Christian leaders tell government it is their “duty” to negotiate peace
by Melani Manel Perera
The Catholic Archbishop of Colombo and the Anglican leader in Sri Lanka have both sent letters of condolences for the death of a leading Tamil politician and the January 2nd attack in the capital. Both remind politicians of the urgency to find a negotiated solution to end the civil war and violence, But the government has already announced its withdrawal from the ceasefire with the Tigers.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lanka’s Christian leaders have invited the government to renew its’ efforts to reach a lasting peace deal through negotiation and to put an end to the culture of violence with is consuming the country.

In two separate condolence messages over the assassination of the Tamil parliamentarian T. Maheswaran and the bomb blast that killed four people in the capital on Jan 2. Oswald Gomis, archbishop of Colombo and the Anglican bishop of Sri Lanka Duleep De Chickera, recall politicians to their “responsibility and duty”: find a negotiated solution to the civil conflict.

The bishops’ appeal comes as the government announced its formal withdrawal from the 2002 ceasefire agreement with the Tamil Tigers (Ltte). The fact remains that neither side have held with the agreement for over a year.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his regret over the decision and said he is now seriously concerned about the timing of the withdrawal given the recent intensification of fighting in the north of the country and the growing violence throughout the nation including the capital Colombo.

Since the beginning of 2007 the army and separatist Tamil rebels have entered a new phase of the twenty year long civil war. Since it first began in 1983 it has left over 70 thousand people dead.  “Whilst we witness daily killings, - writes Msgr Gomis - abductions and other forms of social crimes, the whole process of democracy is getting eroded. Therefore we strongly urge to the powers that be, to accelerate the process of finding a lasting solution immediately”.

“We simply cannot sow seeds of a war culture and expect to reap peace” warns bishop De Chickera – “the promotion and justification of war through the promise of an illusive peace is immoral, misleading and counter productive”. “Even though time is running out – concludes the Anglican leader -  it is still possible to return to and act on a consensual political will that could still save us all”.