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World churches' plea for Sri Lanka: "resume peace negotiations"

05 September 2006

The central committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) today called on the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam to respect the terms and conditions of the 2002 cease-fire agreement, put an immediate end to all hostilities and resume peace negotiations without future delay.

Central committee noted that the cease-fire agreement signed in February 2002, monitored by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, comprised of representatives from the Nordic countries, has been collapsing since April 2006.

Meeting in Geneva, 30 August to 6 September, the central committee expressedits "deep concern at the widening rift between the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities and the lethal escalation of armed violence between the security forces of the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam and the activities of the paramilitary groups."

Conflict in Sri Lanka has over the past 25 years claimed thousands of lives on both sides of the ethnic divide. Thousands of refugees have sought asylum abroad while many thousands are internally displaced. Around one thousand people, mostly innocent civilians, have been killed and many others injured.

The civilian population has been put through tremendous hardships due to summary executions, torture, illegal detentions, embargo on essential items and the forced recruitment of children.

Central committee condemned the intensification and escalation of military violence by the parties to the conflict and said it was "appalled by the breakdown of the peace process and the cease fire agreement achieved through years of hard negotiations".

Churches in Sri Lanka have provided cautious and critical support to the peace process, among other things through interreligious cooperative endeavours to mobilize people for peace and national reconciliation.

Central committee urgedthe ecumenical community "to remain in constant prayer for the people and churches of Sri Lanka and to accompany the sister churches in Sri Lanka, together with people of other faiths, to strengthen their efforts towards the restoration of peace and community integration in their war-torn country."

The full text of the "Statement on the conflict in Sri Lanka" is available on the WCC website

More information on the WCC Central Committee meeting is available on the WCC website