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The Killing of Innocent Villagers – Only Good Can Overcome Such Evil
The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
CEYLON 060616-1
June 16, 2006

A Pastoral Statement by the Bishop of Colombo

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] The deliberate and brutal attack on innocent civilians at Kebittigollawa that has killed more than sixty persons and injured many others needs to be vehemently and outrightly condemned.

The calculated murder of simple villagers including several children going about an honest day’s work is a crime against humanity.

I offer our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. Our churches will pray for courage and consolation to enable them to face this tragedy.

It is a cause for deep shame and disappointment that our society has for whatever reason produced people capable of such acts of violence. Our inability to deal with the hatred behind such attacks is an indictment on all our respective cultures.

While the Government and the SLMM conduct their investigations and provide more information, the sophistication and intensity of the attack points the finger at the LTTE.

I call upon all to resist the provocative nature and intention of this attack and to remain calm. Our respective religions require the highest respect for all life and we best demonstrate this in protecting life. The shared sorrow of all communities – Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and others – in such instances has a potential to cross our respective cultures and strengthen our common humanity and resolve towards peace. To turn this way in times of tension is to honour and prove the highest values of our cultures and indeed to counter the evil intentions behind this attack. Jesus taught that it is only good that can overcome evil. Goodness out of the depths of suffering and despair is even better equipped to defeat evil.

I also call upon the Government to note that while retaliatory attacks may be intended for select targets and to defuse social anger, they invariably harm innocent civilians as such recent strikes have proved. Equally serious is the possibility that these strikes could spark off a war that most do not want. The spontaneous indignation against such an act expressed by peace loving people at home and of the world is a much more effective indictment against the perpetrators. It names the source and places the event on record in the collective memory of human kind.

I urge all political parties, the LTTE and other interest groups to acknowledge that our infighting, indecisiveness and lesser agendas have collectively contributed towards this havoc. They must all come to their senses and return immediately to the letter and spirit of the CFA before it is too late. To have eyes to see what confrontational politics is doing to us, and not see, is a serious breach of leadership and trust.

I also urge these groups to cooperate transparently and single-mindedly for peace, and to this way end the misery of the people that they claim to represent, protect and provide for. To have ears to hear the violence and fear that surrounds the people, and not hear, is an equally serious breach of leadership and trust.

I have just received reports from the Eastern Province that an armed Tamil group is engaged in a vigorous conscription campaign of adolescents. The Government and the SLMM must immediately investigate these allegations and take concrete measures to safeguard these young people and their families.

In this environment of violence and intimidation the words we speak and the actions we take our either in the direction of violence and suffering or peace and harmony. No one can remain or claim to remain neutral.

May the God of Peace who journeys with us absorbing the pain of the afflicted and challenging those who abuse power, direct the feet of us all towards forgiveness, understanding, justice and sustainable peace.

With Peace and Blessings,

The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo