Churches deplore killing of French aid workers in Sri Lanka
Churches and Christian organisations in Sri Lanka have joined in the widespread condemnation of the killing of at least 15 workers for a French charity during ongoing fighting near Muttur along the east coast of the island.
The incident is part of what is being called ëthe water warí, which has resulted in a spate of retaliatory violence among competing ethnic and political groups.
ìThis is terrible,î Santha Fernando, a spokesperson for the National Christian Council (NCC) of Sri Lanka, starkly told the Geneva-based Ecumenical News International yesterday.
Fernando was reacting to the news of the killing of 15 Tamils working with the highly-respected French charity Action against Hunger, known by its French initials, ACF.
Only last month a peace forum organized in Colombo by the Roman Catholic humanitarian agency Caritas Internationalis has urged the Sri Lankan government and Tamil rebels to reaffirm their commitment to the recent fragile cease-fire agreement.
Church leaders have responded with dismay and anger at the continuing cycle of revenge that has marked the continuing spate of sectarian killings and military operations carried out by both official and unofficial armed groups.
Responding to a June 2006 attack on a bus in the northern part of the island, which killed over 60 people, the Anglican Bishop of Colombo, declared: ìThe deliberate and brutal attack on innocent civilians at Kebittigollawa [and elsewhere] needs to be vehemently and outrightly condemned.î
He continued ìJesus taught that it is only good that can overcome evil. Goodness out of the depths of suffering and despair is even better equipped to defeat evil.î
Concluded the Rt Rev Duleep de Chickera at the time: ìI call upon all people to resist the provocative nature and intention of [these attacks] and to remain calm. Our respective religions require the highest respect for all life and we best demonstrate this in protecting life. The shared sorrow of all communities - Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and others - in such instances has a potential to cross our respective cultures and strengthen our common humanity and resolve towards peace.î
Similar responses are now being made to the ACF killings by the National Christian Council and other ecumenical and inter-faith bodies involved in peacemaking and humanitarian relief in Sri Lanka.
[Also on Ekklesia: Families fear continuing Sri Lanka violence 14/07/06; Christian peace forum urges Sri Lanka ceasefire 04/07/06; Only good can overcome Sri Lanka evil, say churches; Sri Lanka religious leaders urge government and rebels to talk; Christians urged to stir up a storm in a tea cup; Millions mourn tsunami victims one year on; Christians recycle tsunami rubble; Asian churches to challenge violence against children; Christians and Buddhists should love humanity, says Cardinal; Asian Christian Theologies : Volume 1. South Asia]