|Maavil Aru, Muthur and Massacres
August 14, 2006
A Message to the Nation from the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] The recent Maavi Aru / Muthur confrontations have 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 Muslims undoubtedly suffered the most. Over 30,000 have been displaced from Muttur and are huddled together in hopelessly inadequate makeshift shelters in and around Kantale. 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 Tamils have fled to either Trincomalee or behind LTTE lines where they feel relatively safer amongst their own. 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 Sinhalese in Serunuwara and the surrounding settlements live in fear of the unpredictable, and congregate in schools for the night. An elderly and dignified woman whose son had been killed, preferred a similar death to a slow death without water.
The LTTE is undoubtedly responsible for the utterly senseless killing of Ketheesh Loganathan, a relentless advocate of a peaceful solution to the ethnic question. This has shocked the Nation and must be condemned unreservedly. He gave his life for the values of peace and justice and will be remembered for this.
The attempt on the life of Sivathasan of the EPDP at Dickmanís Road that killed, among others, a three year old girl and critically wounded her mother pierced the hearts of many.
Condemnation and Collective Moral conscience
All these killings must be condemned by all civic minded democratic people. 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 and calling for speedy and professional investigations 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 signaled to those who carry arms that they can use them against unarmed civilians and get away with it. The GoSL is hopelessly losing its ability to protect its citizens or to ensure justice when atrocities are committed. If this trend continues it will lose its moral credibility to govern this country.
As a Sri Lankan society, our inability to signal seriousness when the sacred lives of our own citizens are annihilated is an indictment on our collective integrity too.
This desperately worsening trend suggests that the people this country will soon have nowhere to turn for protection and justice. With every atrocity more fear is spread and the people become more vulnerable. The days ahead are bleak and it is now mostly the collective conscience and moral resources 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 leadership and a people.
Since the Maavil Aru-Muthur confrontations the security situation has worsened and is getting hopelessly out of control. More deprivation, suffering and insecurity spreads with every passing day.
There is little communication with the North where a curfew has been imposed. The Eastern Province is 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.
It also seems equally futile calling for an end to war. 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 LTTE and GoSL 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, even during fighting must take note of these lessons. It is a sign of mature leadership. As long as the GoSL and LTTE fail to talk to each other and take steps towards peace, whatever the provocation to war, they fail as leaders of 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 Kohonnaís 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