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    » 08/10/2010, 00.00

    SRI LANKA

    Archbishop of Colombo hopes for peace, reconciliation and national unity between north and south

    Melani Manel Perera

    An importance conference is held in Colombo, bringing together bishops, priests and religious to discuss the difficulty situation in Sri Lanka’s northern and eastern regions. Participants call for dialogue to continue, urging the Church to avoid causing problems. They also remind the government that it is time to lift martial law, rein in the troops and restore civilian rule.
    Colombo (AsiaNews) – “Let us, through dialogue, advance the cause of the still suffering people of the North and East and take the country on a path towards sustainable peace , reconciliation among the communities and national unity. Confrontational attitudes and outlandish statements will not help in this endeavour,” said Mgr Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, at a conference that brought together priests and religious from various regions of the country. Held at the auditorium of Caritas-Sri Lanka SEDEC in Colombo on 3 August, the event was not open to the public. Nevertheless, information about it was released today.

    Mgr Harold Anthony Perera, bishop of Kurunegala and chairman of the Social and Economic Development Centre (SEDEC), Mgr Norbert Andradi, bishop of Anuradhapura, and Fr George Sigamoney, director of SEDEC, attended the seminar. Fathers Henry Silva and Reid Shelton Fernando were the moderators of the different sessions.

    Clergymen and religious from the country’s northern and eastern regions voiced a number of concerns relating to the hardships and suffering people in their part of the country have to endure, especially resettled families and refugee camps inmates.

    In their view, “in spite of the outward appearances of development work, many serious grievances still exist.” They concern “kidnappings, ransom demands, harassment and abuse of women, lack of livelihood and decent housing, loss of land, restrictions on movement from one place to another, continuing trauma and so on.”

    After hearing these facts, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith said that he understands that the complexity of the situation. “It is not one we would have welcomed. Unfortunately, there are factors in this country, which are not in our control. We have to be clear about that. Anything said in the south by the Church must not make things worse for the suffering people.”

    In any event, “We are not silent,” he said. “We have been very active. Yet, we have to use dialogue as the means to achieve success in restoring normalcy in the North and East. There is a Christian way of reacting, based on the teachings of Jesus.  It will be useless if we create more problems. That will not be Christian and won’t help the suffering people.”

    Speaking after the bishop, Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuthu, executive director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and Rohan Edirisinghe, a leading expert in constitutional law, focused on reconciliation and on learning from sharing experiences.

    Participants also discussed what the Church could do, as well as how it can avoid past errors.

    The conference called for a return to civilian rule in the North and East, the imposition of a code of conduct on the military, the end of emergency rule, and an end to governments-sponsored colonisation, which is depriving Tamil of land.

    Finally, Father Sigamoney said he hoped that bridge building between North and South would continue, and that this opportunity to get together and share concerns in a forthright manner would lead to greater understanding and acceptance of the truth.

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    See also

    17/04/2009 SRI LANKA
    Groups of Christians from the south visit war refugees in Vavuniya
    The initiative is organized by the Christian Solidarity Movement, which intends to repeat the trip each week. The intention is to show a concrete sign of solidarity to war victims, and to knock down the wall of hostility between Sinhalese and Tamils, built over 25 years of conflict. AsiaNews has interviewed Fr. Sarath Iddamalgod, one of the project organizers.

    11/01/2011 SRI LANKA
    Mannar diocese offers proposal for genuine and lasting Tamil-Sinhalese reconciliation
    Bishop Rayappu Joseph and two priests from his diocese submit a report to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), calling for complete transparency on what happened between 2002 and 2009 as a step towards finding an effective and lasting solution to the ethnic conflict.

    29/10/2010 SRI LANKA
    Sri Lanka’s Catholic families gather at Thalawila sanctuary
    It 's the first ever national retreat organized by the Apostolate for families. Three days of meetings, for reconciliation and peace attended by Tamil and Sinhalese families who lived through the war. Two hundred thousand people from all over Sri Lanka expected to attend.

    02/01/2012 SRI LANKA
    Solving Sri Lanka’s ‘Tamil problem’ in 2012
    About 200,000 displaced people are still living in refugee camps in northern Sri Lanka, even though southerners believe everything is back to normal. The government organises trips to the war zone only to show monuments that celebrate the army’s victory.

    30/04/2009 SRI LANKA
    Sinhalese and Tamils will perish divided but flourish united, said Colombo archbishop
    For Mgr Oswald Gomis the fighting between the army and Tamil Tigers is reducing the country as it was at the “end of World War Two.” The Church is committed to helping refugees and reconciliation.



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