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Sri Lankan visitor - Public meeting in Auckland

13 August 1999

Public Meeting in Auckland, TOMORROW, SATURDAY 14 AUGUST :

Bishop Joseph (from Mannar Diocese in the north west of Sri Lanka) will be giving a public address about the civilian displacement and humanitarian situation in his diocese.

Venue: Jackdickie Hall, Great South Road, Greenlane Time: 6-00 pm.

Organised by the Tamil community, for further information phone (09) 820 2113 anytime after Friday 6pm.

There may be a public meeting in Wellington with the Bishop on Aug 16th. Please email if you like those details.

Following is the news release by the Catholic Church of New Zealand (12 -08-99) about Bishop Joseph's visit.

Prominent Sri Lankan Catholic Bishop in New Zealand to discuss human rights and aid issues The Catholic Bishop of Mannar Diocese in the north west of Sri Lanka, Bishop Rayappu Joseph, is visiting New Zealand this week at the invitation of the New Zealand Tamil community.

While here, he will meet with Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, the Catholic Aid Agency Caritas, the media and members of the Tamil communities.

His diocese has been an area of continued conflict and displacement. During the past seven years he has had to deal with the conflicting government security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in order to oversee the Church's relief work providing for thousands of displaced persons living in areas under both government and LTTE control.

Bishop Joseph's leadership and commitment to peace has been amply displayed in the trust and credibility accorded to him by both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE.

His greatest regret at the moment is the fragile security situation in the Mannar district and the loss of Madhu shrine as a 'zone of peace'. The latter area has been home to approximately 10,000 internally displaced persons from the north. It was treated as an area out of bounds to any military group, and it was an Open Relief Centre under the international mandate of the UN High Commission for Refugees. Earlier this year the Sri Lankan government evacuated the displaced persons from this area and moved them to government-controlled welfare centres - a move strongly criticised by both the Catholic Church and the UNHCR.

Bishop Joseph holds a doctorate in Canon Law and lectured in this field in the Catholic Seminary in Jaffna. More background information can be obtained from Catholic Communications (see below). Also on hand is a month-old ABC Documentary of atrocities in the area.

For an opportunity to interview Bishop Joseph: phone (09) 837 5418; fax (09) 817 7582 or contact Lyndsay Freer, National Communications Director for the Catholic Church, tel (09) 378 8017, fax (09) 360 3061,

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