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A Call to Stop Harming Civilians
A Statement by the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo
CEYLON 080208-1
February 8, 2008

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] The recent spate of calculated mayhem targeted against innocent civilians that collectively killed scores of civilians including school children, and injured many more, especially at Dambulla and the Fort Railway Station, must be condemned without reservation. It is clearly the work of the LTTE and demonstrates a total disregard for the right to life of simple adults and children going about their daily business of religious observances, work and recreation.

Such provocative behaviour is damaging and counter-productive to the legitimate aspirations for justice and dignity of the Tamil people. It provokes feelings of resentment towards the peace-loving Tamil community at large, strengthens the stance of extremist anti-Tamil elements and leads to the conversion of moderates to extremism.

During this time of Lent when the Church meditates on the suffering and death of Christ, I convey the heartfelt condolences of our Clergy and congregations to all those who have lost loved ones, very specially all parents who mourn the loss of their beloved children. Our Church also prays that the injured will be restored to health and that the God of compassion will hold us all, victim and perpetrator of violence, in God's embrace of forgiveness and reconciliation.

I refer to my earlier statement on the recent claymore mine attacks within LTTE held areas that killed many including school children and caution all, that those who repeatedly resort to the massacre of the innocents lose their morality and the moral ability to do good even for their own. To strive for the political rights of some by violating the right to life of others is a contradiction of integrity.

Consequently I urge the LTTE to respect the right to life of civilians and to immediately stop all attacks against civilians.

I appeal to the GoSL to exercise mature restraint and to refrain from aerial bombings in areas populated by civilians in the North. Whenever these bombings occur in these areas I have great concern for the safety of the civilians and very specially the thousands of little children who are exposed to harm. Our Church runs two Homes at Killinochchi and Dharmapuram and I am aware that these little friends of mine live in fear and have nowhere to run except into their bunkers when the planes arrive. Please do everything possible to avoid harming these little ones.

I also appeal to both the LTTE and the GoSL to listen to voices that represent peace and justice for all and shift from war and violence towards steps that lead us to dialogue and a non-violent resolution of our current national conflict. It is much more important that this resolution is acceptable to all communities than it is to all political parties and actors.

I also appeal to all Sri Lankans to remain calm under provocation and to do all we can to strengthen understanding and peaceful co-existence. Our integrity and role as civilised persons is tested most when the Nation is provoked to act and retaliate violently against our own. May we not succumb to the manipulations of the violent and those who pursue power by any means. May we instead pursue peace for all living beings and spread goodwill amongst all living beings.

With Peace and Blessings

The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo
7th February 2008