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    » 07/28/2008, 00.00

    SRI LANKA

    Prayer vigil in Colombo to remember the victims of ‘black July’

    Melani Manel Perera

    The civil war that pits government forces against Tamil Tigers has killed 70,000 people in 25 years. The country’s Christians organise a prayer vigil to honour the memory of those who died and to call for peace and prosperity for Sri Lanka as a whole.
    Colombo (AsiaNews) – A prayer vigil was held to remember the victims of ‘black July’, 25 years ago, and call for peace and prosperity in a country that is still marked by violent clashes between the army and Tamil Tiger rebels.

    The event, which took place last Wednesday, was organised by the Christian Solidarity Movement (CSM). It brought together more than 300 people, including priests, nuns, pastors and lay people.

    Inspired by the theme “Let us love life, oppose killings”, participants met at Colombo’s St. Philip Neri Church to pray for and promote Sri Lankan unity.

    “It is a primary duty of every Christian to defend life. We have not done so in the past; we still do not do it enough today,” said human rights activist Ajith Hadly Perera as he addressed those present, recalling the massacre of July 1983.

    The civil war pitting army and rebel forces has killed more than 70,000 people. Tamil separatists still want independence for a vast area in the island’s north-east which they call Tamil Ealam, and have first and foremost perpetrated massacres and carried out attacks against the civilian population to achieve their goal.

    Fr Rohan Silva, a member of the Christian Solidarity Movement in Colombo, said that there is a widespread sense of sadness for past bloodshed and for the fratricidal struggle that has recently blackened the country’s history and created many victims and refugees.

    “We Christians must raise our voice, assert that we love life and state our opposition to the logic of violence,” he said.

    “We must stand against injustice and do our utmost that they are not repeated, said Fr Anura Perera of the Methodist Church of Kandy.

    The year 1983 was a horrible year, a tragedy that is still alive in the memory of many Sri Lankans, a wound that time has not healed as many vigil participants testified.

    At the end of the religious function a demonstration organised by the ‘Forum for Life’ movement began. Participants shouted slogans for life, respect for human rights and justice, and peace in the country.

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    See also

    06/10/2008 Sri Lanka
    UN aid resumes in war-torn northern Sri Lanka
    A bomb kills 26 people, including an important opposition leader. UN resumes aid shipment for 1.1 million displaced people, but is concerned about humanitarian workers’ safety.

    11/06/2007 SRI LANKA
    Colombo regrets evicting Tamils
    Government expresses regrets over the forced eviction of almost 400 Tamils from the capital, ostensibly for security reasons, saying police made a mistake. After many protests Supreme Court blocks eviction order and removal to northern native villages.

    05/01/2010 SRI LANKA
    Sri Lankan Christians want to be part of the election process
    For Fr Rohan Silva, from the Centre for Society and Religion, Churches should do more. Human rights activists agree. The bishop of Jaffna talks about the Tamil situation.

    24/01/2007 SRI LANKA
    Protest against press censorship
    Eight journalists are killed in 2006; many more, Tamil and Sinhalese alike, are threatened or attacked. Many choose exile.

    27/10/2008 SRI LANKA
    Sri Lanka unaware of the fate of the population in war-torn areas
    Much of the country does not know the real conditions in which northerners live. The Christian Solidarity Movement is trying to raise funds and awareness despite politicians’ intimidation. Ordinary people pay closer attention to the movement’s campaigns. Its coordinator, Father Iddamalgoda, complains about the “lack of democracy”.



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