From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Letter to Sri Lankan govt.
03 May 1996 04:05:34
WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
Office of Communication - Press and Information
150 Route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
Telephone: (022) 791 61 52/51 Telefax: (022) 798 13 46
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE 3 May 1996
WCC SUPPORTS SRI LANKAN DEVOLUTION PACKAGE; CONCERNED AT
MILITARY OPERATION IN SRI LANKA; CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO LIFT
CENSORSHIP AND ALLOW AID THROUGH TO WAR ZONE
Dr Konrad Raiser, General Secretary of the World Council of
Churches (WCC), has today written to President Chandrika
Kumaratunga of Sri Lanka in the following terms:
"The World Council of Churches has consistently advocated a
negotiated political settlement of the conflict in Sri Lanka. In
the past, attempts by successive Sri Lankan governments to
resolve it through military means have failed to produce the
We are therefore concerned by the reports of the launching of yet
another military operation codenamed Riversa II. The last such
operation launched by the Sri Lankan armed forces was in
September 1995. It resulted in the dislocation of hundreds and
thousands of Tamils, who have since lived in deplorable
conditions in makeshift refugee camps. The present military
action, according to information received, is being carried out
in areas heavily congested with civilian population. The
likelihood of civilian casualties is therefore high.
The censorship imposed by the Sri Lankan authorities on news of
military action and the denial of access to foreign journalists
to visit the North has made it impossible to ascertain the exact
number of casualties and the extent of damage caused by aerial
bombardment. Another matter of concern is the refusal of the
authorities to allow churches and NGOs to carry out humanitarian
relief and emergency operations in the affected areas.
Given that the lasting solution to the ethnic conflict is not
likely to take place in the near future, it is imperative that
censorship be lifted immediately so that the international
community is made aware of the actual situation in the North. To
ensure that at least the basic facilities are guaranteed to the
victims of the conflict, churches, relief agencies and NGOs
should be allowed to operate in the affected areas.
The World Council is of the considered opinion that the
Devolution Package offered by Your Excellency's government
provides a fair basis for a negotiated settlement. The Council
therefore urges Your Excellency to avoid actions which give cause
to doubt the sincerity of the government's stated intentions.
Serious attention needs to be paid now to confidence-building
measures which could help revive the peace process so that
military hostilities can be brought to an end by means of
Contact: John Newbury WCC Press & Information Officer
(+41.22) 791.61.52 (Office); 369.37.26
The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now
330, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually
all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a
member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest
governing body is the Assembly, which meets approximately every
seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in
Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary
Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.
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