Seeking Peace in Sri Lanka: Statement from the Common Global Ministries Board
The Common Global Ministries Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, April 2-4, 2009, is extremely concerned about the violence and deepening humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka.
The Common Global Ministries Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, April 2-4, 2009, is extremely concerned about the violence and deepening humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s twenty-five year civil war reignited in late 2008, as the Sinhalese-dominated Government began conducting a full-scale offensive aimed to eliminate the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Hundreds of Tamil civilians have been killed, thousands wounded, and nearly 200,000 displaced civilians have been trapped in the northern Wanni region, with food, medicine and shelter in short supply. The government has established safe zones, yet continues to bomb and shell civilian populations. Two hospitals and a children’s home have been hit. The LTTE in turn has been conscripting children and been preventing civilians from escaping. Tragically, humanitarian and human rights access to the region have been restricted, and journalists have been threatened, attacked and killed for raising concerns about the government’s conduct.
Global Ministries’ partner churches are prevalent in the affected region, and pastors have themselves been wounded while providing assistance to the displaced and wounded. On February 3, 2009, Global Ministries Co-Executives Cally Rogers-Witte and David Vargas joined UCC General Minister and President John Thomas and Disciples General Minister and President Sharon Watkins in sending a letter of concern to President Barack Obama. The letter urged the U.S. to pressure the Government of Sri Lanka to obey standards of international law, and to allow a ceasefire in order for civilians to evacuate. Global Ministries has been working with partners to raise concerns internationally about the desperate need to protect civilians, and One Great Hour of Sharing and Week of Compassion have helped provide emergency assistance for partners’ relief efforts.
The Common Global Ministries Board expresses solidarity with our partner churches in Sri Lanka, calling for peace so they can carry out their work and ministries to those affected. We call for an end to the violence and to the abuse of human rights of civilians, so that humanitarian aid can be delivered and the people can return to safety. We call the attention of our churches and the public to pray and advocate with our leaders and with international church partners to work for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.