Christians seek to keep hope alive for Sri Lanka peace talks

By staff writers
April 18, 2006

Christians seek to keep hope alive for Sri Lanka peace talks

-18/04/06

Church leaders in Sri Lanka say that the violence meted out to church, humanitarian and human rights workers does not dull their confidence that love will triumph over fear in the war-torn and divided country.

Anglicans, Catholics and Methodist are determined to keep hope alive on the eve of peace talks which have been threatened by fresh violence.

Anglican Bishop of Colombo, the Rt Rev Duleep de Chickera said in his Easter 2006 message: ìDeath and destruction is perceived and encountered from a new perspective and human affairs and history transformed with a new courage. This is the Easter hopeî

The killing of two church aid workers in Trincomalee, northern Sri Lanka, highlights escalating tensions in the South Asian island nation that threaten scheduled peace talks in Geneva next week, say observers.

The Rev Damian Fernando, executive director of the Catholic agency Caritas Sri Lanka says that he and his colleagues are devastated by the murders and their implications.

The incident on 10 April 2006 involved Shanmugaratham Pathmanathan, aged 55, and Chelvendra Pradeepkumar, aged 29, who worked for the Human Development Centre (HUDEC) and Caritas Jaffna.

The two men were travelling by road from Kilinochchi when they passed a Sri Lanka Army truck travelling in the opposite direction. A landmine explosion killed them instantly.

Mr Pathmanathan worked with the Children's Unit and Mr Pradeepkumar worked collecting data, both for the tsunami reconstruction programme, said Caritas Jaffna.

Spokesperson Fr Jeyakumar declared at the time: "It is a very tragic thing that yet more civilians have been killed in the crossfire of the conflict in Sri Lanka. Their deaths show that aid workers in Sri Lanka are very vulnerable. We are all very frightened about the situation here."

A two-decade civil war has been waged by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), seeking autonomy for ethnic Tamil majority areas. Nearly one million people in the north and east of Sri Lanka lead harsh lives due to widespread displacement and devastation.

More than 65,000 people had been killed and around 1.8 million persons displaced prior to a 2002 ceasefire. Many believe this is now verging on collapse due to frequent clashes between the Tamil rebels and Sri Lankan forces.

On 12 April 2006 United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan appealed to both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers to attend the peace talks scheduled for Geneva from 19-21 April, facilitated by Norway.

A United Nations spokesperson told journalists at a press conference today: ìDr Annan believes that it is of utmost importance to find ways to implement the cease-fire agreement, start rebuilding trust and lay the foundations for a lasting peace.î

Prior to his elevation to the Anglican bishopric of Colombo, Duleep de Chickera was part of an inter-faith ëpeace teamí that visited the UK in 1997, under the auspices of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

He subsequently accepted a visiting fellowship at the United College of the Ascension in Birmingham, before returning to pastoral ministry in Sri Lanka.

Christians seek to keep hope alive for Sri Lanka peace talks

-18/04/06

Church leaders in Sri Lanka say that the violence meted out to church, humanitarian and human rights workers does not dull their confidence that love will triumph over fear in the war-torn and divided country.

Anglicans, Catholics and Methodist are determined to keep hope alive on the eve of peace talks which have been threatened by fresh violence.

Anglican Bishop of Colombo, the Rt Rev Duleep de Chickera said in his Easter 2006 message: ìDeath and destruction is perceived and encountered from a new perspective and human affairs and history transformed with a new courage. This is the Easter hopeî

The killing of two church aid workers in Trincomalee, northern Sri Lanka, highlights escalating tensions in the South Asian island nation that threaten scheduled peace talks in Geneva next week, say observers.

The Rev Damian Fernando, executive director of the Catholic agency Caritas Sri Lanka says that he and his colleagues are devastated by the murders and their implications.

The incident on 10 April 2006 involved Shanmugaratham Pathmanathan, aged 55, and Chelvendra Pradeepkumar, aged 29, who worked for the Human Development Centre (HUDEC) and Caritas Jaffna.

The two men were travelling by road from Kilinochchi when they passed a Sri Lanka Army truck travelling in the opposite direction. A landmine explosion killed them instantly.

Mr Pathmanathan worked with the Children's Unit and Mr Pradeepkumar worked collecting data, both for the tsunami reconstruction programme, said Caritas Jaffna.

Spokesperson Fr Jeyakumar declared at the time: "It is a very tragic thing that yet more civilians have been killed in the crossfire of the conflict in Sri Lanka. Their deaths show that aid workers in Sri Lanka are very vulnerable. We are all very frightened about the situation here."

A two-decade civil war has been waged by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), seeking autonomy for ethnic Tamil majority areas. Nearly one million people in the north and east of Sri Lanka lead harsh lives due to widespread displacement and devastation.

More than 65,000 people had been killed and around 1.8 million persons displaced prior to a 2002 ceasefire. Many believe this is now verging on collapse due to frequent clashes between the Tamil rebels and Sri Lankan forces.

On 12 April 2006 United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan appealed to both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers to attend the peace talks scheduled for Geneva from 19-21 April, facilitated by Norway.

A United Nations spokesperson told journalists at a press conference today: ìDr Annan believes that it is of utmost importance to find ways to implement the cease-fire agreement, start rebuilding trust and lay the foundations for a lasting peace.î

Prior to his elevation to the Anglican bishopric of Colombo, Duleep de Chickera was part of an inter-faith ëpeace teamí that visited the UK in 1997, under the auspices of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

He subsequently accepted a visiting fellowship at the United College of the Ascension in Birmingham, before returning to pastoral ministry in Sri Lanka.

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