08/06/2007, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Anglican bishop: “Safeguard children against the campaign of violence”

by Melani Manel Perera
Rev. Duleep de Chikera condemns the governments triumphant propaganda which celebrates recent victories against the Tamil separatists. He invites parents and teachers to promote “the values of trust, respect and cooperation”, in order to bring “peace to the country”.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Celebrations called by the government in the aftermath of recent military victories in the east of the Countries risk having serious and negative repercussions eon children: this was the alarm launched by the Anglican bishop of Colombo, rev. Duleep de Chikera, who has asked authorities to “safeguard the health of the nations young, against the authority’s war agenda”.

During the month of July the military won over various strategic pints in the east of the country among them the Tamil strategic centre of Thoppigala, in terrorist hands for over 13 years. The bishop referred to the fact of that all schools were called upon to hold ceremonies to celebrate the liberation of the Eastern province and said “these forced celebrations with programs highlighting images of war and the enemy, are a serious violation of the vulnerability and dignity of our children, and must be condemned”. Parents, teachers and religious leaders also voiced strong opposition to the initiative, but government and military pressures held sway over all resistance.  The government moreover, invited citizens to take part in State festivities during which president Mahinda Rajapaksa will hold a national address.

Rev. Duleep de Chikera has invited the warring factions to respect the rights of the children, underlining that they are “are the real wealth and potential of our nation. They must, one day soon, live in harmony together” beyond ethnic divides. This is why he asks parents and teachers to “invest the values of mutual respect and trust, co-operation, sharing and co-existences into the valuable young lives of our children”. “It is absurd to involve children in the country’s political events – said Father Sathivel M. Pillai of St. Mark’s Church of Ceylon – because they become indoctrinated with racial hatred and separatism.  I am totally opposed to the governments policy and as a priest I ask that steps are taken to promote peace and harmony in the nations.  This is why I will not take part in any of the celebrations being planned over the coming days; I will not accept the invitation”.

Despite the 2002 cease-fire, over the last year and a half hostilities have thrown the nation once again into the grips of civil war.  The conflict, ongoing for the last 20 years, has killed 60 thousand people, 5 thousand in the last 19 months alone.

 

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