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Let Us Halt This Unfolding Tragedy
CEYLON 060811-1
August 11, 2006

A Pastoral Statement from the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] I have just returned from a visit to the Trincomalee District where I met with all the trapped and desperate communities resident there. I also visited Muthur and the displaced people in Kantalai and the surrounding areas. On either side of my visit, we had the tragic assassination of SSP Upul Senevratne, Training Director of the STF, and the attempted assassination of EPDP’s S Sivathasan, Chairman of the Palmyrah Development Board.

The violence and the hostilities in the Trincomalee District have been ongoing for sometime and has affected all communities. But the scale and the brutality of the present violence have been unprecedented. Tamil civilians have been displaced to Trincomalee and into LTTE controlled areas. The Sinhalese in Serunuwara and the surrounding settlements live in fear and camp out together in school halls at night. The Muslims appear to have suffered the most. Many have been killed and over 30,000 of them displaced. No one appears to be in control of the situation to meet the desperate needs and safety of the civilians. These hapless people are being subject to the militaristic agendas of various elements. This is wholly unsatisfactory.

The killing of the seventeen aid workers, all of whom were Tamils, was tragic. The reported manner in which they were found suggests calculated murder. A speedy and professional investigation is necessary. A culture of extra-judicial killings seems to be spreading dangerously. Unless this is checked by an impartial investigation and action taken against the perpetrators, this culture can so easily spread to other areas of life as well.

This cycle of revenge and violence is plunging the country into a hopelessly desperate crisis in which the whole country and all communities are going to suffer immensely. I appeal in the name of humanity for our leaders, political, religious and civil society, to come forward, demand a halt to this unfolding tragedy, and save our country from ruin.