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Church questions sustainable peace

Says fear still permeates all levels of society

Government Minister Neomal Perera speaks at a panel discussion at Caritas Sri Lanka in Colombo last week Government Minister Neomal Perera speaks at a panel discussion at Caritas Sri Lanka in Colombo last week
  • ucanews.com reporter, Colombo
  • Sri Lanka
  • August 9, 2011
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Politicians and religious leaders last week expressed concerns about the sustainability of peace and reconciliation efforts in the wake of nearly three decades of civil war.

A panel discussion titled: “The role of political leaders in the processes of healing and reconciliation towards sustainable peace in the country” at the offices of Caritas Sri Lanka brought together Anglican and Catholic bishops, priests, Buddhist monks, laypeople and government officials.

Catholic leaders said a sense of fear had spread across the country as freedoms came under threat.

“In Jaffna, there is no freedom of expression. People are afraid,” said Father S.V. Basil Mangalaraha, dean of theology at St. Francis Xavier seminary in Columnbuthurai, during the panel discussion.

“Peace and reconciliation is a dream. Fear affects all members of society.”

Tens of thousands of people were killed during the conflict between government forces and soldiers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that erupted in 1983 and continued until May 2009. About 75,000 people were listed as missing since 2004. Lawlessness has remained acute in some parts of the country.

“We have won the war but not the peace. The government has not learned a lesson from the past,” said Vijitha Herath, an opposition parliamentarian, during the panel session.

“No practical step has been taken to bring sustainable peace to the country.”

He said emergency law and the military’s administrative system have failed to secure peace in the country.

“The rule of civil law should be established.”

Dilan Perera, minister of foreign employment, said people must recognize that Sri Lanka is a multicultural and multi-ethnic society, and that non-majority voices must not be overshadowed by the majority that holds political power.

Meanwhile, Caritas Sri Lanka has organized a program for bishops to study the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was set up by the South African government to promote national unity following the end of apartheid.

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Religious panel seeks justice and equality
Church ‘protects democracy’

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