06/19/2007, 00.00
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Bishops’ solidarity with Tamils forced to leave Colombo

by Melani Manel Perera
In a message published in two local Catholic papers, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka expresses its solidarity with Tamils forced to leave abandon homes and livelihood. Bishops call for respect of the constitution’s human rights provisions.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – In a message published in two Catholic papers, the English Messenger and the Sinhala Pradeepaya, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCSL), expressed its solidarity to the members of the Tamil community forced out of Colombo.

The CBCSL statement was issued by Bishop Vianney Fernando of Kandy and Bishop Norbert Andradi of Anuradhapura, respectively the CBCSL’s president and the secretary general. In it the two prelates said that “[i]nnocent people should be permitted to live in safety and conduct their day to day affairs.”

For that reason they cited the human rights provision of Sri Lanka’s constitution—Art. 12 (3) and Art.14 (1) (h)—which state that “Every citizen is entitled to freedom of movement and of choosing his residence within Sri Lanka.”

The statement also thanked the president for ordering an immediate probe into the incident.

The CBCSL urged the government and other civil authorities to avoid any course of action in the future that will disturb the lives of ordinary innocent civilians who wish to move freely and go about their ordinary tasks in any part of the country.

AsiaNews has met some of the people forced to flee and seen their fear. They do not want to remember what happened but wonder whether they will ever be guaranteed safety and security.

The Congress of Religions in Sri Lanka also issued a statement jointly signed by the Venerable Bellanvila Wimalarathana Nayaka Thero and Archbishop Oswald Gomis with regard to the eviction of Tamil residents from the capital.

“We are deeply saddened and distressed by the displacement, abductions and murder of innocent and helpless civilians,” the statement said. “We strongly condemn such irreligious and inhuman action.”

During the press conference last Friday attended by Buddhist monks and priests as well as Hindu, Muslim and Christian representatives, the Congress called on all Sri Lankans “to strive continuously to build an environment, where all citizens in this country can live in peace, harmony and dignity based on the cherished religious values that have enriched the nation over the years.”

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