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Death of Civilians in the East
A Statement by the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo
 
CEYLON 061109-1
November 9, 2006

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] Yesterday’s incident at Kathiraveli-Panichchankerni in the Eastern Province which killed scores and injured several hundred civilians has sent further shock-waves through the nation.

This utterly unnecessary human tragedy must be condemned outright. While arguments and explanations will be offered from all sides reports being received seems to indicate that the Sri Lankan armed forces must be held accountable. Whatever the provocations, there is no justification for targeting displaced civilians housed in schools.

The persons affected were civilians, amongst whom there are several children and elderly persons. This community fled the violence in Muthur/Sampur a few months ago. They are as always in situations of war and violence, the poor and several times displaced, who have nowhere to rest their heads. I offer the condolences and prayers of our church to the injured and the families of the bereaved.

The Government of Sri Lanka must take note of this continuing human suffering caused by violent aggression and make a deliberate shift to a non-violent dialogical approach as the best chance of resolving this sad and bitter conflict. The LTTE must change its illusive stance and reciprocate. The people are weary of war and tired of excuses. They reject strategies of talking peace and pursuing violence by all sides.

The religions of our country demand this shift and provide a spirituality to facilitate it. The immense goodwill and advocacy from the international community, the general public and civil society groups in Sri Lanka offer additional resources for this shift. To disregard the potential in these pro-life forces and opt for meaningless aggression justified with political rhetoric will only plunge the country into far more acute human suffering and immeasurable destruction.

We pray to God that this incident may open our eyes and redirect our journey and never be repeated.

I refer to several news reports that our church at Morakottanchenai was damaged in the recent fighting. While our church and vicarage are in the vicinity of the fighting I confirm that these reports are inaccurate. Our church has not been damaged.

The Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo