World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Solidarity with the churches of Sri Lanka

07 November 2003

Message to the Church of Sri Lanka, Methodist Church in Sri Lanka and the National
Christian Council in Sri Lanka, 7 November, 2003

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

We have received with concern news of recent developments in Sri Lanka. The
temporary suspension of Parliament and the take-over of the ministries of defence,
interior and information by President Chandrika Kumaratunga has created an air
of uncertainty in the country. The military has been deployed and its personnel
are patrolling the city and are guarding key government institutions to prevent
any untoward incidents and to maintain law and order. These developments and
the declaration of emergency have not only plunged the country into a political
crisis, but also have imperilled the fragile peace process.

The action taken by President Chandrika Kumaratunga, while Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremasinghe was on an official visit to the United States, is likely to
further polarize and increase tension between the two. This does not bode well
for the country. If the political crisis continues, it will set back the country's economy
that is just beginning to recover after years of stagnation because of the longdrawn
ethnic conflict. The headway made by the government in peace negotiations
with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam will also suffer.

As you are aware, the World Council of Churches over a long period of time has
followed closely and deeply the developments of Sri Lanka since the escalation of
the ethnic conflict in mid-1983. The peace process provides a sign of hope and
much needed respite to the people of Sri Lanka. It is therefore important that the
cease-fire agreement reached between the government and the LTTE in February
2002 holds and that there is no resumption of hostilities. It is encouraging that
the President has lifted the emergency and set at rest fears of the erosion of the
rule of law. We remain hopeful, now that the Prime Minister has returned to the
country, that the differences between the two will soon be resolved in an amicable
manner so both can together work for peace and reconciliation and for the
well-being of the people.

As people of Sri Lanka go through this crucial historical period, we wish to express
our solidarity with the churches there in their concern to put an end to confrontational
politics that has already done so much damage to the country.

We assure you of our continuing prayers and support as you work for peace and
reconciliation in Sri Lankan society.

May our Lord's blessings be with you all.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser
General Secretary