We live in a time when the attention of all Sri Lankans are focused on the events unfolding at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
We are at crossroads. This situation that has exposed our country to such a negative focus by the international community is no doubt, to be regretted and no Sri Lankan would have ever aspired for such a situation to unfold.
There is no doubt that at times such as this, we need to honestly and seriously examine the root causes that has created this unfortunate situation. Whilst welcoming the position of Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe in his address to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNCHR) that the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Committee (LLRC) will be implemented, we admit that the failure to have a plan, time frame or strategy to do so have made us stand without any plausible excuse before the International community. The steps from recommendations of LLRC onwards would foster the integrating the people who have directly borne the brunt of the military conflict belonging to the Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim communities, the details of which are indicated in the Report. In spite of the limitations of the Report, this Commission has clearly spelt out ways in which we can definitely move ahead as Sri Lankans in building a new Sri Lankan society based on authentic moral and spiritual resources that our country has been nourished over the centuries.
Unfortunately, the present situation has given rise to the manifestation of extremely passionate and exclusivist opinions that are more divisive and antagonistic towards other communities. This would only lead to further polarization and create more obstacles to integrate all communities into the one Sri Lankan identity, which we feel is the essential need of the hour.
Even in sensitive situations like this, people should be free to express their diverse opinion which alone will strengthen a vibrant democratic intervention which will in turn equip us to meet the challenges we face. It is unfortunate that even religious leaders who have lived with and experienced the sufferings of the people during the war are ridiculed by sections of the political spectrum for expressing different opinions. Such actions will only weaken our stand before the International community.
The outcome of the United Nations Human Rights Council in General is not merely a matter of numbers and counting the countries that supported us or not. The final test is whether we as a nation had the moral integrity to face up to such a challenge. Irrespective of what happens at the UNHRC in Geneva, we call upon the Government to immediately set up transparent mechanisms to implement the recommendation of the LLRC with a specific time frame work, and ensure a very clear monitoring mechanism including that of a Committee of leaders of all religious communities. Such commitments to the above should be made in a way that is intelligible to all people of this country.
The government should also set up creative means to deal with the issues of accountability so that all such accusations are dealt in an appropriate manner as the LLRC Commission has recommended. We assert the fact that accountability measures is not a witch hunt to punish some scapegoats, but to identify people who would have suffered unjustly and ensure that justice is accorded to them and extend the needed measures to re-integrate them into the social fabric.
We call upon the people of our motherland, to be involved in constructive actions to facilitate reconciliation among all communities and work resolutely to remove the suspicion between communities and heal the wounds caused by the conflict to the people. This is definitely not the time to arouse communal feelings and estrange certain sections of our people from the public discourse.
We call upon the Christian community to pray and act in suitable ways and means to achieve the above objectives so that the integrity of our country is maintained.
We want to assure all Sri Lankans, that as a Christian community we will always be committed to safeguard the dignity and integrity of our nation and work together with secular and religious communities towards achieving a viable, permanent and durable peace in our country, where all communities can live without fear and suspicion but with dignity and honour. Therefore as a first step towards this endeavour we recommend the implementation of the recommendations of LLRC in an effective and an expeditious manner.
20th March 2012
• Rev. Charles N. Jansz, Chairperson of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka/Moderator, Christian Reformed Church.
• Rt. Rev. Dr. Daniel S. Thiagarajah, Bishop of Jaffna Diocese, Church of South India.
• Rev. Dr. A.W. Jebanesan, President, Methodist Church in Sri Lanka.
• Rt. Rev. D.R. Canagasabey, Bishop of Colombo, Church of Ceylon Diocese of Colombo.
• Rt. Rev. Shantha Francis, Bishop of Kurunegala, Church of Ceylon Diocese of Kurunegala.
• Rev. Saman Perera, Moderator, Presbyterian Church
• Rev. Priyantha Wijegoonawardene, President, Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya
• Commissioner Malcolm Induruwage, Territorial Commander, The Salvation Army.
• Rev. W.P. Ebenezer Joseph, General Secretary, National Christian Council of Sri Lanka.
• Young Men’s Christian Association
• Young Women’s Christian Association
• Student Christian Movement
• Ceylon Bible Society
• Christian Literature Society
• Back To the Bible Broadcast