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Continuing Violence and Media Intimidation
A Statement by the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo
CEYLON 080604-1
June 4, 2008

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] Several violent happenings over the past few days confirm that the democratic ethos of the country is seriously deteriorating. Incidents of indiscriminate killings through bombings, war and assassinations as well as abductions are now far too common and rapid to even keep pace with.

The recent killing of six persons and injuries caused to several more in Jaffna by shelling from the LTTE side of the lagoon, the tit-for-tat killings of Muslims and Tamils in the Eastern province and the grenade that killed two persons and injured many more at Wellawatte are all tragic reminders of our worsening anger and impatience with one another.

All these acts must be condemned without reservation by all who believe in the right to life and human dignity. I extend the sympathies and concern of our Church to all the afflicted. May your sorrow, and perhaps anger with some, be converted into an aspiration for peace for all.

The real and lasting solution to this grim situation is not more violence but a complete turnaround in the direction of negotiations through compromise. I call upon the President and the LTTE to take this initiative, and all other Parties and communities to collaborate in this daunting but inevitable task which alone will save lives and bring us all dignity and peace.

Both the subtle and overt threats that journalists now continue to face in the exercise of their democratic obligations are also very worrying. Any and all types of intimidation against the media must be vehemently condemned.

Consequently I call upon all Sri Lankans, without exception, to defend the freedom of the media and the safety of media personnel. On such a crucial matter, party loyalties should not separate the people. This is a distinct way in which we defend our right to information and hold those in authority accountable.

I once again urge the President and all Cabinet Ministers, Parliamentarians and persons with responsibility by the media in the State and private sector to act and speak with one voice in this regard. To do so will be a welcome indication that democracy, good governance and a political conscience are still prevalent and alive.

With Peace and blessing to all.

The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo
3rd June 2008