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Sri Lankan Christians Call for Genuine Reconciliation May 2nd, 2011

Mullivaikkal Hospital Shelled on 30 May 2009

Twenty-five Sri Lankan Christians, including two Oblate priests, issued a statement that is believed to have prompted the recent release of the report of the UN Secretary General’s panel of experts on the war in Sri Lanka. The group has called for open discussion of what happened in the final months of the war, and the current situation in the north where the majority of Tamils live.

According to their letter:

We believe that it is left to us Sri Lankans to establish and acknowledge the truth, apologize for wrongs done, ensure justice and accountability, and through measures such as reparations, show our care and support towards those who have suffered such as families of those killed and disappeared, those who have been injured during war and due to torture, those who continue to be detained without charges and without due process, those who had been displaced and lost properties etc. It is our contention that truth, justice, accountability together with care and reparation for victims are essential ingredients for progress, development of a post war Sri Lanka, along with a longer term political solution that addresses grievances of Tamil community that led to the birth of the LTTE and full scale war.

But it is our assessment that we have been unable to make significant progress on any of the above fronts within Sri Lanka, particularly in the last two years since the end of the war. The process of LLRC [Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission] had not given us much confidence though we still hope for positive outcomes from the LLRC, particularly the publication of it’s final report, conclusions and recommendations as soon as possible, which would have the potential to serve as a valuable resource for our reconciliation efforts. In this context we believe international assistance can also be crucial in our post war rebuilding and reconciliation efforts. Thus, we find it encouraging that establishment of the truth, apology for wrongs done, justice, accountability and reparation for victims is reflected in the conclusions and recommendations of the panel of experts appointed by the UNSG.

Read the full letter…

UN Report on Sri Lanka War Crimes Released April 26th, 2011

The panel of experts set up to advise Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on accountability issues with respect to the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka has found credible reports of war crimes committed by both the Government and Tamil rebels and calls for genuine investigations into the allegations, according to a report released in full by the Secretary General yesterday.

According to a statement released by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

“The United Nations has today made public the advisory report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on accountability with respect to the final stages of the decades-long armed conflict in Sri Lanka, which was submitted to him on 12 April 2011. The decision to release the report was made as a matter of transparency and in the broader public interest.”

“The report was shared in its entirety with the Government of Sri Lanka on 12 April. The Secretary-General has indicated his willingness to publicize the Government’s response alongside the report. This invitation was extended to the Sri Lankan Government throughout the week, including again on Saturday by the Secretary-General to the External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka. The Government has not responded to this offer, which nonetheless still stands.”

Read the full report…

Displaced Tamils Still Can’t Resume Normal Life January 21st, 2011

This article was taken from the e-news digest, CathNews Asia.

More than 320,000 citizens suffer from being displaced, while 190,000 former refugees, returned home after stays in refugees camps – in the latest phases of civil conflict, which ended in May 2009 – urgently require protection and assistance: Jesuits from the Jesuit Refuges Service (JRS) tell Fides, working in the north and east of Sri Lanka, monitoring the situation on a daily basis, which “today is very stressful, given that it has already lasted more than two years,” they state.

The Jesuits explain to Fides that, despite the apparent peace, “in the north and the east of the Country there are still Zones of High Security in place and the citizens of those places continue to live precariously, not knowing when the emergency and the military presence will end and when they may return to a peaceful way of life.”

The JRS state that even today, after peace was reached, “the Government is investing a considerable amount of the national budget for military spending and allocating little funds to the assistance and systemisation of the refugees in the conflict. At the same time humanitarian aid agencies who should be providing aid to the displaced persons, experience serious limitations and restrictions on their operations”.

One of the outstanding problems is the clearance of whole area, which, during the war was strewn with deadly explosives. Currently these areas constitute a serious danger to the people: aid agencies are asking the government to urgently allow the refugees to return to their homes, giving highest priority to remediation. But given the situation of stalemate, access to food, social services, education, and transportation in many provinces remains blocked, the resumption of normal civilian life is prevented. Even in refugee camps set up by the government, NGOs in the field note, the general living conditions “are unacceptable”, marked by poverty, lacking the basic necessities and health services.”


Support urged for refugees and former Tamil refugees (Fides)

Archbishop Miller Issues Plea on Behalf of Tamil Refugees in Canada August 30th, 2010

Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver Diocese issued a statement on August 25, 2010 on the situation of the 492 Tamil refugees that arrived in Vancouver in early August seeking asylum.

The arrival of the refugees-laden ship has generated controversy within Canada. Canadian Tamils, the largest Tamil community outside Sri Lanka and India, have urged authorities to accept the asylum seekers, saying that the minority group faces continued discrimination at the hands of the majority Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s high commissioner to Canada has asked the country to reject their refugee status due to alleged links to the Tamil Tiger separatist movement. The Tamil Tigers or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) as the military wing of the separatist Tamil movement and was brutally wiped out in the spring of 2009. Tens of thousands of Tamils are believed to have died in the final months of the conflict, trapped as they were between the two warring armies. War crimes are reported to have been committed by both sides.

“Keep the dignity of Tamil refugees in mind during immigration debate”

Statement by Archbishop J. Michael Miller who served on the Vatican Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants.

Click here to read more »

Loyola Students in Sri Lanka visit War Victims March 12th, 2010

Real reconciliation in war-torn Sri Lanka will take place in large part through people-to-people connection and collaboration. The Churches are working to foster such exchanges. Loyola College students recently visited northern Sri Lanka and learned first hand of suffering from the recent war.

Read their moving account…

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