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Fr James Pathinanthan – a survivor of Mullivaikkal – passes away

Mullaitivu based pastor Fr James Pathinanthan, a priest that survived the massacres at Mullivaikkal, passed away last week.

Fr Pathinathan had sustained injuries in Valaignarmadam on Wednesday 22nd April 2009, after bombs were fired into the area by the Sri Lankan military. He was one of 17 priests and 22 sisters who had remained in the final conflict zone in the midst of Sri Lankan shelling. He was a member of National Commission for Justice, Peace and Human Development at the time of the bombing.

A revered member of the community, Pathinanthan remained a pillar of support to locals during the armed conflict and the 2004 tsunami that struck the region. He was also an vocal critic of the Sri Lankan government embargo that for decades had deprived the North-East of vital supplies.

"Deaths, injuries, displacements and attendant misery pervade the lives of the innocent Tamil civilians,” he wrote to then UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in 2008.

“The Draconian economic embargo imposed slyly on Vanni has become a monstrous obstacle even in giving relief and solace to the 170,000 persons recently displaced. Day and night, vanni is thundering with Artillery Guns, Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers, Supersonic fighter jets and Naval gunboats."

People from across the North-East gathered to attend his funeral which took place earlier this week.