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A Call for Moral Resistance and Mature Leadership
A Message to the Nation from the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo
CEYLON 060815-1
August 15, 2006

Deepening Crisis

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] The security situation has worsened overnight and is getting hopelessly out of control. Yesterday’s news on the aerial bombing that killed 60 adolescents in Mullaitivu and the car bombing at Kollupitiya that killed 7 persons sent shock waves through the country.

There is little communication with the North where a curfew has been imposed. Continuous shelling threatens life and spreads fear and tension. The Eastern Province continues to be tense. Trapped civilian communities are either in need of food or somehow manage to cross over as displaced persons. The state sector, local authorities and other agencies grapple admirably with these growing humanitarian crises with little help from those responsible for the recurring violence and instability.

The recent Maavil Aru / Muthur confrontations caused death and dislocation amongst all communities. It is deeply regrettable that, as always, innocent civilians have, in addition to the combatants, been killed in the reportedly fierce and desperate close proximity fighting between the Armed Forces and the LTTE.

The killing of several Muslim young men near the 64th mile post on the Muthur -Kantale road has added to the misery of this community.

The reported manner in which the seventeen Tamil men and women aid workers were killed suggests calculated murder. One of these young men was the brother of one of the five students murdered in Trincomalee in June this year.

The utterly senseless killing of Ketheesh Loganathan, a relentless advocate of a peaceful solution to the ethnic question, has shocked the Nation and must be condemned unreservedly. He gave his life for the cause of peace and justice and will be remembered for this.

The attempt on the life of Sivathasan of the EPDP at Dickman’s Road that killed, among others, a three year old girl and her mother pierced the hearts of many.

Condemnation and Collective Moral conscience

All these killings must be condemned by all civic minded peace loving people. In-spite of the lies and counter blaming, people know the identity of the killers. The GoSL and the LTTE must take responsibility. There must be an end to such brutal violations of life and the mental agony that parents, families and communities suffer.

And yet the condemnation of such atrocities is fast becoming futile. The appointment of committees to investigate these atrocities seem a waste of time and an affront to those murdered. Our society has conveyed to those who carry arms that they can use them against unarmed civilians and get away with it. Our inability to signal seriousness when the sacred lives of our own citizens are annihilated is an indictment on our collective integrity.

This desperately worsening trend suggests that the people of this country will soon have nowhere to turn for protection and justice. The days ahead are bleak and it is now mostly the collective moral conscience of the people that can save us from chaos and ruin. With this in mind I call upon all responsible Civil and Religious Leaders to cross political and cultural barriers and help build an alternate culture of moral resistance and justice. To see and not perceive is perhaps the greatest sin of a people.

Mature Leadership in Times of War

Calling for an end to war seems equally futile. Other more powerful pro-war agendas seem to prevail on both sides. False perceptions of nationalism and military prestige; and short term military agendas that provoke revenge are getting out of hand. They seem to matter more than the welfare and right to life of the people.

And yet there is no alternative to repeatedly challenging the GoSL and LTTE to take control of the situation. We have learnt over a period of thirty years that war solves nothing. It only destroys the best things in life. Strong and purposeful initiatives for a ceasefire are absolutely necessary, even during fighting. It is a sign of mature leadership. As long as the GoSL and LTTE fail to negotiate with each other towards peace, whatever the provocation to war, they fail the people they claim to represent. It is the sacred duty of the GoSL in particular, to lead the country back to stability, development and peace for all.

Dr. Palitha Kohonna’s call for peace talks is timely and must be seriously and visibly supported by the GoSL. The LTTE must respond. Will one of the parties have the magnanimity and courage to declare an unilateral ceasefire and will the other have the foresight and graciousness to respond ? The unseen God, our children and future generations will yet forgive us for all the terrible things we have done to each other if this can yet happen.

The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo