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A Plea for Peace through Wise and Compassionate Leadership
A Statement by the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo
CEYLON 080523-1
May 21, 2008

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] The senseless violence and killings in our beloved Lanka continues unabated; the most recent being the bombing in a cafe in Ampara, the assassination of Ms Maheswari Velautham and the suicide attack on a bus load of police personnel in the Fort.

The extermination of any single Sri Lankan life whether civilian, combatant or politician of any community or persuasion, cannot be justified whatsoever. Such acts must be repeatedly condemned and the perpetrators called to their senses. Sri Lankans cannot remain silent when we kill our own, to seemingly solve problems, for the good of our own.

The thrice sacred festival of Vesak that has dawned on us, reminds us that there is a better and higher way for humans to resolve differences. The Dhamma of the Enlightened One, who preached non-violence and harmony amongst all living beings, calls us to acquire right thoughts and right actions that protect all life and spread compassion and goodwill amongst all living beings. Christ also denounced hostility and killing, offered abundant life and called for integrated relationships based on mutual care and trust. Other spiritual leaders have also affirmed this quality of life.

This higher quality of life at the national level can be greatly enhanced by a wise, listening, prudent and compassionate leadership that venerates life and denounces violence and killings. Such a leadership will recognise that bringing sustainable peace into a broken and shattered context like ours is a very daunting task. But it will never give up trying to improve on its attempts, which is the very hallmark of the Statesperson in circumstances of civil conflict. It will be humble to learn from others with a similar worldview, when necessary. It will be courageous and redefine its position with those who support violence and war and try to persuade them to change. And it will undoubtedly receive the support of an exhausted, crushed and confused people of all communities.

Such leadership will persevere to persuade the parties to the conflict to come to the table. At the table it will refuse to be trivial or naive. It will instead be mature and realistic and work through several rounds of talks, deadlock and intransigence, before give and take leads to a just negotiated settlement acceptable to all. It will be inspired by the resolution of violent internal conflicts in countries like South Africa and Northern Ireland and never forget that this shift from violence to negotiations is also possible for others.

Consequently I urge the President and the Government as well as the leadership of the LTTE and all Political Parties to earnestly review your current policies and strategies and emulate this leadership that stands in the tradition of Asian spirituality.

Time is running out and you must rise above the hurtful differences and harsh memories that have polarised us. Set out an agenda of issues that need to be addressed, forgive each other and sit at the same table till we own a common resolution. There is no other way that our people will be able to live together as equals and with dignity in this resourceful and blessed land that we call home.

With peace and blessings to all.

The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo
21st May 2008