05/08/2009, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Not every Tamil is a fighter, says Anglican bishop

by Melani Manel Perera
Rev Duleep de Chickera writes to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, demanding “a just and speedy political response to the grievances of Tamils”. He warns of the danger of placing “an entire community” forever “under surveillance.”

Colombo (AsiaNews) – We “need to overcome the tendency to see the ghosts of the LTTE in every Tamil,” said Rev Duleep de Chickera, Anglican bishop of Colombo. For him this is first and foremost an attitude to adopt in order to find a real solution to the conflict that has torn apart Sri Lanka.

In a letter sent yesterday to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Rev de Chickera calls for “a just and speedy political response to the grievances of Tamils”, and warns against the danger of placing “an entire community” forever “under surveillance.”

The government in Colombo said that it has begun the final push against the last LTTE fortifications built to prevent the advance of the Sri Lankan military into the No Fire Zone.

As the international community prepares to provide more funds for the hundreds of thousand of people displaced by the war in the last few weeks (pictured refugees at Manik Farm), the bishop reminds President Rajapaksa that waiting for foreign aid “should not divert the attention of concerned Sri Lankans from the dire needs of our fellow Sri Lankans restricted to internally displaced people (IDP) camps and the No Fire Zone.”

Following the wave of solidarity that swept across the country in response to the president’s appeal for help for the refugees, Rev de Chickera now calls for “a visible shift from sympathy for the IDP to an affirmation of their rights and dignity as Sri Lankans.”

The government, the prelate said, should use every means at its disposal to “save civilians” and “neutralise the LTTE.”

Rapidly the authorities should begin the “process of de-mining” and start “building houses and infrastructure” in the war-torn areas. They should also reiterate their intention to implement a programme of reintegration of former rebels into society through an appropriate process of rehabilitation.

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