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UK Hindus offer prayers for inmates of camps in Sri Lanka

04 November 2009

by Bill Bowder

HINDUS in the UK offered special prayers on Sunday for the quarter of a million Sri Lankans left in overcrowded and flooded camps after government troops defeated the separatist Tamil Tigers in May (News, 24 April, 15 May)

Sanjay Mistry, a spokesman for the Hindu Forum of Britain, said that prayers would be said in all temples and community centres on Sunday, and that the Hindu community would hold “a candle-lit vigil in front of the British Parliament on 9 December”.

In a statement issued last month, the Hindu Forum urged the Sri Lankan government to allow NGOs to distribute aid directly to the camps, where people are “short of drinking water, food, and health care, living in the midst of filth . . . resulting in large numbers dying on a weekly basis”.

Amnesty International said that months after the government had set up the camps in the Vavuniya district, in the north-east of the country, the authorities were still not delivering basic services. It urges people to join the “Unlock the Camps” campaign on its website, www.amnesty.org.

Earlier last month the Bishop of Colombo, the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, said that it was unclear whether the government’s decision to release people from the camps after security screening had been “put on hold”. He called for “co-ordina-tion, compassion, and speed” in its implementation.

“Such a course of action will confirm the government’s position that these Sri Lankans crossed over to liberation at the invitation of their government, and that they are neither prisoners nor detainees. It will also recognise that no citizen of this country can or should be expected to endure the conditions in camps for too long.”

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