, little realizing that this was his last journey.

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.

Reports reaching us 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 security forces reports initially indicated that Rev. Gnanaseelan 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.

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.

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, the LTTE and the government security forces.

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.