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    » 05/21/2012, 00.00

    SRI LANKA

    Catholic nuns remember those who died and those who disappeared in civil war

    Melani Manel Perera

    Whilst the government commemorated fallen soldiers, the Sisters' Link for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation held a counter-commemoration and a prayer. Three years since the end of the civil war on 19 May 2009, the nuns say that remembrance must not discriminate and that only forgiveness and compassion can bring true reconciliation.

    Colombo (AsiaNews) - On the third anniversary of the end of Sri Lanka's civil war, a group of Catholic nuns known as the Sisters' Link for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation said that not only soldiers but all "victims of the conflict" should be remembered because "we are all human beings". For this purpose, on Saturday they organised a prayer service in Our Lady of Fatima Church in memory of all the people who died in 30 years of conflict.

    The nuns gathered during the official commemorations organised by the government the same day at which time it handed out medals to the families of the soldiers killed in action defending the nation against Tamil rebels.

    "The seeds of reconciliation can take root only if we have forgiveness and compassion," said Sister Helen Fernando, of the Sisters of the Holy Family, before a group of some 150 people that included fellow nuns, Catholic priests and lay people. "Political leaders should be humble enough to apologise to the people for all the innocent victims of this conflict."

    A black flag and a white flag were flown at the prayer service. "The black flag reminds us of our dead, those who disappeared and the darkness that still inhabits this nation," Sister Deepa Fernando told AsiaNews.

    For the nun, who is also a member of the Sisters of the Holy Family, "three years after [the civil war], many people are still waiting in refugee camps without basic services or jobs."

    For this reason, "Even religious leaders should apologise" for this situation, she insisted, because they were silent and did nothing for a long time.

    Conversely, the white flag is a reminder that "we are all children of light and must pray and act so that everyone's rights are recognised."

    Sandayaa Eknaligoda, wife of a disappeared journalist, and Malathi, a war widow, were present at the gathering. For them, the meeting provided "a good opportunity to remind this society that we too belong to the community."

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    See also

    27/05/2014 SRI LANKA
    In the north, Tamils defy government to remember Fr Sara, who died during the Civil War
    Despite an official ban, people in Uruthirapuram (Kilinochchi District) celebrated a Mass in remembrance of Fr Mariampillai Sarathjeevan. He was one of eight priests who stayed with northern communities at the end of the ethnic conflict. He died on 18 May 2009, the last day of the war, exhausted by weeks without food or water.

    20/05/2011 SRI LANKA
    Difficult reconciliation between North and South, as government aid proves insufficient
    Two years since the end of the civil war, the South is now enjoying the fruits of peace. The North, instead, is still faced with unsolved problems: jobless refugees, invasive military presence and abandoned war widows. Some Tamils bear witness to the situation.

    23/07/2010 SRI LANKA
    Remembering “Black July” to encourage Sri Lankan reconciliation
    In July 1983, Sinhalese killed up to 3,000 Tamil civilians and destroyed 18,000 houses. Today Catholic communities and NGOs remember the 27th anniversary of the tragic event. The head of a law association said that Black July should be “an opportunity for genuine national reconciliation”, but for a Catholic priest, all Sinhalese fanatics want “is to control Tamil areas”.

    12/12/2008 SRI LANKA
    In the future of Caritas, commitment to peace and reconciliation
    Fr. Oswald B. Firth, the former director of the charitable Catholic institution, hopes for a greater commitment to the renewal of Sri Lankan society. At the 40th anniversary of its foundation, he calls upon Caritas to support peace between the Tamil Tigers and the army: "people are exhausted with the war."

    04/02/2009 SRI LANKA - VATICAN
    Rajapaksa to apostolic nuncio: get priests out of conflict zone
    The religious live with the hundreds of refugees in the four districts that are still in the theater of conflict. The government says that victory over the Tamil Tigers is close, and is celebrating the 61st anniversary of independence by announcing an imminent peace. The United States, the European Union, Japan, and Norway are asking the Tamil rebels to surrender. The hospital of Pudukkudiyiruppu has been attacked for the fifth time in three days.



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