Sri Lankan prelate demands answers over mass killing

Prayers for 80 victims buried together

A Catholic prelate in Sri Lanka has demanded government answers on a mass grave uncovered on the island nation.

Bishop Rayappu Joseph of Mannar issued his call as he celebrated a special Mass for some 80 people, including women and children uncovered in the north of the country in December after an extensive dig to recover all bodies.

“We want to know what happened to these people,” said the bishop in his homily. “We want answers. We do not need food, but the truth.”

While the discovery of the mass grave serves to offer answers to families whose loved ones disappeared over 30 years of civil conflict in Sri Lanka, the government has sparked anger by seeking to shift blame for the grave from the military onto the rebel Tamil Tigers, pointing out that the area of the discovery was previously a Tiger stronghold until a military onslaught defeated the grouping in 2009 amid widespread claims of crimes against humanity by the army.

 “Transparent investigations should be conducted because we want to know what happened to these people,” Bishop Joseph insisted.

“We must raise our voices for those who vanished into thin air.

“We have a right to fight for justice. Let us pray for everyone, for those who died during the war and for those who are missing.”